Day: April 28, 2007

Melamine Adulteration investigation gets cracking

FDA agents raid pet food plant, offices – Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON – Federal agents searched facilities of a dog and cat food manufacturer and one of its suppliers as part of an investigation into the widening recall of pet products, the companies disclosed Friday. Food and Drug Administration officials searched an Emporia, Kan., pet food plant operated by Menu Foods and the Las Vegas offices of ChemNutra Inc., according to the companies. Menu Foods made many of the more than 100 brands of pet food recalled since March 16 because of contamination by the chemical melamine. ChemNutra supplied the manufacturer with wheat gluten, one of the two ingredients tainted by melamine used in recalled pet products. Both companies said they were cooperating with the investigation.

The initial “let’s blame China for everything” drumbeat is subsiding a little as the FDA finally begins its inspections, and we find the tangled web of the food import business unraveling just a little bit. At this point in time, the charges are flying like crazy.

The origin within China of the wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate remains murky. For example, ChemNutra’s source for the twovegetable proteins, Suzhou Textile Import and Export Co., told The AP that food ingredients aren’t part of its business — but that employees often take on side deals. Stern said ChemNutra dealt with the company’s president.

Side deals? How quaint? The solution is simple: Quarantine every food item from China until it has been tested for melamine. You do not know the extent of the problem yet. It only seems to get worse everyday. Make the manufacturers pay for the testing.  Tighten up the paperwork, exercise tighter control over where the ingredients come from, get everything in writing.

Meanwhile, the manufacturers are getting their press releases out. From Blue Buffalo foods…

We at the Blue Buffalo Company have just learned that American Nutrition Inc. (ANI), the manufacturer of all our cans and biscuits, has been adding rice protein concentrate to our can formulas without our knowledge and without our approval. This is product tampering, and it apparently has been going on for some time. The can formulas that we developed, and trusted them to produce, never contained any rice protein concentrate. It appears that only an FDA investigation of ANI’s rice protein concentrate supplies forced them to reveal this product tampering to us.

While this activity by ANI is in itself unlawful, the situation is further clouded by the fact that ANI has been receiving rice protein concentrate from Wilber-Ellis, some of which the FDA has determined to be contaminated with melamine.

If this is true (and we don’t know that for a fact), it’s plain ol’ cheating and food adulteration. What does American Nutrition have to say?

The FDA has urged American Nutrition to issue a voluntary recall of pet foods manufactured using Wilbur-Ellis rice protein. None of these products is sold under an American Nutrition brand, but are sold through other independent companies. No American Nutrition brands or other products they manufacture for other businesses are affected by this recall.

Why would I trust the word of anyone who’s accused of adding ingredients off the label? This story gets curiouser and curiouser, and it is pretty clear that between the “side dealers” in China and some greedy middlemen suppliers here, we have plenty of blame to go around.

Stay tuned for more…