Thursday, April 05, 2007

Poisoning 2007: Melanine as a marker, and where the heck did the stuff come from?

More from the NYT. Everyone denies they know anything about any gluten, WalMart's dog biscuits are recalled and Menu Foods extends the timeline that animals may have been injured by another two months ...
22 Brands of Dog Biscuits Are Added to Pet Food Recall - New York Times

... Menu Foods, which last month recalled more than 90 brands of its “cuts and gravy” pet food, said yesterday that it had extended the period of time covered by its recall to include food made after Nov. 8, 2006. The company, based in Ontario, initially recalled only food made from Dec. 3, 2006, to March 6, 2007.

The company also added 20 additional varieties of those brands to the recall list yesterday. Information about the recalled pet food can be found at

Menu Foods said it acted after a supplier, ChemNutra of Las Vegas, recalled all wheat gluten it had imported from the Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Company of Wangdien, China. ChemNutra said Wednesday that the F.D.A. had found melamine in the gluten. The agency said it was now testing all wheat gluten from China.

The Chinese government said yesterday that no wheat gluten had been exported to the United States or Canada. Xuzhou Anying denied it had ever shipped wheat gluten to either country.

“We are a trading company and don’t manufacture the product,” added Mao Lijun, the company’s general manager. Michael Rogers, director of the Division of Field Investigations for the F.D.A., said records showed that the tainted gluten came from China.

... Melamine, which is also used as a slow-release fertilizer, is generally not known to be toxic. Some theories are that it might act as a marker for another unknown toxin that causes renal failure in pets, Dr. Sundlof said, or that cats and dogs are extremely sensitive to melamine.

“We still have a lot of work to do to understand why melamine is involved, as it is a relatively nontoxic substance,” Dr. Sundlof said. “We are relatively certain that there is a connection here someplace.”

... Dr. Halbur and Grant Maxie of the University of Guelph in Ontario, which is also investigating the cause of the illnesses and deaths, said it would probably take months to determine what made the pets sick.

Tons of gluten apparently just materialized from thin air, contaminated with all kinds of junk. Sounds like the vets suspect the Melanine is just one more contaminant and that the real poison may take months to find.

In the meantime, the whole story gets more appalling.

Update: The NYTs has a f/u article ...
April 6, 2007
China Says It Had Nothing to Do With Tainted Pet Foods

SHANGHAI, April 5 — China said today that it had no record of exporting any agricultural products that could have tainted the pet food that has been linked to the deaths of cats and dogs in the United States.

The government said that wheat gluten — which has been linked to a nationwide pet food recall in the United States — had not been exported from China to the United States or Canada. The government also disputed some reports that the chemical aminopterin, a rat poison, could have entered the American pet food supplies from China. The government said the chemical is not used in rat poison here...

...the Chinese company identified by the Food and Drug Administration as the exporter tied to the tainted pet food ingredient denied today that it was the source.

“We have never exported wheat gluten directly or indirectly to the U.S., Canada or the Netherlands,” said Mao Lijun, the general manager of the Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Company, an agricultural products company in the coastal Jiangsu Province.

...ChemNutra, a Las Vegas company that supplies pet food makers, said it imported 792 metric tons of wheat gluten from Xuzhou between Nov. 29 and March 8. The products were then shipped from its Kansas City warehouse to three pet food makers and one distributor of pet food ingredients in the United States and Canada.

The wheat gluten ended up in pet food made for several companies, including Menu Foods of Ontario, Canada and Hill’s Pet Nutrition, a division of Colgate-Palmolive as well as private label pet foods.

But Xuzhou now insists it never shipped the packages.

“Maybe some company bought our product and exported it without our knowledge,” said Mr. Mao, the general manager of Xuzhou Anying.

Earlier today, however, The Associated Press reported that another official working at Xuzhou had acknowledged that the company shipped wheat gluten to the United States...

... Agricultural product and melamine traders here in China said today that the chemical is sometimes used as a fertilizer but that Chinese farmers have turned away from it in recent years because it is considered too costly.

They also said melamine was used in a wide variety of manufactured goods all over the country, everything from DVD’s to plastic forks and knives, and was widespread in areas where wheat production is strong...

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