Friday, April 27, 2007

American Nutrition issues Recall of Multiple Products

Just released... only the Canine Caviar and the Mulligan Stew are brand new. (Note that both their websites still say none of their products have been recalled.)

Added: Size and "Best By" dates are in the table, click the link to see them.
American Nutrition, Inc. Issues Voluntary Recall

The Denver office of the FDA informed American Nutrition, Inc. today that certain samples of rice protein shipped to its production facility have been contaminated with melamine, an industrial chemical used to make plastics and fertilizers that may be harmful to animals if consumed. The rice protein in question was obtained from San Francisco-based Wilbur-Ellis Company.

The FDA is investigating the use of rice protein, an ingredient found in a number of canned pet food products and baked pet food treats to fortify protein levels, after a portion of Wilbur-Ellis’ rice protein supply was found to be contaminated with melamine. American Nutrition immediately discontinued the use of rice protein after learning of the melamine contamination.

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.

The products subject to this recall are as follows:

Pet owners who purchased these pet foods should immediately discontinue using the products and return unused portions to the place of purchase for a full refund.

These products represent a small percentage of those manufactured by American Nutrition. To reiterate, no American Nutrition brands or other products manufactured for other businesses are affected by this recall.

We at American Nutrition care immensely about the quality of the products we manufacture and the health of the pets that consume them. We want to express our deep concern over this situation. Feeding pets has been our business and passion for more than 35 years. We take that responsibility seriously and are very proud of what we do and how we do it. We will continue to work closely with the FDA in their ongoing investigation.

For more information, we encourage you to visit the FDA website: Consumers with additional questions can contact us by calling 1.800.257.4530 or by e:mailing us at or by visiting


Ogden, Utah based American Nutrition, Inc. manufactures pet foods under its own name and for many other companies. American Nutrition has 150 employees.

Harmony Farms recalling canned Dog and Cat food and biscuits

An alert reader (thanks Cynthia!) let me know that her local store was pulling Harmony Farms canned dog food off the shelves this morning.

After some digging, Therese (over at and I discovered that Harmony Farms is made by American Nutrition, who confirmed that some Harmony Farms products are being recalled, and that more information will be available later today. (We also discovered they're a subsidiary of Blue Buffalo)

Harmony Farms now has a recall announcement on their website (it's a popup so you may need to disable your popup blocker)


April 26, 2007

Harmony Farms Cans And Biscuits Recalled Due To Product Tampering

We regret to inform you that Sierra Pet Products has announced a voluntary recall of its Harmony Farms canned foods and dog biscuits due to product tampering.

Sierra Pet Products was made aware of the product tampering when American Nutrition, Inc. (ANI), the manufacturer of all Harmony Farms cans and biscuits, informed the Company that they had been adding rice protein concentrate to Harmony Farms canned dog and cat foods without the Company’s approval.

It appears that ANI had been adding the unauthorized rice protein concentrate to Harmony Farms products for some time and only told the Company when the FDA was about to conclude that some of ANI’s rice protein concentrate (Supplied by Wilber-Ellis) was contaminated with Melamine.

Important Facts about the recall:

• Sierra Pet Products has elected to cease doing business with ANI effective immediately and remove all its cans and biscuits from retailer’s shelves.

• Products recalled include all Harmony Farms canned dog and cat foods, and all Harmony Farms Health Bar biscuits.

• No Harmony Farms product has tested positive for melamine.

• There have been no reported illness of any dog or cat as a result of consuming either our food or biscuits

• All Harmony Farms dry dog and cat foods are safe for consumption

• Consumers who have unused or partially used packages of any Harmony Farms recalled products should return them to their place of purchase for a complete refund.

We have informed our retail partners and the FDA about this action, and will be cooperating with them to complete this recall quickly.

As a relatively new brand, Harmony Farms is in the process of building trust with pet parents and this cannot be accomplished if we are unable to trust our manufacturer.

We intend to re-introduce our canned products and dog biscuits as soon as we can obtain a manufacturing partner who shares our values of honesty and integrity.


Sierra Pet Products

(Note: The American Nutrition website is not updated, and these companies are trashing them, but I still want to give kudos to the folks answering the phones there for being concerned - and nice - and for sharing as much information as they have.)

FDA says "...aren't aware of other potential recalls" - 6 recalls follow within hours

As always has it summarized nicely: FDA Transcript and the Question

OPERATOR: Next question comes from Debbie (sic) Turner. Your line is open.

REPORTER: Thank you. This is Debbie Turner (sic) with CBS News. As it relates to pets, are you confident that you have confiscated and contained all the melamine adulterated or contaminated, whether it be wheat gluten, rice protein concentrate, and should we expect any additional voluntary recalls among pet food in the coming days and weeks?

CAPTAIN ELDER: There was a recall announced today (PetConnection note: That recall was actually announced the day before) involving the rice protein concentrate. It was announced by Chenango Valley Foods. And in this announcement it covered the product Smart Pac, product produced, marketed by the firm Smart Pac that we mentioned during the last call on Tuesday of this week, and it includes additional products distributed by a firm called Foster and Smith. These again were associated with the contaminated rice protein concentrate. We aren’t aware of any other potential recalls at this time involving either pet food produced from contaminated wheat gluten or from contaminated rice protein concentrate. As we say time and again, the investigation is open, we continue to follow the trail, but we don’t have anything else that we expect to emerge. However, with the caveat, the inspection is ongoing and we are going to follow the trail until it ends, and if another recall emerges through that investigation that’s what will be necessary to continue to protect animal health and we will make sure that we do that as expeditiously as we can.

The whole transcript is here on the USDA website.

As I think we all know by now, not only had there been a subsequent recall during or shortly before the press conference - the Costco one - but there have now been FIVE MORE tonight, within hours of that statement - made, it should be noted, in response to a question from a reporter, Dr. Debbye Turner, who is also a veterinarian.

What’s more, since Craig Wilson of Costco told me that it was FDA testing that found the melamine in their food in the first place (tests run by American Nutrition on the food were negative), what chain of events could have led to FDA saying that it “didn’t have anything else that we expect to emerge”? What did FDA expect would happen with the companies it had told had melamine in their foods?

More from Is the FDA really so clueless?

Personal note: Last night (and well into the morning hours) bloggers from,,, and all tracked down rumors of new recalls - and worked together to share and post information of these new recalls - before these recalls were announced by the companies and/or the FDA.

While it's good we were able to get and post the information, we shouldn't have had to do it.

Why are bloggers doing the FDA's job?

Menu sues ChemNutra - ChemNutra claims Menu has an additional Wheat Gluten Supplier

They're acting just like teenagers... it would almost be funny - if it weren't so damned tragic and serious.

Menu sues ChemNutra

ChemNutra fires back (as reported by Itchmo)
Itchmo has learned that ChemNutra, the US importer of tainted wheat gluten, was searched by the FDA. The most shocking part of this release is that ChemNutra says: “Menu Foods used significantly more wheat gluten monthly than we supplied to them, so we hope that Menu Foods will disclose its other sources to the FDA.”

Added: From the Canada Free Press "Tainted Pet Food Cat Fights"

Blue Buffalo Recalls All Canned Dog and Cat Food and Treats

Itchmo breaks another one...

Blue Buffalo just announced another expansion of the recall covering:

  • All Blue brand can dog foods
  • All Spa Select brand can cat foods
  • All Blue Health Bar treats.

The release indicates that rice protein was added without their knowledge to these products. Blue Buffalo attributes this to “tampering” by their contract manufacturer American Nutrition, who was connected to several other recalls on Thursday.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Natural Balance Recalls More Canned Dog and Cat Foods

On their website...

