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Totally disturbing. Totally disgusting. And who knows how long this has been going on. Read on–if you dare.

Will China’s Practices Hurt Food Sales?: Melamine May Be Banned, But Rampant Pollution And Lack Of Inspections Could Deter Buyers-CBS Evening News-CBSNews.com (Accompanying video)

“Melamine is a cheap way to fake high protein levels in wheat gluten. The Chinese government — moving to protect its multibillion-dollar exports of fruits and vegetables — has now banned melamine and shuttered plants that may have used it.”

Chinese businesses say animal feed commonly laced with mildly toxic melamine-(AP)-Canada.com

“The mildly toxic chemical melamine is commonly added to animal feed in China, a manager of a feed company and one of the chemical’s producers said Monday, a process that boosts the feed’s sales value but risks introducing the chemical into meat eaten by humans.”

Melamine in big demand in China-News24.com

“Melamine is so popular as a protein lookalike feed additive that at least one Chinese manufacturer is believed to have torn down buildings to get to leftover scraps, industry officials said on Monday”

A look at the additive Melamine-(AP)-Chron.com

“Melamine can serve as a fertilizer, since it’s high in nitrogen. Typically in the U.S., however, Kapin said melamine is used to make melamine resin, a polymer similar to plastic and used to coat countertops or cabinets because it is hard and largely heat resistant.”

Poultry farms in Indiana given contaminated feed-Reuters.com

“The U.S. government said on Monday 38 poultry farms in Indiana were given contaminated feed in early February containing melamine, with some of the chickens likely to have entered the food supply.”

Here is the FDA news release from today (4/30/07) tracing the tainted animal feed to poultry farms:

FDA News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 30, 2007

Media Inquiries:
FDA Media Relations Office, 301-827-6242
Consumer Inquiries:
888-SAFEFOOD

Joint Update: FDA/USDA Trace Adulterated Animal Feed to Poultry

WASHINGTON, April 30, 2007 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have learned that byproducts from pet food manufactured with contaminated wheat gluten imported from China have been used in chicken feed on some farms in the state of Indiana. This information came to light as part of the continuing investigation into imported rice protein concentrate and wheat gluten that have been found to contain melamine and melamine-related compounds.

At this time, the investigation indicates that approximately 30 broiler poultry farms and eight breeder poultry farms in Indiana received contaminated feed in early February and fed it to poultry within days of receiving it. All of the broilers believed to have been fed contaminated product have since been processed. The breeders that were fed the contaminated product are under voluntary hold by the flock owners.

As with exposure from hogs fed contaminated pet food and for similar reasons related to the dilution of the contamination, FDA and USDA believe the likelihood of illness after eating chicken fed the contaminated product is very low. Because there is no evidence of harm to humans associated with consumption of chicken fed the contaminated product, no recall of poultry products processed from these animals is being issued. Testing and the joint investigation continue. If any evidence surfaces to indicate there is harm to humans, the appropriate action will be taken.

Because the poultry being held have been fed adulterated products, USDA cannot knowingly approve products derived from these poultry for human consumption. USDA is offering to compensate producers who euthanize this poultry. USDA is also offering the expertise and assistance of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) personnel in carrying out depopulation activities, to ensure adherence to Federal and State laws.

FDA and USDA anticipate that as the investigation continues additional farms will likely be identified that received contaminated feed. As indicated in previous updates, FDA and USDA have also traced contaminated feed to swine farms in several states. The same procedures are being followed in relation to both swine and poultry; animals are being quarantined by state order or voluntarily held by the owners and USDA is offering compensation for depopulation and disposal of both swine and poultry that have been fed contaminated products.

USDA and FDA continue to conduct a full, comprehensive examination to protect the nation’s food supply and will provide updates as new information is confirmed.

Government: Hogs That Ate Contaminated Pet Food Will Not Be Recalled-(AP)-FoxNews.com (yes, I actually am using a Fox item…shocking! 😉)

“The government said last week that 345 of 6,000 hogs that may have the food are believed to have been placed on the path to slaughter, but that almost all are still on farms in California, New York and South Carolina.”

Here is the FDA news release (4/28/07) regarding the hogs who were fed melamine-tainted feed:

FDA News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 28, 2007

Media Inquiries:
FDA Press Office: 301-827-6242
USDA Press Office: 202-720-4623
Consumer Inquiries:
888-INFO-FDA

Joint Update: FDA/USDA Update on Tainted Animal Feed

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continue their investigation of imported rice protein concentrate which has been found to contain melamine and melamine-related compounds. Based on information currently available, FDA and USDA believe the likelihood of illness after eating pork from swine fed the contaminated product would be very low. The agencies are taking certain actions out of an abundance of caution. As announced on April 26, swine known to have been fed adulterated (contaminated) product will not be approved to enter the food supply. (Because the animal feed in question was adulterated, USDA cannot rule out the possibility that food produced from animals fed this product could also be adulterated. USDA cannot approve potentially adulterated meat.) This update provides additional information regarding the ongoing investigation.

As reported on April 22 by FDA, the Agency determined that rice protein concentrate imported from China was contaminated with melamine and melamine-related compounds. The product was imported by Wilbur-Ellis, an importer and distributor of agricultural products. Although the company began importing product from China in August 2006, the company did not become aware of the contamination until April 2007. As part of the ongoing investigation, FDA has determined the rice protein was used in the production of pet food and a portion of the pet food was used to produce animal feed. The ongoing investigation is tracing products distributed since August 2006 by Wilbur-Ellis throughout the distribution chain.

