- Chinese protein export contamination
Chinese protein export contamination was first identified after the wide recall of many brands of cat and dog food starting in March 2007 (the
2007 pet food recalls), and eventually involved the human food supply. The recalls in North America, Europe and South Africacame in response to reports of kidney failurein pets. Initially the recalls were associated with the consumption of mostly wet pet foods made with wheat glutenfrom a single Chinese company. In the following weeks, several other companies who received the contaminated wheat gluten also voluntarily recalled dozens of pet food brands. One month after the initial recall, contaminated riceprotein from a different source in China was also identified as being associated with kidney failure in pets in the United States, while contaminated corngluten was associated with kidney failure with pets in South Africa.
Chinese governmentwas initially slow to respond. Both government officials and manufacturers went so far as to deny that vegetable protein was even exported from China and refused for weeks to allow foreign food safety investigators to enter the country. Ultimately, the Chinese government acknowledged that contamination had occurred and arrested the managers of two protein manufacturers identified so far and took other measures to improve food safety and product quality.
The first and most easily identified contaminant in the vegetable protein is
melamine. However, melamine is not considered to be especially dangerous to animals or humans, and so investigators have continued to examine the role of other contaminants found to be present in the proteins, including cyanuric acid. Current research has focused on the combination of melamine and cyanuric acid in causing renal failure. Reports that cyanuric acid may be an independently and potentially widely-used adulterantin China have heightened concerns for both pet and human health.
Both the wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate were found to actually be
wheat flour, which contains wheat gluten as a component and is less expensive than separated gluten. Melamine and cyanuric acid were most likely added to fraudulently increase the apparent protein content of the flour to allow them to pass as concentrated vegetable proteins.cite news
title=Ongoing recall investigation unraveling the facts
author=Katie Burns and Susan Kahler
date=15 June 2007
publisher=Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association]
Reports of widespread adulteration of Chinese animal feed with melamine have raised the issue of melamine contamination in the human food supply both in China and abroad.cite news |author=David Barboza and Alexei Barrionuevo|title=Filler in Animal Feed Is Open Secret in China |url=http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/30/business/worldbusiness/30food.html?pagewanted=1&hp
publisher=The New York Times|date=30 April 2007 |accessdate=2007-04-30] On 27 April US
FDAsubjected all vegetable proteins imported from China, intended for human or animal consumption, to detention without physical examination, including: Wheat Gluten, Rice Gluten, Rice Protein, Rice Protein Concentrate, Corn Gluten, Corn Gluten Meal, Corn By-Products, Soy Protein, Soy Gluten, Proteins (includes amino acids and protein hydrosylates), and Mung Bean Protein.cite web
title=IMPORT ALERT #99-29, "DETENTION WITHOUT PHYSICAL EXAMINATION OF ALL VEGETABLE PROTEIN PRODUCTS FROM CHINA FOR ANIMAL OR HUMAN FOOD USE DUE TO THE PRESENCE OF MELAMINE AND/OR MELAMINE ANALOGS"
date=27 April 2007
accessdate=2007-05-01] In a teleconference with reporters on 1 May, officials from the FDA and
U.S. Department of Agriculturesaid that between 2.5 and 3 million people in the United States had consumed chickens that had consumed feed containing contaminated vegetable protein from China.cite news
title=Feds: Millions have eaten chickens fed tainted pet food
date=2 May 2007
accessdate=2007-05-02] Reports that melamine has been added as a binder in animal feed manufactured in North America also raise the possibility that harmful melamine contamination might not be limited to China.
There has been widespread public outrage and calls for
government regulationof pet foods, which had previously been self-regulated by pet food manufacturers. The United States Senateheld an oversight hearing on the matter by 12 April. cite news |first=Benna |last=Delgado |title= UPDATE: Pet Food Recall Controversy Headed to U. S. Senate |url=http://caribjournal.com/2007/04/09/update-pet-food-recall-controversy-headed-to-u-s-senate/ |publisher=CaribJournal.com |date=9 April 2007 |accessdate=2007-04-11] The economic impact on the pet food market has been extensive, with Menu Foods losing roughly $30 million alone from the recall.
As of 7 May, United States food safety officials stated: "There is very low risk to human health from consuming meat from hogs and chickens known to have been fed animal feed supplemented with pet food scraps that contained melamine and melamine-related compounds"
In September 2008,
Sanlu Grouphad to recall baby milk because it was contaminated with melamine. Over 6,000 babies became ill after drinking the milk; at least four babies died. [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/2963808/China-accused-over-contaminated-baby-milk.html Telegraph] ]
The contaminated vegetable proteins were imported from China in 2006 and early 2007 and used as pet food ingredients. The process of identifying and accounting for the source of the contamination and how the contaminant causes sickness is ongoing.cite news |first=Nikhil |last=Swaminathan |title=Special Report: The Poisoning of Our Pets - Scientists and government agencies home in on the cause of more than 100 pet deaths from tainted food |url=http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa004&articleID=9AA80BDC-E7F2-99DF-325B0C8F34C09E95
Scientific American|date=28 March 2007 |accessdate=2007-04-11] cite news |first=Mark Johnson, Associated Press|title=Lab Gets New Attention in Pet Food Case |url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/01/AR2007040100720.html |publisher= Washington Post|date=1 April 2007 |accessdate=2007-04-11]
The first recalls were announced by Menu Foods late on Friday, 16 March 2007 for cat and dog food products in the United States. cite news |first=Alexandria |last=Sage |title=Pet deaths expected to rise despite recall: FDA |url=http://ca.today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=domesticNews&storyID=2007-03-19T225231Z_01_N19293241_RTRIDST_0_CANADA-PETFOOD-RECALL-COL.XML&archived=False |publisher=
Reuters, Canada|date=2007-03-19 |accessdate=2007-04-11] By 30 March the United States began to ban imports of wheat gluten from China. The Chinese government responded on 4 April by categorically denying any connection to the North American food poisonings refusing to allow inspection of facilities suspected of producing contaminated products.cite web
title=DURBIN, DELAURO MEET WITH VON ESCHENBACH; URGE CHINESE GOVERNMENT TO COOPERATE ON PET FOOD CONTAMINATION INVESTIGATION |url=http://www.durbin.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=272635
date=18 April 2007
However, on 6 April, the Chinese government told the
Associated Pressthey would investigate the source of the wheat gluten. and by 23 April China gave permission to FDA investigators to enter the country.cite news |first=David |last=Barboza |title=China Yields to Inquiry on Pet Food |url=http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/24/business/worldbusiness/24pets.html
New York Times|date=23 April 2007 |accessdate=2007-04-24] On 25 April Chinese authorities began to shut down and destroy the implicated factories and detain their managers. The following day, China's Foreign Ministry said it has banned the use of melamine in food products, admitting that products containing melamine had cleared customs while continuing to dispute the role of melamine in causing pet deaths. China also vowed to cooperate with U.S. investigators to find the "real cause" of pet deaths.cite news
title=China Bans Melamine in Food Products |url=http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-China-Pet-Food-Recall.html
New York Times|date=26 April 2007 |accessdate=2007-04-26]
On 24 April, for the first time FDA officials said that melamine had been detected in feed given to animals raised for human consumption within the United States.cite news
title=F.D.A. Says Livestock Were Fed Pet Food With Suspect Chemical
publisher=New York Times
date=25 April 2007
Investigators search for the source of the melamine contamination
As all three pet food ingredients containing melamine have been imported from China, investigators have focused their inquiries there.cite news
title=Nestlé Purina, Hills join pet food recall
date=30 March 2007
accessdate=2007-04-11] cite news
title=Premium pet food company recalls dry foods
date=17 April 2007 |accessdate=2007-04-17] cite news |first = Nicola |last = Mawson |url=http://allafrica.com/stories/200704200140.html |title=South Africa: No More Chinese Take-Aways for SA Pets |accessdate=2007-04-20 |publisher=Business Day (Johannesburg) |date = 20 April 2007] cite news
title=Were Our Pets Deliberately Poisoned?