Breaking Recall News: Thursday, April 26th, 2007

Our canned manufacturer, American Nutrition, from Ogden Utah just informed us that they are recalling all canned products made in their plant that contain rice protein concentrate. American Nutrition continued by telling us that they added this ingredient to four of our canned products without informing us. The four products involved are:

Chicken Formula Canned Dog Food 13 oz
Lamb Formula Canned Dog Food 13 oz
Beef Formula Canned Dog Food 13 oz
Ocean Fish Formula Canned Cat Food 3 oz & 6 oz

To make sure that this does not happen in the future, we are demanding from each of our co-packers daily production record of all of our formulas before they are shipped to us. We have reviewed all of our other products and determined that they are free of rice protein concentrate and that all of our other product labels are accurate.

There have been no illnesses reported related to feeding these formulas, however, to comply with the American Nutrition recall of the four products, we will pull all dates and batches of these four formulas. We also ask that our customers return unused product for a full credit to their store.

Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul Kitten and Puppy CANNED food recalled, also Diamond Canned Dog Food

Despite repeated denials by Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul (as recently as 2 hours ago!!!!) , they've just added this to their website:

Diamond Pet Foods has announced it is withdrawing a limited number of canned products manufactured by American Nutrition. This action is limited to three specific canned products:
Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul Kitten Formula 5.5 oz. cans, and Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul Puppy Formula 13 oz. cans,

and Diamond Lamb & Rice Formula for Dogs 13 oz. cans.

Diamond Pet Foods has not received any indication of quality or safety issues, including pet illness, with the three withdrawn products. However, because American Nutrition informed the company that these three specific products may include rice protein concentrate, Diamond Pet Foods felt this action was necessary for the protection of its customers and their pets.

Customers with these products should stop feeding them immediately and return them to their retailer for a full refund.

ADDED 7:40pm: I spoke with American Nutrition, and they will have a press release and website update by tomorrow, if not sooner.

Summary of Recalls: For Wheat Gluten, Rice Protein Concentrate and Corn Gluten

Finding it hard to keep track? Here's my list...

Wheat Gluten (4):
1. Menu Foods (countless wet cat and dog foods)
2. Del Monte (Pet Treats, wet dog food)
3. Sunshine Mills (dog biscuits)
4. Hill's Pet Nutrition (dry cat food)

Rice Protein (5)
(Received by distributor Wilbur-Ellis, who said that 5 pet food manufacturers received the product - in Kansas, Missouri, Missouri, New York and Utah)

1. Diamond -plant in Missouri
- Natural Balance (DRY food)

2. CJ Foods, plant in Kansas
- Blue Buffalo

3. Royal Canin - plant in Missouri

4. Chenango Valley Pet Foods -plant in New York
- SmartPak/LiveSmart
- Drs Foster and Smith
- Lick Your Chops (*just announced today*)

5. American Nutrition – in Utah
- Natural Balance WET food (*more varieties announced Thursday*)
- Kirkland (Costco Brand) WET food (*announced today*)
- Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul Kitten and Puppy canned food (*announced Thursday*)
- Diamond canned dog food (*just announced*)
- Blue Buffalo canned dog and cat food and treats (*announced Thursday*)

Not announced:
A 2nd Distributor that received tainted Rice Protein Concentrate (per Senator Durbin)
- unknown how many companies received it

Corn Gluten (1)
- Royal Canin South Africa

Another recall slips in - Lick Your Chops DRY CAT Food

Added 5:40pm: Here's the FDA Press Release which includes the following
The pet foods were sold to customers in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, who further sold the products to their customers through catalog mail-orders or retail outlets.

There's nothing on their website yet, ( but Lick Your Chops is included in this announcement posted at (The Drs Foster & Smith and SmartPak recalls were announced previously.)

Chenango Valley Pet Foods has begun voluntarily recalling pet foods manufactured with a certain shipment of rice protein concentrate, the company said Thursday.

The company, working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, was informed by Wilbur-Ellis that rice protein concentrate shipped to Chenango Valley Pet Foods may be contaminated with melamine. Melamine, an industrial chemical used to make plastics and fertilizers, may lead to illness or fatalities in animals if consumed.

The pet foods were sold to customers in Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, who in turn sold the products to their customers through catalog mail orders or retail outlets.

The following dry pet foods are involved in the recall:
  • Doctors Foster & Smith Chicken & Brown Rice Formula Adult Lite Dog Food. It was sold in containers with net weights of 5, 12.5 and 25 lbs. with code dates best used by Jan. 24, 2009, Feb. 8, 2009, Feb. 26, 2009, April 10, 2009, and April 17, 2009.
  • Doctors Foster & Smith Chicken & Brown Rice Formula Adult Lite Cat Food. It was sold in containers with net weights of 3 and 7 lbs. with a code date of best used by March 13, 2009.
  • Lick Your Chops Lamb Meal, Rice & Egg Cat Food in packages with a net weight of 4 lbs. and a code date best used by April 29, 2008.
  • Bulk Chicken & Brown Rice Formula Adult Lite Dog Food sold to one consignee, SmartPak, in a 2,000-pound tote with a ship date of Feb. 9, 2007.

No illnesses or injuries have been reported to date. Pet owners who purchased the products should immediately discontinue using them and return them to the place of purchase for a full refund, company officials said. Pet owners also are advised to consult with a veterinarian if any health concerns with their pets arise.

Consumers with questions may contact the company at: 610-821-0608.

Costco recalls Kirkland Signature Canned Food

Added 6:51pm: Christie over at posted an update about the Costco Recall


Today at around 4 PM Pacific Time, I heard from Craig Wilson, Vice President, Food Safety and Quality Assurance for Costco.

He said Costco was informed last Friday at around 4 PM by American Nutrition, which manufactures their canned dog food (they do not make a canned cat food), that some of the Wilbur-Ellis melamine-contaminated rice protein powder had been used to manufacture some foods in Costco’s Kirkland Signatures pet food line. He said Costco did not suspect their foods might have a problem prior to this because they were unaware that any ingredients in their food came from China, or that there was rice protein powder in any of their foods. Rice protein powder is not listed on the label; the label ingredient in question is “rice flour.”


Therese at the Pet Food List has just gotten off the phone with Costco and American Nutrition. Both have confirmed the recall of Kirkland Signature canned food.

Gina and Christie over at were waiting to ask the FDA about it in the media briefing. Except of course, they didn't have a chance to ask the question. But they did get Costco to confirm that:

Kirkland Signature Super Premium Canned Food, item # 38436, best buy dates of Aug. 21 08 to April 15 of 09, has been voluntarilly recalled.

UPDATE from Itchmo:
Itchmo has learned that the recall covers two formulations sold in a single case:

* Kirkland Signature Super Premium Chicken and Rice Canned food for Dogs
* Kirkland Signature Super Premium Lamb and Rice Canned food for Dogs

American Nutrition says that their products were tested by them, FDA and state officials and melamine was found by one group.

So, every company is going to retest their products, right?

Frightening Food Facts about the FDA from the GAO

Please go read Spocko's latest post - he has a short summary and video of excerpts from Tuesday's hearing
From Tuesday's House hearings about the FDA:

Did you know:
The federal government can issue mandatory recalls for tires and toys but not food?
The only exception is baby formula. Did you know that? Does that surprise you?
Go read the rest at

Timing and triggers - Would Menu Foods have recalled anything?

Another great post over at

In Tuesday’s four-hour session of live-blogging the food-safety hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives – work from which her wrists have yet to recover – Christie found herself typing something we at the PetConnection first heard weeks ago, but couldn’t get confirmation on until it came up in the hearing:

Without Iams, there might not have been a recall at all.

In sworn testimony, Menu Foods CEO Paul Henderson admitted that his company called the recall because Iams told them they’d had enough, that their own quality internal systems had revealed a problem, and that they were pulling their own products even if Menu wouldn’t pull them all.