At this time, we have no evidence of harm to humans associated with the processed pork product, and therefore no recall of meat products processed from these animals is being issued. Testing and the joint investigation continue. If any evidence surfaces to indicate there is harm to humans, the appropriate action will be taken.

The assessment that, if there were to be harm to human health, it would be very low, is based on a number of factors, including the dilution of the contaminating melamine and melamine-related compounds from the original rice protein concentrate as it moves through the food system. First it is a partial ingredient in the pet food; second, it is only part of the total feed given to the hogs; third, it is not known to accumulate in the hogs and the hogs excrete melamine in their urine; fourth, even if present in pork, pork is only a small part of the average American diet. Neither FDA nor USDA has uncovered any evidence of harm to the swine from the contaminated feed. In addition to the dilutional factor and the lack of evidence of illnesses in the swine fed the waste pet food, we are not aware of any human illness that has occurred from exposure to melamine or its by-products. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention systems would have limited ability to detect subtle problems due to melamine and melamine-related compounds, no problems have been detected to date. To further evaluate any potential harm to humans, the FDA is developing and implementing further tests and risk assessments based on the toxicity of the compounds and how much of the compounds consumers could be expected to actually consume.

The ongoing investigation and product reconciliation and testing have led to certain farms. We expect the investigation will continue to find more places where product may have been distributed. As of April 26, sites in the following states are believed to have received and used contaminated product: California, Kansas, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina and Utah. As we confirm additional sites that have received and used contaminated product, we will provide additional updates.

USDA and FDA continue to conduct a full, comprehensive examination to protect the nation’s food supply and will provide updates as new information is confirmed.

***Latest pet food recall “firm press releases” from the FDA***

Blue Buffalo Company, Ltd Issues Nationwide Recall of “Blue” Canned Dog Foods, “Blue Spa Select” Canned Cat Foods and “Blue” Dog Treats Manufactured At American Nutrition, Inc.

Sierra Pet Products, LLC Issues Nationwide Recall of “Harmony Farms” Canned Dog Foods, “Harmony Farms” Canned Cat Foods and “Harmony Farms” Dog Treats Manufactured at American Nutrition, Inc.

So yesterday we saw Blue Buffalo lambasting American Nutrition, Inc. for adding rice protein to products American Nutrition, Inc. (ANI) manufactured for Blue Buffalo WITHOUT the knowledge of Blue Buffalo. Today we are getting the FDA’s “firm” press release from Natural Balance echoing the same sentiments:

“It should be noted that the products being recalled were not formulated or labeled to contain rice protein concentrate. While the FDA is investigating this, current information indicates this error is a result of a manufacturing deviation by American Nutrition. Natural Balance is working with the FDA in this matter.”

It was bad enough to find out that imports from China of rice protein, wheat gluten, and corn gluten were obviously tainted with melamine (if not more), but now discovering (via Blue Buffalo and Natural Balance press releases) that American Nutrition, Inc. was adding rice protein WITHOUT THE KNOWLEDGE of the companies contracting ANI for pet food manufacturing has me really freaking out. How naive have we all been to assume that companies are “somewhat” ethical in their commitment to consumer safety, let alone ethical in their business practices with companies who contract with them, by actually manufacturing what said companies have agreed to as ingredients in their pet food formulas? Weeks ago when I said that this pet food contamination debacle was just the tip of the iceberg, I TRULY had no idea it would uncover such blatant disregard for business ethics, safety of food, morality, and just plain old common sense. And that’s just in the pet food industry. Perhaps it’s time to take another vicodin even though the root canal tooth isn’t bothering me. Anyone else? 😉

Also, Andrew Bridges continues his excellent coverage of the pet food industry scandal with this latest story of the FDA raiding a Menu Foods plant and the Las Vegas offices of ChemNutra. Day late and a dollar short, FDA–in my opinion.

_________________________________________________________

Natural Balance Press Release (dated 4/27/07):

Recall — Firm Press Release

FDA posts press releases and other notices of recalls and market withdrawals from the firms involved as a service to consumers, the media, and other interested parties. FDA does not endorse either the product or the company. This listserv covers mainly Class I (life-threatening) recalls. A complete listing of recalls can be found in the FDA Enforcement Report at: http://www.fda.gov/opacom/Enforce.html

Natural Balance Pet Foods, Inc. Recalls Products in Response to American Nutrition Inc. Pet Food Recall

Contact:
Natural Balance Consumer Contact:
1-800-829-4493

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Pacoima, CA — April 27, 2007 — Because of the pet food recall initiated today by American Nutrition Inc., Natural Balance Pet Foods has announced it is issuing a nationwide recall of a number of canned products manufactured by American Nutrition. This action is limited to four specific Natural Balance canned formulas: Chicken Canned Dog Formula 13 oz , Beef Canned Dog Formula 13 oz, Lamb Canned Dog Formula 13 oz, and the 3oz and 6 oz Ocean Fish Canned Cat Formulas.

Natural Balance Pet Foods is taking this voluntary action after learning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed rice protein concentrate used by American Nutrition contained melamine, a substance not approved for use in food. These products are being recalled in addition to our previously recalled Venison and Brown Rice canned and bagged dog foods, Venison and Brown Rice dog treats, and Venison and Green Pea dry cat food.