date=25 April 2007 |accessdate=2007-04-26] Another concern has been raised by allegations that one contract manufacture of pet food has included contaminated ingredients from China without the knowledge or approval of the pet food marketers.cite web
title=Natural Balance Pet Foods, Inc. Recalls Products in Response to American Nutrition Inc. Pet Food Recall
accessdate=2007-04-28] cite web
title=Canine Caviar Pet Food Recall Notice
accessdate=2007-04-29] cite web
title=Diamond Pet Foods has announced it is withdrawing a limited number of canned products manufactured by American Nutrition
accessdate=2007-04-26] cite web
title=Blue Buffalo Recalls Can and Biscuit Products Due To Tampering By American Nutrition Inc.
accessdate=2007-04-26] cite web
title=Harmony Farms Cans And Biscuits Recalled Due To Product Tampering
accessdate=2007-04-29] cite web
title=American Nutrition, Inc. Issues Voluntary Recall
accessdate=2007-04-28] Melamine has also been purposely added as a binder to fish and livestock feed manufactured in the United States and traced to suppliers in Ohio and Colorado, and while this adulteration has not been linked to any illness as yet, it raises another possible route of melamine adulteration in both animal and human foods independent of imported Chinese ingredients.cite web
title="Tembec and Uniscope Voluntary Recall Feed Ingredients, FDA Asks Feed Manufacturers to Avoid Ingredients Containing Melamine"
date=30 May 2007
accessdate=2007-05-30] cite news |author=Andrew Martin |title=Poison used in China is found in U.S.-made animal feed |url=http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/05/31/business/food.1-65273.php
publisher=The New York Times|date=31 May 2007 |accessdate=2007-06-01]
Melamine production and use in China
Melamine is commonly produced from
urea, mainly by either catalyzed gas-phase production or high pressureliquid-phase production, and is soluble in water. Melamine is used combined with formaldehydeto produce melamine resin, a very durable thermosetting plastic, and melamine foam, a polymeric cleaning product. The end products include counter-tops, fabrics, glues and flame retardants. Occasionally, melamine-formaldehyde resin is added to gluten for non-food purposes, such as adhesives [ [http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=2492510.PN.&OS=PN/2492510&RS=PN/2492510 Amino-aldehyde adhesives, Clarence F. Van Epps, US Patent No. 2492510, 1949] ] or fabric printing. [ [http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/abstract/75505198/ABSTRACT?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0 Use of Chemically Modified Wheat Gluten to Reduce Formaldehyde Emissions During Curing of Pigment Print Pastes on Fabrics, Starch, volume 52, p420-422, 2000] ]
Melamine is also a byproduct of several
pesticides, including cyromazine. [http://www.dsm.com/en_US/html/dmm/faq_page.htm Melamine FAQ page] - includes list of industrial uses for melamine.] The Food Safety and Inspection Service(FSIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture(USDA) provides a test method for analyzing cyromazine and melamine in animal tissues in its Chemistry Laboratory Guidebook which "contains test methods used by FSIS Laboratories to support the Agency's inspection program, ensuring that meat, poultry, and egg products are safe, wholesome and accurately labeled."cite web
title=CYROMAZINE AND MELAMINE
month=July | year=1991 |accessdate=2007-04-27|format=PDF] cite web
title=Chemistry Laboratory Guidebook
accessdate=2007-04-27] In 1999, in a proposed rule published in the
Federal Registerregarding cyromazine residue, the United States Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) proposed "remov [ing] melamine, a metaboliteof cyromazine from the tolerance expression since it is no longer considered a residue of concern." [http://www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/EPA-PEST/1999/September/Day-15/p24047.htm Environmental Protection Agency. Cyromazine; Pesticide Tolerance] ]
Melamine production in China has also been reported as using
coalas raw material. This production has been described as also producing "melamine scrap" which is not "pure melamine but impure melamine scrap that is sold more cheaply as the waste product after melamine is produced by chemical and fertilizer factories here." Shandong Mingshui Great Chemical Group, the company reported by the New York Times as producing melamine from coal, produces and sells both ureaand melaminebut does not list melamine resinas a product.cite web |title=Products|url=http://www.sdmingquan.com/template/product_e.htm |publisher=Shandong Mingshui Great Chemical Group|accessdate=2007-04-30] Melamine production in China has increased greatly in recent years and was described as in "serious surplus" in 2006 .cite news |first=Wang |last=Ruilin |title=Melamine capacity is serious surplus |url=http://goliath.ecnext.com/coms2/gi_0199-5152838/Melamine-capacity-is-serious-surplus.html#abstract |publisher=China Chemical Reporter|date=6 January 2006 |accessdate=2007-04-21] In the United States Geological Survey2004 Minerals Survey Yearbook, in a report on worldwide nitrogenproduction, the author stated that "China continued to plan and construct new ammonia and urea plants using coal gasificationtechnology."cite web
United States Geological Survey|year=2005|accessdate=2007-04-30|format=PDF]
The off-gas in production contains large amounts of ammonia (see melamine synthesis). Therefore melamine production is often integrated into urea production which uses ammonia as feedstock. Crystallization and washing of melamine generates a considerable amount of waste water, which is a pollutant if discharged directly into the environment. The waste water may be concentrated into a solid (1.5-5% of the weight) for easier disposal. The solid may contain approximately 70% melamine, 23% oxytriazines (
ammeline, ammelideand cyanuric acid), 0.7% polycondensates ( melem, melam and melon). SM Lahalih, M Absi-Halabi, "Recovery of solids from melamine waste effluents and their conversion to useful products", Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, vol.28, 500-504 (1989).]
