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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.

Phew! Just finished spending a good deal of time revamping and updating the Pet Products Recall page (changed the name from Pet Food Recall info/posts page since I decided to include ALL pet-related recalls, such as the salmonella-related recalls, not just the ones related to the pet food chaos), so give it a gander and let me know if there’s anything I need to change and/or add. Thanks! Too pooped out now to do a regular post, but did want to at least post some interesting news articles and links I have run across today.

Melamine and hogs/Intentional poisoning of products?:

US Wheat Industry assurances:

Homemade diets for pets? Pro and Con:

FDA:

While revamping and updating information on the Pet Product Recalls page, I found this 4/16/07 Consumer Health Information update titled “FDA’s Ongoing Pet Food Investigation”, which I hadn’t seen before. Also wanted to post the FDA’s search engine for recalled foods , but I would HIGHLY recommend continuing to check the web sites of individual companies or here. At least the FDA site is another tool for those interested in finding out the most information possible. I think we have all discovered that you cannot depend on just one media source, blog, or government agency to give you all the information you need, since it is always changing. While there are some fantastic sites and resources available, there just isn’t really one media outlet alone that has been able to keep up on EVERY bit of info that surfaces. That being said, I will still stick to my claim that the blogging community has been the primary source for the most updated information getting out to concerned lovers of pets in quick and effective fashion.

Probably won’t post tomorrow (unless some news breaks), so have a GREAT weekend, everyone! 🙂

I just watched the 11 o’clock news on CBS2 in Los Angeles, and unfortunately found answers to the hog farm questions I posed in my earlier post tonight. I tell ya, if this excerpt won’t get you to read the entire story, and sit up and take notice that this situation is NOT just an issue for those with pets, I don’t know what will.

“State officials believe the melamine came from rice protein concentrate imported from China by Diamond Pet Food’s Lathrop facility, which produces products under the Natural Balance brand and sold salvage pet food to the farm for pig feed.”

If this melamine contamination of wheat gluten, rice protein, and corn gluten, has not directly entered the human food system already, this story is an indication of how it can make its way there indirectly. Tip of the iceberg, people, tip of the iceberg. I also find it quite bothersome to discover that this is what is happening with the recalled food: being sold as “salvaged” food. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

(4/20-Updated story here.) 

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.

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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

Nice to see Senator Durbin and Congresswoman DeLauro are NOT giving up on keeping the pet food contamination investigation going, and pushing for revamped regulation, AND answers from China. Kudos to them both! 🙂 I am sorry to see that our already tenuous relationship with China seems to be getting even worse, though. Will be interesting to see what (if any) response we receive from the Ambassador. Also nice to see the name of the company Wilbur-Ellis imported the tainted rice protein from (Binzhou Futian Biology Technology, Ltd) before it made it’s way into pet food.

Here’s the press release from Senator Durbin’s web site:

DURBIN, DELAURO MEET WITH VON ESCHENBACH; URGE CHINESE GOVERNMENT TO COOPERATE ON PET FOOD CONTAMINATION INVESTIGATION

 

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

 

[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) today met with U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, Andrew von Eschenbach in Durbin’s Capitol office to discuss the latest recall of pet food, this time caused by contaminated rice protein imported from China.

In the meeting, Durbin and DeLauro learned that the Chinese Government has blocked requests from the FDA to send personnel to China to inspect the facilities suspected of producing the contaminated products. The FDA first contacted the Chinese Government on April 4, 2007, but have not been granted permission to send food inspectors into the country. In response, Durbin and DeLauro sent a letter to the Chinese Ambassador to the United States, Zhou Wenzong, urging the Chinese Government to issue visas to U.S. food inspectors as quickly as possible.

“It is unacceptable that the Chinese government is blocking our food safety inspectors from entering their country and examining facilities that are suspected of providing contaminated pet food to American consumers,” said Durbin. “We have asked for two things in our letter today — that the Chinese government allow our inspectors in and that the Chinese ambassador to the United States meet with Congresswoman DeLauro and me to discuss the larger issue of contaminated food being sent to the U.S. These are reasonable requests and we hope that we can find a level of cooperation with the Chinese.”

“At time when China is exporting more foods into the U.S., the Chinese are refusing to allow our inspectors in to the country to investigate the source of the pet food contamination. The FDA needs to be allowed to investigate this so we can better protect our pets and identify the source of the source of the problem. While we have a significant trade relationship with the Chinese, the investigation of the contaminated product comes first,” said DeLauro.

Last week, Durbin, a member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, along with Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), the Chairman of the Subcommittee, held a hearing to question witnesses on the timeline of the investigation, the source of the contamination, and the agency’s regulatory and inspection responsibilities. In the hearing, the Senators also questioned outside experts who about the current state of the pet food industry, as well as regulatory or resource shortfalls that led to the widespread recall of tainted pet food.

Additionally, DeLauro, the Chairman of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, will further explore FDA’s inspection of imported foods in a follow-up hearing before the subcommittee.

Durbin and DeLauro have been actively engaged on food safety issues for over a decade. This Congress they introduced legislation that calls for the development of a single food safety agency and the implementation of a food safety program to standardize American food safety activities (The Safe Food Act – S. 654 and H.R. 1148 in the Senate and House respectively). The Illinois senator said legislation he has introduced to consolidate all federal food safety responsibilities into a single, independent agency has taken on new urgency because of a possibly heightened need to respond quickly and effectively to any acts of bioterrorism or agroterrorism. Currently, there are at least 12 different federal agencies and 35 different laws governing food safety. With overlapping jurisdictions, federal agencies often lack accountability on food safety-related issues.