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

It should be noted that the products being recalled were not formulated or labeled to contain rice protein concentrate. While the FDA is investigating this, current information indicates this error is a result of a manufacturing deviation by American Nutrition. Natural Balance is working with the FDA in this matter.

####

FDA’s Recalls, Market Withdrawals and Safety Alerts Page: http://www.fda.gov/opacom/7alerts.html

Back from the root canal and off to vicodin-land in a few minutes, but did just see these in my inbox from the FDA. Sure wish the FDA could get these “firm” press releases out as soon as the company posting them does, and NOT a day later. Have to say that after 6 weeks of companies NOT naming other companies involved in this pet food contamination mess, and holding strictly to their “code of silence”, it’s QUITE interesting to see Blue Buffalo ALL OVER American Nutrition, Inc.’s patootie! I must applaud Blue Buffalo for making the following statement and action:

So while no BLUE or Spa Select canned product has tested positive for the presence of melamine, and there has been no reported illness due to any of our canned products, we simply cannot be sure of what ANI has been including in our formulas. For this reason, we have decided to remove all of our canned and biscuit products from retail distribution. While this may seem to many to be a major over-reaction, as other ANI customers will probably only recall the products that tested positive for melamine, we see this as a matter of integrity.

I will copy the entire FDA press releases from both Blue Buffalo AND American Nutrition, Inc., below. I noticed that a Kirkland (Costco) product is on the American Nutrition, Inc. recall list, and while I don’t use it I know many of you do shop Costco, so check what you have. Keep in mind there was another press release earlier today regarding Diamond Foods. May post more this weekend depending on the tooth…and the vicodin. 😉

Blue Buffalo Press Release (dated 4/26/07):

Recall — Firm Press Release

FDA posts press releases and other notices of recalls and market withdrawals from the firms involved as a service to consumers, the media, and other interested parties. FDA does not endorse either the product or the company. This listserv covers mainly Class I (life-threatening) recalls. A complete listing of recalls can be found in the FDA Enforcement Report at: http://www.fda.gov/opacom/Enforce.html

Blue Buffalo Recalls Can and Biscuit Products Due To Tampering By American Nutrition Inc.

Contact:

Consumer Inquiries:

1-800-919-2833

Media Inquiries:

David Petrie

1-203-762-9751

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Wilton, Connecticut, April 26, 2007- We at the Blue Buffalo Company have just learned that American Nutrition Inc. (ANI), the manufacturer of all our cans and biscuits, has been adding rice protein concentrate to our can formulas without our knowledge and without our approval. This is product tampering, and it apparently has been going on for some time. The can formulas that we developed, and trusted them to produce, never contained any rice protein concentrate. It appears that only an FDA investigation of ANI’s rice protein concentrate supplies forced them to reveal this product tampering to us.

While this activity by ANI is in itself unlawful, the situation is further clouded by the fact that ANI has been receiving rice protein concentrate from Wilber-Ellis, some of which the FDA has determined to be contaminated with melamine.

So while no BLUE or Spa Select canned product has tested positive for the presence of melamine, and there has been no reported illness due to any of our canned products, we simply cannot be sure of what ANI has been including in our formulas. For this reason, we have decided to remove all of our canned and biscuit products from retail distribution. While this may seem to many to be a major over-reaction, as other ANI customers will probably only recall the products that tested positive for melamine, we see this as a matter of integrity.

We founded Blue Buffalo on the principle of providing dogs and cats with the highest quality and most nutritious food, and we will not sell any product that doesn’t meet this standard. And under these circumstances, we cannot say that any products manufactured by ANI measure up.

The obvious question is “how could Blue Buffalo not know that ANI was putting rice protein concentrate into our canned food?” The answer is we trusted them. In business and in life, we all trust our partners to deal with us honestly. When we buy produce from our local grocery store, we are trusting growers, shippers and a series of handlers to have delivered a product that is safe and nutritious for our family. If any one of these parties betrays our trust, contaminated products can make their way to our dinner table.

And while we test for known toxins and contaminants, we don’t test for protein sources, like rice protein concentrate, especially when we did not formulate our products to contain them.

In the end, this all comes down to an issue of integrity, and ANI has not been honest with us and with the pet parents who buy our products. We will not put any product made by ANI on the shelf, and are temporarily withdrawing an important part of our business in order to be true to our pet parents.

We have already started the process of identifying a can and biscuit manufacturer with whom we can build a partnership based on trust. Once we have accomplished this, BLUE and Spa Select cans and BLUE Health Bars will be reintroduced with the high quality and superior nutrition that our brand stands for and that dogs and cats deserve.

We have informed our retail partners and the FDA about this action and will be cooperating with them to complete this recall quickly. The specific product involved includes all “BLUE” brand can dog foods, all “Spa Select” brand can cat foods and all “BLUE Health Bar” treats.

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

All “BLUE” dry natural food for dogs and “Spa Select” dry natural foods for cats are not affected by this recall and are safe for consumption. Should consumers have a specific question, they can call the Company at 1-800-919-2833, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT, to receive more information.

