Day: April 20, 2007

Melamine – now in Pigs

The pet food recall gets scarier. The FDA does not have this issue under control. It is not a conspiracy to hide anything, it’s just the pace at which the FDA operates, and its lack of mandate to really regulate animal feed.

Pet Foods May Have Been Intentionally Poisoned

The FDA and Agriculture Department also were investigating whether some pet food made by one of the five companies supplied by Wilbur-Ellis was diverted for use as hog feed after it was found unsuitable for pet consumption.

“We understand it did make it into some hog feed and we are following up on that as well,” Sundlof said.

Later Thursday, California officials said they believe the melamine at the quarantined hog farm came from rice protein concentrate imported from China by Diamond Pet Food’s Lathrop facility, which produces products under the Natural Balance brand and sold salvage pet food to the farm for pig feed.

“Although all animals appear healthy, we are taking this action out of an abundance of caution,” State Veterinarian Richard Breitmeyer said in a statement. “It is unknown if the chemical will be detected in meat.”

Officials are investigating American Hog Farm’s sales records to determine who may be affected by the quarantine, said Steve Lyle, a spokesman for the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The 1,500-animal farm operates as a “custom slaughterhouse,” which means it generally does not supply meat to commercial outlets.

“Mostly it is not so-called mainstream pork. This is an operation that sells to folks who come in and want a whole pig,” said Lyle said.

Officials urged those who purchased pigs from American Hog Farm since April 3 to not consume the

Well, the issue is not the safety of the melamine contaminated pork, the risk to humans is possibly low. The problem is that these ingredients are out of control, and unaccounted for, and being diverted to places they should not be. The systemic flaws are many, and I hope the FDA will issue some new guidelines to tighten up animal feed standards.

Another tidbit:

FDA officials would not release the names of the other two manufacturers that Wilbur-Ellis supplied, citing its ongoing investigation

Is it just me, or does this always happen on a Friday???

Pet Poisonings – A chemistry detective story

Melamine in pet food may not be accidental –

A nitrogen-rich chemical used to make plastic and sometimes as a fertilizer may have been deliberately added to an ingredient in pet food that has sickened and killed cats and dogs across the country, public and private officials say. A leading theory is that it was added to fake higher protein levels.

Melamine has been found in wheat gluten, rice protein concentrate and, in South Africa, corn gluten, all imported from China, and all meant for use in pet food, the Food and Drug Administration confirmed Thursday.

“It adds to the theory when you see other products that are labeled as protein supplements, in this case rice protein, and in South Africa corn gluten and in the previous case wheat gluten,” said Stephen Sundlof, FDA chief veterinarian. “That melamine was found in all three of those, it would certainly lend credibility to the theory that this was intentional.”

Interesting, apparently, melamine was added to increase the nitrogen content of the food so it would show up as protein in the most common protein test, which only looks for nitrogen. When I am not working, I guess I will look up the test details.

I wonder if this is only the tip of the iceberg? What other techniques do food manufacturers use to fake it? Growing up, food adulteraion was a serious problem in India, and still continues to be an issue in the third world.

More on this story to come, I am sure.

One more thing that needs to be said is that the FDA has been very reactive, as opposed to proactive. This is partly because the FDA does not issue recalls, it first “strongly suggests” that the company involved recall whatver product it is that may be having issues. Only if this issue is not addressed can the FDA start seizure proceedings, which could take months. The FDa regulates and monitors on a company level, not at a product level.

For example, when Japan had one sample of U.S beef test positive for mad cow disease, that was the end of beef imports from the U.S. This is an extreme case because you’re dealing with an infectious disease, but the point is that when you are finding huge levels of pesticide in food from a country, the first thing you need to do is stop everything, troubleshoot, then turn things back on again. Yes, this gets expensive, but so does 1000s of sick pets. The difference is, who pays. In the U.S, it’s always the consumer!