When i was in Canada in March the big breaking story ( but not to have been highlighted by the UK media ) was the mysterious deaths of cats and dogs from contaminated pet foods produced there and distributed throughout North America . It is reported that there has been approximately 4,150 dog and cat pet deaths . 5,500 varieties of pet food and 150 brands have been withdrawn from store and supermarket shelves .
Health inspectors have investigated the supply chain and now generally believe that the contamination originated in wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate imported from China . And in pet products sold in South Africa and Namibia, the third vegetable protein ingredient, corn gluten, also has been found to be contaminated.
Investigators suspect that melamine , an industrial chemical used in the manufacturing of plastic utensils and fertilizer , in combination with a rice protein additive imported from China and found to contain cyanuric acid, may cause crystals to form in the kidneys, shutting them down. Cyanuric acid is used as a stabilizer in outdoor swimming pools and hot tubs.
All vegetable protein imports from China used in human and animal food is to be be detained.
The products include wheat gluten, rice gluten, rice protein, rice protein concentrate, corn gluten, corn gluten meal, corn byproducts, soy protein, soy gluten proteins and mung bean protein.
It has now been revealed that the food chain has been extended to and includes humans .
People have eaten millions of chickens that were given feed tainted with recalled pet food, federal officials said Tuesday, though they said the threat to human health is minimal.
The announcement came after an investigation of chicken farms in Indiana found that 38 of the facilities had given contaminated feed to poultry raised for human consumption, and that 2.5 million to 3 million people ate them.The officials added that they expect to discover that chickens on possibly hundreds of farms in other states were also given tainted feed.
FDA officials said 6,000 hogs that may have ingested tainted pet food entered the human food supply. Pork producers in seven states -- California, Kansas, North Carolina, New York, South Carolina and Utah -- are being investigated for buying adulterated feed.
The National Chicken Council, which represents U.S. poultry producers, marketers and processors endeavour to minimise the risks .
"...chicken feed may have been contaminated as a result of a practice common among pet food manufacturers -- they sometimes sell their leftover material to manufacturers of chicken and pig feed...What they're saying is that somebody bought that material and it got mixed in corn and soybean that gets manufactured in poultry feed...The dilution factor is enormous. You have a relatively small amount of pet food by-products used...It's a safe and wholesome product to use"
I'm not too sure i believe that .
A 2002 UN report concluded the potential risk posed by melamine is low. However, the UN based that conclusion on the slim chance that consumers would even come into contact with the chemical. Until the recent and ongoing recalls, regulators did not consider melamine a likely contaminant of food meant for either people or animals. Nor were the vegetable proteins considered at risk for contamination. The US Food and Drug Administration is now testing a variety of vegetable proteins, used to make everything from infant formula to energy bars, for the chemical.
How did the crisis arise ? - simple - for profit
Chinese producers appear to have been spiking the vegetable proteins to make them appear to have more protein than they actually did. Adding a nitrogen-rich contaminant like melamine would skew the results of tests to make an ingredient register as more protein-rich than it really is -- and allow it to sell for more money.