uspicions of widespread intentional contamination in China
Melamine manufacturing and the chemical processes in which melamine are used are completely unrelated to the manufacture or processing of food products such as wheat gluten. On 9 April the FDA stated that there is a "distinct possibility" that the food was intentionally contaminated.cite news |title= One possibility: Pet food adulterated on purpose |url=http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/04/06/pet.deaths/index.html |publisher=
CNN|date=2007-04-06|accessdate=2008-03-22] According to Senator Richard J. Durbin, one theory that investigators are exploring is whether melamine was added to fraudulently increase the measured protein content, which determines the value of the product.cite news |first=Jonathan |last=Rockoff |title=Pet food probe turns to possibility of fraud |url=http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nationworld/bal-te.petfood19apr19,0,4141728.story?coll=bal-nationworld-headlines |publisher=The Baltimore Sun |date=19 April 2007 |accessdate=2007-04-20] Some analysis methods for determining protein content actually measure the amount of nitrogen present, on the assumption that only protein in the sample contributes significantly to its nitrogen content. Melamine contains a very high proportion of nitrogen.cite web
title = Questions About Pet Food Recall (Transcript)
date=7 April 2007
accessdate=2007-04-14] According to Liu Laiting, a Chinese professor of animal sciences, melamine is also hard to detect in ordinary tests.cite news |first=David |last=Barboza |title=China Yields to Inquiry on Pet Food |url=http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/24/business/worldbusiness/24pets.html
publisher=The New York Times |date=23 April 2007 |accessdate=2007-04-24]
Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Company (徐州安营生物技术开发有限公司), an agricultural products company based in
Xuzhou, Jiangsu, China, which U.S. officials believe was the source of the melamine-contaminated gluten, are maintaining innocence and assert that they are cooperating with officials. The general manager for Xuzhou Anying has denied that his company exported goods and says that they are researching who might have exported their product.cite web
title=Senator calls FDA 'tragically slow' on pet food recall
date = 6 April 2007] They note that per Chinese law, all exported wheat gluten is tested and that they were simply a
middle manfor local producers. [http://www.cnn.com/video/player/player.html?url=/video/us/2007/04/04/vause.china.pet.food.mystery.cnn&wm=9 4 April CNN Report] ] However, a truck driver who has carried goods for Xuzhou Anying contradicted this, saying "they have a factory that makes wheat gluten."cite news |first=David |last=Barboza |title=Some Suspect Chemical Mix in Pet Food |url=http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/12/business/worldbusiness/12gluten.html?em&ex=1176523200&en=ebe64b8eb341ef4b&ei=5087%0A
publisher=The New York Times |date=12 April 2007 |accessdate=2007-04-12] Officials in the USDA and FDA believe that Xuzhou Anying labeled its wheat gluten as "nonfood" and exported through a third party, Suzhou Textiles Silk Light & Industrial Products. The nonfood designation would allow the gluten to be shipped without inspection, however a spokesman for Suzhou Textiles has denied that the company exported any wheat gluten.cite news
title=Chinese firm dodged inspection of pet food, U.S. says
There is evidence that Xuzhou Anying, despite being a food ingredient supplier, has sought out large quantities of melamine in the past. "
The New York Times" has reported that as recently as 29 March 2007, representatives of Xuzhou Anying wrote, "Our company buys large quantities of melamine scrap" on a message board for the trading of industrial materials. Melamine may have been added to enhance the apparent protein content of the wheat gluten. However, the importer of the wheat gluten, ChemNutra, claims that they received from Xuzhou Anying results of analyses showing "no impurities or contamination." It has not yet been determined whether Xuzhou Anying products other than wheat gluten have been shipped to North America.cite news |first=Karen |last=Roebuck |title=Chinese criticized in pet food probe
url=http://pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/rss/s_502101.html |publisher=Pittsburgh Tribune-Review |date=11 April 2007 |accessdate=2007-04-11]
The second Chinese supplier involved in shipping melamine-contaminated food ingredients, Binzhou Futian Biology Technology, has been working with importer Wilbur-Ellis since July 2006 .cite news
title=FDA: Tainted pet food ingredient came from China
date=19 April 2007 |accessdate=2007-04-17] Binzhou Futian supplies soy, corn and other proteins to the United States, Europe and Southeast Asia. Binzhou typically ships rice protein concentrate in white bags but on 11 April one bag was pink and had the word "melamine" stenciled on it. Binzhou explained to Wilbur-Ellis that the original bag had broken and a mislabeled, but new, bag had been used. The company only supplies food and feed ingredients. cite web
title=BINZHOU FUTIAN BIOLOGY TECHNOLOGY CO.,LTD, Product Catalog
Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, said that melamine turning up in exported Chinese wheat gluten, rice protein concentrate and corn gluten supports theories of intentional adulteration. "That will be one of the theories we will pursue when we get into the plants in China."
On 29 April and 30 April, the
International Herald Tribuneand New York Timesreported that some animal feed manufacturers in China admit to having used melamine scrap in animal feed for years. Said Ji Denghui, general manager of the Fujian Sanming Dinghui Chemical Company: “Many companies buy melamine scrap to make animal feed, such as fish feed. I don’t know if there’s a regulation on it. Probably not. No law or regulation says ‘don’t do it,’ so everyone’s doing it. The laws in China are like that, aren’t they? If there’s no accident, there won’t be any regulation.” Such use of "melamine scrap", described as leftover from processing of coal into melamine for use in creating plastic and fertilizer, was described as widespread. Melamine is said to have been chosen in order to inflate crude protein content measures and to avoid tests for other common and illegal ingredients, such as urea.cite news |author=David Barboza and Alexei Barrionuevo|title=Filler in animal feed is open secret in China|url=http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/04/30/business/30food.php
publisher=The New York Times|date=29 April 2007 |accessdate=2007-04-30]
As of 2 May officials of the USDA and FDA still do not know who manufactured the contaminated food or where the contamination took place. The Chinese government has said that Xuzhou Anying, for instance, purchased its products from 25 different manufacturers. On 8 May 2007, The
International Herald Tribunereported that three Chinese chemical makers have said that animal feed producers often purchase, or seek to purchase, the chemical, cyanuric acid, from their factories to blend into animal feed to give the false appearance of a higher level of protein, suggesting another potentially dangerous way that melamine and cyanuric acid might combine in protein products.cite news
title=Second chemical eyed in Chinese pet food scandal
publisher=New York Times
date=8 May 2007 |accessdate=2007-05-08]
The same day, FDA officials revealed that the vegetable proteins were not only contaminated, but mislabeled. Both the wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate were actually wheat flour, a much cheaper product from which wheat gluten is extracted. The addition of nitrogen-rich compounds were necessary to make the flour test as if it were protein extract.
On 11 September fresh reports of massive outbreak of melanine contamination found in China led to recall of Baby Formula products in China. Some Chinese reports said the manufacturer of the milk products might not have consciously added Melamine to their milk powder, however they could have used a soy protein substitute to lower production costs, and the source of their soy substitute had melamine added to it. Many Chinese babies had developed kidney stones and other acute kidney problems in recent months across China, investigation led to the discovery of this contaminant. Some people were wondering how much melamine has already entered food products designated for adults without discovery. More worrying are claims reported in China that there are now new chemicals that can be added to food to lower production costs, and yet pass the tests for melamine and other related chemicals. Impact of this incident to dairy industry outside China is beginning to unravel.
Non-protein nitrogen as legitimate and illegitimate feed additive
Ruminant animals can obtain protein from at least some forms of non-protein nitrogen (NPN) through fermentation by their rumen bacteria, hence NPN is often added to their diet to supplement protein.cite web
author=T.L. Stanton and J. Whittier
title=Urea and NPN for Cattle and Sheep
Colorado State UniversityCooperative Extension
month=March | year=2006
accessdate=2007-04-27] Nonruminants such as cats, dogs and pigs (and humans) cannot utilize NPN. NPN are given to ruminants in the form of pelleted
urea, ammonium phosphateand/or biuret.cite web
title=Nonprotein Nitrogen Poisoning, Merck Veterinary Manual, 9th ed.