It was that stand that triggered everything that has followed since. Menu launched the massive and unprecedented recall before Iams could, but only because Iams was ready to do it on their own. Here’s the transcript:

STUPAK: “I was surprised by your answer this morning, Mr. Henderson. If you take a look at the record and the timeline, March 15th was your first recall for all wheat gluten manufactured between Dec 3rd, 2006 to March 6th. March 24th was your second recall; you expanded to include additional dates. On April 5th, you had your third recall. On April 10th you had your fourth recall. So an immediate recall authority by the FDA would not have taken a month for you to recall your products. Correct?”

HENDERSON: “I would have to say that’s incorrect. The information that you’re looking on, the recall that took place relative to the date of March 16th, Menu Foods at that point in time did not know what the problem was.”

STUPAK: “Well, I’m not asking about the problem. My question was a recall, should, should we give the FDA the right to an immediate authority, and would it have made any difference. You said you didn’t think it would make any difference in this case, and yet the recall went on for about a month. I think an immediate recall authority for the FDA would have made a difference here.”

HENDERSON: “The, the recall that was initiated by Menu Foods and the, essentially as a result of following conversations with the FDA, we identified, this was the scope we’re proposing to do. Whether or not they might have come up with a different scope, that’s a valid point. They might have come up and said, recall more, or recall less.”

STUPAK: “But even before you - I don’t mean to be argumentative, here - even before you, at Menu Foods, and the FDA decided to recall, Iams had already told you they would no longer accept your product, and they were going to recall all food manufactured by Menu Food in, at the KS plant, right? So, really, IAMS was the first one to really start it, the ball rolling here that something was wrong. And I guess maybe what we’re getting at here is there’s also a corporate responsibility, instead of waiting for the FDA. If Iams, the pet food manufacturer sees a problem, and they’re recalling it, I would have hoped that the corporations would have done it without FDA authority. But even WITH FDA authority, if we could grant that to them, I think we could have maybe limited the scope of the harm caused throughout
our country.”

HENDERSON: “Well, again, relative to the facts as they actually transpired, the conversation that took place with Iams, they, they essentially shared some information with us. We got together the next day, and essentially in a, in a rather lengthy meeting, both parties exchanged what they knew. Being that individually there wasn’t enough information to, to draw conclusions. But together, it looked as from a circumstantial evidence perspective, as if we had the basis for a recall. They opted to recall, we went along. We announced first.”

STUPAK: “Iams sees the need for a recall, but almost two weeks before that, your own taste testing lab out of 20 animals, three died and six were dead That’s almost 50 percent; I would that would cause Menu Foods to be concerned and talk about a recall, or what’s going on here quicker, than wait until Iams forces the issue, and then the FDA, and on and on.”

Iams has now confirmed that account with us: That they would have launched their own recall if Menu hadn’t.

Why does this matter?

Because while we certainly do think the recalls should have been made sooner – and should be being made now, based on what the FDA already now knows and will not reveal to us – we shudder to think how much worse this situation could have been had Iams not muscled Menu into pulling all affected “cuts and gravy” product.

Would we have ever known there was a problem if they hadn’t? Before the first recall, veterinarians across the country were comparing notes and scratching their heads over the mysterious increase in acute renal failure in their practices. We had veterinarians wondering if the problems were local – such as in a pesticide incident, or serial pet poisoner – and those who were suspecting that something must larger was going on. But what?

The Menu Foods recall was the “AHA!” moment when it all made sense.

But had Iams not threatened their own recall based on their own internal tracking systems, would the rise in acute renal cases just been just a blip on the radar screen, a misunderstood and tragic aberation? Without Iams own internal investigation and the power they could bring to bear on their contract manufacturer, would we now have a massive FDA investigation into Chinese imports and their possible contamination of the human food chain? Two Congressional hearings? And much, much more?

These are all good questions, and we’ll never know all the answers. But it’s very possible that without the decision of one of the big pet food companies to take the hit entirely on their own, we wouldn’t know anything at all now, and many thousands more of our pets might be sick or dead, without anyone ever really knowing why.

I agree. And I think it's happened before. We cannot let it happen again.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Precautionary Rice Protein Recall: Drs. Foster & Smith Adult Dry Lite Dog and Adult Dry Lite Cat Food

You have to scroll down on their website or you'll miss this notice buried under their "product not affected by wheat gluten recall' blurb. That's unacceptable.

Note they're saying that their manufacturer (NOT the supplier Wilbur-Ellis) just notified them today. According to, their manufacturer for dry food is Chenango Valley Foods in New York.

Added 6:30pm Chenango Valley Pet Food also made the SmartPak food recalled yesterday. I'm wondering - any other foods made by them going to be recalled? It'd be nice to know NOW. Not tomorrow. Not over the weekend. NOW.

Precautionary Rice Protein Recall: Drs. Foster & Smith Adult Dry Lite Dog and Adult Dry Lite Cat Food

Rice protein concentrate has been indicated as a possible source of melamine recently found in pet food products. As a precautionary measure Wilbur-Ellis company, the supplier of rice protein concentrate, is voluntarily recalling all lots of rice protein concentrate. We received notification from the manufacturer today, April 25, 2007, suggesting we issue a precautionary recall.

Two of our products: Adult Lite Dry Dog (Item #'s 14178, 14179, 14180, 14262, 14263) and Adult Lite Dry Cat foods (Item #'s 12855, 12856, 13864, 13865) contain rice protein concentrate. Only the Adult Lite Dry Dog and Adult Lite Dry Cat foods contain rice protein concentrate.

Preliminary test results for melamine contamination have been negative. Final test results from the FDA are expected within two weeks. Please check the Adult Lite Dry Dog food or the Adult Lite Dry Cat food product pages on the website for any updates.

If your pet has consumed either the Adult Lite Dry Dog food or the Adult Lite Dry Cat food and shows signs of illness (such as loss of appetite, lethargy and vomiting), you should consult with your veterinarian immediately.

As part of this precautionary recall Drs. Foster & Smith requests that customers discontinue feeding the following products purchased during the periods listed, until all FDA testing is complete:

  • Adult Lite Dry Dog food item numbers 14180, 14262, 14263, or Adult Lite Dry Cat food item numbers 12855, 12856, 13864, 13865 purchased between January 22, 2007 and April 19th
  • Adult Lite Dry Dog food item numbers 14178 and 14179 purchased between February 2, 2007 and April 19, 2007
  • Only Adult Lite Dry Dog (Item #'s 14178, 14179, 14180, 14262, 14263) and Adult Dry Lite Cat foods (Item #'s 12855, 12856, 13864, 13865) are included in this precautionary recall.
The health and well being of your pet is always important to us, so as part of this precautionary recall:
  • Drs. Foster & Smith is contacting all customers who have purchased these items during this period.
  • These products are being reformulated to eliminate rice protein concentrate. The new formulation should be available by mid-May.
  • Please call Customer Service at 1-800-239-7121 between 9:00 am and 7:00 pm CST or email if you have questions.
  • None of our other Drs. Foster & Smith foods contain the ingredients in question.

My Pet Counts! Postcard Blitz (Something YOU can do)

Posted at, originated over at the Itchmo forums

My Pet Counts! Postcard Blitz

We are calling on all pet owners, parents, guardians who have lost a pet due to contaminated pet food to join us in a post card blitz to demonstrate the full scope of this pet food recall disaster.

The FDA continues to publicize only “16 confirmed deaths.” This number has often been repeated by the media. Reliable sources report that the number of pet deaths are and will be much higher - most likely in the thousands.

If you want your pet’s death to count for something good, please join the My Pet Counts! Post Card Blitz.