####

FDA’s Recalls, Market Withdrawals and Safety Alerts Page: http://www.fda.gov/opacom/7alerts.html

American Nutrition, Inc. Press Release (dated 4/26/07):

Recall — Firm Press Release

FDA posts press releases and other notices of recalls and market withdrawals from the firms involved as a service to consumers, the media, and other interested parties. FDA does not endorse either the product or the company. This listserv covers mainly Class I (life-threatening) recalls. A complete listing of recalls can be found in the FDA Enforcement Report at: http://www.fda.gov/opacom/Enforce.html

American Nutrition, Inc. Issues Voluntary Recall

Contact:

Bill Behnken, 801.394.3477, bill@amnutrition.com

Naomi Keller, 801.554.0023, naomi@amnutrition.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — April 26, 2007 — 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:

CANNED CAT FOOD

Blue Buffalo Spa Select Hairball Control Oven Roasted Chicken 3oz AUG 21 09 APR 15 10

Blue Buffalo Spa Select Kitten Recipe Oven Roasted Chicken 3oz AUG 21 09 APR 15 10

Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul Kitten Formula 5.5oz 15 AUG 08 15 APR 09

Harmony Farms Country Chicken Entrée 3oz AUG 21 09 APR 15 10

Natural Balance Ocean Fish Formula 3oz and 6 oz AUG 21 09 APR 15 10

CANNED DOG FOOD

Blue Buffalo Beef Dinner 12.5oz AUG 21 09 APR 15 10

Blue Buffalo Chicken Dinner 12.5oz AUG 21 09 APR 15 10

Blue Buffalo Hearty Venison Dinner 12.5oz AUG 21 09 APR 15 10

Blue Buffalo Lamb Dinner 12.5oz AUG 21 09 APR 15 10

Blue Buffalo Salmon Dinner 12.5oz AUG 21 09 APR 15 10

Blue Buffalo Turkey Meatloaf Dinner 12.5oz AUG 21 09 APR 15 10

Canine Caviar Gourmet Beaver 13.2oz AUG 21 08 APR 15 09

Canine Caviar Gourmet Turkey 13.2oz AUG 21 08 APR 15 09

Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul Puppy Formula 13oz 21 AUG 08 15 APR 09

Diamond Lamb & Rice 13oz 21 AUG 09 15 APR 10

Harmony Farms Beef 12.5oz AUG 21 09 APR 15 10

Harmony Farms Chicken 12.5oz AUG 21 09 APR 15 10

Harmony Farms Lamb 12.5oz AUG 21 09 APR 15 10

Harmony Farms Salmon 12.5oz AUG 21 09 APR 15 10

Kirkland Signature Premium Dog 2-Flavor Variety Pack 14oz (24-pack) AUG 21 08 APR 15 09

Mulligan Stew Chicken 13.2oz AUG 21 09 APR 15 10

Mulligan Stew Turkey 13.2oz AUG 21 09 APR 15 10

Natural Balance Beef Formula 13oz AUG 21 09 APR 15 10

Natural Balance Chicken Formula 13oz AUG 21 09 APR 15 10

Natural Balance Lamb Formula 13oz AUG 21 09 APR 15 10

Natural Balance Venison & Brown Rice 13oz AUG 21 09 APR 15 10

BAKED DOG TREATS

Natural Balance Venison & Brown Rice Formula Baked Dog Treats 14oz AUG 21 07 APR 15 08

Blue Buffalo Health Bars Baked With Apples & Yogurt Dog Treats 20oz AUG 21 07 APR 15 08
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: www.fda.gov. Consumers with additional questions can contact us by calling 1.800.257.4530 or by e:mailing us at feedback@amnutrition.com or by visiting www.americannutritioninc.com.

####

FDA’s Recalls, Market Withdrawals and Safety Alerts Page: http://www.fda.gov/opacom/7alerts.html

So much for taking today off from posting and enjoying Earth Day instead. Was checking email and found news from the FDA titled “Update on Tainted Pet Food“, which included a link to the press release from the California Department of Agriculture, so I just had to come post about it. To read the articles in their entirety click on the links I’ve provide, and I would also highly, HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend you read a VERY informative article by Karen Roebuck at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. She discusses the melamine situation with the hogs in California, and sheds light on laboratories finding three additional contaminants in pets who were sickened or died after eating tainted pet food:

Researchers also have identified three other contaminants in the urine and kidneys of animals sickened or killed after eating the recalled foods, including cyanuric acid, a chemical commonly used in pool chlorination, three researchers told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Cyanuric acid is what most likely sickened pets, one researcher said..Researchers in at least three labs found cyanuric acid, amilorine and amiloride — all by-products of melamine — in the crystals of animals’ urine, tissues and kidneys…

Another interesting, yet not surprising, nugget in her article was:

The Chinese government told the Trib and the FDA yesterday that the Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. Ltd., which the FDA said supplied the tainted wheat gluten, did not export any wheat gluten intended to be used in food.

Anyone else getting some increasingly worrisome vibes about our continuously deteriorating relationship with China. Bad vibes I tell ya, bad vibes.

Okay, I really AM going to “try” and get away from the computer today, this beautiful Earth Day 2007, but knowing me I’ll keep checking for updates. 😉 In the meantime here is today’s (4/22/07) update from the FDA, and last Thursday’s (4/19/07) release from the California Department of Agriculture regarding the melamine and hogs. Usually, as a 14 year vegetarian, reading something like the news about the hogs would have me gently chiding non-vegetarians for eating meat, but considering many items vegetarians eat may be affected by the tainted glutens and proteins, there is really no one who can be happy about the state of our food supply. Until later, my friends.