accessdate=2007-04-27] Sometimes slightly
polymerized special urea-formaldehyde resinor a mixture of urea and formaldehyde(both are also known as formaldehyde-treated urea) is used in place of urea, because the former provides a better control on the nitrogen release. This practice is carried out in China and other countries, such as Finland ["Untreated and formaldehyde-treated urea as nitrogen sources for young growing bulls", J.Setala, L.Syrjala-Qvist, P.Aspila, Journal of the Scientific Agricultural Society of Finland vol.54, p53-62, 1982] , India ["Evaluation of slow release urea formaldehyde complexes (SRUFC'S) as partial substitutes of protein in crossbred calves", V.K.Sharma, B.N.Gupta, Asian Journal of Dairy Research vol.4, p119-25, 1985] and France. ["Influence of Niacin Supplementation on In Vivo Digestibility and Ruminal Digestion in Dairy Cows" M. Doreau and J. F. Ottou, Journal of Dairy Science, vol.79 (12) 1996] Cyanuric acidhas also been used as NPN. For example, Archer Daniels Midlandmanufactures an NPN supplement for cattle, which contains biuret, triuret, cyanuric acid and urea. cite web
title=Roughage Buster Plus: ingredients
Archer Daniels Midland
accessdate=2007-05-06] FDA permits a certain amount of cyanuric acid to be present in some additives used in animal feed and also drinking water. cite web
title= [CITE: 21CFR573.220] Feed-grade biuret
date=1 April 2006
Melamine use as NPN for cattle was described in a 1958 patent. ["Ruminant feed compositions, Robert W. Colby and Robert J. Mesler Jr., U.S. Patent No. 2819968, 1958] In 1978, however, a study concluded that melamine "may not be an acceptable nonprotein N source for ruminants"，because its
hydrolysisin cattle is slower and less complete than other nitrogen sources such as cottonseed mealand urea.“Melamine as a dietary nitrogen source for ruminants", G.L.Newton and P.R.Utley, Journal of Animal Science, vol.47, p1338-44, 1978, [http://olericulture.org/000/298/000298197.html Abstract] ]
In China, it is known that ground
urea-formaldehyde resinis a common adulterant in feed for non-ruminants. [ [http://scholar.ilib.cn/abstract.aspx?A=lsyslgy200208022 Distinguishing Ureaformaldehyde Polymer in fish meal, Cereal & Feed Industry, Issue 8, 2002 (in Chinese)] ] [ [http://www.tjchia-tai.com/qaqc/QAQC_3_1.htm Step-by-step demonstration of detecting urea-formaldehyde resin in fish meal (in Chinese)] ] Domestically it is often sold under the euphemism "protein essence" (蛋白精) and is described as "one kind of new proteinnitrogen feed additive". [ [http://www.gdefair.com/en/biz_enterprise/mode1/product_details.asp?product_id=4785 Product details: Protein essence] ] However, urea-formaldehyde resin itself has been suggested as appropriate for use in feed for some non-ruminants in at least one UN FAOreport, suggesting its use as a binder in feed pellets in aquaculture.cite web |first=Albert |last=Tacon|title=The nutrition and feeding of farmed fish and shrimp; a training manual |url=http://www.fao.org/docrep/field/003/AB468E/AB468E06.htm
UN Food and Agriculture Organization|month=September | year=1987 |accessdate=2007-04-30]
There is at least one report of inexpensively priced rice protein concentrate (feed grade) containing non-protein nitrogen being marketed for use in non-ruminants dating back to 2005 . In a news item on its website, Jiangyin Hetai Industrial Co., Ltd. warned its customers of low-priced "PSEUDO rice protein" for sale in the market by another unnamed supplier, noting that the contaminant could be detected by analyzing the
isoelectric point. cite web
title=JIANGYIN HETAI INDUSTRIAL CO.,LTD, Hetai Industry News
accessdate=2007-04-20] It is not clear from that report whether the contaminant in that case was melamine or some other non-protein nitrogen source or whether any contaminated rice protein concentrate made it into the food supply at that time.
On Apr 18, an ad was posted on the trading website
Alibaba.comselling "Esb protein powder" in Xuzhou Anying's name. [ [http://www.alibaba.com/manufacturer/14895176/Sell_Esb_Protein_Powder.html Info: Sell Esb Protein Powder] ] cite news |author=Abigail Goodman and Don Lee|title=Reported pet deaths at 8,500, FDA says |url=http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-petfood4may04,0,4416256.story?coll=la-home-headlines
Los Angeles Times|date=4 May 2007 |accessdate=2007-05-06] The product is said to be protein in nature and suitable for livestock and poultry feed, yet claims a crude protein content of 160-300%. It also mentions in passing the product makes use of "NPN" which is an acronym for non-protein nitrogen. Similar ads were placed on other websites, some dated as early as Oct 31 2005. [zh icon [http://ccne.mofcom.gov.cn/offer/detail.php?t=1&pid=3123 Ministry of Commerce of the P.R.China - China Commodity Net ] ] Products with similar descriptions were also sold as "EM bacterium active protein forage" by Shandong Binzhou Xinpeng Biosciences Company [ [http://220.127.116.11/search?q=cache:mAY-8iy1jEcJ:www.bzxpsw.com/en/+em+protein+shandong+binzhou+xinpeng&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us Google image] ] and "HP protein powder" by Shandong Jinan Together Biologic Technology Development Company. [http://www.china-together.com/e-productxinxi.asp?id=24]
Protein testing in the food industry
Proteins, unlike most other food components, contain nitrogen, making nitrogen measurement a common surrogate for protein content. The standard tests for crude protein content used in the food industry ( Kjeldahl methodand Dumas methodare used for official purposes) measure total nitrogen. cite web
author=Dr. D. Julian McClements
title=Analysis of Proteins
University of Massachusetts
contaminationand intentional adulterationof protein meals with non-protein nitrogen sources that inflate crude protein content measurements have been known to occur in the food industryfor decades. To ensure food quality, purchasers of protein meals routinely conduct quality controltests designed to detect the most common non-protein nitrogen contaminants, such as ureaand ammonium nitrate. cite web
author=Dr. Jowaman Khajarern and Dr. Sarote Khajarern
title=QUICK QUALITY TESTS FOR PROTEIN MEALS
publisher=American Soybean Association
accessdate=2007-04-27] cite web
author=Lynn S. Bates, PhD.
title=AQUACULTURE FEED MICROSCOPY, A PRACTICAL APPROACH TO Quality Control
accessdate=2007-04-27] cite news
title=Food tests promise tough task for FDA
date=24 April 2007
At least one pet food manufacturer not involved in any recalls, The Honest Kitchen, has reacted to the news of melamine contamination by announcing that it would add melamine testing to the suite of quality control tests it already conducted on all ingredients it purchases. cite web
title=Pet Food Recall Sparks New Safety Measures for Prudent Manufacturers
date=27 April 2007
In at least one other segment of the food industry, the dairy industry, some countries (at least the U.S., Australia, France and Hungary), have adopted "true protein" measurement, as opposed to crude protein measurement, as the standard for payment and testing: "True protein is a measure of only the proteins in milk, whereas crude protein is a measure of all sources of nitrogen and includes nonprotein nitrogen, such as urea, which has no food value to humans. ... Current milk-testing equipment measures
peptide bonds, a direct measure of true protein." cite web
author=P.M. VanRaden and R.L. Powell
title=Genetic evaluations for true protein
United States Department of Agriculture
accessdate=2007-04-27] cite web
title=True Protein - General Information
publisher=Holstein Association, USA
accessdate=2007-05-06] Measuring peptide bonds in grains has also been put into practice in several countries including Canada, the UK, Australia, Russia and Argentina where near-infrared reflectance (NIR) technology, a type of
infrared spectroscopyis used. cite news
title=Protein Pretense: Cheating the standard protein tests is easy, but industry hesitates on alternatives
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations(FAO) recommends that only amino acid analysis be used to determine protein in, "inter alia", foods used as the sole source of nourishment, such as infant formula, but also provides: "When data on amino acids analyses are not available, determination of protein based on total N content by Kjeldahl (AOAC, 2000) or similar method ... is considered acceptable." cite web
title=Food energy – methods of analysis and conversion factors
Manufacturers alleged to add protein against the wishes of the brands
The 26 April and 27 April recalls by Blue Buffalo, Diamond, Harmony Farms, and Natural Balance are claimed by all 4 brands to be due to unauthorized inclusion of rice protein by
American Nutrition, Inc.(ANI), their manufacturer. This adds a new potential source of contamination and distrust, namely non-compliant contract manufacturers, beyond the original problematic Chinese ingredient suppliers. Diamond and Natural Balance refer to this as a "manufacturing deviation" by ANI. Blue Buffalo and Harmony Farms characterize this as "product tampering" by ANI. ANI's recall notice makes no comment on these allegations.