Who: Anyone who has lost a pet due to contaminated pet food.

What: Post cards may have a picture of your pet, or can be blank.
Purchase cards or design your own. Each set of postcards represents one pet. If you have lost multiple pets, send multiple cards to each address. Only one set of postcards per dead pet, please. Postcards ONLY, this is to ensure the mail is delivered with no security delay.

Where: No need to leave home. You can mail your postcards from your own mailbox.

When: All postcards should be mailed on Saturday, April 28th.
This coincides with the national march organized by KOPS (Keep Our Pets Safe). If all postcards are mailed on the same day, the impact will be all the greater when received at the other end.

Why: By sticking to the “only 16 confirmed deaths” wording this disaster is being grossly minimized. The word must get out!

How: Mail a postcard to each of the addresses provided.

The message should be very short, easy to read, no anger, profanity, or rudeness of any kind. Let them see your grief. Tug at their heartstrings. Use your pet’s name. Use the words “My Pet Counts!”

Post card Mailing List:

Marcia K. Larkins, D.V.M
FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine
7519 Standish Place HFV-7
Rockville, MD 20855

Senator Richard Durbin
309 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Your own senator: addresses at

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Anderson Cooper
c/o CNN
One CNN Center
Atlanta, Georgia 30303-2762

Problems with food from China

From The Washington Post...

China Food Fears Go From Pets To People

Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, April 25, 2007; Page A01

HANGHAI -- Something was wrong with the babies. The villagers noticed their heads were growing abnormally large while the rest of their bodies were skin and bones. By the time Chinese authorities discovered the culprit -- severe malnutrition from fake milk powder -- 13 had died.

The scandal, which unfolded three years ago after hundreds of babies fell ill in an eastern Chinese province, became the defining symbol of a broad problem in China's economy. Quality control and product-safety regulation are so poor in this country that people cannot trust the goods on store shelves.

Until now, the problem has not received much attention outside of China. In recent weeks, however, consumers everywhere have been learning about China's safety crisis. Tainted ingredients that originated here made their way into pet food that has sickened and killed animals around the world.

Chinese authorities acknowledge the safety problem and have promised repeatedly to fix it, but the disasters keep coming. Tang Yanli, 45, grand-aunt of a baby who became sick because of the fake milk but eventually recovered, said that even though she now pays more to buy national brands, she remains suspicious.

"I don't trust the food I eat," she said. "I don't know which products are good, which are bad."

With China playing an ever-larger role in supplying food, medicine and animal feed to other countries, recognition of the hazards has not kept up.

By value, China is the world's No. 1 exporter of fruits and vegetables, and a major exporter of other food and food products, which vary widely, from apple juice to sausage casings and garlic. China's agricultural exports to the United States surged to $2.26 billion last year, according to U.S. figures -- more than 20 times the $133 million of 1980.

China has been especially poor at meeting international standards. The United States subjects only a small fraction of its food imports to close inspection, but each month rejects about 200 shipments from China, mostly because of concerns about pesticides and antibiotics and about misleading labeling. In February, border inspectors for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration blocked peas tainted by pesticides, dried white plums containing banned additives, pepper contaminated with salmonella and frozen crawfish that were filthy.

Since 2000, some countries have temporarily banned whole categories of Chinese imports. The European Union stopped shipments of shrimp because of banned antibiotics. Japan blocked tea and spinach, citing excessive antibiotic residue. And South Korea banned fermented cabbage after finding parasites in some shipments.

As globalization of the food supply progresses, "the food gets more anonymous and gradually you get into a situation where you don't know where exactly it came from and you get more vulnerable to poor quality," said Michiel Keyzer, director of the Centre for World Food Studies at Vrije University in Amsterdam, who researches China's exports to the European Union.

Chinese authorities, while conceding the country has many safety problems, have claimed other countries' assessments of products are sometimes "not accurate" and have implied the bans may be politically motivated, aimed at protecting domestic companies that compete with Chinese businesses.

China's State Food and Drug Administration, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture, which along with other government agencies share responsibility for monitoring food and drug safety, this week declined to answer written questions faxed to them.


The investigations are unearthing details of the food chain that were previously a mystery to most Americans, including the international dealings that determine how ingredients make their way into the food supply. U.S. companies are under relentless pressure to cut costs, in part from consumers who demand low prices, and obtaining cheap ingredients from China has become an important strategy for many of them.

In China, meanwhile, the government has found that companies have cut corners in virtually every aspect of food production and packaging, including improper use of fertilizer, unsanitary packing and poor refrigeration of dairy products.

William O'Brien, president of Hami Food of Beijing, which transports food for the McDonald's restaurant chain and other multinational companies in China, said in some of his competitors' operations, "chilled and frozen products very often come in taxi cabs or in vans -- not under properly controlled conditions. That is something that people should worry about."

Not surprisingly, food-related poisonings are a common occurrence.

Last year, farmers raising duck eggs were found to have used a red dye so the yolks would look reddish instead of yellow, fetching a higher price. The dye turned out to be a cancer-causing substance not approved for human consumption. In Shanghai, 300 people were poisoned by a chemical additive in pork.

The Chinese government has undertaken a major overhaul of its monitoring system by dispatching state inspectors to every province, launching spot inspections at supermarkets, and firing a number of corrupt officials.

"After these incidents, Chinese consumers began to ask, 'What can we eat?' They no longer had any confidence in the safety of their food," said Hu Dinghuan, a food-safety expert at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, a think tank linked to the Chinese government.

Henk Bekedam, the World Health Organization representative in China, said the situation is complicated by poor coordination among 17 government agencies involved in food safety.

In the United States and Europe, food is identified by lot numbers that can often help authorities pinpoint problems. And increasingly, food producers in developed countries are under pressure to keep records that allow the tracing of problem ingredients to individual farms.

China has a long way to go to achieve this type of modern system, said Hu, a researcher at the Institute of Agricultural Economics and Development who is working on a national pilot program to encourage farmers to keep better records.

China has more than 200 million farmers working one- to two-acre plots. Many of them earn a meager living, sometimes less than $200 a year. Studies have found they often have little understanding of correct chemical or antibiotic use.

The marketing of food and food-related goods in China is also dominated by small-time traders. Small farmers typically take their food to wholesale markets, get cash for their wares but do not exchange documentation with buyers.

Their products are mixed with those of other small farmers, making the source untraceable. "The person who is ultimately buying knows nothing about where it originated," Hami Food's O'Brien said.

In response to the pet deaths in the United States, China is carrying out a nationwide inspection of wheat gluten, but its government has refuted allegations that Chinese companies are responsible for the deaths.

Wheat gluten has industrial uses and China has suggested the shipments that made their way into pet food might never have been intended for that purpose. China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said China has never sent wheat gluten abroad for use as a pet-food ingredient. That has raised the question of whether companies that bought the gluten are guilty of misusing it.


The FDA said it had traced the ingredient to Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development, near Shanghai. The company has said, however, that it is a middleman and got the wheat gluten from another source.

And... Chinese President Hu Jintao has urged farms to improve food safety and develop the organic sector, state media said on Wednesday, reflecting widespread anxiety after a series of health scandals.

I don't know about you, but I'm not going to be eating anything imported from China. And I won't be feeding my cats anything imported from China either.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Summing it all up - David Goldstein at The Huffington Post

Another great entry by David Goldstein of The Huffington Post

Melamine: It Tastes Just Like Chicken

It is official, this is no longer just a pet food recall:

U.S. health officials are now looking at whether humans may have consumed food containing a chemical linked to a recall of pet foods and livestock feed, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday.

FDA officials said they would inspect imports of six grain products used in foods ranging from bread to baby formula for traces of melamine, a chemical thought to have killed and sickened cats and dogs.