This whole situation just gets more bizarre each day, with the most odd today being the news that pet food unsuitable for pet consumption (due to melamine in the rice protein) was instead fed to hogs! And just where might those hogs end up? Also makes you wonder where the recalled pet food returned to vendors over the last 5 weeks will end up, too. Hmmm… (***UPDATE about the hogs!***)

Joe, from Friday Morning After, posted a heads up on another Andrew Bridges article which explains this continuously evolving (and not for the better) situation better than I just did. (Sorry folks, still dealing with my tooth issues, so a bit off–can we say root canal next week? Ick.)

So to sum up for those keeping score, we are now talking melamine in:

  1. Wheat gluten (initial pet food recall)
  2. Rice protein concentrate (Natural Balance and Blue Buffalo Co. recall. Here’s a notice from Wilbur-Ellis, a company which imported tainted rice protein from China.)
  3. Corn gluten in Royal Canin foods found in South Africa. (I find it interesting that the main Royal Canin web site does NOT have a notice about the recall (as of now 4/19 PM), but the Royal Canin USA web site DOES have one saying their products are NOT affected.) [***UPDATE just one hour after this post!: Royal Canin US is now recalling products. I will sadly add this release/items to the Pet food recall info/posts page.***]

If this entire situation wasn’t so frustrating and heartbreaking due to the needless deaths of so many beloved pets, I think I’d start a pool to see which ingredient will turn up next as having been tainted with melamine. Sigh.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here’s what Blue Buffalo Co. has as a pop-up on their web site:

 

IMPORTANT NOTICE

Voluntary Recall of Spa Select Kitten Dry Food

Dear Pet Parents:

The Blue Buffalo Company has undertaken a voluntary recall on one production run of our Spa Select Kitten dry food. The production code on the recalled product is:

“Best Used By Mar. 07 08 B.”

We have taken this action because the rice protein concentrate used for this one production run was obtained from Wilbur-Ellis, the same company who supplied this ingredient to Natural Balance. Test results received late last evening (4/18) indicated that this rice protein concentrate tested positive for melamine. This is the first and only time our manufacturing partner sourced an ingredient from Wilbur-Ellis, and we had no knowledge that they had imported the ingredients from China.

We have advised the FDA of this finding and will be working closely with them on this issue.

Of the 5,044 bags produced in this one run, we were able to prevent the majority from ever entering retail distribution. We are working closely with our retail partners to remove this product immediately and will be re-stocking the shelves with Spa Select Kitten dry food that was produced without any rice protein sourced from Wilbur-Ellis as soon as possible.

If you currently have a bag of Spa Select Kitten dry food, please check the code date and if it matches the one shown above discontinue use immediately and return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. If your cat has eaten any of the recalled food, please call your veterinarian immediately to discuss if there are any risks to your pet.

Should you have a specific question call our Customer Service Department at 1-800-919-2833 or email us at info@bluebuff.com. We understand your desire for immediate answers and we will be working to get back to you as quickly as we can.

No other Spa Select cat food or dog food, canned or dry, is included in this recall.

As a family owned company whose reason for being is to provide cats and dogs with the highest quality natural foods, we are extremely upset by this recall and can’t begin to apologize enough to our customers. From our perspective, it is unacceptable to produce even one bag of food with the potential to cause a pet to become ill, and we will further tighten our ingredient sourcing and quality assurance procedures as a result of this incident.

Sincerely,

Bill Bishop
President
The Blue Buffalo Company

Toothache still raging, so just a brief roundup today:

  • Menu Foods CFO sold shares 3 weeks prior to recall. (excerpt: “The chief financial officer of Menu Foods sold almost half his shares in the company just three weeks before a massive recall of its pet food products, Canadian insider trading reports show.”)
  • Chinese city holds clues to how wheat gluten contaminated. (excerpt: “Now, regulators with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are examining the possibility that melamine was intentionally mixed into the wheat gluten in China as a way to bolster the apparent protein content and to meet pet food requirements, according to a person briefed on the investigation.”)
  • Additional contaminant found? (excerpt: “Scientists at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine may have found a second contaminant in the wheat gluten used to make the tainted pet food blamed for the deaths and illnesses of scores of cats and dogs across North America, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.”)
  • Important info on homemade food for pets from the AVMA. (excerpt: “Dr. Tony Buffington, DVM, Ph.D., an Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine professor of clinical sciences and a member of the AVMA, agrees that preparing food for your pet can be tricky. In the event a pet owner is determined to make pet food at home, he recommends Home-Prepared Dog & Cat Diets: the Healthful Alternative by Dr. Donald Strombeck as a good cookbook for pets. Dr. Buffington also recommends http://www.petdiets.com/ as one the best Web sites on home-cooked pet diets.”)

Really quick programming note that I, unfortunately, JUST found out about. Flipped on the TV and discovered that Anderson Cooper 360° is going to report from China regarding the pet food recall. Just now airing here on the West Coast, but maybe those in other time zones can check it out on a replay or perhaps they’ll have some info on his CNN site. Off to watch!

—Okay, I watched the segment and while I am grateful that they are helping to keep the spotlight on this situation, I was a bit disappointed in how short the segment was. It was about 5 minutes into the show, and was only about five minutes in length. They did replay the segment later in the show (about 90 minutes into the two hour show) and included with that airing some emails viewers had sent in thanking CNN for airing a segment the night before. I had missed the previous night’s segment, but did just find this video on CNN’s site about the company (Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. Ltd.) that the FDA listed as the supplier of the tainted wheat gluten. If you type in “pet food recall” into the media player search engine, you’ll get about 6 other videos on the topic. I didn’t see one up yet from tonight’s Anderson Cooper 360° show. NOTE: I usually use Firefox, but had to open up Internet Explorer to get the media player to operate properly.