Intentional adulteration with melamine outside of China
On 31 May 2007, the
International Herald Tribunereported that melamine has also been purposely added as a binder to fish and livestock feed manufactured in the United States and traced to suppliers in Ohio and Colorado.
Impact on human food supply
U.S. officials publicly say that they do not believe melamine alone to be harmful to humans. However, there is too little data to determine how it reacts with other substances, in particular, the combination of melamine with
cyanuric acid, a similar chemical known to be found in the waste product of at least some methods of melamine production, and which combination some American and Canadian scientists have suggested may have led to the pet deaths through kidney failure.cite web
title=Pet Food Recall: Updated Information for Verterinarians
date=4 May 2007
accessdate=2007-05-12] cite web
title=Pet Food Recall
publisher=University of Guelph Laboratory Services
date=27 April 2007 |accessdate=2007-04-28] cite news
title=China Zeroes in on Food and Drug Safety
date=9 May 2007
accessdate=2007-05-12] On 25 May, in a US FDA/CSFAN Interim Melamine and Analogues Safety/Risk Assessment, FDA stated: "While it is entirely possible that the analogues are more or less potent than the parent compound, melamine, we have no information that assesses the relative potency of the three analogues as compared to melamine; therefore, for the purpose of this interim assessment, we have made an assumption of equal potency. It has been hypothesized that melamine may interact synergistically with its three analogues, but no studies have been conducted that specifically test this hypothesis. Very preliminary work suggests that if it does occur, the formation of lattice crystals, particularly between melamine and cyanuric acid, takes place at very high dose levels and is a threshold and concentration dependent phenomenon that would not be relevant to low levels of exposure. Although still under investigation, it now appears that the combination of melamine and cyanuric acid has been linked to the acute renal failure in cats and dogs that have eaten the suspect pet foods...."cite web
title=Interim Melamine and Analogues Safety/Risk Assessment
date=25 May 2007
In the United States, five potential vectors of impact on the human food supply have been identified. The first, which has already been acknowledged to have occurred by US
FDAand USDAofficials, is via contaminated ingredients imported for use in pet foods and sold for use as salvage in animal feed which has been fed to some number of hogs and chickens, the meat from which has been processed and sold to some number of consumers: "There is very low risk to human health" in such cases involving pork and poultry.cite web
title=FDA and USDA Investigate Tainted Animal Feed
date=30 April 2007
accessdate=2007-05-02] On 1 May, the FDA and USDA stated that millions of chickens fed feed tainted with contaminated pet food had been consumed by an estimated 2.5 to 3 million people.
The second potential vector is via contaminated vegetable proteins imported for intended use as animal feed, which has apparently been acknowledged to occur with regard to fish feed in Canada, while the third possible route is via contaminated vegetable proteins imported for intended use in human food products, and the FDA has issued an import alert subjecting all Chinese vegetable proteins to detention without examination. [http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/2007-04-30-chinese-imports-usat_N.htm FDA limits Chinese food additive imports] , Elizabeth Weise and Julie Schmit, 30 April 2007, "
USA Today", Accessed: 2007-05-01 ]
A fourth potential vector is referred to in the 10 May FDA-USDA press conference, "viz." incorporation of contaminated vegetable proteins into products intended for human use and subsequent importation.cite web
title=TRANSCRIPT OF FDA-USDA UPDATE ON ADULTERATED ANIMAL FEED
date=10 May 2007
A fifth vector is acknowledged to have occurred in the 30 May 2007 FDA/USDA press conference, whereby U.S. manufacturers of livestock and shrimp/fish feed have acknowledged adding melamine to their products as a binder.
The original Xuzhou Anying wheat gluten was "human grade," as opposed to "feed grade," meaning that it could have been used to make food for humans such as bread or pasta. At least one contaminated batch was used to make food for humans, but the FDA quarantined it before any was sold. The FDA also notified the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention to watch for new patients admitted to hospitals with renal failure. There have been no observed increases in human illnesses and little human food has tested as contaminated, however the FDA still has not accounted for all of the Xuzhou Anying wheat gluten. cite news
title=How Close Was Tainted Wheat To Human Food?|url=http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/04/12/eveningnews/main2678860.shtml
date=12 April 2007
Reports of widespread melamine adulteration in Chinese animal feed have raised the possibility of wider melamine contamination in the human food supply in China and abroad. Despite the widely reported ban on melamine use in vegetable proteins in China, at least some chemical manufacturers continue to report selling it for use in animal feed and in products for human consumption. Said Li Xiuping, a manager at Henan Xinxiang Huaxing Chemical in Henan Province: "Our chemical products are mostly used for additives, not for animal feed. Melamine is mainly used in the chemical industry, but it can also be used in making cakes."
History of events related to impact on human food supply
On 3 April, the
Boston Globereported that tainted wheat gluten ended up in factories that produce food for human consumption. cite news
title=Was human food tainted too?|url=http://www.boston.com/business/globe/articles/2007/04/03/was_human_food_tainted_too/
date=3 April 2007
accessdate=2007-04-29] Then, on 19 April, Federal U.S. officials said that they were investigating reports that Binzhou Futian rice protein had been used in hog feed, but declined to specify where. The California Department of Food and Agriculture placed American Hog Farm in
Ceres, Californiaunder quarantine, after melamine was found in the urine of the hogs on the farm. California State Veterinarian Dr. Richard Breitmeyer said "All animals appear healthy," and that "It is unknown if the chemical will be detected in meat." American Hog Farm primarily supplies whole hogs to individuals. Anyone who has purchased a pig from American Hog Farm since 3 April is advised not to eat it.cite news
title=Quarantined Ceres Farm Possibly Connected To Pet Food Recall
date=19 April 2007
accessdate=2007-04-20] According to California state officials, approximately 45 state residents consumed pork from hogs that had been fed melamine-contaminated feed.cite news
title=Food safety worries mount
date=29 April 2007
On 24 April, FDA officials said that melamine was in feed given to hogs (and in one case, in Missouri, to chickens) in California, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and possibly Ohio. FDA also said that it was adding testing of imported ingredients and finished products that contain cornmeal, corn gluten, rice bran and soy protein to the tests it is already conducting for melamine in wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate ingredients and products.
