Aug. 1st, 2007 05:41 pm
lurkitty: (jane)
I hope everyone in Minnesota is okay. This is horrible.

Bridge collapses in Minnesota.

There was construction going on on the bridge. No one suspects terrorism. Indications are that, though the scene looks terrible, fatalities will be light because the sections of the bridge that fell remained largely intact.


Apr. 20th, 2007 10:34 am
lurkitty: (Default)
The FDA is now investigating the possibility that the contamination of the pet food was deliberate.

According to an LA Times article, melamine may have been intentionally added to the wheat gluten, rice protein and now corn gluten to make it appear that the substances had a high protein content. The FDA is seeking permission from the Chinese government to investigate the factories involved. The Chinese government denies it had regulatory responsibility because the products were not intended for use in pet food.

Some 30 dogs have died in South Africa after eating Royal Canin dog food with melamine contaminated corn gluten. The contaminated corn gluten has not been found outside South Africa. Meanwhile, Royal Canin has begun a recall of its products containing suspect rice protein concentrate in the US.

The contaminated rice protein also ended up at a hog farm in Stanislaus County, CA, as a result of hogs being fed salvage pet food. The hogs' urine has tested positive for melamine. The hog farm, which supplies hogs that are purchased for cooking whole, has been placed under quarantine.

The FDA has now published a downloadable, searchable list of recalled products on its website. The recall list is now some 40 pages in length.

I sincerely hope these companies will think twice before buying from China in the future. Isn't it about time we gave local farmers a boost?
lurkitty: (Default)
Still following the pet food case, Crooks & Liars alerted me to the latest developments this morning:

-The Chinese company that provided the wheat gluten has been named. As a result, another pet food company, Del Monte, came forward and is recalling several brands of dog and cat treats. The company is Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Company Ltd. A company spokesman said that they had not manufactured the gluten, but had purchased it from companies in other provinces. They, in turn, sold it to Suzhou Textile Import and Export Co. The company in the US that brokered the trade has yet to be named.

-David Goldstein of The Huffington Post reports that he has confirmation from Del Monte that the wheat gluten they obtained from Xuzhou Anying for use in their pet products was food grade, meaning that it could have been used in human food. The FDA has not found any evidence of contaminated wheat gluten in human food, but cannot say it hasn't happened "with 100 percent certainty".

-Remember what I said about the cat being the canary? It seems cats are more sensitive to the poison.

There is really something to be alarmed about here, folks.
lurkitty: (Default)
For those interested in the pet food story, the toxin found by researchers at Cornell University labs in the tainted food was aminopterin. This substance is only approved for use in the US as an anti-cancer drug. CBS News reports they Menu has now admitted to purchasing the gluten from China, after initially refusing to say where they obtained the product.

More animal deaths are expected, but at least veterinarians now know what toxin they are dealing with. It seems large doses of folic acid will help counteract the toxin.

A question worth asking is what sort of quality control did the plant that manufactured the gluten have in place? Then, what sort of controls did Menu have?

It appears aminopterin is difficult to detect, or may not be among the usual list of things assayed in a food item. It took a lab at Cornell University to find the culprit. One wonders what quality controls are in place to prevent such an occurrence in human food.

Has the cat become the canary?
lurkitty: (WTF?)
Imagine what would happen if a multinational food manufacturer suspected that its products might be causing deaths due to kidney failure. Would they leave the product on the shelf while they conducted tests? Or would they initiate a recall?

What would they do when lab animals started dying during the tests? Initiate an immediate recall?

This situation is real, but the victims, whose number we may never know but are estimated to reach thousands, are our pets. In a report at anna at DailyKos, and CBS fill us in on the full story of how Menu Foods first became aware of a problem with its wet pet food over a month ago.

I can personally attest to the accuracy of the timing because a friend of mine lost her cat to kidney disease over a month ago. When she took her cat to the vet, he asked what food she had had been feeding her. It was IAMs. The vet told her then that he had heard of reports of problems with IAMs food, and that it was killing cats.

Menu Foods response to the reports of problems was to initiate a test program on cats. Here is a pet food company. A company that purportedly cares about animals. They were conducting tests on cats. Nine cats died during the test. With these test results, Menu Foods waited two weeks before calling for a recall of the affected products. Menu Foods has isolated the problem to its wheat gluten*, but refuses to name the supplier.

The FDA has stepped in and begun testing pet foods for toxins. It is important to watch the recall site because new brands are still being added.

This company is getting away with this behavior because the products it is making are for animals. Animals we care about and treat as family. They have already shown by their actions they have no regard for the lives of the animals for whom they make the food; they killed nine cats with alacrity simply to test the product, a product that they already knew was killing cats!

Despite its actions, Menu Foods remains a top supplier of pet foods. The company's stock has been down graded by most analysts but not all this week, according to the International Herald Tribune. least one analyst, Aleem Israel of Sprott Securities in Toronto, is confident that the company's market dominance will be its salvation and has upgraded the fund to "buy."

"We do not expect major fallout from customer defections," Israel wrote in a note to investors Wednesday. "Menu remains the largest wet pet-food manufacturer in North America, and its track record of safety and quality assurance has been strong."
Tell that to the owners of the dead cats and dogs that could have been saved by an earlier recall!

There is no greater argument for reform of the pet food industry. This company is one reason that I have no patience with people who condemn all trial lawyers and say that punitive damages should be outlawed. A class action lawsuit has begun in Seattle, as well as dozens of other lawsuits. A company that has so little regard for the population it serves that it does not care that the company's products are poisoning the customers should not be doing business.

*For those wondering about Scruffy and his friends, I switched them to a gluten-free food about 6 months ago when I suspected he had an allergy to wheat. What great timing!

ETA: It has now been revealed that the deaths were due to rat poison. Reading this Seattle Times article, I was flabbergasted at this quote:
The company's chief executive and president said Menu Foods delayed announcing the recall until it could confirm that the animals had eaten its product before dying. Two earlier complaints from consumers whose cats had died involved animals that lived outside or had access to a garage, which left open the possibility they had been poisoned by something other than contaminated food, he said.

This does not explain why the company sat on its own test results for two weeks before recalling its products. It is very hard to believe that it only had two complaints when a vet in Oregon was telling an owner about the problem over a month ago. Something is not right here.


lurkitty: (Default)

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