Update on the Pet Food Recall
Over at my home base, The Glittering Eye, I’ve been posting on the pet food recall obsessively, almost to the exclusion of everything else. This must have puzzled many people. There are a number of reasons for my interest in this story.
First, I’m a committed dog owner, my dogs are an important part of my life, and anything that threatens them, threatens me. But there are larger reasons, too.
If you’re not aware of the story, last month Menu Foods, a major private label manufacturer of dog and cat foods, announced a recall of their “cuts and gravy”-style foods affecting almost 100 different varieties and including some of the best known brands in the country. The recall has expanded to cover some varieties of dog biscuits and a couple of varieties of dry pet food. The toxin remains unknown but it has been determined that wheat gluten imported from China used in the manufacture was contaminated with melamine, a chemical used in dinnerware, countertops, and fertilizer (in Asia).
There have been some important new developments.
Rice gluten concentrate, also bought from a Chinese exporter has also been found to have been contaminated with melamine. The melamine may have entered the human food supply by being fed to pigs in the form of animal feed. And just yesterday a South African company announced that they had detected melamine contamination in corn gluten which they’d imported from China. The FDA has suggested that this contamination may be a deliberate move to boost the apparent protein content of the product.
Consequently, this story not only concerns me through my dogs but through my interest in a number of other issues: China, globalization, corporate behavior, issues of security and preparedness, and the role and performance of government. Here’s how I end my most recent post on the subject:
We’re left with a number of unanswered questions:
- How did the wheat gluten, rice gluten concentrate, and corn gluten become contaminated with melamine? Melamine shouldn’t be present in these products in any quantity.
- Is melamine toxic to dogs and cats? Melamine has not been considered a toxin.
- If melamine isn’t toxic, what is causing the kidney failure and deaths in pets?
- Is melamine toxic to humans? If so, we’ve got an enormously larger problem before us. Melamine is used in dinnerware, cooking implements, and kitchen countertops both in private homes and commercially.
- Has melamine entered the human food supply? The FDA says “they have no reason to believe…”, etc., but that’s weaselly bureaucratese. I continue to see no way they can make that determination without knowing the scope of the problem (and, since additional products are being recalled nearly daily, it’s obvious they can’t identify the scope of the problem at this time), how the melamine got into the wheat gluten, rice gluten concentrate, and corn gluten, and where else the contamined products were sold.
Write your congressman. This is a serious problem.