Dr. David Acheson, assistant FDA commissioner for food protection, announced on 3 May that the FDA had begun to investigate domestic food manufacturers who use protein products to ensure that no contaminated product is being used in foods intended for human use, noting that it has no evidence of this occurring, "but it's prudent to look."cite news
title=FDA Begins Investigating Food Makers
date=3 May 2007
accessdate=2007-05-03] cite web
title=FY 2007 Protein Surveillance Assignment—DFPG #07-20
FDACFSAN/Office of Compliance
date=1 May 2007
FDA/USDA acknowledge meat from animals fed contaminated feed to have entered the human food supply
On 28 April, the
U.S. Department of Agriculture(USDA) and the FDA, in a joint press release acknowledged that pork from hogs fed contaminated feed had entered the human food supply, stating: "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."cite web
title=Joint Update: FDA/USDA Update on Tainted Animal Feed
date=28 April 2007
On 30 April, the USDA and the FDA updated their 28 April food safety position to include poultry, reflecting contaminated feed being fed to chickens in Indiana.cite web
title=Joint Update: FDA/USDA Trace Adulterated Animal Feed to Poultry
date=30 April 2007
Risks to human health from this mode of entering the human food supply have been said to be low according to a number of FDA, CDC and university toxicologists, though it was acknowledged that how melamine had harmed cats and dogs "remains something of a mystery".cite news
title=Pet Food Chemical Unlikely to Pose Threat to Humans, Experts Say, as U.S. Continues Inquiry
New York Times
date=2 May 2007
On 7 May, the USDA and the FDA issued a joint press release reflecting the combined judgment of five federal agencies with regard to the risk to humans in consuming meat from animals fed feed contaminated with tainted pet food scraps, concluding: "There is very low risk to human health" in such cases involving pork and poultry. The risk assessment was conducted by scientists from
FDA,the Food Safety and Inspection Service(FSIS) of USDA, CDC, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection: "In the most extreme risk assessment scenario, when scientists assumed that all the solid food a person consumes in an entire day was contaminated with melamine at the levels observed in animals fed contaminated feed, the potential exposure was about 2,500 times lower than the dose considered safe"cite web
title=FDA/USDA Joint News Release: Scientists Conclude Very Low Risk to Humans from Food Containing Melamine
date=7 May 2007
accessdate=2007-05-07] using criteria established prior to current research focusing on the apparent increased toxity related to the interaction of melamine and cyanuric acid "in vivo"cite news
title=Another Chemical Emerges in Pet Food Case
New York Times
date=9 May 2007
accessdate=2007-05-09] for which there is no established safe dosage. FDA and USDA are in the process of identifying a group of experts to convene a scientific advisory board that would be charged with reviewing the risk assessment and contributing to future scientific analysis related to the risk of melamine and its compounds to humans and animals.
On 8 May, some fish intended for human consumption was also announced as having consumed feed contaminated with tainted pet food scraps. According to the Assistant Commissioner for Food Safety of the FDA, "We do not believe that there is any significant risk associated with consuming these fish." Though the FDA declined to identify the states involved in the recall, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said contaminated fish feed had been found at the Marion Forks Hatchery. They also said that the company that provided the feed, Skretting, had shipped the same lot of feed to six other hatcheries in Oregon.cite news
title= Fish meant for humans fed tainted food
date=8 May 2007
accessdate=2007-05-07] cite web
title=TRANSCRIPT OF MEDIA BRIEFING UPDATE BY FDA AND USDA REGARDING ADULTERATED ANIMAL FEED
date=8 May 2007
On 10 May, on further inquiry into the risk to animal and human health of ingesting melamine and cyanuric acid in combination, Dr. David Acheson, Assistant Commissioner for Food Protection with the FDA said: "I'm not aware of any published studies on that. I have seen some preliminary data that would indicate that they are
additive. When you put the two together, they are additive rather than synergistic.... The risk assessors also estimated that even if synergism were to occur, it would be unlikely to result in more than a tenfold increase in overall toxicity, and that still gives you a very large margin of safety." No data supporting additivity was produced at this time. No basis for estimating a tenfold increase in risk in the case of synergism was offered.
On 15 May USDA announced that swine that ate melamine-tainted food have been cleared for human consumption. About 56,000 pigs have been affected in several states. However, no tests have been carried out on the effects of cyanuric acid in pork as well as possible effects of interaction with melamine in the body. While the statement also said that there is no evidence of
bioaccumulationof melamine alone, no mention was made whether bioaccumulation might be affected by the interaction of melamine and cyanuric acid "in vivo" particularly in swine kidneys.
FDA subjects Chinese imported ingredients to detention without physical examination
On 27 April US
FDAsubjected all vegetable proteins imported from China, intended for human or animal consumption, to detention without physical examination, including: Wheat Gluten, Rice Gluten, Rice Protein, Rice Protein Concentrate, Corn Gluten, Corn Gluten Meal, Corn By-Products, Soy Protein, Soy Gluten, Proteins (includes amino acids and protein hydrosylates), and Mung Bean Protein.
These ingredients are used in such diverse products as breakfast cereal, pizza dough, baby formula, and protein shakes although there is "no evidence" that any contaminated ingredients have been used to produce human foods, according to Dr. David Acheson, chief medical officer at the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.cite news
title=FDA: More animals got tainted food
publisher=The Boston Globe
date=25 April 2007
FDA requests Centers for Disease Control monitoring of human illness
In addition to now testing a wide variety of imported food products and ingredients for melamine contamination, FDA has also "asked the
Centers for Disease Control and Preventionto use its surveillance network to monitor for signs of human illness, such as increased renal failure, that could indicate contamination of the human food supply."cite web
title=Testimony By Stephen F. Sundlof, D.V.M., Ph.D., Director, FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine, Department of Health and Human Services before The Senate Agriculture, Rural Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee
date=12 April 2007
On 2 May, Bernadette Burden, a CDC spokeswoman, was reported as saying that a CDC survey of poison control centers, veterans’ hospitals and a sample of private hospitals had found no increase in reports of kidney diseases.
U.S. federal testing methods for melamine and cyanuric acid
Food Safety and Inspection Service(FSIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture(USDA) provides a test method for analyzing cyromazine and melamine in animal tissues in its Chemistry Laboratory Guidebook which "contains test methods used by FSIS Laboratories to support the Agency's inspection program, ensuring that meat, poultry, and egg products are safe, wholesome and accurately labeled."
On 24 April, Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, told reporters: "We have found cyanuric acid. It is somewhat related to melamine. Another compound that is very high in nitrogen and we are testing for that compound as well."
On 7 May, the FDA sent a letter to food manufacturers, to remind them "of their legal responsibility to ensure that all ingredients used in their products are safe for human consumption."cite web
title=Letter to Food Manufacturers Regarding Legal Responsibilities for the Safety of Food Ingredients
date=7 May 2007 |accessdate=2007-05-09] The FDA has made available to food manufacturers a procedure providing a general guide for the sample preparation and analysis of wheat gluten and pet food matrices for melamine using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, the same methodology used by the
title=GC-MS Screen for the Presence of Melamine and Cyanuric Acid
date=25 April 2007 |accessdate=2007-05-09]
On 15 May, the process for testing meat from swine was validated by USDA's
Food Safety and Inspection Service(FSIS). cite web
date=15 May 2007 |accessdate=2007-05-15]
Human food supply outside of U.S.
There are no official reports as yet of melamine entering the human food supply outside of the U.S. Newspaper reports have at least raised the possibility that melamine may be widely used as an ingredient in human food products in China.