While tonight’s segment was short, it did at least point out the ridiculous inconsistencies in the pet death statistic the FDA continues to stand by (14 pets dead…and didn’t Menu Foods already tell us most of those were from their own tasting trials?), even though the FDA has said it has received approximately 10,000 complaints, and Pet Connection has had over 3,000 pet deaths recorded to their database by pet owners.

Also explained in fairly good detail was the melamine connection and how it may have affected the kidneys in pets. The University of Guelph (Canada) was mentioned, so of course I just HAD to head to their web site to see what I could dig up, and found this interesting list when I entered “melamine” in their search engine.

Again, while I wish the segment tonight was longer (apparently last night’s show focused on the situation more), I am very grateful to CNN for not letting this story slip on down the “Top Story” ladder.

So it looks like we now have not only the name of the company that provided the tainted wheat gluten to Menu Foods, Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. Ltd., but we are now also hearing from the importer of that wheat gluten, ChemNutra Inc., by way of a press release (included below).

So one would think we’re getting all the answers now, right? Wrong. It only becomes more muddled when Xuzhou Anying now says they did NOT manufacture the wheat gluten, but had actually bought it elsewhere! Read more here. This whole supplier, importer, broker, thing really has me questioning who the heck really knows what goes into our food and who do we assume will regulate that for us? The FDA? Not feeling the love OR the trust on that front.

Another alert poster to this blog, Joe from Friday Morning After (Thanks, Joe!), linked to an article on the thread “Who provided Menu Foods wheat gluten?“, which supports our fear about the tainted wheat gluten getting into our human food supply (or at least the plants which process our food), and not just in the pet food supply. It is now being confirmed in this article by Diedtra Henderson, with the Boston Globe.

ROCKVILLE, Maryland: The tainted wheat gluten that triggered a massive pet food recall also ended up in processing plants that prepare food consumed by people, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said…

Now did any of us REALLY think that there was NO possibility that this would happen? I think not.

 

However, there is this report from CBS news which conflicts the Boston Globe report. In this article Stephen Miller, CEO of ChemNutra Inc., says that none of the contaminated wheat gluten ended up in human food manufacturing plants. ChemNutra Inc. was the importer of the tainted wheat gluten from Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. Ltd., which was the company who provided the wheat gluten to Menu Foods.

Here is the press release from ChemNutra Inc. dated April 3, 2007:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 3, 2007

CHEMNUTRA ANNOUNCES NATIONWIDE WHEAT GLUTEN RECALL
Las Vegas, NV… April 3, 2007… ChemNutra Inc., of Las Vegas, Nevada, yesterday recalled all wheat gluten it had imported from one of its three Chinese wheat gluten suppliers – Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. Ltd.
The wheat gluten ChemNutra recalled was all shipped from China in 25 kg. paper bags, and distributed to customers in the same unopened bags. The bags were all labeled “Wheat Gluten Batch No.: _______ Net Weight: 25 kg Gross Weight: 25.1 kg Made in China”. The batch numbers included in the recall are 20061006, 20061027, 20061101, 20061108, 20061122, 20061126, 20061201, 20061202, 20061203, 20061204, 20061205, 20061206, 20061208, 20061221, 20070106, 20070111, 20070116, and 20070126.

Each ChemNutra shipment had the certificate of analysis information from the supplier, including batch number and the supplier’s content analysis and test results. ChemNutra shipped from its Kansas City warehouse to three pet food manufacturers and one distributor who supplies wheat gluten only to the pet food industry. ChemNutra’s shipments commenced November 9, 2006 and ended March 8, 2007. ChemNutra did not ship to facilities that manufacture food for human consumption, and the distributor ChemNutra shipped to supplies wheat gluten only to pet food manufacturers. The total quantity of Xuzhou Anying wheat gluten shipped was 792 metric tons.

ChemNutra learned on March 8 from one pet food manufacturer that the wheat gluten it had sold them – all from the Xuzhou Anying – was among ingredients suspected as a potential cause of pet food problems. ChemNutra immediately quarantined its entire wheat gluten inventory and assisted this customer’s investigation.

After that manufacturer issued a pet food recall, the FDA immediately commenced a thorough investigation of ChemNutra’s wheat gluten, including documentation analysis, inspection, and laboratory testing. ChemNutra cooperated fully with the FDA and immediately notified its other three wheat gluten customers about the FDA’s investigation. Those customers had all purchased smaller amounts of the Xuzhou Anying wheat gluten commencing in January, 2007.

On Friday, March 30, the FDA announced they had found melamine in samples of the wheat gluten ChemNutra had imported from Xuzhou Anying. The FDA did not inform ChemNutra of any other impurities in the Xuzhou Anying wheat gluten, nor of any impurities in the wheat gluten from ChemNutra’s other two Chinese suppliers.

The toxicity of melamine is not clear. However, since melamine is not approved by the FDA for pet food, it should absolutely not have been in wheat gluten. ChemNutra is extremely concerned about the purity of all of its products. The company is particularly troubled that the certificates of analysis provided by the above-named supplier did not report the presence of melamine.
ChemNutra wants to ensure its products are safe. Consequently, in addition to its ongoing cooperation with the FDA, ChemNutra will be conducting its own independent, analytical tests of wheat gluten from all of its suppliers.