Those six grain products are wheat gluten, corn gluten, corn meal, soy protein, rice bran and rice protein. As many as 39,000 dogs and cats may have been sickened or killed due to melamine contamination.

But wait, it gets worse:

The California Agriculture Department said separately it was trying to contact 50 people who bought pork that may have come from pigs fed food containing melamine. The state's health department recommended humans not consume the meat, but said any health risk was minimal.

Melamine, a chemical used in plastics and fertilizer, has already been found in wheat gluten and rice protein imported from China for use in some pet foods, triggering a recall of more than 100 brands. [...] Some tainted material was used for hog feed before the contamination was found, and officials said on Tuesday thousands of pigs might be affected on farms in North and South Carolina, California, New York, Utah and possibly Ohio.

The FDA is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and several states to investigate the now-quarantined farms and whether hogs on those farms were slaughtered for human food.

"Some of the hog operations were fairly sizable," said Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine.

And worse:

A poultry farm in Missouri also may have received tainted feed, officials added.

Mmm. Melamine... it tastes just like chicken.

And all this news comes only hours after Congressional hearings on food safety, at which the FDA didn't bother to mention any of this at all. Typical.

Back on April 1, when I first started covering this story at length, I wrote:

Unless and until the FDA determines otherwise, one cannot help but wonder if our sick and dying cats are merely the canary in the coal mine alerting us to a broader contamination of the human food supply.

I take some pride but no joy in my prescience, and it now seems clear that from the moment the FDA first thought to test for melamine, they clearly understood the potential scope of this "economic adulteration." A huge swath of our food supply has been compromised: any processed food containing high-protein additives, and any and all livestock, including farmed fish. And considering how widespread the melamine contamination appears to be, and the Chinese government's indignant non-reaction, it is not hyperbole to suggest that all imported Chinese foodstuffs should for now be viewed with suspicion, as should all domestic products using imported Chinese ingredients.

This is a huge story, and I cannot for the life of me understand how the news media has let it slip so far under the radar. It is virtually impossible, given the nature of our food industry and the circumstances publicly known thus far, for the tainted foodstuffs not to have made it into the human food supply. Americans and their pets are being slowly poisoned by melamine, and quite likely have been for years.

You'd think maybe, some enterprising reporter might be smelling a Pulitzer in there somewhere?

You'd think David, you'd think.

More from his blog today:

You Are What You Eat: Is "Salvage" Pet Food Feeding Cows to Cows?

It is time for the Food and Drug Administration and the media covering it to stop pretending that our nation's massive pet food recall only concerns our pets, for the more we learn about common food industry practices, the breadth and scope of melamine contamination, and the lack of adequate regulatory safeguards, the more it becomes apparent that our entire food supply isn't nearly as safe as the average consumer assumes it to be.

The industrial chemical melamine has now been discovered in multiple high-protein food additives -- wheat, corn and rice gluten -- from multiple Chinese manufacturers, leading industry experts to conclude that not only was the contamination intentional, but that such "economic adulteration" is disturbingly widespread, at least in China. Testifying this morning before the House Committee on Energy & Commerce, ChemNutra CEO Steve Miller -- the importer of melamine-tainted wheat gluten that killed or sickened as many as 39,000 dogs and cats -- explains the theory:

"We at ChemNutra strongly suspect, at this point, that XuZhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. Ltd may have added melamine to the wheat gluten as an "economic adulteration" designed to make inferior wheat gluten appear to have a higher protein content. They can sell it to us at the price we would pay for a higher-quality product because the melamine, our experts tell us, falsely elevates the results of a nitrogen-content test used to assess protein content. Melamine is not something that we or, anyone else, including the FDA was ever testing for in the past, though of course we are now.

We have recently been told that there was a prior history of this same kind of economic adulteration related to a similar agricultural commodity about three decades ago, where this commodity was adulterated with urea, another nitrogen intensive additive, which had at the time become inexpensive enough to economically use to fool the protein testing."

Given the facts and the known history, no other theory can adequately explain the contamination, regardless of what FDA investigators eventually find once they are permitted entry to China. One synthetic organic chemist explained that he could think of no other chemical better suited to such economic adulteration than melamine. "What you would look for" he told me, "is an additive that is nontoxic, nonvolatile, high in nitrogen... and dirt cheap." At approximately 66-percent nitrogen by weight, with no explosive characteristics or previously known toxicity, and widely available for less than a penny a gram, melamine was the obvious choice.

If these known batches of adulterated gluten have not made it directly into the human food supply, it is only by sheer luck, but last week it was confirmed that the toxin most likely did make its way into American kitchens in the form of melamine-tainted pork from hogs fed on "salvage" pet food, exposing yet more of the dirty underbelly of our food industry.

What is "salvage" pet food, and why was it fed to hogs? A spokesperson for Diamond Pet Foods explained that the mixture from the beginning of each production run is "too high in moisture content to run through the manufacturing process," and that this is provided to farms with non-ruminant animals as "salvage" under regulatory guidelines. In all of its communications regarding the hog poisoning incident, Diamond is careful to frame the little known "salvage" and "distressed" pet food market in the best possible light.

"It is a common regulated practice for animal food facilities to provide salvage product to farms with non-ruminant animals. This regulated practice is mindful of the environment as it does not waste energy (food) and saves valuable landfill space."

Yeah sure, in fact, feeding salvage and distressed pet food to livestock apparently is a common practice... in the U.S. North of the border, however, not so much. Indeed, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency:

Because livestock animals are grown as food for humans, and pets are not, the pet food industry is able to make use of ingredients which may be unsuited for use in livestock feeds. Thus it is not acceptable to subsequently reintroduce these ingredients back into livestock feeds as waste pet food material. [...] Pet food, including salvaged and distressed pet food, is not an approved ingredient for use in livestock feed and as such its inclusion is not considered safe and will not be allowed at this time.

Makes sense. Unsuitable ingredients include those not approved for use in livestock feeds as listed in Schedule IV or V of the Canadian Feeds Regulations. (Interestingly, "rice gluten" or "rice protein concentrate" appear nowhere on the list. Or, for that matter, in the FDA's EAFUS -- Everything Added to Food in the United States -- database. Go figure.)

Other ingredients unsuited for livestock feed -- in Canada -- include those that "may contain animal proteins [...] which may be prohibited from feeding to ruminants." You know, it just isn't kosher (literally and figuratively) to feed cows, um... cows.

And according to a brochure provided by the Pet Food Institute, the same ruminant cannibalism prohibition holds true here. Sorta. In the U.S., salvage and distressed pet food may be repurposed for livestock feed, but must be labeled "Do Not Feed to Cattle or Other Ruminants" if it contains any mammalian protein at all. That is, any mammalian protein except:

  • Milk products.
  • Gelatin.
  • Blood and blood products.
  • Pure pork or horse protein.
  • And inspected meat products of any type which have been cooked and offered for human food (such as "plate scrapings") and further heat processed for animal feed.

Yuck. Who knew that in the U.S. your unfinished burger could make its way into cattle feed via salvage dog feed, and then back onto your plate in the form of another burger? That type of dedication to recycling I can do without.

One of the take-home messages from the whole Mad Cow crisis was that it was unsafe and unnatural to feed animal protein to ruminants meant for human consumption, and yet the practice apparently continues to this day. Our lax, salvage pet food regulations have already directly led to human consumption of melamine-tainted pork, and there is no reason to be confident that this and other dangerous chemicals or diseases have not contaminated our beef and dairy supply. If it is unacceptable to feed salvaged pet food to livestock in Canada, it should be unacceptable here in the U.S. as well.

