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US Contaminated Feed Update

Investigation into melamine and melamine-related compounds, including cyanuric acid in wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate spreads to animal feed

May 3, 2007


US Contaminated Feed Update

 

Investigation into melamine and melamine-related compounds, including cyanuric acid in wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate spreads to animal feed

 

On April 26, 2007 The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined that a shipment of rice protein imported from China was contaminated with melamine and melamine-related compounds. The product was imported during the week of April 2, 2007 by Wilbur-Ellis, an importer and distributor of agricultural products. The rice protein was used in the production of pet food and a byproduct was used to produce animal feed.

 

The contaminants in question include melamine and melamine-related compounds, including cyanuric acid, the combination of which is a potential source of concern in relation to human and animal health. Scientific research indicates that melamine alone, at detected levels, is not a human health concern. However, no scientific data exist to ascertain the effects of combining melamine and melamine-related compounds. Therefore, a determination has not yet been made regarding the safety of the product.

 

FDA and FSIS are coordinating with State authorities in eight states where the adulterated feed is known to have been purchased. Eight pork producers in the states of California, Kansas, North Carolina, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Utah are known to have purchased the feed. These combined operations involve approximately 6,000 hogs. All of the animals are currently being held under state quarantines in CA, NC, NY and SC. In KS, OK and UT producers agreed to hold the animals until further notice. Authorities are also in contact with a feed mill in Missouri that might have received adulterated feed.

 

Pork and pork products derived from animals that were fed the adulterated product will also be destroyed. In CA and UT, pork from federally inspected plants is being held under FSIS direction. In SC, a state inspected plant is voluntarily holding swine that were fed the adulterated product. FSIS, FDA and state authorities are in the process of determining whether any meat from animals that were fed the adulterated product has entered commerce. If that has occurred, FSIS will work with states and industry to take the appropriate action.

 

FDA and FSIS are continuing the effort to trace the adulterated feed. If additional producers are identified who fed the adulterated product to animals, they will also be offered compensation by USDA for depopulation and disposal.

 

Poultry feed contaminated

On April 30, 2007, USDA and the FDA announced that byproducts from pet food manufactured with contaminated wheat gluten imported from China had 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.

 

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.

 

The USDA’s Dr. Kenneth Petersen said that somewhere in the range of 2.5 to 3 million broilers that have consumed the feed have already gone out to process. 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.

 

FDA and USDA anticipate that as the investigation continues additional farms will likely be identified that received contaminated feed.

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. Therefore, USDA cannot place the mark of inspection on food produced from these animals.

 

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. some 100,000 breeder fowl are currently waiting to be depopulated.

 

For more information visit: http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/petfood.html

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