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Author Topic: Melamine-tainted Gluten is Not Just a Pet Food Problem  (Read 3446 times)

Offline jodi f.

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Melamine-tainted Gluten is Not Just a Pet Food Problem
« on: April 30, 2007, 11:52:02 AM »
This is an article from  The italicized paragraphs are commentary from the author of this article. The rest is the news item, authored by Goldy, who is a political muckraker and blogger. HorsesAss is his blog site.

What's in Your Food?
by mcjoan
Sun Apr 29, 2007 at 09:17:01 PM PDT

Goldy at HorsesAss is on his way to doing to the FDA what he did to FEMA a year and a half ago when he exposed Mike Brownie the failed horse lawyer he was.

That story was important, but this one has far-reaching implications for everything from trade policy to farm subsidies to, most importantly, public health. What began as a unusual and highly suspicious rate of pet deaths, particularly in cats, now has become a major concern for the human food supply, as well as raising serious questions about the ability of the FDA to ensure our food safety.

    Months after dogs and cats started dropping dead of renal failure from melamine-tainted pet food, American consumers are beginning to learn how long and how wide this contaminant has also poisoned the human food supply. Last week, as California officials revealed that at least 45 people are known to have eaten tainted pork, the USDA announced that it would pay farmers millions of dollars to destroy and dispose of thousands of hogs fed "salvaged" pet food.

    But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Through the salvaging practice, melamine-tainted pet food has likely contaminated America’s livestock for as long as it has been killing and sickening America’s pets — as far back as August of 2006, or even earlier. And while it may seem alarmist to suggest without absolute proof that Americans have been eating melamine-tainted pork, chicken and farm-raised fish for the better part of a year, the FDA and USDA seem to be preparing to brace Americans for the worst. In an unusual, Saturday afternoon joint press release, the regulators tasked with protecting the safety of our nation’s food supply go to convoluted lengths to reassure the public that eating melamine-tainted pork is perfectly safe...

    It is hard to read this as anything but a preemptive press release, a calculated effort to reassure the public that it is safe to eat trace quantities of melamine... just days before they inevitably reveal that Americans have in fact been consuming it unawares for months. Menu Foods, the company at the center of the controversy, has recalled product dating back to November 8, 2006. Manufacturing forty to fifty percent of America’s wet pet food, the salvaged product from their massive operations must have surely contaminated livestock feed nationwide.

    And it gets worse. Tomorrow the New York Times will report from China, detailing how nitrogen-rich melamine scrap, produced from coal, is routinely ground into powder and mixed into low-grade wheat, corn, soybean or other proteins to inflate the protein analysis of animal feed.

In the post, Goldy gets to another critical question in all of this--why, when early reports that the culprit in the wheat gluten was rat poison, did the FDA settle so quickly on melamine?

    Why? Because they thought they might find it.

    Lacking adequate cooperation from FDA officials one is constantly forced to speculate, but given the circumstances it is reasonable to assume that the search for melamine was prompted by the "nitrogen spiking" theory, rather than the other way around. Based on their knowledge of the evidence, Chinese agricultural practices, the globalizing food industry, and perhaps prior history, the FDA hypothesized that unscrupulous Chinese manufacturers may have intentionally adulterated low quality wheat gluten in an effort to pass it off as a high-protein, high-value product. And nothing would do the job better than melamine.

Did the FDA know that the Chinese were spiking rice, wheat, and corn gluten with melamine, a chemical that boosts nitrogen levels, what food regulators commonly test to determine protein levels? It seems likely. So now the question, why did they let it continue for so long?