There has been much talk recently about the FDA lacking the funding and staffing necessary to adequately police our globalizing food industry, but after six years of Bush administration control, it also clearly lacks the leadership and mandate as well. This isn't merely an issue about management -- it is ideological -- and by now it should be clear to objective observers that the FDA's and other federal regulatory agencies' over-reliance on industry self-regulation has put the health, safety and welfare of the American public at risk.

This is what comes from electing politicians who despise government, and who appoint regulators who do not believe in regulation.

FDA to test Imported Corn Meal, Corn Gluten, Soy Protein and Rice Bran in addition to Rice Protein and Wheat Gluten for Melamine

WASHINGTON, April 24 (Reuters) -

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday it would look for melamine contamination in imported wheat gluten, corn gluten, corn meal, soy protein, rice bran and rice protein, used in manufactured food for humans and livestock.

Since melamine has already been found in wheat gluten and rice protein in the US (imported from China), and in corn gluten in South Africa (also imported from China) , I'm guessing they have a good reason to suspect corn meal, soy protein and rice bran.

The FDA said thousands of U.S. hogs might be affected by its investigation of livestock feed contaminated with the chemical melamine, which used in plastics and fertilizer.

Melamine has been found in wheat gluten and rice protein imported from China that was used in some U.S. pet foods and feed.

"We're going to target firms that we know are receiving imported products," said David Acheson, chief medical officer of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. "The goal is obviously to sample as much as we can."

Melamine has been found in wheat gluten used in pet foods. Menu Foods, Procter & Gamble Co., Colgate-Palmolive Co., Nestle SA and Del Monte Foods Co. have recalled pet products made with the gluten.

Rice protein tainted with melamine was also found in pet foods from at least five manufacturers who obtained the protein from one supplier, U.S. officials have said. It also made its way into feed used at a California hog farm.

On Monday, two U.S. lawmakers said a second company likely imported rice protein from China that was contaminated with a chemical linked to a major pet food recall.

"The initial focus is on imports, not domestically-produced (proteins)," Acheson told reporters. "In terms of countries of origin, we're really interested in protein concentrates that were manufactured in China."

The agency said on a call with reporters late on Tuesday that it had no intention of banning imports of wheat gluten, rice protein or similar proteins from China.

Why the (bleep) not?!

"We believe the safety net is in place to make sure that no additional products are going to get into the commerce of the United States," said David Elder, director of FDA's enforcement office.

You're joking, right?

The FDA said contaminated feed was sent to hog farms in North and South Carolina, California, New York, Utah and possibly Ohio.

The FDA is working with the U.S. Agriculture Department to investigate the now-quarantined farms and whether any of the hogs on those farms were slaughtered for human food, the agency said.

"I don't have the numbers on that right now, but it potentially affects thousands of hogs," said Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine. "Some of the hog operations were fairly sizable."

U.S. Food Safety Strained by Imports - Ingredients rarely tested

Wonder how we got into this mess?

Here's an excellent (and scary) AP Report that helps to explain it all.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The same food safety net that couldn't catch poisoned pet food ingredients from China has a much bigger hole.

Billions of dollars' worth of foreign ingredients that Americans eat in everything from salad dressing to ice cream get a pass from overwhelmed inspectors, despite a rising tide of imports from countries with spotty records, according to an Associated Press analysis of federal trade and food data.

Well before contaminated shipments from China killed 16 cats and dogs and sickened thousands more, government food safety task forces worried about the potential human threat — ingredients are hard to quarantine and can go virtually everywhere in a range of brand products.

When U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspectors at ports and border checkpoints look, they find shipments that are filthy or otherwise contaminated. They rarely bother, however, in part because ingredients aren't a priority.

Because these oils, spices, flours, gums and the like haven't been blamed for killing humans, safety checks before they reach the supermarket shelf are effectively the responsibility of U.S. buyers. As the pet deaths showed, however, that system is far from secure.

Meanwhile, the ingredient trade is booming — particularly since 2001, when the Sept. 11 attacks focused attention on the security of the nation's food supply.

Over the past five years, the AP found, U.S. food makers prospecting for bargains more than doubled their business with low-cost countries such as Mexico, China and India. Those nations also have the most shipments fail the limited number of checks the FDA makes.

"You don't have to be a Ph.D. to figure out that ... if someone were to put some type of a toxic chemical into a product that's trusted, that could do a lot of damage before it's detected," said Michael Doyle, a microbiologist who directs the University of Georgia's Center for Food Safety.

Doyle sat on several federal task forces studying threats to U.S. food security; while they discussed ingredients, he said, their findings are classified.

Read down most any food package's label and there they are: strange-sounding substances that keep soft drinks fizzy, crackers crispy and sauces from gooing up. Gum arabic, extracted from acacia trees, helps give light whipped cream its texture; maltodextrin is derived from starchy foods, then can be dusted on chips so spices stick; caseins, a protein from milk, help the consistency of cheese substitutes.

While Americans are consuming more imported food and drink from preserved fruit to coffee, demand among U.S. food makers for overseas ingredients is increasing even faster.

In 2001, the United States imported about $4.4 billion worth of ingredients processed from plants or animals, AP's analysis shows. By last year that total leaped to $7.6 billion — a 73 percent increase. Other food and drink imports rose from $38.3 billion to $63 billion — up 65 percent.

No single reason explains the increase. Profits are one factor; changing consumer tastes play a role, too. There's a growing expectation that seasonal products will be available year round, while immigrants may hanker for familiar flavors and others want variety.

So U.S. food makers head overseas, where labor-intensive ingredients can be cheaper to produce in low-wage countries. They're not expensive to ship, either, because they're relatively compact and don't spoil easily, said David Closs, an expert in global food supply at Michigan State University.

By its own latest accounting, the FDA only had enough inspectors to check about 1 percent of the 8.9 million imported food shipments in fiscal year 2006. Topping the list were products with past problems, such as seafood and produce.

"I don't ever remember working on ingredients," said Carl R. Nielsen, a former FDA official whose job until he left in 2005 was to make sure field inspectors were checking the right imports. "That was the lowest priority, a low priority."

On Tuesday, a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee will hold a hearing on the FDA's oversight of the food supply, with a focus on the recent cases of contaminated spinach, peanut butter and pet food. The hearing is part of a broader investigation by lawmakers into the FDA's handling of food safety.

There are other reasons ingredients aren't thoroughly examined. Unlike rotting fish or moldy vegetables, ingredient testing often requires a laboratory. Analyzing samples takes days and can irk importers who don't like the choice of holding their product or risking a costly recall if they go ahead with distribution.

To cope with limited resources, the FDA requires that overseas companies announce that a shipment is coming, notification that lets inspectors target products once they arrive.

That leaves quality control, by and large, to American buyers and their suppliers. If they don't do it, they run the risk of health problems that can devastate a brand and generate huge lawsuits.

But except in rare cases, companies don't have to prove that a shipment of ingredients is safe — no tests must show that it's pesticide-free, for example — and the FDA rarely checks whether overseas processing conditions are up to par. That contrasts with meat imports regulated by the Department of Agriculture, which must be processed under conditions equivalent to those here.

"Unless there's a known problem," Nielsen said, "it's going to fly through."

FDA records over the past year reflect that reality:

_ Inspectors refused more than 650 food or drink shipments from China; only about 20 were ingredients. Catfish, eel, shrimp and vegetable products were among the most rejected.

None of the barred shipments was either of the two tainted ingredients — wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate — that led to nationwide pet food recalls. It took the deaths of cats and dogs this spring to trigger tests that revealed an industrial chemical somehow entered the food chain.

_ While inspectors refused the most shipments from India, they didn't turn back any of the top ingredient import from there, a sticky plant extract that helps give frozen desserts their texture. Although there were no reports of problems with those thickening agents from locust beans or guar seeds, it's unclear how many shipments were inspected and let pass. The $118 million imported in 2006 made the category the third-largest food from India, behind shrimp/prawns and cashew nuts, and well ahead of rice.