The non-partisan U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) has been unequivocal in its recommendation for consolidation of federal food safety programs. In February of this year, the GAO deemed federal oversight of food safety as “high risk” to the economy and public health and safety. Over the past two decades, GAO has also issued numerous reports on topics such as food recalls, food safety inspections and the transport of animal feeds. Each of these reports highlights the current fragmentation and inconsistent organization of the various agencies involved in food safety oversight.

Text of the letter appears below:


April 18, 2007
Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20008 Dear Mr. Ambassador:

The ongoing investigation into the recent series of pet deaths and illnesses in the United States has revealed that contaminated batches of wheat gluten and rice protein responsible for these events were imported from China. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), China was the source of both the contaminated wheat gluten responsible for the recall of more than 60 million containers of cat and dog food, and the most recent recall of rice protein products.

Both products were contaminated with melamine, a chemical used for industrial purposes in the United States and in fertilizers in China. According to experts, no level of melamine should be found in pet or human food.

In the case of the contaminated wheat gluten, FDA has identified Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. Ltd. as the source of the product. Although spokespeople for Xuzhou Anying have denied involvement in the incident, U.S.-based importer ChemNutra, Inc., has demonstrated that it imported the contaminated wheat gluten from Xuzhou Anying and various media reports show that the Chinese company was involved in purchasing significant quantities of melamine. In the case of the rice protein contamination, U.S. importer Wilbur-Ellis has said that it imported its products from Binzhou Futian Biology Technology, Ltd.

In response to these contaminations, on March 30, 2007, FDA took steps to block imports of Chinese wheat gluten thought to pose a risk to the safety of the human and pet food supply. The Agency has also made multiple requests to the Chinese Government to allow U.S. inspectors to look at the facilities that are suspected to have produced the contaminated product. On April 4, 2007, the FDA sent its first letter to the Chinese Government asking for visas to allow its inspectors visit China. The request was not granted, and on April 17, 2007, the FDA sent an additional letter emphasizing that it wished to be allowed to send its inspectors to China.

This incident has brought suffering to pet owners who have seen their animals fall prey to illness or death, and caused significant economic losses to U.S. companies that believed they were importing wholesome products.

Therefore, we strongly urge the Chinese Government to quickly issue visas to U.S. inspectors and cooperate in this investigation. Last year, the United States imported more than $2.1 billion of agricultural goods from China, up from nearly $1.8 billion the year before. Clearly, this is an important trading relationship.

We appreciate the courtesy of a timely response. We would also like to meet with you in the near future to discuss this issue.

Sincerely,
Richard J. Durbin
U.S. Senator
Rosa L. DeLauro
Chairwoman House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies

As reported yesterday, Natural Balance has recalled pet food products found to have melamine in them. Yes, melamine. The same item found in the tainted wheat gluten which caused the massive Menu Food recall over the past month, and countless heartbreaking deaths. However, the twist on the Natural Balance recall is that it is NOT being attributed to wheat gluten (Natural Balance says they do not use it), but instead is being traced to rice protein concentrate, which Natural Balance recently added to their Venison products for dogs and cats,”The recalled products include Venison and Brown Rice canned and bagged dog foods, Venison and Brown Rice dog treats, and Venison and Green Pea dry cat food. Recent laboratory results show that the products contain melamine. We believe the source of the melamine is a rice protein concentrate. Natural Balance has confirmed this morning that some production batches of these products may contain melamine.” USA Today is reporting, “The rice protein concentrate was imported from China by San Francisco-based Wilbur-Ellis. Herrick says the concentrate, which is being tested, is suspected to have melamine, as it was the only new ingredient.

In that same article from USA Today, Wilbur-Ellis CEO, John Thacher, said five pet food makers purchased the concentrate, one of them being Diamond Pet Foods. He refused to name the other “major” customer, but said that the unnamed company had tested the concentrate and found no melamine in it. I question why that other “major” company won’t come forward. I mean if you tested the food and NO MELAMINE was found, wouldn’t you WANT consumers to know that you pet food is “safe”? (Whatever safe means anymore.)

Here we go again down the “hush-hush” path of big business companies keeping their “code of silence” with one another. Sigh. ChemNutra was informed on March 8th of the tainted wheat gluten they had imported from Xuzhou Anying in China, and according to their 4/3 press release, immediately began cooperating in investigations and quarantined their entire wheat gluten inventory, yet the public was not made aware of ANY of the involved companies or suppliers for several weeks! Is this the runaround we are now going to get from the rice protein importer, Wilbur-Ellis, and whomever their customers are that purchased the rice protein from them? Guess only time will tell. Looks like the “Quality Assurance” blurb on the Wilbur-Ellis “feed” web site page holds their accountability only at their customers, and not the subsequent consumers of products produced by those customers. “For over 80 years, Wilbur-Ellis has built a reputation for fulfilling contractual commitments to our customers. The process starts with ensuring that our suppliers provide the quality assurance that we guarantee in our sales contracts. Our network of international offices features specialists in every product market, thus ensuring that quality standards meet or exceed our customer expectations. Whether our customers require HAACP, APHIS , EU , UL or another form of quality assurance Co Products delivers what we guarantee.” It also appears from a must-read, interesting article over at Canada Free Press, that ChemNutra is giving the big brush-off to those requesting answers from them by having a PR firm take over inquiries, and has become quite mum on the whole thing, “PR flaks are paid to protect clients but the silence from ChemNutra CEO Stephen S. Miller and his wife Sally Qing Miller is deafening.

