FDA suspects pet food tainted intentionally

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suspects that at least two of the contaminated ingredients used in more than 100 brands of recalled cat and dog food foods may have been intentionally laced with melamine to boost their apparent protein content. Melamine has been found in wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate imported from China.

American Hog Farm in Ceres California was placed under quarantine when melamine was found in pig urine. Testing is under way to see if the chemical is present in meat produced there by the State Department of Food and Agriculture. Officials are urging people who purchased pigs from American Hog Farm since April 3 to not consume the product until further notice.

South African media is reporting that a third pet food ingredient, corn gluten was also laced with melamine, suspected of killing 30 dogs. The FDA says corn gluten has not been found in the U.S.

Stephen Sundlof, the FDA’s chief veterinarian told reporters “Melamine was found in all three of those — it would certainly lend credibility to the theory that it may be intentional. That will be one of the theories we will pursue when we get into the plants in China.”

“Chinese authorities have told the FDA that the wheat gluten was an industrial product not meant for pet food” Sundlof said. “Still, melamine can skew test results to make a product appear more protein-rich than it really is” he added, which leads to the possibility that the product was intentionally contaminated. The FDA will be doing inspections in China hoping to get some answers.

Sundlof also noted that more recalls of pet food are expected and that consumers should check the FDA web site before buying pet food.

Tainted rice protein concentrate imported by San Francisco based Wilbur-Ellis Company is recalling all of the ingredient that was distributed to five U.S. pet food manufacturers and urged its customers to recall their products that made it to store shelves.

Of the five companies, three have recalled possibly contaminated products: Natural Balance Pet Foods, The Blue Buffalo Company and Royal Canin USA. Recalled food information can be found on their web sites. Due to the ongoing investigation, the FDA would not relase the names of the other manufacturers.

The FDA hasn’t said how many pet deaths or injuries have come from the contaminated pet food, but to date the agency has received more than 15,000 calls regarding dead or sick pets.

The Humane Society of the United States has established a pet food safety information hotline for up-to-the-minute recall information. The number is 1-800-Humane-1.

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