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Import Alert from the FDA; updated death numbers

by Therese on April 30, 2007

in Pet Food Recall, Pet Health, Pets, Random Thoughts

** For a list of pet foods NOT recently recalled go to The Pet Food List **

If you’ve been following the pet food recall at all, you’re undoubtedly aware of the fact that the FDA has been reporting that only 17 or 18 pets have died as a result of the tainted pet food.

It appears now, however, that the FDA has suddenly decided that number isn’t quite right. From an alert dated April 27. Notice the numbers,

As of April 26, 2007, FDA had received over 17,000 consumer complaints relating to this outbreak, and those complaints included reports of approximately 1950 deaths of cats and 2200 deaths of dogs.

By contrast, the Pet Connection database contains 14,228 entries, with 2334 cats and 2249 dogs reported as deceased. They’ve been blasted all along for how high their numbers are. It appears now that the Pet Connection numbers may not be that far off after all!

From the FDA Alert:

PRODUCTS:
Wheat Gluten
Rice Gluten
Rice Protein
Rice Protein Concentrate
Corn Gluten
Corn Gluten Meal
Corn By-Products
Soy Protein
Soy Gluten
Proteins (includes amino acids and protein hydrosylates)
Mung Bean Protein

[…]

REASON FOR ALERT: In recent weeks, there has been an outbreak of cat and dog deaths and illness associated with pet food manufactured with vegetable proteins contaminated with melamine and melamine related compounds. In response to this outbreak, FDA has been conducting an aggressive and intensive investigation. Pet food manufacturers and others have recalled dog and cat food and other suspect products and ingredients. This has been one of the largest pet food recalls in history, a recall that continues to expand. Thus far, 18 firms have recalled product, 17 Class I and 1 class II, covering over 5,300 product lines. As of April 26, 2007, FDA had received over 17,000 consumer complaints relating to this outbreak, and those complaints included reports of approximately 1950 deaths of cats and 2200 deaths of dogs. The Agency is working with federal, state, and local governments, academia, and industry to assess the extent of the outbreak, better understand how melamine and melamine related compounds contributed to the pet deaths and illnesses, and to determine the underlying cause of the contamination.

As of April 26, 2007, FDA had collected approximately 750 samples of wheat gluten and products made with wheat gluten and, of those tested thus far, 330 were positive for melamine and/or melamine related compounds. FDA had also collected approximately 85 samples of rice protein concentrate and products made with rice protein concentrate and, of those tested thus far, 27 were positive for melamine and/or melamine related compounds. FDA’s investigation has traced all of the positive samples as having been imported from China.

Although FDA’s investigation is ongoing, the Agency has learned the following about the outbreak and its association with contaminated vegetable proteins from China:

1. For the vegetable proteins and finished products that have been found to be contaminated, it is unknown who the actual manufacturers are, how many manufacturers there are, or where in China they may be located.

The samples of vegetable proteins that have tested positive for the presence of melamine and melamine analogs have, thus far, been traced to two Chinese firms, Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. Ltd. and Binzhou Futian Biology Technology Co. Ltd. Records relating to the importation of these products indicate that these two firms had manufactured the ingredients in question. There is strong evidence, however, that these firms are not the actual manufacturers. Moreover, despite many weeks of investigation, it is still unknown who the actual manufacturer or manufacturers of the contaminated products imported from China are.

All of the contaminated wheat gluten has thus far been traced to Xuzhou Anying. According to the General administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) of the Chinese government, Xuzhou Anying purchased its wheat gluten from 25 different manufacturers and Xuzhou Anying may just be a supplier. Press statements by Xuzhou Anying state that it did not manufacturer the wheat gluten it had shipped to United States that has been associated with the outbreak, but that it received that
wheat gluten from other sources not named in the press statements.

Despite its investigation into the matter, FDA has been unable to determine who, in fact, the actual manufacturer(s) are.

2. The source of the contamination problem is currently unknown and FDA has been unable to isolate the scope of the problem.

Melamine is a molecule that has a number of commercial and industrial uses. Other than a few limited authorizations for use in food contact materials for human food, melamine has no approved use as an ingredient in human or animal food in the United States. FDA is continuing its investigation into how the melamine and melamine related compounds may have gotten into the vegetable protein, and has asked the Chinese government to help with this investigation.

In addition, FDA does not know how widespread the problem in China might be. For example, FDA does not know which regions of the country may or may not be impacted by the problem, which firms are the major manufacturers and exporters of vegetable proteins to the United States, where these vegetable proteins are grown in China, and what controls are currently in place to prevent against contamination.

According to the Chinese government, Xuzhou Anying did not declare the contaminated wheat gluten it shipped to the United States as a raw material for feed or food. Rather, according to the Chinese government, it was declared to them as non-food product, meaning that it was not subject to mandatory inspection by the Chinese government. In addition, in a communication to the U.S. government, the Chinese government has requested that FDA either request or require that U.S. importers of plant protein products insist on AQSIQ certification, based on AQSIQ testing, as part of the import contract. According to a media report, China’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement that the contaminated vegetable protein managed to get past Chinese customs without inspection because it had not been declared for use in pet food. The news report said the contamination problem has prompted China to step up inspections of plant-based proteins and to list melamine as a banned substance for food exports and domestic sales.

This information indicates that there are manufacturing control issues that cannot be linked to specific sources in China, but instead require country-wide monitoring.

3. On April 17, 2007, pet food manufacturers in South Africa recalled dry cat and dog food due to formulation with a contaminated corn gluten, a vegetable protein. FDA has learned that the corn gluten was contaminated with melamine and that the corn gluten had been imported from a third-party supplier in China. According to news reports, the contaminated pet food has been linked to the deaths of approximately 30 dogs in South Africa.

GUIDANCE: Districts may detain without physical examination, all Vegetable protein products from China.

You’ll find the entire alert on the FDA website.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Lynn May 2, 2007 at 7:26 am

Sorry, I posted this comment under the wrong heading so here it is again!

I stated:

It’s a good thing you had the link to go into the actual article at the FDA. When you go to their home page, there is absolutely NO mention of this.

If you did not include the acticle number, I wouldn’t have been able to find it on my own.

It appears they want to keep this release buried as DEEP as possible…………

Reply

Maureen May 2, 2007 at 11:22 am

I noticed that there was no mention of this also and I found that to be very odd. I went into the FDA search page and found it by listing the article number. Why wouldn’t they list this on their front page where people can see it? People have a right to be informed, our pets are dying!

Reply

Barbara Jantzen May 5, 2007 at 10:19 am

Why are any food related products being imported in the USA period? China and Korea skin Cats and Dogs Alive for the fur trade. They boil cats alive and prolong dogs deaths for some unfounded belief that this will give them some sort of sexual enhancements. The problem is they absolutely no regard, respect for LIFE Period!!! Animals have feelings and there are many of us People who love animals not for for torture or food. I will boycott any of their products. They should be ashame as a society for their barbaric ways!! Not Honorable at all.

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