There’s something that is bothering me a bit with another aspect of this latest twist in pet food contamination. I realize we are all trying to get information out to worried pet parents as quickly as possible, and at times may have unintentionally passed along some information that may turn out to not have been 100% accurate. That being said, I’m sure bloggers and commenters were doing this with the best of intentions and no harm intended. However, I have read some comments and blog postings since the Natural Balance recall, which have been placing some blame on that company, saying that they knew about this issue and were delayed in reporting it. While these bloggers and commenters may be privy to some inside information I haven’t seen, from all of the accounts I have read online and seen on the news, it appears that Natural Balance DID test AND PULL affected products when they started getting complaints from consumers about pets becoming ill after eating some of their products. Natural Balance also appears to have quickly expanded their recall on 4/17/07 once they had fine-tuned where the problem may be: in the rice protein concentrate in their Venison products. Until I’m shown some evidence that proves otherwise, I commend Natural Balance for moving a lot faster than the companies that were involved in the Menu Foods recall did, most specifically Menu Foods who has been shown to have lagged MANY WEEKS on notifying consumers, thereby being guilty of allowing consumers to unknowingly continue feeding tainted food to their pets.

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For those having trouble accessing Natural Balance’s web site, I will copy the contents of their main page (as of 11:15AM PST on 4/18/07) and a FAQ which they posted today. You can click here for my previous posting which included their 4/17/07 press release.

Natural Balance web site (4/18/07):

NOTICE:
Below is our official press release regarding the Venison Only Voluntary Pet Food recall. We have worked very close with the FDA for the last two days to be able to give you the latest information available.

Due to the high volume of calls, we have created a page of
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
to help you better understand the current situation.

Click Here to read update on our voluntary recall.

NO OTHER NATURAL BALANCE PRODUCTS ARE AFFECTED.

Natural Balance FAQ:

Natural Balance Pet Foods,® Inc. Voluntary Nationwide Recall on Specific Venison Dog & Cat Food Products

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

I’ve heard the brown rice is the problem, is this true?

NO. The rice and brown rice are not a problem. The problem is rice protein concentrate that is only used in the four products involved in the recall.

I’ve heard the venison is a problem, is this true?

NO. The rice protein concentrate is the problem, and is only used in the the Venison & Brown Rice Dry Dog Food, Venison & Brown Rice Canned Dog Food, the Venison & Brown Rice Formula Dog Treats and the Venison & Green Pea Cat Food. These are the only products involved in the recall.

What products are affected?

Venison and Brown Rice Dry Dog Formula
Venison and Brown Rice Canned Dog Food
Venison & Brown Rice Formula Dog Treats
Venison and Green Pea Dry Cat Formula

What products are NOT AFFECTED?

None of our other products are affected:
Ultra Premium Formula Dry Dog Food
Reduced Calorie Formula Dry Dog Food
Ultra Premium Formula Dry Cat Food
Reduced Calorie Formula Dry Cat Food
Sweet Potato & Fish Dry Dog Food
Potato & Duck Formula Dry Dog Food
Organic Formula Dry Dog Food
Vegetarian Formula Dry Dog Food
Turkey Formula Dog Food Rolls
Beef Formula Dog Food Rolls
Lamb Formula Dog Food Rolls
Beef Formula canned dog food
Chicken Formula canned dog food
Lamb Formula canned dog food
Liver Formula canned dog food
Duck and Potato Formula canned dog food
Sweet Potato & Fish canned dog food

Missed this notice on Menu Foods web site yesterday (4/17):

April 17, 2007

Menu Foods Refines Recall List

TORONTO, ONTARIO–(April 17, 2007) – Menu Foods

Attention Business/Financial Editors

Menu Foods has previously recalled wet cat and dog food produced with adulterated wheat gluten supplied by ChemNutra Inc. Over the past several days, Menu Foods continued a detailed analysis of production records at its Emporia, Kansas, plant as part of the US Food and Drug Administration’s ongoing investigation of this adulterated wheat gluten. As a result of this work, Menu Foods advises the public:

One additional item has been added to the recall list and is shown below

Two additional production dates of eight varieties of pet food have been added to the recall list. These eight varieties of pet food had previously been withdrawn from the market and should already be off the retailer shelves.

An updated list of the recalled products, including this addition, is available at the Menu Foods website at http://www.menufoods.com.

Dog Food

Brand: Natural Life

Look For This Date On The Bottom of Can or Back of Pouch: Nov/22/09

Variety Description: Vegetarian 13.2oz

Can / Pouch: Can

Size: 13.2oz

UPC: 12344-07114

Menu Foods
Consumers
1-866-895-2708
Website: www.menufoods.com



Was just checking out Natural Balance’s web site and see that they have expanded their recall since yesterday. It now includes: Venison and Brown Rice canned and bagged dog foods, Venison and Brown Rice dog treats, and Venison and Green Pea dry cat food. (It’s nice to see a company taking a proactive step, instead of some VERY belated reactive steps other companies have taken.)

