Apr. 6th, 2007

lurkitty: (Default)
The latest on the pet food/tainted wheat gluten scandal:

-They finally revealed the distributor: ChemNutra, Inc.

AP is reporting that there is a possibility that more of the tainted wheat gluten may be in use inside China as human food or pet food.

- The US is the only foreign country Xozhou Anying sells to, but it is not clear if Menu is the sole customer.

- A chemical assay was included with the tainted gluten. The press is all over the fact that melamine was not listed on the assay. Putting on my analytical chemist hat, the term "chemical assay" is vague. There are so many variables that could apply here: what analyses were used, what sampling techniques were used, even whether the manufacturer actually included an assay of the wheat gluten it was shipping, or used a standard (which would probably be illegal).

Not all testing methods would have revealed the presence of melamine. Recall that it took not only the New York State labs, which initially reported the contaminant to be aminopterin, but the Cornell University labs to finally isolate the contaminating agent. It's not like on TV, where you stick the sample in the machine and it prints out the name of the chemical. As it happens, it was melamine crystals in the urine of the affected cats that appear to have led the investigators to check that possibility, whereupon they found levels of melamine as high as 6.6% in some samples of the gluten.

Melamine is not only found in plasticware, but is a component of fertilizers and a contaminant and byproduct of some pesticides.

-Now to the scary part. Xozhou Anying exports about 10,000 tons of wheat gluten. The amount shipped to ChemNutra accounts for only 873 tons of wheat gluten. That means that there are thousands of potentially tainted tons of gluten somewhere, probably in China itself. Chinese officials announced their own investigation earlier today, but deny any reports of similar pet illnesses within China.

-Keep watching the recall list. New foods are still being added.

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