The FDA issued two brief statements in response to interview requests, saying imported food ingredients are treated "basically the same as with any food commodity" entering the United States.

"We use a risk management approach and any regulated product, including food ingredients, IS a priority to FDA if it poses a public health risk," one statement said. "If a food ingredient were to be identified as risk to public health, we are able to quickly shift resources to handle."

Exporting countries are supposed to help. But governments such as China, where tainted food scandals are common, can have a stunning lack of oversight, said William Hubbard, a top FDA official for 14 years who now advocates for stiffer food safety regulations.

He recounted how one supplier drove a truck over tea leaves to dry them with exhaust, which leached lead into the leaves. That was an unintended consequence of a supplier taking a shortcut. Imagine, Hubbard said, what could be done by someone intent on hurting people.

By late last week, federal officials said they were investigating whether the recalled pet foods may have been intentionally spiked with the industrial chemical melamine to boost their apparent protein content.

Ingredients aren't often blamed for outbreaks of human illness.

One reason is that they may be processed enough that microbes are killed, though as the pet food case shows, chemicals can remain. Another reason is that connections can be elusive: People sickened by casein, for example, might have consumed anything from cheese to a bodybuilding shake.

Even when an ingredient is the suspected culprit, it can be hard to pinpoint.

More than 1,200 children in at least seven states were sickened in 1998 after eating school lunch burritos. Although flour tortillas were identified as the common link, public health officials never determined what was wrong with them.

"Ingredients are more likely to go under the radar screen," said Helen Jensen, an Iowa State University economics professor who studies food safety and international trade.

When they are bad, she said, they present particular problems: They're widely distributed and often used in products with a long shelf life.

When Canadian pet food maker Menu Foods recalled its products last month, they were pulled from shelves nationwide. Three weeks later, the FDA warned that contaminated food may still be circulating.

Last year's list of leading ingredient suppliers reflected the globalized food chain.

While U.S. neighbors Canada and Mexico were first and third, Malaysia was second. Forests in that Asian nation have been replaced by plantations of trees tapped for palm oil, $250 million of which was sent here. China and India were fifth and sixth, just after New Zealand, according to the AP analysis.

The top ingredient category was the catchall "food preparations," followed by industrial-sized blocks of chocolate, cocoa butter, casein and refined palm oil. Some of the imports can be used in non-edible products; wheat gluten, for example, also is used to make biodegradable "sporks," the combination spoon-fork.

FDA officials have said none of the contaminated wheat gluten from China entered the human food chain. That's little comfort to Jeff Kerner.

Kerner read food labels, paid for all-natural ingredients and figured that would keep his Yorkshire terrier healthy. Instead, Pebbles died last month after eating tainted food.

"All of us, I think, fall into that false sense of security that 'Well, if they put it in there, it must be OK,'" he said. "I understand that it's the bottom line, but at what expense?"


Associated Press graphic artist Jesse Garnier and researcher Julie Reed contributed to this report.

Senators say second batch of tainted rice powder imported

We still don't know the name of the 5th manufacturer that received the 1st batch of melamine rice protein - now there's news of a second batch that went to a different distributor. As far as I heard, this did NOT come up in the hearing today.

US senators raise new concerns in pet food scare

A second company likely imported rice protein from China that was contaminated with a chemical linked to a major pet food recall, two U.S. lawmakers said on Monday.

Rice protein tainted with the chemical melamine was used in pet foods from at least five manufacturers who obtained the protein from one supplier, U.S. officials have said. It also made its way into feed used at a California hog farm.

Now, another company is suspected of importing rice protein from China, Democratic Sens. Richard Durbin of Illinois and Maria Cantwell of Washington said in a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"We have learned that in addition to Wilbur-Ellis, a second United States company imported a shipment of rice protein from China that is also likely to be contaminated with melamine," the senators wrote. "We request the FDA identify this second importer as well as those manufacturers to which it may have sold the contaminated product."

An aide to Durbin said the senators found out about the second importer from industry sources.

If confirmed, that could further expand a pet food recall that so far includes more than 100 brands. FDA officials have confirmed 16 deaths of cats and dogs from kidney failure and have received more than 15,000 reports of illnesses.

The senators' letter came ahead of a congressional hearing on Tuesday to examine the pet food scare as well as the larger issue of human food safety before a U.S. House of Representatives committee.

FDA spokeswoman Cathy McDermott said so far the agency is only aware of one rice protein importer, Wilbur-Ellis Co., but the investigation is ongoing.

The agency has said the rice protein was supplied by China-based Binzhou Futian Biology Technology Co. Ltd. but the company has denied involvement.

Last week, privately held Wilbur-Ellis said contaminated rice protein was distributed to several pet food makers. Three of them -- Natural Balance Pet Foods, the Blue Buffalo Co. and Diamond Pet Foods -- have pulled some of their products.

Wilbur-Ellis and the FDA declined to name the other two makers. Durbin and Cantwell called on the agency to make those two companies publicly known.

Melamine, used in plastics and fertilizer, was earlier found in wheat gluten used in pet foods.

House Hears Testimony on Pet Food Poisonings; FDA's Lack of Authority Cited

U.S. Food Supply at High Risk of Terrorist or Profit-Driven Tampering

American food is high risk for both natural and terrorist-related outbreaks and many in Congress are questioning whether the Food and Drug Administration can adequately protect Americans.

With increased reports of dangerous imported glutens, particularly from China, infecting pets and possibly humans, Representatives held one of a series of hearings today to determine how to strengthen our nation's food supply.

"This has become a systematic problem that requires systematic change," Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) said.

Representatives blamed the FDA's lack of power for the rash of recent food recalls.

"Every American has reason to worry about pathogens in our food supply that sickens 72 million and kill about 5,000 of us each year," Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) said. "It is important we learn how much of this death and illness could have been prevented by diligent and properly funded regulatory agencies, primarily the Food and Drug Administration."

Foxes Guard Henhouse

The most-noted flaw in the FDA's authority is its complete inability to order a food recall. By law, the manufacturer or distributor must voluntarily recall the tainted products.

This shortcoming was dramatically illustrated over the weekend, when ConsumerAffairs.Com's Lisa Wade McCormick reported that the FDA admitted knowing of five companies that received contaminated Chinese rice protein concentrate.

Three firms have identified themselves by announcing recalls; the other two are not publicly known because the FDA will not name them until the companies come forth voluntarily.

Currently, recalls are dependant upon the media to disseminate information and for consumers to be conscientious and well-read buyers.

DeGette has proposed legislation that will give the FDA and USDA the power to order recalls and also to increase recalls' effectiveness by forcing stores to remove dangerous products from shelves.

This morning's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing raised a continuing concern about imported foods from China, which has been at the center of the pet food recall. Recent reports claim the Chinese manufacturer purposely poisoned the wheat, rice and possibly corn glutens used in pet foods and to feed hogs.

After a handful of theories as to why pets around the country were dying, the FDA finally determined that Melamine, a toxic plastic, was to blame.

"Melamine is used in plastics and is not edible," Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) said. "In light of that fact, the FDA is investigating whether it was intentionally added to the wheat gluten or other ingredients to boost the protein content in order to make the products more valuable."

No Accident

Many are convinced that it was no accident that the Chinese tainted the glutens.

"Regardless of whether they are wheat, rice or corn-based proteins, they share two characteristics," Dingell said. "First, they were contaminated deliberately. Second, they came from our trading partners in China."

Yesterday, the Chinese finally allowed FDA inspectors into the country to inspect the suspect processing plants. But that came after an initial request which the Chinese immediately turned down.

