Friday, April 27, 2007

Pet And Human Food-Tainting Update: FDA Raids ChemNutra's Office; China Admits Problem For First Time; Menu Foods To Sue ChemNutra

ChemNutra CEO Stephen S. Miller, importer of toxic Chinese wheat gluten
and all-around unpopular guy these days, appears before Congress Tuesday

Two days after tainted wheat-gluten importer Stephen S. Miller (CEO, ChemNutra) testified before a Congressional committee looking into food safety issues, the FDA raided ChemNutra's Las Vegas offices:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration conducted a search of the Las Vegas offices of ChemNutra, supplier of the ingredient suspected in the contamination of recalled dog and cat food, the company said Friday.

ChemNutra said it had been informed the company could be held accountable because it imported the melamine-adulterated wheat gluten used in the tainted pet food even though the company had no knowledge its supplier in China had introduced melamine into the product.

Meanwhile, China finally admits to exporting tainted product (emphasis mine):

BEIJING - Chinese authorities acknowledged for the first time that ingredients exported to make pet food contained a prohibited chemical, stepping up their probe of two Chinese companies' roles in one of the USA's largest animal-food recalls.

While pledging cooperation with U.S. authorities investigating the recall, the Chinese government in a statement Thursday also disputed that the chemical - melamine, which is used to make plastic - was responsible for harming pets.


President Hu Jintao this week urged officials to intensify work on food safety, a growing concern among consumers in China, where mass poisonings from tainted products are common. Hu called on officials to monitor the entire food-production process and focus on prevention and resolving problems at their source.

That won't be easy, said Luo Yunbo at the College of Food Science and Nutritional Engineering at China Agricultural University, who briefed China's leader Monday on the FDA's role in food safety. "China is such a large country, with such a large population, and agricultural production is by individual farmers on a very small scale," Luo said. "There are so many farmers and food producers that it is a great challenge to inspect all foodstuffs and teach people better agricultural standards."

About 6,000 hogs in eight U.S. states may have been fed pet food made from salvage products that had the tainted rice gluten. The pet food was sold for reformulation before melamine was found. Several hundred hogs may have entered the human food supply, FDA officials said. While there is no tolerance for melamine in food, the FDA's Daniel McChesney said, "we believe the risks to be very low to humans."

And now Menu Foods' U.S. affiliate is suing ChemNutra:

A Menu Foods Ltd. affiliate in the United States has sued another company that it says supplied a contaminated ingredient.

Menu Foods Midwest Corp. wants ChemNutra Inc., of Las Vegas, to pay costs associated with the recall of dog and cat food and is seeking damages "substantially in excess of $75,000 US."

Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration searched a Menu Foods plant in Kansas on Thursday, and the company says it's the target of a misdemeanour investigation into whether the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act has been violated.

Also at Shakesville.

UPDATE: Howl 911 is a great resource for product recall updates, information websites, and news stories related to the tainted pet food disaster (H/T Constant Comment).

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