FDA Confirms that Contaminant was also Fed to Livestock in California

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Ceres, CAThe Food and Drug Administration has opened a criminal investigation in the pet food contamination scandal, as fears have increased that the contaminant has entered the human food supply. The FDA confirmed Friday that livestock in California have consumed contaminated feed.

Livestock feed contaminatedSince March 16, North American manufacturers have recalled more than 60 million containers of cat and dog food containing wheat and rice gluten contaminated by melamine, an industrial chemical that has caused pets to become ill with acute and sometimes deadly kidney ailments. New reports from South Africa also suggest that corn gluten in pet food has been tainted with melamine.

Livestock Ate Melamine-Laced Feed
According to the FDA, during the past 2 ½ weeks more than 100 hogs that had consumed contaminated food were sold to individuals and to a licensed facility in Northern California. The 26 hogs slaughtered at that facility have been quarantined, but officials expect to identify more processing plants that have purchased from the American Hog Farm.

Officials have quarantined 1,500 animals at the American Hog Farm and are working to track down any individuals who have purchased hogs. American Hog Farm is a specialty slaughterhouse that sells whole hogs to be roasted at backyard barbecue celebrations such as weddings and graduation parties.

California health officials are advising anyone who has bought pork from the American Hog Farm company between April 3 and 18 not to eat the meat. Thus far, there has been no reported illness among either the hogs or humans who have eaten the pork. The risk to humans who ate the pork is thought to be minimal, according to Dr. Kevin Reilly of the California Department of Health.

Turning up the Heat on the FDA
Congressional representatives are putting pressure on the FDA to enact regulatory reforms to prevent future contamination scandals. On Tuesday, a US House of Representatives subcommittee led by Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Connecticut) will begin critically examining the Food and Drug Administration's capacity to assure American food safety.

"The pet food recall is turning into a real crisis," DeLauro said. "FDA initially assured us that the concerns about the pet food supply was a separate issue and that the human food supply would not be threatened."

The FDA's Investigation
Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, said that criminal charges may be filed against Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co, the manufacturer of the contaminated protein concentrate.

Investigators suspect that suppliers may have deliberately laced the gluten with melamine to increase the ingredients' protein levels, and therefore inflate their prices. If the FDA finds intent to defraud, the investigation would result in criminal charges.

In the meantime, North American pet food companies are taking matters into their own hands. The Blue Buffalo Co., which recently recalled several pet food products, has announced it will only do business with exporters such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the European Union nations because they have more rigorous health standards. Echoing a common refrain in the North American pet food industry, Blue Buffalo President Bill Bishop said that in the future: "We're clearly going to bar China."

Pet Food Legal Help

If your pet has suffered or died as a result of eating pet foods, please contact a [Pet Food] lawyer who will evaluate your claim at no charge.

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