What is most disconcerting about this expanded recall is that, yet again, we are hearing that dreaded “M” word, melamine. While the Menu Foods recall had melamine in the wheat gluten, Natural Balance states they do not use wheat gluten, but that it appears the melamine was in a rice protein concentrate which they have recently added to their Venison products. So now the question is where did they get the rice protein concentrate? Considering how long it took for us to find out where Menu Foods got their wheat gluten (Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology, by way of ChemNutra) and how many other companies ended up recalling their products from that tainted wheat gluten, where might this new rice protein concentrate situation lead us?

Here is today’s complete Natural Balance press release from their web site:

Contact:
Consumer Inquiries:
(800) 829-4493
Media Inquiries:
Daniel Bernstein
310-275-0777

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Pacoima, CA — April 17, 2007–
Natural Balance, Pacoima, CA, is issuing a voluntary nationwide recall for all of its Venison dog products and the dry Venison cat food only, regardless of date codes. The recalled products include Venison and Brown Rice canned and bagged dog foods, Venison and Brown Rice dog treats, and Venison and Green Pea dry cat food. Recent laboratory results show that the products contain melamine. We believe the source of the melamine is a rice protein concentrate. Natural Balance has confirmed this morning that some production batches of these products may contain melamine.

The recall was prompted by consumer complaints received by Natural Balance involving a small number of cats and dogs that developed kidney failure after eating the affected product.

Dogs or cats who have consumed the suspect food and show signs of kidney failure (such as loss of appetite, lethargy and vomiting) should be seen by a veterinarian. We recommend our customers immediately stop feeding our recalled venison products regardless of date code and return unused product to their retailer for a full refund.

The products are packaged in bags, cans and zip lock treat bags and sold in pet specialty stores and PetCo nationally.
No other Natural Balance products are involved in this voluntary recall as none of our other formulas include the rice protein concentrate.

Although the problems seem to be focused on a particular production period of the venison products, over the last four days we have notified our distributors and retailers by phone and e-mail to immediately stop selling and return all recalled Venison dog foods and treats and the Venison dry cat food. Venison canned cat food is not involved.

The source of the melamine appears to be a rice protein concentrate, which was recently added to the dry venison formulas. Natural Balance does not use wheat gluten, which was associated with the previous melamine contamination.

None of Natural Balance’s other dry formulas, none of our other canned or roll products and none of our other treats are involved with this voluntary recall.

We continue to work closely with the FDA in their ongoing investigation.

Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-800-829-449 or email info@naturalblanceinc.com.

Interesting, eclectic mix of news on the pet food contamination situation. As for the CBS story, I think anyone really following the developments knew long ago that the wheat gluten in some pet food was “food grade (suitable for human consumption products), so it wasn’t really any stretch of the imagination for the same situation to have occurred with Menu Foods. Also sad to see that the pet food has reached other continents such as South Africa. And maybe it’s just because I’ve been so consumed with this tainted pet food mess and reading so much on it, but I have a hard time believing the survey stating that most Americans aren’t changing anything with the diet of their pets on the heels of this scare. Then again, I suppose we’ve earned our “Lazy American” title for a reason, right? 😉

Don’t forget that today is the U.S. Senate oversight hearing on the pet food contamination situation. It is scheduled to begin at 2PM EST, and a press release from Senator Durbin said it would be webcast here. I just checked and C-SPAN IS airing the hearing! (UPDATED 5:45 PM PST: Just saw on C-SPAN’s site that they will be replaying the Pet Food Regulation hearing on C-SPAN2 tonight at 10:24 PM EST, and 2:50 AM EST)

**Here are my comments while watching the U.S. Senate oversight hearing**:

UPDATE at 2:02 EST: Oh my gosh, Sen. Kohl just quoted the 39,000 sick/dead pet quote from the AP story that kept changing…woo-hoo! Also, it seems that the webcast is NOT appearing on the link from Sen. Durbin’s press release, but CSPAN is airing it. If I see it will be replayed at a later time, I will post that. Wow, just SO impressed that Sen. Kohl used the 39,000 statistic!!!

UPDATE at 2:12 EST: Yippee, Senator Durbin just acknowledged that it is the BLOG community that is where most of the up-to-date information about the recall and everything surrounding it, is being spread to consumers and not the government who is getting that information out. Shout-out to all the hardworking bloggers out there–way to go fellow bloggers! I’m VERY proud to be among you. 🙂

UPDATE 2:18 EST: Dr. Stephen Sundlof, Director FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine, in his opening remark just did SO much back patting of the companies, etc., involved in this recall, I thought for a moment he was trying to do his best impression of George Bush telling Michael Brown (FEMA) “And Brownie you’re doing a heck of a job!” during Katrina! Sheesh!

UPDATE 2:28 EST: Senator Durbin “No evidence contaminated wheat gluten in human supply?”, Dr. Soloman stated testing done, and the answer is no contaminated wheat gluten in human supply.

UPDATE 2:34 EST: Sen. Durbin pushed Dr. Sundlof to answer whether the delay of recall notice may have caused additional deaths, Dr. Sundlof said any delay would. OMG, Sen. Durbin just asked Dr. Sundlof if he admits that it is VERY difficult to find pet food recall information on the FDA website…Dr. Sundlof admitted it is! (SoCalMuchacha: It’s official, I ADORE Senator Durbin!!! 🙂)

UPDATE 2:43 EST: Sen. Byrd, what a colorful character. ‘Nuff said. 😉

UPDATE 2:45 EST: Sen. Byrd did ask why there is such a discrepancy in statistics being offered by the FDA and media outlets. Dr. Sundlof said, “There have been 15,000 phone calls to FDA…at this point just trying to make sure no other pets affected by this…Once sure all contaminated food off shelves, will assess true prevalence of the disease caused by this pet food.” Sen. Byrd, “How long has the tainted food been sold to the public” Dr. Sundlof said, “Traced back to beginning of November, 2006.” Sen. Byrd, “What screening systems are employed by the FDA to ensure harmful substances, such as contaminated wheat gluten, kept out of pet food?” Dr. Sundlof, “Pet food manufacturers are suppose to keep the products free of contaminants…FDA inspects on occasion to see if complying…company keeps records…in this case Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology (China) did supply certificates of analysis to the US importer which showed testing done…no testing for melamine…melamine not a substance we (FDA) would consider testing…manufacturer is responsible for products safely produced and have records showing they’ve exercised due diligence showing they are safe.”

UPDATE 3: 05 EST: Sen. Kohl thanked Dr. Sundlof and Dr. Solomon, they were excused. Second panel brought forward.

Dr. Claudia Kirk, Associate Professor, University of Tennessee, College of Veterinary Medicine spoke first: Lack of tracking of supply lead to additional month of confusion….establish a centralized site for veterinarians to report…some reports of affected pets exaggerated while current statistic unrealistically low.

Elizabeth Hodgkins, DVM: Past 18 months there have been 3 major pet food recalls…no human food is allowed to bear such broad guarantees such as what you see on pet foods…no systematic inspections of suppliers…gov’t inspections of plants cannot prevent…need long term studies…proposes “Truth in Pet Food Labeling Initiative”.

Dr. Nelson, President, Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

Duane Ekedahl, Executive Director, Pet Food Institute: Announced National Pet Food Commission…basically said the opposite of what Dr. Hodgkins said about pet food labeling…stated testing is very exacting, much analysis, highly regulated…says pet food industry acted quickly during this situation (SoCalMuchacha: not buying this guy’s comments…sorry…only thing he said I bought was that pets are members of our families)

UPDATE 3:30 EST: Sen. Kohl asked Dr. Kirk if all the foods at a plant are the same, if that plant contracts with various companies? Dr. Kirk stated that many are the same such as those contracted to Menu Foods, however, there are some companies that “rent” production facility space to keep their formula unique. Sen. Kohl asked Dr. Kirk her thoughts on consumers cooking their own pet’s food since unsure of pet food now. Dr. Kirk said she doesn’t normally recommend that because over time the consistency and balanced diet tends to wane. She feels products on shelf are generally safe, but that she would have the consumer check the label of the food they are using to see if there is wheat gluten in it.

Sen. Kohl and Dr. Hodgkins discussed no routine testing of ingredients, that every batch is not tested, that testing each batch of ingredients would be a daunting task. Dr. Hodgkins feels there is an unwarranted sense of safety in AAFCO label of guarantee…that there is a sieve of safety inadequacy assurances.

UPDATE 3:55 EST: Sen. Durbin basically called Ekedahl on the carpet for not having the information he should have had regarding details of why Menu Foods had such a delay in reporting the contaminated food and pet deaths. Sen. Durbin stated that he thought Dr. Hodgkins’ ideas are on the right track. (SoCalMuchacha: totally agree! Dr. Hodgkins totally appears to be the go-to person for how to rectify a very broken system.)

Hearing ended at 4:00 PM EST.

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

Overall I thought the hearing was quite an interesting event. I taped it and will have to watch it again to really process all that was said. The notes above are certainly not intended to be verbatim, since I was trying to type them as they were being said, but they are intended to convey a general idea of what took place. And yes, I still think Sen. Durbin is AWESOME and is one man (I hope!) we can count on to continue the investigation into all of this, and one to create change.

_________________________________________________

 

Also, I received the following recall notice from the FDA today:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
P07-63
April 12, 2007

Media Inquiries:
Vash Klein and Catherine McDermott, 301-827-6242
Consumer Inquiries:
888-INFO-FDA

 

FDA Warns Consumers That Retailers May Still Have Recalled Pet Food on Shelves
Menu Foods Expands Recall to More Cat Food

FDA is advising pet owners that recalled pet food may still be on the shelves in some retail establishments. FDA urges retailers across the country to be vigilant in removing all products associated with the pet food recall, which began on March 16, 2007.

To verify the effectiveness of the recall, FDA has conducted approximately 400 checks of retail stores across the country. Based on the checks, FDA believes most companies have removed the recalled product; however, some have not. FDA will continue to monitor retailers’ efforts to remove these items from the shelves.

“FDA’s priority is to make sure that cats and dogs have safe food to eat, said Stephen Sundlof, D.V.M., director of FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.” Many of us are pet owners and animal lovers, and we want pet owners to feel assured that we are doing everything we can to make sure that all contaminated food is off the shelves.”

In related news, Menu Foods, Inc., a private label manufacturer based in Streetsville, Ontario, Canada, expanded its recall on Tuesday, April 10, to cat food not previously subject to the recall. The varieties of cat food in the United States and Canada now being recalled are included in the list at the bottom of this news release. A complete list of Menu Foods’ recalled products, including the new items, can be reviewed at www.menufoods.com.

The company acted after receiving information from FDA, which had confirmed test results it received from a laboratory at University of California, Davis. The UC-Davis lab found that canned cat food which had not been included in Menu Food’s earlier recalls tested positive for melamine, a chemical used as a fertilizer and in the manufacture of cutlery and kitchenware.

The company informed FDA that it had shipped wheat gluten purchased from China and contaminated with melamine from its Emporia, Kansas plant to its plant in Streetsville. Some of the products produced with the contaminated wheat gluten also were shipped to the United States. FDA investigators and officials with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency were in the Ontario facility on April 10.

Since March 16, recalls of pet food products, including certain varieties of dog food, have been conducted by Menu Foods, Inc., Hill’s Pet Nutrition, P&G Pet Care, Nestle Purina PetCare Company, Del Monte Pet Products, and Sunshine Mills, Inc. Extensive information about the current pet food situation can be found at the FDA Web site, www.fda.gov. There is now a single list of all recalled pet food located at http://www.fda.gov/ora/fed_state/recalls/Recall.xls which will be updated with any new recall information when announced.

LIST OF NEWLY RECALLED PRODUCTS:

Cat Food

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brand

Look For This Date on The Bottom of Can or Back of Pouch

Variety Description

Can / Pouch

Size

UPC

 

Americas Choice, Preferred Pet

 

 

 

Jan/2/10

Flaked Tuna 3oz Can 3oz 54807-59114

 

 

 

 

 

Your Pet

 

 

 

 

Dec/19/09

Sliced Beef/Gravy 3oz Can 3oz 72036-29026

Jan/24/10

 

 

 

 

Nov 06 09

Sliced Variety Pack 3oz Can 3oz 72036-40013

 

 

 

 

 

Pet Pride

 

 

 

 

Dec/19/09

Sliced Beef/Gravy 3oz Can 3oz 11110-86264

Jan/24/10

 

 

 

 

Nov 06 09

Sliced Variety Pack 3oz Can 3oz 11110-86003

Dec 05 09

 

 

 

 

Dec 06 09

 

 

 

 

Jan 23 10

 

 

 

 

Jan 24 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laura Lynn

 

 

 

 

Jan/2/10

Flaked Tuna 3oz Can 3oz 86854-02407

Dec/19/09

Sliced Beef/Gravy 3oz Can 3oz 86854-02406

 

 

 

 

 

Nutriplan

 

 

 

 

Dec/19/09

Sliced Beef/Gravy 3oz Can 3oz 41130-06755

 

 

 

 

 

Price Chopper

 

 

 

 

Dec/19/09

Sliced Beef/Gravy 3oz Can 3oz 41735-12828

 

 

 

 

 

Publix

 

 

 

 

 

Jan/2/10

Flaked Tuna 3oz Can 3oz 41415-08327

Dec/19/09

Sliced Beef/Gravy 3oz Can 3oz 41415-08827

Jan/2/10

 

 

 

 

Jan/24/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stop & Shop Companion

 

 

 

Jan/2/10

Flaked Tuna 3oz Can 3oz 88267-00286

 

 

 

 

 

Winn Dixie

 

 

 

 

Dec/19/09

Sliced Beef/Gravy 3oz Can 3oz 21140-19419

 

 

 

Nutro Products

 

 

 

 

All Dates

Chicken Cacciatore 3oz Can 3oz 79105-35205

All Dates

Orleans Seafood Jambalaya 3oz Can 3oz 79105-35206

All Dates

Beef Ragout 3oz Can 3oz 79105-35207

All Dates

Alaskan Halibut/Rice 3oz Can 3oz 79105-35221

All Dates

Kitten Chicken/Lamb 3oz Can 3oz 79105-35202

All Dates

California Chicken 3oz Can 3oz 79105-30011

All Dates

Lamb/Turkey Cutlets 3oz Can 3oz 79105-30014

All Dates

Salmon/Whitefish 3oz Can 3oz 79105-30013

All Dates

Beef/Egg 3oz Can 3oz 79105-30015

All Dates

Turkey/Chicken Liver 3oz Can 3oz 79105-30016

All Dates

Seafood/Tomato/Bisque 3oz Can 3oz 79105-30017

All Dates

Hunters Stew with Duck 3oz Can 3oz 79105-30018

All Dates

Hunters Stew with Venison 3oz Can 3oz 79105-30019

####

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.”)

ARGH!!! Seriously, what the ever-loving HELL is wrong with Menu Foods, the FDA, and ANY other company or agency involved with this disaster?!?! Sorry, but my frustration level has truly reached an all-time high after reading this most disturbing opening line in Menu Foods THIRD, yes THIRD recall list:

Prompted by reports from the US Food and Drug Administration as to the presence of melamine in cans of cuts and gravy pet food produced in Menu Foods’ Canadian production facility, Menu Foods undertook an accounting of all recalled wheat gluten supplied by ChemNutra Inc. to Menu Foods in the United States.

In this day and age with technological advancements running rampant, there is no, and I mean NO excuse for not being able to track anything at the drop of a hat. In this case that would mean Menu Foods should have done this “accounting” ages ago, along with the tracking of the tainted wheat gluten and ANY company affected by it being notified and recalling ALL their affected foods off the shelves—not days or weeks later.

And here is today’s Nutro press release recalling ALL wet pouched and canned foods made with wheat gluten.

Undoubtedly there is more to the story, but sorry folks, I have a raging toothache (so not fun) so I will research and post more later. I did want to make sure to at least get the latest Menu Foods and Nutro recall lists mentioned and posted for those who may not have heard about them. Click here for the most recent updates. (Well, as quickly as I can catch up with the never-ending stream of them.)