Official EC statements
On 7 June (updated 4 July), the
European Food Safety Authority(EFSA), in EFSA's Provisional Statement on a Request from the European Commission Related to Melamine and Structurally Related Compounds such as Cyanuric acid in Protein-rich Ingredients Used for Food and Feed, concluded: "EFSA provisionally recommends to apply a TDI of 0.5 mg/kg b.w. for the total of melamine and its analogues .... A source of uncertainty is the combined toxicity of melamine and cyanuric acid and their possible synergistic effects in relation to the recently observed toxicity linked to the acute renal failure and death of pet animals (cats and dogs) in the U.S. This mechanism is currently under investigation."cite web
title=EFSA's Provisional Statement on a Request from the European Commission Related to Melamine and Structurally Related Compounds such as Cyanuric acid in Protein-rich Ingredients Used for Food and Feed
date=4 July 2007
On 21 June The Health & Consumer Protection Directorate-General of the
European Commission(EC) in reporting the Summary Minutes of the Meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (7 June & 8) acknowledged that corn gluten contaminated with melamine and rice protein concentrate contaminated with melamine and related compounds, both originating firom China, had been intercepted in Poland and Greece, respectively. The minutes further directed that "in case food producing animals have been fed with feed contaminated with melamine and related compounds, there is for the purpose of protecting human health, taking into account the conclusions of the EFSA statement, no need to take restrictive measures as regards the animals which have been fed with contaminated feed and as regards food of animal origin originating from animals fed with contaminated feed." cite web
title=Summary Minutes of the Meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health
date=21 June 2007
Chinese government reaction
Once wheat gluten had been isolated as the source of the problems, federal investigators in the United States began to trace the gluten used in the foods. All of the gluten came from ChemNutra's Kansas City warehouse. ChemNutra said it imported nearly 800
metric tons of wheat gluten from the Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Company of Xuzhou, Jiangsu, China between 29 November and 8 March. ChemNutra says the gluten came directly from China or from China through the Netherlands, and that it received no reports of contamination in the chemical analysis provided by Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Company. The products were shipped from the company's Kansas City warehouse to several pet food makers and one distributor of pet food ingredients in the US and Canada, including the companies affected by the recall.cite news |first=David |last=Barboza |title=China Says It Had Nothing to Do With Tainted Pet Foods |url=http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/06/business/worldbusiness/06petfood.html?_r=1&oref=login
New York Times|date=5 April 2007 |accessdate=2007-04-11] cite news |first= |last= Associated Press|title=China Looking Into Tainted Wheat Gluten Claim Over U.S. Pet Deaths |url=http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=alerts_recalls&id=5191150 |publisher= ABC News|date=8 April 2007 |accessdate=2007-04-11] Xuzhou Anying also exports carrots, garlic, ginger, corn protein powder, vegetables and feed.
On 5 April, several days after the United States halted all wheat gluten imports, the
Chinese governmentcategorically denied any connection to the North American food poisonings to the " New York Times", claiming they had no record of exporting any agricultural products that could have tainted the recalled pet foods, including the wheat gluten that has been the focus of the investigation. The general manager of the Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Company also denied that they had exported any wheat gluten to North America.
However, on 6 April, the Chinese government told the
Associated Pressthey would investigate the source of the wheat gluten. Although the government refused to give details on the investigation, the Xinhua News Agencystated that "sampling and examination" of wheat gluten was under way across China, centering on the presence of melamine. Officials with office of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, said that they will stay in touch with the U.S. Embassyin Beijingand that "further measures would be taken based on developments in the United States."
Starting on 4 April, the Chinese government refused US FDA requests to inspect facilities suspected of producing contaminated products. On 11 April, the director of the FDA's field investigations division said he was disappointed with the Chinese response. On 23 April, after refusing for nearly a month, China finally gave permission to FDA investigators to enter the country.
On 25 April, Chinese authorities shut down Binzhou Futian Biology Technology Co. Ltd., and detained the manager, Tian Feng. Feng has denied responsibility, saying that he "didn't do anything wrong," and denying that he even knew what melamine was. The following day, China's Foreign Ministry said it has banned the use of melamine in food products, admitting that products containing melamine had cleared customs while continuing to dispute the role of melamine in causing pet deaths. China also vowed to cooperate with U.S. investigators to find the "real cause" of pet deaths. China provided a transcript of the 26 April press conference indicating that an invitation to FDA investigators had been sent on 23 April, but making no mention of banning melamine usage.cite web
title=Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao's Regular Press Conference on 26 April 2007 |url=http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/xwfw/s2510/2511/t314940.htm
publisher=Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the People's Republic of China
date=28 April 2007
On 3 May Chinese authorities detained Mao Lijun, general manager of the Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development, one of the companies accused of exporting contaminated protein, on unspecified charges, perhaps showing that the Chinese government is taking additional steps in its own investigations and signaling cooperation with US FDA investigators who arrived in China on Monday. cite news |first=David |last=Barboza |title=China detains exporter of gluten |url=http://iht.com/articles/2007/05/03/business/food.php?page=1
New York Times|date=3 May 2007 |accessdate=2007-05-03]
On 9 May, Chinese authorities took a number of steps to address
On 29 May, in actions not linked directly to the protein export scandal,
Xinhuareported that Zheng Xiaoyu(郑筱萸), the former head of China's ministry of food and drug safety, had been convicted of personally approving unproven and unsafe medicines after taking bribes from eight pharmaceutical companies totaling more than 6.49 million RMB, (or a rough equivalent of 850,000 US dollars), which resulted in at least hundreds patient deaths, or perhaps even thousands, and as a result, he was sentenced to death. It was also discovered during his eight year reign as the head of China's ministry of food and drug safety, Zheng Xiaoyu had personally ordered to approval of more than 150,000 new medicines, an average of astonishing 134 times that of USA's FDA, which only approves 140 or so new medicines annually. Not surprisingly, most of those 150,000 medicines were the products of the eight pharmaceutical companies that bribed Zheng Xiaoyu, and a single unsafe medication of AnhuiHua Yuan (华源) Company (since closed with its CEO committed suicide before his arrest) resulted 14 patient deaths and hundreds being permanently disabled. Zheng Xiaoyu's former deputy was also convicted, for accepting more than two million RMB (or a rough equivalent of a quarter million US dollars) to help Zheng Xiaoyu. The former deputy was sentenced to a two year delayed death sentence and a new system for unsafe food recall would be implemented by the end of the year.cite news |title=China Ex-Regulator Gets Death Penalty |url=http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/05/29/ap/asia/main2860394.shtml?source=search_story |publisher= CBS|date=29 May 2007 |accessdate=2007-05-30] However, the general public sentiment in China was that this was only the tip of the iceberg, because in the case of Zheng Xiaoyu, the exact amount of bribe is much higher than what has been revealed so far, and this is confirmed by Zheng Xiaoyu's own confession: in March 2007, Zheng Xiaoyu admitted that the exact amount might never be known for sure because the 6.49 million was only what he accepted, and his wife and son also accepted separate huge amount of bribe which he was not part of, and the investigation on Zheng Xiaoyu's family is still on-going. The Chinese public also believes that as the investigation deepens, the number of confirmed patients who died and were disabled would certainly increase.
