lurkitty: (Pogo)
I know parents of picky eaters. Many children go through phases where they will eat one or two foods to the exclusion of all else. One of my friends complains that the only thing her child would eat is chicken nuggets.

So when I read this Washington Post article about melamine in chicken feed, I got a chill from the following paragraph:

"That small fraction, and the fact that people, unlike pets, do not eat the same thing day after day, suggests that consumers who ate contaminated pork or chicken would probably have ingested extremely small doses of melamine, well below the threshold for causing health effects, officials said. Experts conceded, however, that they know little about how the toxin interacts with other compounds in food."

Have "officials" taken into consideration that children do eat one food to the exclusion of all else, and that their bodies are small -- like dogs?

My other concern is that melamine is commonly added to pet food in China. How do we know that this has not happened before, or been happening for years, and we are now seeing it because the level of adulteration has increased to toxic levels?

All of this makes me very glad I am vegetarian, and that before becoming vegetarian, I purchased chicken from family farms. I still wonder about eggs, though. I have been buying free-range, vegetarian fed eggs only for some time now. Pet food contains meat, so I doubt my eggs are contaminated.

Eat local.


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: (jane)
There is another ingredient found to have melamine contamination: rice protein concentrate.

This one hit close to home because Natural Balance is the brand I feed my kitties - but not that particular variety. I thought it was safe because it didn't have wheat gluten. The company's actions were heartening - they got six calls from dog owners about it and began the recall, then started testing and found the contaminant.

This seems to make it even more likely that some of the the contaminants got into other food supplies.
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.
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: (wet cat)
Earlier this week, I openly pondered what controls were in place to prevent a widespread human poisoning similar to that now besetting the pet food industry.

It now appears that there has been at least one human victim. According to an article in the National Post, Ms. Elaine Larabie of Ottawa decided to take matters into her own hands when her dog, Missy, refused to eat her Iams food. Larabie tricked missy into eating the food by eating a bite herself, not once, but for two weeks. Se thought she had a virus when she ended up in in the ER with ...a range of "confusing" and "embarrassing" symptoms, including loss of appetite, vomiting and foaming of the mouth. She also had problems urinating.

She had taken the dog to the vet to be spayed where the vet discovered the dog's illness. Her own medical bills are being covered by Iams.

The story itself is getting stranger by the day. [ profile] wook77 alerted me to today's news of the expanding recall: Hills Prescription Feline Dry Food - the first dry food to be included in the recall, is now on the list. Added also were Purina Petcare and ALPO Prime Cuts. The Purina recall comes in response to learning that one of its 17 plants used wheat gluten form the same source as the contaminated product.

Even more odd is the fact that the culprit may not be aminopterin, as was previously reported, but a fertilizer and plastic called melamine. Scientists have yet to figure out why this chemical would have the effect on animals it has had.

From the USA Today Article:
"Quite simply, one supplier's product was adulterated in a manner that was not part of any known screening process for wheat gluten," Menu Foods CEO Paul Henderson said today. He declined to identify the company that provided the wheat gluten — other than to say that it was a new supplier for the company — and said Menu Foods was contemplating legal action against the supplier.

Henderson said Menu Foods had a "great deal of interest" in learning why it was supplied with adulterated wheat that would pass the screening.

The FDA said Friday the agency is now testing 100% of incoming wheat gluten supplies from China.

Am I the only one that is bothered by the fact that the manufacturer of the wheat gluten has yet to be publicly named? We're supposed to trust that they haven't sold anything to any one else? Shouldn't the manufacturer be make public so that other companies, like Purina can check to make certain they didn't get some of the gluten? Something stinks here.


lurkitty: (Default)

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