"China's foot-dragging in a public health incident is totally unacceptable," Barton said. "Building a great wall of bureaucracy between our experts and their problem is not going to make the problem disappear."

"The suspicion of international contamination is eerily similar to past incidents in China," Barton said. "A dozen years ago, 89 children in Haiti died after taking cough medicine made with, believe it or not, poisonous antifreeze that was traced back to China. The world never got an answer from the Chinese on how this crime occurred.

"In an investigation started in 1998 when I was the chairman of this subcommittee, we found that 155 Americans were sickened by impure gentamicin sulfate made by a Chinese firm," Barton continued. "We never got a definitive answer on how this unapproved, impure drug ingredient got into that particular product."

Terrorism Risk

The poisoning of thousands of pets with dangerous food imported from China demonstrates how easily terrorists could kill Americans by poisoning food imported through a porous food inspection network.

"So far, the evidence suggests that the deliberate contamination was for greed and not as a trial run for terrorist purposes," Dingell said.

But a February Government Accountability Office report also concluded that the food network is a "high risk" and that terrorists could easily kill Americans through our own food.

There are a handful of bills pending in both the House and the Senate that seek to strengthen the food inspection network, but any preliminary vote on legislation appears months away at best.

The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will hold another hearing in approximately two weeks that will bring FDA officials to the stand.

LiveSmart Weight Management Chicken and Brown Rice Recall

Updated Wednesday 6:30pm: Per their new press release today, their contract manufacturer is Chenengo Valley Pet Food in New York.

Another non-recall recall. Apparently this was 'announced' on Friday, though noone knew about it until today. So, once again I must say "What is WRONG with these people??!!"

LiveSmart Weight Management Chicken and Brown Rice Recall

On Friday, April 20, SmartPak initiated a voluntary recall of a single production run of the LiveSmart Weight Management Chicken and Brown Rice Dog Food.

The particular lot of food recalled included rice protein concentrate that was supplied by Wilbur-Ellis, the same company that supplied rice protein concentrate contaminated with Melamine to Natural Balance. This was the first time that our supplier purchased and used rice protein concentrate from Wilbur-Ellis. No previous lots were affected, nor do we use rice protein concentrate in any other formulas of LiveSmart dog or cat foods.

Thankfully, the product was just produced, and only a very limited amount of product had left our facility prior to the recall (less than 1200 pounds). We have notified every affected pet owner via both phone and email.

We have not had any reports of injury to any dogs. Dogs who have consumed the LiveSmart Weight Management food and show signs of kidney failure (such as loss of appetite, lethargy and vomiting) should be seen by a veterinarian.

We have temporarily suspended further distribution of the LiveSmart Weight Management Chicken and Brown Rice Dog Food. We will notify you when we have the product back in stock and will continue to update our website as more information becomes available.

N.C. hogs got food tainted with melamine & FDA Investigating other hog operations

Added 6:41pm: A couple of places are reporting that a POULTRY Farm (ie chickens) may also have received tainted feed. More here when I get it confirmed...

Added 5:15pm: Hogs in 3 states have tested positive for melamine. (As reported on the CBS Evening News)

FDA says probing "thousands" of hogs for tainted feed

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday that "thousands" of U.S. hogs might be affected by the agency's investigation of livestock feed contaminated with melamine.

"I don't have the numbers on that right now but it potentially affects thousands of hogs," Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, told reporters. "Some of the hog operations were fairly sizable."

Livestock feed that may have been contaminated with ingredients imported from China was sent to hog farms in North and South Carolina, California, New York, Utah and "possibly" Ohio, he said.

N.C. hogs got food tainted with melamine (Note: this is in addition to ones in California that we heard about last week. )

Hogs at a western North Carolina farm have tested positive for melamine, the industrial chemical blamed for killing and sickening dogs and cats that ate it in their food.

North Carolina Department of Agriculture officials said that none of the hogs that ate the tainted food have entered the food chain for human consumption. The department has quarantined the farm, which has about 1,400 hogs, until it the U.S. Food and Drug Administration can advise what to do next.

The department declined to release the name of the farm. It said no other farms are believed to have been affected.

"The system worked and these animals were intercepted before they were allowed to leave the farm," said Mary Ann McBride, assistant state veterinarian for the department. "We want people to know the food is very much safe."

In California, officials have quarantined 1,500 animals at the American Hog Farm in Ceres, Calif., where hogs are also believed to have eaten tainted food.

North Carolina investigators are attempting to determine whether the melamine was absorbed into the meat of the pigs and whether it would eventually be safe to eat.

N.C. officials said the pigs' food came from a proccessing plant in South Carolina. That food contained a rice protein concentrate from San Francisco-based Wilbur-Ellis Co., one of three pet food makers that recalled products last week that were tainted with rice protein concentrate imported from China.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Royal Canin CANADA Recalls more DRY Foods

Royal Canin Canada Voluntarily Recalls Pet Food Products That May Contain Contaminated Rice Protein Concentrate

Guelph, Ontario -- Following Royal Canin USA's discovery of a melamine derivative in rice gluten in some of its dry pet food products and its decision to recall these products, Royal Canin Canada has decided to remove Sensible Choice Diet and certain veterinary prescribed specialty diet products from distribution.

The following Royal Canin Canada products are being recalled:

    (Rice and Catfish)
    (Rice and Duck)

In the interest of pet safety, Royal Canin Canada has taken the proactive measure to recall the products listed above.

"We cannot express how devastated we are to notify pet owners of this finding," said Xavier Unkovic, CEO Royal Canin Canada. "However, we feel that this recall is necessary as we absolutely cannot put pets at risk."

Based on today’s announcement, pet owners should immediately stop feeding their pets the Royal Canin Canada pet food products listed in this statement. Pet owners should consult with a veterinarian if they are concerned about the health of their pet. No other Royal Canin Canada diets are affected by this recall and CONTINUE TO BE safe for pets to eat.

Along with the recall announcement, Royal Canin Canada will no longer use any Chinese suppliers for any of its vegetable proteins.

Pet owners who have questions about this recall and other Royal Canin Canada products should call 1-866-494-6844.

Volunteers Needed! Get food off shelves...,,,, and have joined together to ask for your help.
Update 6-10: Recalled food was purchased from a
California store on 5-29th – this stuff is still out there!
We need Volunteers to help get recalled food off store shelves. Read this post at Spocko’s Brain for instructions. Print a list (or two) on this site. Visit stores, then report safe stores here at

Printing Information:
1. Print the main FDA Pet Food Recall page – this will be handy to show retailers who haven’t heard anything about the recall. (3 pages)

2. Print the list of 14 Major National Brands - it includes flavors and date information where applicable so you can tell if specific products for these brands have been recalled. The brands are: Alpo Prime Cuts, Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul, Doctors Foster and Smith, Eukanuba, Gravy Train, Hill’s Science Diet, Iams, Jerky Treats, Lick Your Chops, Mighty Dog Pouches, Natural Balance, Nutro, Pounce, Royal Canin. (It’s 7 pages and includes FDA contact information.)

3. Print the List of All Brands – it will remind you what products have been recalled - but it does not give you date and flavor information, there is just too much to put in one document. (7 pages, but the 7th page is links to more detailed information so you don’t need to print it)

If you want, and are going to a store that you know has store brands that have been recalled (such as Walmart), go to that recall information at the links on the summary or at the FDA site and print it out. Some of the information is formatted in ways that make it difficult to read (one of the main reasons for this site), but it’s better than nothing.

Note: The FDA is the official source for all recall information and recalled products. This is an unofficial volunteer effort to help get the word out and get recalled foods off of shelves. We’re doing the best we can but can’t guarantee these lists are completely accurate. Again, here is the official recall site: