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Here we go again, folks! We are now facing ANOTHER Chinese-manufactured items recall due to a lead poisoning hazard, this time nearly one million Fisher-Price toys. Below is a copy of the recall notice from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. This recall comes on the heels of the Thomas the Tank Engine recall, also due to lead poisoning items manufactured in China. Here is an interesting read from early July where China says the entire safety issue is being “hyped” by the media, and it seems they are parroting the same “Chinese exports are safe” line in this article posted today, yet softening their stance in this one. Here’s hoping that the US team currently in Beijing for talks regarding more stringent regulations with the food and drug trade between our country and China, will be able to come home with rules in place which will have us all breathing a bit easier regarding the safety of products we use for ourselves and our pets.

UPDATES:

Here are a couple of links to Mattel pages:
8/1/07 Fisher-Price Toys with Lead Paint Hazard Recall
ALL Mattel recalls

 

 

NEWS from CPSC

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Office of Information and Public Affairs Washington, DC 20207

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 2, 2007
Release #07-257
Firm’s Recall Hotline: (800) 916-4498
CPSC Recall Hotline: (800) 638-2772
CPSC Media Contact: (301) 504-7908


Fisher-Price Recalls Licensed Character Toys Due To Lead Poisoning Hazard

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the firms named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed. Name of Product: Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer, and other children’s toys

Units: About 967,000

Importer: Fisher-Price Inc., of East Aurora, N.Y.

Hazard: Surface paints on the toys could contain excessive levels of lead. Lead is toxic if ingested by young children and can cause adverse health effects.

Incidents/Injuries: None reported.

Description: The recalled involves various figures and toys that were manufactured between April 19, 2007 and July 6, 2007 and were sold alone or as part of sets. The model names and product numbers for the recalled toys, which are all marked with “Fisher-Price,” are listed below. The toys may have a date code between 109-7LF and 187-7LF marked on the product or packaging.

Sold at: Retail stores nationwide from May 2007 through August 2007 for between $5 and $40.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should immediately take the recalled toys away from children and contact Fisher-Price. Consumers will need to return the product and will receive a voucher for a replacement toy of the consumer’s choice (up to the value of the returned product).

Consumer Contact: For additional information contact Fisher-Price at (800) 916-4498 anytime or visit the firm’s Web site at www.service.mattel.com

(PRODUCT LISTED REMOVED DUE TO FORMATTING ISSUES: please click link above for entire list.)

Send the link for this page to a friend! The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from more than 15,000 types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $700 billion annually. The CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard or can injure children. The CPSC’s work to ensure the safety of consumer products – such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters, and household chemicals – contributed significantly to the 30 percent decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years.

To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, call CPSC’s hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC’s teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270, or visit CPSC’s web site at www.cpsc.gov/talk.html. To join a CPSC email subscription list, please go to www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.aspx. Consumers can obtain this release and recall information at CPSC’s Web site at www.cpsc.gov.

mvick2d1.jpgAt long last it looks as though those who condone and perpetuate the horrendous, vicious, and cruel practice of illegal dogfighting may finally be held accountable for their actions. Today Michael Vick (Atlanta Falcons) and three counterparts (Purnell A. Peace, Quanis L. Phillips, Tony Taylor) were indicted by a federal grand jury and will hopefully have the book thrown at them. This news goes directly against this news article stating it was unlikely Vick would face any charges. (***Update 7/26/07.***)

The “training facility” for over 50 pit bulls seized by officials back in April included drugs, an electronic treadmill, and a rape stand used for forced breeding.

“Fights would end when one dog died or with the surrender of the losing dog, which was sometimes put to death by drowning, strangulation, hanging, gun shot, electrocution or some other method, according to the documents.”CBS News

Disgusting! Howdog-fight.jpg people can live with themselves while committing such atrocities, I will never know. And those who take part in watching these bloody, “to the death” dog fights; well, in my opinion they should be held as accomplices. I’m thinking that the rape stand Michael and his cohorts had no problem putting to use ought to come into play when decisions are being made about how restitution for their reviling crimes might be met. I mean they can adjust that stand to fit someone of Michael’s size, right?

Here are some links to various stories regarding today’s indictment:

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WTF, John Mayer?!?!

While searching for a Michael Vick photo for this blog entry I found the “red slash through Michael’s face” picture on Photobucket. I saw the MySpace address at the bottom of it and went to check it out. While there I read “Dog Fighting Idiots List” which had a John Mayer video embedded, and I have to say I was totally shocked and surprised that John would have such an enormous lapse in common sense, judgment, and humor. Did he really think the video was the least bit amusing?! Did he assume everyone would get that he was trying to poke fun at Vick? (Which is the ONLY excuse I can think of for even thinking of making the video, let alone actually following through with it!) Did he think there was even one shred of humor in anything related to dog fighting? Shame on you, John Mayer, shame on you. What a total and complete disappointment.

Who would have thought this exasperating pet food contamination situation would STILL be dragging along TEN WEEKS later?! Here are some interesting articles covering: Menu Foods bullying of those filing claims against them, Seattle owners filing lawsuits, the response of web sites and blogs to the recall madness, the possibility of subpoenas being issued to the FDA, and the far reaching concern of the quality of exports from China.

Hope everyone had a safe Memorial Day!

Court: Menu Foods Harassed Pet Owners– USA Today-News10.net

“The pet food company that recalled 60 million cans of contaminated dog and cat food repeatedly made harassing phone calls to pet owners who had lawyers and said they didn’t want to talk, even after a judge ordered the firm to leave them alone, court records show.”

Seattle Pet Owners Part Of Class-Action Suit Over Tainted Food– SeattlePI.nwsource.com

“About 75 class-action lawsuits have been filed against Menu Foods around the country, said Tom Baisch, an attorney with the Seattle law firm Myers and Co. Baisch said his firm, along with Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, has consulted with more than 500 people — many from the Seattle area — who believe they’re owed reparations.”

Pet Food Scandal Unleashes Once-Obscure Web Sites-BaltimoreSun.com

“The Internet has changed all the rules here in terms of mobilizing public opinion on important issues, and this pet-food contamination is a clear illustration,” Durbin said in a telephone interview from his Chicago office.”

House: FDA Unresponsive To Information About Pet Food Recall-NorthCountryGazette.org

“A Congressional committee has given the U.S. Food and Drug Administration until June 1 to produce requested records concerning drug and food safety in the United States or they will subpoena them.”

Menu Foods: Tainted Pet Food Raises A Bigger Concern-LawyersAndSettlements.com

“Now comes news on Friday that officials in Canada have intercepted a shipment of corn gluten contaminated with melamine and cyanuric acid.”

Limited time, so just a couple of quick items hitting the news today on the pet food contamination front.

Unfortunately the news doesn’t seem as if it will ever improve, and instead only becomes more concerning as tainted products are finding their way into the human food supply more often. Sad that so many beloved pets had to die in order for us all to have a huge “wake-up call” on the incredible inadequacy and incompetency of food regulation in our country and others. Also, time constraints for the next month will pretty much prohibit me from a lot of posting, but I will do my best to continue getting you at least some news headlines and links on the pet food contamination debacle. What a shame we’re still unsure of so much about all of this EIGHT WEEKS INTO IT!

CHINA

U.S. melamine probers find empty Chinese factories-ReutersAlertNet

“U.S. investigators found shuttered factories when they arrived at the Chinese food processors blamed for putting the chemical melamine into vegetable proteins shipped to America, officials said on Thursday.”

China detains managers in tainted pet food case-Chron.com

“China has long suffered adverse publicity tied to its notoriously lax enforcement of food and drug safety…China’s government body responsible for overseeing food safety said it had detained an unspecified number of managers from Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. Ltd. and Binzhou Futian Biology Technology Co. Ltd.”

China to start mobile food testing-(AP)-SFGate.com

“The business hub of Shanghai will soon employ mobile testing units that officials say can check the safety of most food within 30 minutes, as fears grew at home and abroad over contaminated Chinese products ranging from cough syrup to pet food.”

CONTAMINATION SPREADS

Fish Hatcheries Got Contaminated Feed-Forbes.com

“Fish feed made with a contaminated Chinese ingredient was distributed to about 120 fish hatcheries and farms, roughly split between the United States and Canada, officials said Thursday.

Chicago-area company implicated in tainted pet food scandal: Cereal Byproducts. Co. of Mt. Prospect issued recall-Chicago Tribune (free subscription)

“Cereal Byproducts Co., which has plants in five states and a headquarters in Mt. Prospect, issued a recall for the rice protein products on May 4. The company’s products went to three pet food manufacturers… Word that yet another company has been implicated two months into the pet food contamination scare suggests that the scope of the problem is expanding, despite an ongoing FDA investigation.

FDA/USDA

Melamine update: Nevermind, it wasn’t wheat gluten-USNews.com

“Government officials say they have been wrong about calling the melamine-contaminated product imported by two Chinese firms “wheat gluten” and “rice protein concentrate.” These products were incorrectly labeled and were, in fact, wheat flour. The FDA is investigating the possibility that these products were intentionally mislabeled by the Chinese companies.”

Transcript of FDA-USDA update on Adulterated Animal Feed (5/10)-USDA.gov

“MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome. I am Rob Ali from the FDA’s Media Relations Shop. And thanks, and welcome to this briefing this afternoon on the melamine investigation. We have speakers today from the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We also have several FDA officials here and officials from USDA and Customs and Border Protection available to answer any questions later on in this briefing.”

FDA/USDA Joint News Release: Scientists Conclude Very Low Risk to Humans from Food Containing Melamine USDA Releases Some Swine and Poultry for Processing-FDA.gov

“In the course of the investigation, it was discovered that pet food was contaminated by wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate that contained melamine and its compounds. Subsequently, scraps of contaminated pet food that contained only low levels of melamine were distributed to farms in a limited number of states and added to the feed consumed by swine and poultry. These scraps constituted only a small percentage of the farm animal rations. In addition, melamine is known to be excreted in animal urine. When exposure levels are much higher, as was the case with cats and dogs, the melamine and its compounds appear to cause the formation of crystals in the kidney systems, resulting in kidney damage. There was no indication of kidney damage in hogs. Both hogs and chickens known to have been fed contaminated feed appear to be healthy.”

MENU FOODS

Menu Foods delays filing of financial statements– Reuters.com

“The pet food maker — at the center of a massive recall due to tainted wheat gluten imported from China — said the delay was primarily due to ongoing discussions with lenders over additional financing for, among other things, product recalls.”

SCIENCE LESSON

How two innocuous compounds combined to kill pets-WashingtonPost.com

“Scientists seeking the chemical culprits in the widening pet food scare have come across some unusual chemistry that may help them understand how two largely nontoxic compounds ended up killing an unknown number of cats and dogs.”

Only time for a smattering of news and info right now. Have a good Friday night!

“With Menu Foods yesterday greatly expanding its recall of pet food products due to new evidence of cross-contamination, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today warned pet parents that this crisis is far from over, and urged them to watch their pets closely for any symptoms that may be related to the recall.

“The investigation into contaminated pet food has focused on melamine contamination of ingredients imported from China, such as wheat gluten, rice protein concentrate and corn gluten (imported into South Africa). It is now believed that cyanuric acid, as well as melamine, has been found in urine samples from animals that died.”

“Recent tests revealed that when melamine is combined with cyanuric acid, the same distinctive crystals form in cat urine as in the urine of pets who became ill or died from the tainted food.”

“The exporter of a contaminated pet food ingredient blamed for the deaths of dogs and cats in the United States may have avoided Chinese export inspections by labeling it a nonfood product, a U.S. government report says.”

“This is David Acheson, assistant commissioner for Food Protection at FDA. What I would propose to do on this call is to go over some old ground to make sure that we are all on the same page, and I’m going to cover five principal topics. The first is just to reiterate the whole story around wheat gluten and how some of it can wind up in pet food and some in human food. The second is to briefly mention an expanded recall from Menu Foods. The third is to discuss the human health impact of the findings in the investigations to date. The next is to discuss our current proactive strategy looking at both imports and domestics. And the third point is just to mention where we are on the investigation in China. So that’s five points that I propose to cover.”

_______________________________________________

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.

SmartPak Canine Voluntarily Recalls LiveSmart Adult Lamb and Brown Rice Formula

Contact:
Paal Gisholt 774 773-1100
Consumers:
800 461-8898

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Plymouth, MA – May 3, 2007 –On 5/02/07, SmartPak Canine executed a voluntary nationwide recall on all lots of LiveSmart Adult Lamb and Brown Rice food. This product tested positive for presence of melamine in a test received earlier in the day.

The LiveSmart Lamb formula is only sold in portion-paks shipped straight to the consumer’s home each month, so there are no bags of potentially affected product on store shelves anywhere in the country. The focus of the recall has been informing affected customers via telephone, email, and letter. Ninety-nine percent of the roughly 220 pet owners feeding LiveSmart Adult Lamb via its portion pak pet food subscription service were contacted by live phone contact or message, and/or email. The company has had live contact with the majority of affected pet owners, and is continuing an aggressive outreach program to ensure that the notification has been received. To reduce likelihood of pet owners continuing to feed the food, replacement product is being shipped to affected customers free of charge.

At the time the recall was initiated, there had not been any ill effects reported in dogs. Through the efforts to reach out to all customers, the company has become aware of two instances of vomiting and learned that a 10 year old Rottweiler had passed away two weeks previous to the recall. These reports have been forwarded to FDA and are being investigated by the company’s Medical Director to determine if they are connected with the LiveSmart Adult Lamb formula. The company has asked that any dogs showing signs of kidney illness (loss of appetite, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst) be seen by their veterinarian.

The company is presently investigating the source of the contamination in conjunction with its contract manufacturer, Chenango Valley Pet Food. The LiveSmart Adult Lamb formula does not contain rice protein concentrate nor wheat gluten. All the meat and vegetable matter, with the exception of New Zealand lamb, is of US origin. It appears that the product may have been cross contaminated at the Chenango plant by a prior batch of food unassociated with SmartPak that contained an ingredient that had been contaminated with melamine.

SmartPak has also tested each of its other four brands for melamine contamination, and there was no melamine detected in the samples of these foods. Those brands are LiveSmart Adult Chicken and Brown Rice, LiveSmart Senior Chicken and Brown Rice, and LiveSmart Puppy Chicken and Brown Rice.

Questions regarding this recall may be directed to Paal Gisholt, the company’s president and CEO, who may be reached at 800 461-8898. Affected customers are asked to call the company’s toll free customer service number at 800 461-8898, which is available 24/7. Additional information will be reported on the company’s website as it becomes available.

Consumers with questions about the pet food they use should visit the FDA Web site at www.fda.gov.

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Well, I may have needed the paddles to start my heart after applauding GWB for signing the Animal Fighting Bill into law, but I sure didn’t need them when I read about Menu Foods expanding their pet food recall.  (Click HERE for link to full press release.) Honestly, it just sickens me how so many pet food manufacturers CONTINUED to say their foods were SAFE to feed the pets after the initial recall notices, when it’s now turned out that they darn well WERE NOT!

Here’s the latest firm press release from the FDA regarding Menu Foods:

This release was revised on May 3, 2007 to include marked changes to the table.

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.

Menu Foods Adds to Recall List

Contact:
Media and Investor Relations
Sarah Tuite
(416) 848-1703
Consumers
1-866-895-2708

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEMay 2, 2007 — Menu Foods has previously recalled wet cat and dog food produced with adulterated wheat gluten supplied by ChemNutra Inc. Menu Foods is now expanding the recall to include cuts and gravy and select other products which do not include ChemNutra wheat gluten but which were manufactured at any of Menu Foods’ plants during the period that ChemNutra wheat gluten was used at that plant, to the extent they have not already been subject to a recall, due to the possibility of cross-contamination. Menu Foods has received a report from a customer and has received study results, both of which indicate cross-contamination.

As a result, Menu advises the public:

  • Additional items in the United States and Canada have been added to the recall list as shown below. A further two varieties for Europe have been added to the recall list.
  • The recall dates of those products previously recalled have been modified to include all dates during the period that ChemNutra wheat gluten was used in the applicable Menu plant. All of these products, including the expanded dates, have previously been withdrawn from the market and should already be off the retailer shelves.

Menu estimates that this additional recall represents less than 5% of the products that have already been recalled or withdrawn.

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

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.

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

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

Diamond Pet Food Withdraws Products in Response to American Nutrition Inc. Pet Food Recall

Contact:
Diamond Pet Food Media Hotline
(888) 207-6208

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Meta, MO — April 26, 2007 — Because of the canned pet food recall initiated today by American Nutrition Inc., Diamond Pet Foods has announced it is withdrawing a limited number of canned products manufactured by American Nutrition. This action is limited to three specific canned products: Diamond Lamb & Rice Formula for Dogs 13 oz. cans, Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul Kitten Formula 5.5 oz. cans, and Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul Puppy Formula 13 oz. cans.

Diamond 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.

No other Diamond brand or Chicken Soup brand canned or dry pet food formulas are affected by the American Nutrition recall.

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

It should be noted that the products being withdrawn 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.

####

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

___________________________________________________

Again, limited time, so just a quick roundup:

Chenango Valley Pet Foods Issues Recall-chron.com

“Chenango Valley Pet Foods has begun voluntarily recalling pet foods manufactured with a certain shipment of rice protein concentrate, the company said Thursday…Doctors Foster & Smith Chicken & Brown Rice Formula Adult Lite Dog Food…Doctors Foster & Smith Chicken & Brown Rice Formula Adult Lite Cat Food…Lick Your Chops Lamb meal, Rice & Egg Cat Food…Bulk Chicken & Brown Rice Formula Adult Lite Dog Food sold to one consignee, SmartPak…Consumers with questions may contact the company at: 610-821-0608…Also, SmartPak Canine is voluntarily recalling a batch of its LiveSmart-Weight Management Formula dog food…”

China bans melamine in food but rejects it as cause of U.S. pet deaths– chron.com

“China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement there was no evidence to support the FDA’s claim but that it would cooperate with the United States to find out what actually killed the animals…The comments in a statement released by the Chinese Foreign Ministry were the first detailed response from Beijing to concerns that emerged a month ago about the country’s wheat and rice gluten exports.”

Hogs thought fed contaminated food may have entered food supply – (AP) Newsday.com

“Several hundred of the 6,000 hogs that may have eaten contaminated pet food are believed to have entered the food supply for humans, the government said Thursday.”

Please note that there HAS BEEN ANOTHER RECALL, this one (SmartPak’s LiveSmart Weight Management Chicken and Brown Rice Dog Food) is mentioned at the bottom of the “Hogs Ate Pet Food Tainted with Chemical” story linked below. Here is the link for SmartPak, but I see no notice of the recall at this point (6:35 PM PST). My time will be limited for the next eight weeks, so posts will more than likely be news links. Then again, when I get on a rant there’s no stopping me. Guess we’ll just see. 😉

Peril At the Table: U.S. Lawmakers Explore “Serious Flaws” in Food-Chain Oversight-MarketWatch.com

“”What has the FDA done to prevent food-borne illnesses? It appears the FDA has decided to centralize food safety decision making in Washington D.C., cut back on inspections, and hope that food producers and manufacturers will self-police their industry based on voluntary guidelines,” said Stupak, chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

U.S. Food Supply at High Risk of Terrorist or Profit-Driven Tampering: House Hears Testimony on Pet Food Poisonings; FDA’s Lack of Authority Cited-ConsumerAffairs.com

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

Tainted pet food found in hogs in several states-Forbes.com

“Ten pet food manufacturers sent unusable dog and cat food containing the toxic chemical melamine to hog producers in California, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and possibly Ohio, FDA officials announced during a late afternoon press conference. Contaminated pet food was also sent to one chicken farm in Missouri, the officials added.”

Hogs Ate Pet Food Tainted with Chemical-AP-PawtucketTimes.com

“However, the Food and Drug Administration said the urine of some hogs tested positive for the chemical, melamine, in North Carolina and South Carolina as well as California.

Also Tuesday, the FDA said another pet food company, SmartPak, had recalled products made with tainted rice protein concentrate. The company said the recall covered a single production run of its LiveSmart Weight Management Chicken and Brown Rice Dog Food.

Canada to review need for pet-food regulation-DVMNewsMagazine.com

“It doesn’t mean Canada should or will impose regulations, he says, adding that regulations didn’t keep pets from dying in the United States.

Looks like Sen. Durbin is continuing to stand up for pets and their parents by pushing forward with his pursuit of the truth in all this pet food contamination mess. He, along with Sen. Cantwell, sent a letter today (will copy it below…note to Sen. Durbin’s office, “You might want to proofread the letter before sending next time. United States Senator was spelled Untied States Senator.”…then again, I suppose we are ALL feeling a bit ‘untied’ lately. 😉) to Commissioner Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D. (FDA) requesting action by the FDA on many fronts, most interestingly in regard to this alarming (yet not very surprising) discovery of a second importer of rice protein, which is more than likely melamine-tainted:

We have learned that in addition to Wilbur-Ellis, a second United States company imported a shipment of rice protein from China that is also likely to be contaminated with melamine. We request the FDA identify this second importer as well as those manufacturers to which it may have sold the contaminated product. Again, we request the FDA closely track this shipment and immediately press the affected companies to recall any food containing the imported rice protein.

Part of a Reuters Alert story “US Senators raise new concerns in pet food scare” reports:

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

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

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

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

Is anyone else as tired of the same old line of crap from the FDA? The, “Um, uh, the investigation is ongoing…we have our fingers up our patootie and can’t handle our jobs…what’s a little poison amongst friends?” line of malarkey they keep regurgitating. ARGH!!! I feel like a broken record bitching and moaning about the fact that the FDA should be able to track ANY DARN THING at ANY MOMENT. There is no reason,with technology such as it is, that someone can’t get on the phone or online and track things down. Heck, the blogging community has done a better job tracking down information than some of the media AND government agencies. Okay, gotta keep the blood pressure down…breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out. The good news is that there is another hearing tomorrow, so hopefully some folks responsible for protecting our food supplies (both human and pet) will get their collective fannies nailed to the wall by Senator Durbin and others.

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

On the quarantined hog farm (melamine) situation, here’s the latest update (4/22/07) from the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Click here for their initial 4/19/07 news release.

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

DURBIN, CANTWELL ASK FDA TO STRENGTHEN INSPECTIONS AND DISCLOSE COMPANIES THAT PURCHASED CONTAMINATED RICE PROTEIN FROM CHINA

Monday, April 23, 2007

[WASHINGTON, DC] — U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) today sent a letter to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, Andrew von Eschenbach asking him to identify the companies that were recipients of the contaminated rice protein shipments from China and to request that the FDA identify and inspect all suspect pet food ingredients imported by the U.S. from China and other countries.

Recent reports indicate that in addition to the contaminated wheat gluten found during the first wave of pet food recalls, contaminated shipments of rice protein and corn gluten have been used for pet food and could have entered the human food supply. On April 2nd, a Chinese company, Binzhou-Futian, sold rice protein to Wilbur-Ellis and a second unknown importer. Wilbur-Ellis has said that the shipment was distributed to five pet food manufacturers. Three of those manufacturers have revealed themselves and recalled food, the other two have not.

Given the strong possibility that these two pet food manufacturers also received contaminated rice protein and that they have failed to implement voluntary recalls, Durbin and Cantwell today asked FDA to release the names of these manufacturers and require them to trace and recall any pet food made with the potentially contaminated rice protein. The Senators have also asked that the name of the second importer be released.

Last week, Senator Durbin and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) 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.

Two weeks ago, Durbin and Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), the Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing the FDA’s response to the pet food recall. The hearing examined 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 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.

Text of the letter appears below:

 


April 23, 2007Commissioner Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D.
Parklawn Bldg.
Mail Code: HF-1
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, MD 20856Dear Commissioner:We are writing today in light of the recent expansion in the pet food recall. Over the past week, shipments of imported rice protein and corn gluten have been discovered to be contaminated with melamine. In addition, we have learned that the human food supply may be at risk from tainted pet food sold to a hog feeding operation in California.Once again, our food supply has been put at risk by contaminated ingredients that originated overseas and were never inspected by the FDA. In addition to identifying those companies who were recipients of the contaminated rice protein and have yet to do the right thing by identifying themselves, we request that the FDA begin comprehensive testing and sampling of both rice protein and corn gluten, similar to the testing and sampling performed on wheat gluten. The FDA must assure Congress and the American people that the shipments of rice protein known to be contaminated with melamine imported by Wilbur Ellis and the second unknown importer are the only shipments of contaminated rice protein to reach the United States and that no contaminated corn gluten has reached the United States. Should any additional contaminated rice protein or corn gluten be found, the FDA should take immediate action to identify those companies receiving the contaminated products and press for removal of any contaminated food from the market. Additionally, we request that the FDA conduct comprehensive testing on all pet food about which it has received complaints regarding symptoms of kidney failure in dogs or cats. The FDA’s strategy thus far of waiting for companies to self-report contamination and make the individual decision to remove contaminated food in their own time frame has served to increase the number of animals sick and dying and magnify this sad situation.Repeatedly, American pet owners have been told that products not on the recall list are safe for their pets, only to discover that the recall has expanded and that their pets may still be vulnerable. In order to prevent further contaminated food from reaching our shelves, we are requesting the following of the Food and Drug Administration:1. Wilbur-Ellis Co., the San Francisco-based company that imported the shipment of contaminated rice protein has said that the shipment was distributed to five pet food manufacturers. Three of those manufacturers have revealed themselves and recalled food, the other two have not. Given the strong possibility that these two pet food manufacturers also received contaminated rice protein and that they have failed to implement voluntary recalls, we believe the FDA should release the names of these manufacturers and require them to trace and recall any pet food made with the potentially contaminated rice protein. If FDA is unable to reveal this information, we ask for a detailed legal explanation.2. We have learned that in addition to Wilbur-Ellis, a second United States company imported a shipment of rice protein from China that is also likely to be contaminated with melamine. We request the FDA identify this second importer as well as those manufacturers to which it may have sold the contaminated product. Again, we request the FDA closely track this shipment and immediately press the affected companies to recall any food containing the imported rice protein.3. The FDA has engaged in significant testing and sampling of wheat gluten. Given we now know contaminated shipments of both rice protein concentrate and corn gluten have also been exported from China, we ask the FDA to begin comprehensive testing and sampling of rice protein concentrate and corn gluten immediately.4. We have seen this recall expand dramatically, both in terms of the number of brands and different products recalled, and in the number of ingredients contaminated. In light of the strong possibility that these protein sources were purposefully contaminated for economic purposes, we are concerned about the safety of other imported pet food ingredients and the possibility of them being contaminated. Accordingly, we ask the FDA to proactively respond by:

· Identifying and inspecting all suspect pet food ingredients imported by the U.S. from China and other countries;

· Studying the feasibility of testing protein-based pet food ingredients imported from China and other countries for melamine;

· Taking steps to work with the Chinese Government and other foreign governments to inspect their facilities and provide technical assistance to improve their food safety standards.

Approximately 63% of Americans own a cat or a dog. The FDA owes the American public their best effort to prevent contaminated food from getting to store shelves and to remove contaminated food that is already on shelves before more pets die. We look forward to the Food and Drug Administration’s prompt and complete response to this letter.

Sincerely,
Richard J. Durbin
Untied States Senator

Maria E. Cantwell
Untied States Senator

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.

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

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.

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

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


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