Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Despite having had strike one and two called on them about their past assertions that the pet food recalls were over (disproved by last week's expansions of same) the American FDA simply cannot learn from its mistakes. The new head of the FDA, Dr. David W.K. Acherson stated in an interview with the Baltimore Sun published May 5 that "the international situation is under control" and that the search for pet food contamination is "virtually closed" and that the FDA has a "very good handle on its distribution". The FDA continued on in this reassuring tone in a press release dated May 7th where they reasserted the safety of the human food supply due to the "dilution" factor of the contaminated food fed to hogs and chickens was minimal and that quarantined animals where the feed samples tested were negative for melamine were to be released for slaughter. (Molly has to call time out here to consult with the ump. What feed samples ? The latest ones presented by the producer at the time of the FDA visit ? What about previous feed that is now working its way through avian and porcine bodies ? )
Yet just after this "reassuring news" comes yet more stories of melamine contaminated feed being fed to animals, this time fish. An item from the Associated Press today relates how fish farms in Oregon used melamine contaminated feed for their production. A St. Louis MO company, Diversified Ingredients Inc., brokered a deal with the Canadian fish meal producer Westaqua which has offices in Vancouver, BC (and also in Saskatoon, SK, something the story leaves out- Molly) for 353 lbs of the so-called Chinese wheat gluten that was contaminated. This story also reports that the "gluten" was actually nothing but simple wheat flour that had been made to seem like a protein concentrate by liberal additions of melamine. A visit to the Diversified and West Aqua sites tonight shows that neither has decided to grace the public with a statement. The WestAqua site, however, is revealing in that they claim to be making foods not just for aquaculture but also for the general animal feed industry(cattle, chickens,turkeys,hogs and horses) and the pet food industry. We'll see what further recalls may develop from this direction.
Another company, however, Skretting, also implicated in the fish meal recall has issued a press release concerning their fish food sold under the label of BioVita Starter saying that they are recalling their product. This company seems to have not just more public integrity but also seems to be more concerned in general about the quality of their product. A visit to their site shows that they specialize in formulating fish food and are not simply in the business of moving ingredients around to other companies.
Meanwhile another rice protein distributor, Cereal Byproducts Company issued a rather quiet recall of their products on May 4th, a recall that is not presented in their corporate webpage!!!!! Only two out of three of the companies that they issued the recall to because they sold them products have responded as of yesterday. If more pet food recalls come out of this then it is three strikes for the FDA and its reassurances. One should then take a jaundiced view of their proclamations of "no threat" to human health. More on this later.
Of all the companies listed above only Skretting comes off as relatively clean. All the others are engaged in hiding relevant information. Well see soon if more pet food recalls come tumbling down despite what the FDA says.
Meanwhile the Washington Post has an article on how melamine and the combination with cyanuric acid led to the crystals that have killed so many pets. It is suspected that the two compounds were added to the pet food because both are useful in faking protein content. More on these details later.

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