In August 2007,
Xinhuareported on a number of steps China had recently taken to ensure food safety and product quality, including instituting new product recall and customer notification systems.cite news
title=China takes measures to enhance product quality, food safety |url=http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2007-08/27/content_6612823.htm
Xinhua|date=27 August 2007 |accessdate=2007-11-27] cite news
title=China unveils recall systems for unsafe food, toys |url=http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2007-08/31/content_6639019.htm
Xinhua|date=31 August 2007 |accessdate=2007-11-27]
Reaction in the United States
Federal government reaction
All of the food recalls executed by companies in the
United Statesand Canadawere voluntary, i.e. not mandated by any government agency. In the United States, prior to the recall, the Food and Drug Administration did not keep pet foods under the same level of protection and safety ensurance as food intended for human consumption. According to the FDA, the FDA's "regulation of pet food is similar to that for other animal feeds. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) requires that pet foods, like human foods, be pure and wholesome, safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled." However, "there is no requirement that pet food products have premarket approval by FDA."cite web |url=http://www.fda.gov/cvm/MenuFoodRecallFAQ.htm |title= FDA Pet Food Recall Frequently Asked Questions|accessdate=2007-04-11]
Once the recall was announced, the Food and Drug Administration immediately began to mobilize resources to assist in the investigation. The FDA has dedicated each of its 20 district offices and 3 field laboratories to the investigation and more than "400 employees are involved in sample pet food collection, monitoring of recall effectiveness, and preparing consumer complaint reports." The FDA has activated its Emergency Operations Center, making sure the information on the poisoning gets to scientists and inspection teams. The agency "is also working with its regulatory partners in all 50 state agriculture and health agencies to inform them of the status of the investigative and analytical efforts." The FDA issued an alert to its field personnel that they should block import of wheat gluten from Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Company Ltd., and subject wheat gluten from China and the Netherlands to increased scrutiny. [cite web
title=IA #99-26, IMPORT ALERT #99-26, "DETENTION WITHOUT PHYSICAL EXAMINATION AND INTENSIFIED COVERAGE OF WHEAT GLUTEN DUE TO THE PRESENCE OF MELAMINE"
date=30 March 2007
publisher=Food and Drug Administration]
As a result of the contamination, consumers and pets' rights groups have called for the FDA to take a more active role in ensuring pet food safety. On 2 April,
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animalscalled for the resignation of the FDA’s commissioner, Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach. [http://www.peta.org/pdfs/IGCFax.pdf]
Possibly in response to growing concern about ensuring the safety of the U.S. food supply, on 1 May the Dr. von Eschenbach announced the creation of an Assistant Commissioner for Food Protection to advise on "strategic and substantive food safety and food defense matters." Dr. David Acheson will fill this roll. According to Dr. von Eschenbach, "The protection of America's food supply and therefore the safety of Americans eating food of domestic or international origin is of utmost importance to me as a physician, and to the mission of this agency."cite web
title=FDA Commissioner Announces New Food Protection Position
date=1 May 2007
publisher=Food and Drug Administration]
Reaction from the U.S. Congress
In the aftermath of the recall, there was a call from consumers for an investigation into Menu Foods reaction to the poisonings, and the federal government's stand on pet food safety and quality control and the FDA's response to the recall. On 1 April, Senator
Dick Durbin(D - Illinois) called on the FDA to "account for weak links in the pet food inspection system." Earlier in the week, Representative Rosa DeLauro(D - Connecticut) asked for an analysis of the FDA's oversight of pet food manufacturing facilities and a report of actions taken since the recall.cite web |url=http://durbin.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=271715 |title=Press Release: DURBIN PRESSES FDA FOR ANSWERS ON PET FOOD SAFETY AS RECALL WIDENS |accessdate=2007-04-11]
On 6 April, Senator Durbin criticized the federal inspection process for both human and pet food and called for the hearings on the matter. According to the "
Los Angeles Times" who interviewed Durbin 8 April, Durbin said he would like to see the FDA set national standards and inspection rules for pet food manufacturing facilities, and to see "federal law changed to allow the FDA to order a recall of food intended for human or pet consumption rather than rely on companies to do it voluntarily."cite news |first=Chuck |last=Neubauer |title=Senate panel to question FDA response to tainted pet food - Sen. Durbin says the agency should be able to order a recall rather than rely on companies to do so voluntarily. |url=http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/politics/la-na-petfood8apr08,1,4118814.story?ctrack=1&cset=true |publisher= Los Angeles Times|date=8 April 2007 |accessdate=2007-04-11]
Durbin is working with Senator
Herb Kohl(D - Wisconsin), the Chairman of the United States Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies. Senator Kohl initiated hearings in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee along with Senator Durbin and Senator Robert Bennett(R - Utah). Senator Robert Byrd(D - West Virginia), from the United States Senate Committee on Appropriationswas there as well. Witnesses included FDA officials. They looked into several areas: the delay in reporting by Menu Foods, the lack of federal inspections of pet food facilities, and incomplete reporting by the FDA since the start of the recall.cite news |first=Frank |last=James |title=Durbin announces pet-food hearing line-up |url=http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/news_theswamp/2007/04/durbin_announce.html |publisher="The Swamp" at Chicago Tribuneonline |date=9 April 2007 |accessdate=2007-04-11]
During the hearing Senators Durbin and Byrd criticized the government's response during the recall. Durbin specifically criticized the lack of any regular inspection practices or quality control with regards to pet food safety. Senator Kohl criticized the FDA's communication to the public about recalled foods, noting that volunteer websites had more detailed and easier-to-access information about the extent of the problem and which specific foods are of concern than FDA's online resources which Kohl said was contradictory of itself at times, and which the FDA official giving testimony admitted to being difficult to navigate.cite news |first=Sarah |last=Abruzzese |title=Tainted Pet Food Is Said to Be Still on Shelves |url=http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/13/us/13pets.html |publisher=New York Times |date=13 April 2007 |accessdate=2007-04-13] cite news |first=Karoun |last=Demirjian |title= Senate warns pet owners on recall |url=http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-070412pets,1,5255599.story?coll=chi-news-hed |publisher=
Chicago Tribune|date=12 April 2007 |accessdate=2007-04-12]
On 18 April Senator Durbin and Representative DeLauro met with US FDA Commssioner von Eschenbach to discuss the additional rice protein recalls and learned that the Chinese government was blocking outside attempts to investigate the contamination. In response, they sent a letter to
Zhou Wenzong, China's Ambassador to the United States saying in part that "contaminated batches of wheat gluten and rice protein responsible for these events were imported from China" and that "no level of melamine should be found in pet or human food" and asking for visas for inspectors from the United States.
Reaction from the general public
The protein export scandal inspired a significant amount of US media attention to Chinese food safety concerns, and increased unease about Chinese imports amongst the American public. A July 2007
Consumer Reportspoll found that 92 percent of Americans favored "country of origin" labeling on meat products [ [http://www.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSN1036016120070710 Americans support use of meat-origin labeling: poll] . Reuters, 10 July 2007.] , while in a USA Today/ Galluppoll, 74 percent of US respondents said they were "somewhat concerned" or "very concerned" about the safety of food imported from China. [ [http://www.cnn.com/2007/LIVING/wayoflife/07/26/china.products/index.html?iref=mpstoryview Avoiding Chinese food products nearly impossible] , CNN.com, 26 July 2007.]
2007 pet food recalls
2007 Chinese export recalls
2008 Chinese milk scandal
International Reaction to the 2008 Dairy Scandal
Food safety in the People's Republic of China
* [http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/petfood.html FDA Food Recall Page]
* [http://www.fda.gov/cvm/MenuFoodRecallFAQ.htm FDA Recall FAQ]
* [http://www.oregonvma.org/news/recallnews.asp Oregon Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) Pet Food Contamination Page] - News & developments updated regularly
* [http://freekorea.us/dangerouschineseproducts/ Unsafe Chinese Products Page] . Updated frequently as new reports of recalls are published. Contains links to specific information and photographs of recalled products at the Web site of the
Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, and in media reports.
] of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the recall.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.