Yesterday ChemNutra sent recall notices to all four of its direct customers. If any other company received bags of recalled wheat gluten from the lot numbers referenced above, please call ChemNutra at 702.818.5019.

Consumers who have questions about the pet food they should go to the FDA’s website at http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2007/NEW01590.html. This website lists all brands of petfood involved, with links to the manufacturer who should be contacted with questions.

4/6/07: Here’s an interesting article about China actually getting into the investigation process.

I was getting some information from folks about the FDA possibly holding out on who the wheat gluten supplier to Menu Foods was (we already know that Menu Foods, Nestle Purina PetCare Co. were holding out the info), and wouldn’t you know that when I did a search on the FDA site with the terms “wheat gluten” to verify the information being given to me, THIS popped up (will copy below)! If it was dated 3/30/07 WHY WASN’T IT RELEASED TO THE PUBLIC SOONER???

Mind you, the supplier mentioned at the bottom of the FDA document, Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. Ltd, may in fact NOT be the one who supplied the wheat gluten to Menu Foods (sorry, but the notice gets a tad confusing…will refer to those of you with more knowledge on this subject to offer up some insight, please!), but it is, at the very least, one which has tainted wheat gluten. And this information posted by the FDA is a somewhat good sign that they seem to be checking supplies at some point. I would like to hear, though, why the FDA didn’t bother putting a link to this information on the page they’ve been posting all other pet food recall press releases. Oh wait, silly me, a press release means RELEASE (publicly) of information through the press and that is NOT what it seems they wanted to do with THIS particular information.

I’m sure I’ll be adding more to this entry as information comes along, and I sure as heck hope main media sources are working on this development, too. If you’d like to read more about the conversation we’ve been having here about wheat gluten, click here. Some great information by some fabulous posters in the comment section…many thanks to them! Please note that I had to adjust some formatting of the FDA notice below so that it would fit, but HOPEFULLY I didn’t delete anything except a bunch of spaces. For the EXACT document, click the link here. Also, I could NOT find the attachments mentioned in the document anywhere on the site. That, of course, does not mean they weren’t right in front of me. 😉

Added 4/2/07: Just found this page on the FDA site that shows the process of their “Pet Food Contamination Response” and have to say the typos on that page astounded me. 😉

From the US Food and Drug Administration, Office of Regulatory Affairs:IA #99-26, IMPORT ALERT #99-26, “DETENTION WITHOUT PHYSICAL EXAMINATION AND

INTENSIFIED COVERAGE OF WHEAT GLUTEN DUE TO THE PRESENCE OF MELAMINE”

TYPE OF ALERT: Detention Without Physical Examination

(Note: This import alert represents the Agency’s current guidance to FDA field personnel

regarding the manufacturer(s) and/or products(s) at issue. It does not create or confer any

rights for or on any person, and does not operate to bind FDA or the public).

PRODUCT: Wheat Gluten

PRODUCT CODES:

02F[][]08 Wheat gluten

02E[][]06 – Wheat flour gluten

71M[][]01 wheat gluten

PROBLEMS: Poisonous or deleterious substance

Unsafe food additive

PAF: PES FAD

PAC FOR COLLECTION: 71003A 09006A

COUNTRY: See Attachment

MANUFACTURER/FEI#: See Attachment

CHARGES: The article is subject to refusal of admission pursuant to

section 801(a)(3)in that it appears to bear or contain a poisonous or

deleterious substance, which may render it injurious to health

[Adulteration, section 402(a)(1)]” (Oasis Charge Code; POISONOUS)

and/or

The article is subject to refusal of admission pursuant to section

801(a)(3)in that it appears to bear or contain a food additive that

is unsafe within the meaning of section 409

[Adulteration, section 402(a)(2)(C)(i)]”

(Oasis Charge Code: UNSAFE ADD)

RECOMMENDING OFFICE: Division of Compliance, CVM (HFV-230)

REASON FOR ALERT:

In March 2007, FDA became aware of the illness and death of cats and

dogs associated with certain pet food. Subsequently, samples of the

implicated pet food were analyzed and found to contain melamine.

The consumption of pet food containing melamine may be

associated with acute renal failure in cats. Investigations have revealed

that the source of the melamine was wheat gluten which is an

ingredient in the pet food. The attachment to this alert includes

manufacturers whose wheat gluten products have been found to

contain melamine.

GUIDANCE: Districts may detain without physical examination,

products offered for importation from manufacturers and shippers

listed in the Attachment to this import alert. Report wheat gluten

samples found positive for melamine to Cathie Marshall, CVM,

Division of Compliance, HFV-232, at (240) 276-9217.

 

Appropriate screening criteria have been set for wheat gluten from

China and the Netherlands, as a country through which transshipping

of Chinese wheat gluten may occur. Sampling has been recommended.

Recommendations for detention without physical examination of firms

with violative product should be forwarded to DIOP, HFC-170.

For questions or issues concerning science, science policy, sample collection,

analysis, preparation, or analytical methodology, contact Tom Savage,

Division of Field Science, at 301-827-1026.

To enable the agency to assess whether the firm has identified the

source of the problem, and has taken the appropriate steps to correct

and prevent future occurrences, FDA recommends that a firm

requesting removal from detention without physical examination

provide the following information:

1. a. Results of the firm’s investigation(s) into the problem of

melamine contamination

b. Documentation showing corrective action(s)such as:

i. a description of the process(es) currently being used

ii. verification that the process is adequate

iii. measures that have been taken to prevent recontamination

c. Copies of three (3) production records showing the process, quantities

processed, lot numbers and dates of processing.

