Surprise! More tainted Food!

Calling Jack Bauer. Looks like the Chinese have their hands in all type of terrorist activities including perverting food. Then again, how stupid are we that we outsource food production to other countries, out of our control and inspections. -Sharon

FDA: More animals got tainted food

By Diedtra Henderson, Globe Staff | April 25, 2007

WASHINGTON—Thousands of hogs in at least five states and poultry at a Missouri farm ate salvage pet food that had been laced with an industrial chemical, the Food and Drug Administration said yesterday , opening potential avenues for the contaminant to enter the human food supply.

Urine from hogs in California , North Carolina, and South Carolina tested positive for melamine , a chemical contained in rice protein concentrate imported from China . Hogs in New York , Utah, and, possibly, Ohio also ate tainted pet food, but their urine has not yet been tested.

In addition, the FDA is testing rice protein concentrate for a second contaminant, cyanuric acid , a chemical used as a pool cleaner that is high in nitrogen .

The agency’s theory is that rogue suppliers in China added melamine and other compounds to inferior protein products, artificially inflating their nitrogen content and price. In testimony yesterday before a US House of Representatives oversight panel, the company that imported contaminated wheat gluten from China and a pet food manufacturer whose use of the suspect ingredient led to one of the nation’s largest recalls of pet food, called themselves victims of a “fraud” that likely would have gone undetected—had dogs and cats not begun to die.

The ease with which an imported ingredient laced with industrial chemicals penetrated the pet food supply paints a “frighteningly easy” road map for would-be terrorists to strike America’s food supply, said US Representative Janice D. Schakowsky , Democrat of Illinois . Schakowsky’s comments came during sweeping and emotional testimony that linked faulty federal oversight to nationwide recalls of tainted peanut butter , suspect spinach, and lethal pet food .

While FDA inspections have steadily dropped in recent years, the proportion of imported food used in domestic manufacturing has skyrocketed. There is no requirement that the FDA conduct an in-person inspection before a foreign producer begins to ship ingredients to US suppliers seeking bargain-basement prices.

Paul K. Henderson , Menu Foods Income Fund chief executive , told members of the House panel that should change. Henderson said that before Menu Foods is allowed to ship products to Europe , its US and Canadian manufacturing plants must be “qualified.”

It would be “a very good, positive step” if Chinese exporters shipping food ingredients to the US undergo similar accreditation, certification, and inspection process for their plants, Henderson said.

Late Monday , after congressional pressure, the Chinese government gave a long-awaited green light for FDA inspectors visits to determine how the contamination occurred.

In addition, the FDA will begin domestic tests of corn gluten , corn meal , soy protein , rice bran , rice protein concentrate, and wheat gluten imported from China to determine if those products are also tainted with industrial chemicals. Such ingredients are used in breakfast cereal , pizza dough , baby formula, and protein shakes , but Dr. David Acheson , chief medical officer at the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition , said there is “no evidence” those human foods contain contaminated ingredients.

Since mid-March, the Menu Foods’ recall has taken 60 million cans and pouches of pet food off store shelves. But the recall could have easily included human food, ChemNutra , the company that imported the tainted wheat gluten, testified before Congress. The gluten was certified as suitable for human consumption.

“We just dodged the bullet,” said US Representative Jay Inslee , Democrat of Washington . Democrats say they will introduce legislation that would permit the FDA to force mandatory food recalls—a power it now lacks—and increase funding to hire more inspectors.

Diedtra Henderson can be reached at
© Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company.

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