Pick a number. Any number between 14 and say, oh, how about 39,000? Well, it seems that is about as concrete as ANY number you’ll get regarding just how many poor, innocent pets have died due to the tainted wheat gluten used in possibly millions of containers of recalled pet food. The FDA and Menu Foods continue to stand by their statistic of 14-16 pets dead (majority of those from Menu Foods own “tasting trials”), while online pet web site, Pet Connection, had registered 3,598 owner-reported pet deaths by 4/9/07. Then to add even MORE mystery to the already shrouded in secrecy pet food contamination story, is what has the internet all abuzz: two “somewhat” different versions of an AP story by Andrew Bridges. I took screen shots of each and will also save the entire stories on a page on this blog so you can compare the differences yourself. And goodness knows how many more times the story might change. Kind of makes you wonder what sort of pressure Andrew Bridges and/or the Associated Press might be receiving (if any), and by whom?

Here’s the first version:

 

Then there is this later version:

 

 


_____________________________________________

Happy Birthday, ASPCA!

 

 

 

While the latest development in the pet food contamination scandal ended up taking me away from the blog entry I was going to do on today being ASPCA Day, I can’t go without acknowledging the organization and its incredible work on behalf of animals, such as the beautiful one pictured here in a birthday tiara, my dearly departed Bailey. I adopted her from a shelter in June of 1992, and I was unbelievably fortunate to share 14 1/2 memorable and loving years with her. There are thousands upon thousands of animals in shelters RIGHT NOW, just waiting for you to open up your heart and your home. Trust me, doing so is something you (and the pet) will not regret. Just ask my current shelter boy pictured below, my goofball Rudy!

So let’s all gather ’round and sing a hearty version of “Happy Birthday” to the ASPCA, celebrating their 141st year of looking out for those who cannot look out for themselves; our furry, feathered, and finned friends (and any others that don’t fall into those categories ;)). While we all celebrate this fabulous occasion and “Go Orange for the Animals” in some form or fashion today, let’s also do our best YEAR ROUND to assist the ASPCA in its various efforts to end animal cruelty and find loving homes for all those pets who need them. Keep up the good work, ASPCA!

Menu Foods (Menu Foods US recall, Menu Foods Canada recall) and Del Monte have expanded their “voluntary” recall of pet food and pet treats to include items whose date of manufacture goes back to November 8th, 2006. That was when Menu Foods first began using wheat gluten provided by ChemNutra Inc., the company who imported the tainted wheat gluten from Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. Ltd. in China. (See prior post here.) The initial recall by Menu Foods on March 16, 2007 was for food products manufactured from December 3, 2006-March 6, 2007.

On 4/6/07 Purina updated the FAQ section of their 3/30/07 press release to state:

The FDA announced April 5 that Menu Foods is expanding the dates of its recall of all chunk and gravy pet food products it produced. Has anything changed with regards to the range of Purina products affected?

  • No. Purina previously directed that all Mighty Dog 5.3-oz. pouch products were to be removed from shelf, regardless of date code. Because Menu Foods produced Mighty Dog pouch wet dog foods, the date range of recalled Mighty Dog pouch items now includes products produced between November 8, 2006, and March 14, 2007. Consumers should not feed products within these affected date codes. ALPO Prime Cuts in Gravy canned dog food, which was recalled by Purina on March 30, were produced at a Purina facility and are not affected by the Menu Foods announcement.No other Purina products are affected by the recall. No other Purina dog food products, no Purina wet or dry cat foods and no Purina treats are included in this recall nor have been impacted by the contaminated wheat gluten.

Since they have now narrowed down the tainted wheat gluten to a specific importer, with specific dates of use for pet food processing, I’ll cross my fingers that this is the LAST of the constantly changing recall lists. (Updated lists here.) Of course the way this situation continues to evolve, I don’t suppose I would be too surprised to see more products added. But we can hope, right?

I previously posted about the steps some of our government officials are taking in getting to the bottom of the pet food contamination disaster. Here is the press release from Sen. Dick Durbin’s office regarding the impending U.S. Senate oversight hearing:

DURBIN ANNOUNCES SENATE HEARING ON PET FOOD CONTAMINATION
Thursday, April 5, 2007
[CHICAGO, IL] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced the U.S. Senate will hold an oversight hearing on the ongoing investigation and the regulatory mechanisms that govern the pet food industry as the widespread recall of contaminated pet food continues.

“Many cats, dogs and other pets, considered members of the family are now suffering as a result of a deeply flawed pet food inspection system,” said Durbin. “The FDA’s response to this situation has been tragically slow. Pet owners deserve answers. The uncertainty about what is safe to feed their pets has gone on far too long. I want to learn exactly when the FDA knew about the contamination, who is inspecting pet food manufacturing plants, and whether we need to force the FDA to update their regulations to protect our pets. Most importantly, I want to hear how the FDA is going to work to resolve the current crisis and ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

Durbin, a member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, is working with Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), the Chairman of the Subcommittee, to schedule the hearing shortly after the Senate returns from recess next week. Hearing witnesses will include FDA officials who will be questioned on the timeline of the investigation, the source of the contamination, and the agency’s regulatory and inspection responsibilities. The hearing will also include outside experts who will discuss the current state of the pet food industry, as well as regulatory or resource shortfalls that led to the widespread recall of tainted pet food.