AND

d. Documentation showing that a minimum of five (5) consecutive

entries have been released by FDA based on third party

laboratory analyses that show the shipments of wheat gluten

do not contain melamine.

All requests for removal from DWPE should be forwarded to

DIOP,(HFC-170) which in turn will forward the requests to CVM

(HFV-230) for evaluation.

PRIORITIZATION GUIDANCE: I

FOI: No purging required

KEYWORDS: Feed, pet food, melamine, wheat gluten

PREPARED BY: Cathie Marshall, CVM, HFV-232, 240-276-9217 and

Linda Wisniowski, DIOP, HFC-172, 301-443-6553

DATE LOADED INTO FIARS: March 30, 2007

ATTACHMENT 3/30/07

Firms and products currently under detention without physical examination

CHINA (CN)

Firm: Date 3/30/07 DWPE Wheat gluten

Product /Code: 02F[][]08

Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology

Development Company Ltd.

Wangdian Industrial Zone,

Peixian, CN-32, China 221623

FEI# 2000023594

Yesterday (3/30/07) found the Menu Foods pet food recall being expanded to include Science Diet dry feline m/d, scaring the beejeebers out of everyone since this is the first time dry food has been included in the recall. In addition to that item being recalled, Nestlé Purina PetCare Company added ALPO® Prime Cuts in Gravy wet dog food to the recall list.

Today (3/31/07) Del Monte has issued a release recalling some pet treats AND some wet food (Jerky Treats®, Gravy Train® Beef Sticks and Pounce Meaty Morsels® Ol’ Roy, Happy Tails, and Dollar General).

PLEASE read the press releases by clicking on the links above, and check those codes/dates VERY carefully. In my opinion (especially considering how this situation is constantly changing), I feel that it’s better to be safe than to be sorry, so I would probably just toss the items (making sure no animals can get into your trash!) even if they don’t have the recalled code on them. But that’s just me.

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POSTS for 3/17-8/22:

  • 3/18/07: Science Diet has added some of their foods to the voluntary recall list. Pets HAVE died and others are suffering severe health problems, so PLEASE check this new list AND the ones I listed above. Thank you! Science Diet Recall (On 3/30/07 Science Diet recalled feline m/d)
  • 3/18/07 10:15PM PST: The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is even posting information which shows just how far-reaching this has become. They even have a web page with information on how to register adverse reactions/consumer complaints. I appreciate that so many of you are reading as much as you can about this and staying on top of the situation. What wonderful owners your pets have! 🙂 And PLEASE continue to spread the information to AS MANY folks as you can, and have THEM stay on top of it as well. I’ll definitely continue to add information as I find out about it.
  • 3/19/07 11:10 AM PST: Looks like Menu Foods has another press release, which interestingly enough says it’s not for US newswire services, whatever THAT really means. It’s in PDF format and can be accessed from their main recall page.
  • 3/20/07 11:20 AM PST: It is disconcerting to hear that in February, Menu Foods apparently was notified of the problems with pets eating certain Menu Foods produced food, did their own testing in which approximately 17% of the tested pets died, yet it wasn’t until March 16th that the recall was announced?!?! I am obviously no expert on how these things work, but it sure seems to me that the motto of “better safe than sorry” should have been in place LONG BEFORE March 16th! Menu Foods recall notice states:

“We take these complaints very seriously and, while we are still looking for a specific cause, we are acting to err on the side of caution” said Paul K. Henderson, President and CEO, Menu Foods. “We will do whatever is necessary to ensure that our products maintain the very highest quality standards.”

Seems to me that “acting to err on the side of caution” would have meant alerting consumers about the problems MUCH sooner than they did. According to news reports, Menu Foods was alerted by pet owners about deaths and renal failure on February 20th, Menu Foods began their own tests February 27th where between 15%-20% of the pets they tested died, yet the recall was not announced until March 16th, THREE WEEKS AFTER they were first alerted of the deaths and health issues?!?!

I certainly hope to hear SOME type of logical explanation SOON from Menu Foods, but until then all I can assume is that $$$$ (especially since in their initial press release on 3/16/07 they repeatedly mention how much the recall could cost their company) and probable financial loss is what had Menu Foods dragging their feet, while their consumers were unknowingly feeding their beloved pets food which could possibly kill them, if not leave them with painful health issues and enormous veterinary bills which many owners cannot truly afford. I worked in the veterinary field for nearly 7 years and know the high cost of health care for pets, along with having had expensive medical situations with my own pets. But that is what pet owners do, they care for their pets as if they were members of their family, which they are (just four-legged instead of two-legged), and will put themselves into debt just to make sure their pets get the best care possible. Unfortunately there will be pets whose health care costs related to the issues from the tainted food will be too high for some owners to absorb, and they will then have to make the heartbreaking choice to have their beloved pet euthanized.

Come on Menu Foods, let’s get cracking on finding some solutions here. I think everyone understands that “accidents” and “mistakes” do happen in life, which might possibly explain how the food became tainted in the first place, but the part I’m having the hardest time understanding right now is why the recall took so long to be announced to consumers. What do you have to say Menu Foods? You have countless pet owners looking to you for answers.

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Sniffin’ out the info

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