While the FDA is reporting 15 animal deaths due to poisoning, the agency has received more than 10,000 complaints over the last several weeks. Reports of the actual number of animal deaths due to tainted food vary widely from other sources.

Durbin is urging the FDA to take action in three specific areas:

  • Delay in reporting. Menu Foods, Inc. first noticed a potential problem on February 20, 2007 but did not contact FDA until March 15, 2007. In the meantime, other companies were selling tainted product and the supplier wasn’t aware that it had provided wheat gluten contaminated with melamine. Durbin wants companies that delay reporting to the FDA and endanger human and animal health to face penalties.
  • Lack of inspections. The Emporia, Kansas Menu Foods facility where many of these products were made had never been inspected by the FDA. The agency has been relying on the states to conduct inspections, but the FDA has jurisdiction over all pet food manufacturing facilities and the ultimate responsibility to ensure facilities comply with FDA standards. Where there should be federal regulation, there is instead a patchwork of state inspection systems and voluntary guidance. Durbin wants to require the FDA to work with the states to establish a standardized set of regulations and inspection requirements.
  • Incomplete data and reporting from the FDA. Blogs and nonprofit websites have filled a gap and become the most efficient way to share information on contaminations. Durbin wants to direct the FDA to create a similar information sharing system that would allow state veterinarians, pet owners and others to alert the FDA of possible contaminations.

    TimelineOn March 16, 2007 Menu Foods, Inc. initiated a voluntary recall of 60 million cans and pouches of wet pet food. The recall involves 42 varieties of cat food and 53 varieties of dog food made at its Emporia, Kansas facility between December 3, 2006 and March 6, 2007.

    The FDA, which has jurisdiction over the regulation and inspection of pet food processing facilities, announced the recall on March 17, 2007. According to FDA, it was first notified of the contamination on March 15, 2007.

    In addition to the Menu Foods recall of 95 different labels of pet food, the recall was expanded between March 16 and March 31, 2007 to at least 4 more makers of pet food, all well-respected premium brand companies – Nestle Purina, maker of Alpo; Hill’s Pet Nutrition, maker of Prescription Diet; P&G Pet Care, maker of Iams and Eukanuba; and Del Monte.

    On March 26, 2007, in response to reports that Menu Foods and FDA were underreporting the number of animal illnesses (acute kidney failure) and deaths attributed to the contamination, Durbin and Congresswoman DeLauro sent a letter to Andrew von Eschenbach, Commissioner of the FDA, requesting that within 15 days the FDA provide information on the number of pet food manufacturing inspections and violations, a detailed timeline of the situation, an analysis of FDA’s oversight of pet food manufacturing facilities and a report of actions taken since the recent pet food recall. A response is due by April 10, 2007.

    On March 30, the FDA discovered that the source of the contamination was a melamine-contaminated batch of wheat gluten imported from China by a Chinese company called Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. Ltd, which is based in Wangdien, China. The same day, in response to the Xuzhou discovery, FDA issued guidelines blocking imports of wheat gluten from that company and stepped up inspections of all Chinese wheat gluten shipments.

    On April 3, Nevada-based ChemNutra announced that it was the firm that had imported the contaminated wheat gluten and that it then provided the gluten to pet food companies. According to ChemNutra, all the wheat gluten went to pet food companies and should not be in the human food supply. ChemNutra initiated a nationwide recall of the contaminated wheat gluten product on April 2, 2007.

  • Sometimes you just do NOT want to be right about something, and many of us did NOT want to be right about the list of recalled items expanding over time, nor did we want to be right about the tainted wheat gluten making it into human food processing plants. Yet here we are with yet ANOTHER recall notice from the FDA today, added to the alarming report this week from the Boston Globe.

    The recall today affects another branded and private-label pet food manufacturer, Sunshine Mills Inc., and includes: Nurture Chicken & Rice, Nurture Lamb & Rice, Pet Life Large, Pet Life Extra Large, Pet Life Large Variety, Pet Life Large Peanut Butter, Lassie Lamb and Rice (AKA Natural Way Dog Biscuits baked with Lamb & Rice), Pet Life People Pleasers Dog Treats, Companion’s Best Multi Flavor Biscuit, Stater Brothers Large Biscuit, Ol’Roy Peanut Butter Biscuit, Ol’Roy 4 Flavor Large Biscuit, Ol’Roy Puppy Biscuit, Champion Breed Peanut Butter Biscuit, Champion Breed Large Biscuit, Perfect Pals Large Biscuit, Stater Brothers Large Biscuit. I will add the code information with other recalled pet food information on the Pet food recall info/posts page.

    I noticed the FDA has revamped their Pet Food Recall page, which is a sad sign to me that this situation is going to be with us for some time. I also found this Recalls, Market Withdrawals and Safety Alerts page, which I hadn’t seen before. Oh, and can I just vent for a moment and ask all the affected companies and the FDA to STOP SAYING that other products are safe and we do not need to worry! Kind of hard for us to buy into that idea since practically every other day we’re getting news of more items being recalled. Just tell us, once and for all, the names of all companies which received the tainted wheat gluten so WE, the consumers, can make our own decisions about what is and isn’t safe. Simple request, in my opinion.

    ***Just got another recall notice (American Bullie A.B. Bull Pizzle Puppy Chew and Dog Chew [made from all American beef pizzle]) from the FDA in my mail, but this is another SALMONELLA-related one (not Menu Foods-related), similar to this one from 3/25.***

    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.

    Sniffin’ out the info

    Photobucket

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