PDA

View Full Version : Melamine fears spread to humans



Karlin
30th April 2007, 10:06 AM
This has a good overview of the current situation for pets and new worries for humans. From Chicago Tribune. Time to stop viewing this as a pet food company issue and start ringing your politicians to ask why these important agencies have been so weakened and why there isn't better scrutiny of the entire food chain. I made similar points yesterday here http://board.cavaliertalk.com/showthread.php?t=17939 -- I really think this is so important as a broad political and consumer issue.

The International Herald Tribune had a piece on the weekend on how widepsread the use of melamine is. I know I read about this practice some time ago as well so I am not sure why it is coming as a total shock -- wish I could remember when and where though.


Does melamine hurt humans? Why isn't food supply protected?

By Stephen J. Hedges and Mary Ann Fergus
Tribune staff reporters

April 29, 2007

WASHINGTON -- The tainted pet food scare, which has swelled into a
serious crisis for animal lovers, now has spread to humans.

California officials have revealed that the contamination got into the
food chain: About 45 state residents ate pork from hogs that consumed
animal feed laced with melamine from China. Melamine is used to make
plastics, but it also artificially boosts the protein level—and
thus the price—of the glutens that go into food.

It was already fatal for some pets: 17 cats and dogs are confirmed
dead, more have likely died without being reported, thousands have
suffered kidney problems, and 57 brands of cat food and 83 of dog food
have been recalled. On top of that, roughly 6,000 hogs will be
destroyed because they ate tainted feed.

The effects of melamine on people are thought to be minimal, but no one
really knows. Its consumption by humans is considered so improbable
that no one has even studied it.

But they are studying now. What last month was a limited recall of
canned pet food is on the verge of becoming a full-fledged public
health scare, potentially overwhelming government agencies and raising
troubling questions about U.S. food safety in the global economy and in
the post-Sept. 11 era.

The Food and Drug Administration, criticized by some in Congress for
responding too slowly, is struggling to catch up with the implications
of the spread of melamine-contaminated glutens from China to hogs, and
the human food chain. The FDA is still trying to get its investigators
into China, where a skeptical government only last week assented to
investigators' visa requests.

At a time when food imports are growing, and only 1 percent to 2
percent of food imports receive any government scrutiny, critics say
the scare reveals the shortcomings of a weakened food safety
bureaucracy, the inadequacy of existing regulations and the inability
of the FDA, which has suffered significant cutbacks, to protect the
food supply.

"They're reactive, not proactive," said Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.),
whose House subcommittee on investigations last week held a hearing on
food safety. If the problem was imported pet food additives, he asked,
"How does it then get to hogs? They've known about this for some time.
What did they do with it?"

In a statement, the FDA said that "food safety funding" for the year
ending last Sept. 30 "was $376 million." But funding for the agency's
Center for Food Safety has dropped from $48 million in 2003 to about to
$30 million in 2006, according to the center's 2006 budget priority
statement. Full-time jobs in the Center for Food Safety have also been
cut from 950 in 2003 to about 820 in 2006, according to the budget
statement.


FDA looking for origins
The FDA's real detective work may be just beginning. Having found many
sources of contamination, investigators must now determine exactly how
widespread the problem is and how it began.

The importer of the bad wheat gluten, ChemNutra Inc. of Las Vegas,
contends that its Chinese manufacturer, Xuzhou Anying Biologic
Technology Development Co., illicitly added melamine to the gluten in
order to boost the measurable protein level and thus the price of the
shipment. If so, the FDA may find itself pursuing criminal charges
against the Chinese company.

FDA officials Friday searched ChemNutra's offices, as well as a pet
food plant operated by Menu Foods in Emporia, Kan., according to The
Associated Press. Menu Foods has recalled millions of cans of pet food
in recent weeks.

In China, the central government has been defensive about charges that
an export shipment had been deliberately contaminated, at first denying
that any tainted wheat gluten was even shipped to the U.S. But that
tone has softened as the extent of the pet food recall expanded. On
Friday, a government spokesman told USA Today that some shipments were
contaminated.

Scores of pet food brands have now been recalled in the U.S. for fear
that melamine-contaminated glutens were used in their manufacture. They
include canned and dry dog food and dog biscuits that are made in
places as widely scattered as Utah, Missouri and South Carolina.

The FDA is also examining imported vegetable proteins earmarked for
human products like pizza, protein bars and baby formula. That
investigation, still in its early stages, hasn't uncovered any
contaminated ingredients, but the agency, an FDA doctor said, wanted to
"get ahead of the curve."

The melamine-laced food reached hogs because surplus pet
food—crumbled and broken food bits rejected as unsuitable for
dogs or cats—was sent to hog farms and turned into feed. The FDA
says bulk shipments of feed were delivered to hog farmers in
California, Utah, Ohio, Kansas, Oklahoma, New York, North Carolina and
South Carolina. FDA officials said they were also concerned that
contaminated livestock feed may have been shipped to Missouri.

"It's absolutely a terrible nightmare story," said Eric Nelson, a
Wisconsin feed specialist and president of the Association of American
Feed Control Officials. "It just doesn't seem to get any better, and
I'm sure it's not over."


Rice protein also a problem
Even as the tainted wheat gluten cases have multiplied, the FDA has
learned of another problem: Chinese rice protein. U.S. importer
Wilbur-Ellis told the agency that a single bag of rice protein that it
had imported tested positive for the presence of melamine. Wilbur-Ellis
imported the rice from Binzhou Futian Biology Technology Co. in China's
Shandong province. In the U.S., the protein went to five U.S. pet food
makers in Utah, New York, Kansas and Missouri.

While the FDA has targeted select states for hog inspections, the pet
food recall and the large number of sick cats and dogs have overwhelmed
state agencies that often only investigate a dozen pet food complaints
a year. The FDA says about 400 employees across the country are
collecting pet food samples, monitoring the recalls' effectiveness and
preparing complaints.

The investigation's progress in Illinois alone illustrates the problem.

About half of the 32 FDA investigators in the state have worked on
responding to more than 500 complaints of sick or deceased dogs and
cats since the recalls began March 16. They must collect medical
records from veterinarians and gather samples of contaminated pet food.

The office is also involved in recall effectiveness. "It's very taxing
on our resources," said Scott MacIntire, director of the FDA's Chicago
office, which oversees state operations.

MacIntire said his office is investigating a shipment of rice protein
concentrate imported to Illinois and potentially used in a human
product.

Nationwide, the FDA has only enough inspectors to check 1 percent to 2
percent of the 8.9 million imported food shipments in 2006.

"We don't have the resources or the capabilities to test every single
shipment of every single food item that crosses into our country or
into our state borders," said Frank Busta, director of the National
Center for Food Protection and Defense.

Stupak is among a small number in Congress who for several years have
pressed for stiffer food safety regulations. He said legislation likely
to pass this year could include a provision giving the FDA authority to
order food processors to recall questionable items.

Currently, the FDA can issue mandatory recall orders only for baby
formula, while other government safety agencies can demand the recall
of goods such as unsafe toys and tires.

"It took Menu Foods almost a whole month to do a full recall of the dog
food," Stupak said. "If they're dragging their feet on the recall of
dog food, in the meantime this tainted wheat gluten is going to hogs."

Other fixes could include expanded funding for food safety inspections
and labs, the right to conduct spot inspections, subpoena power for the
FDA and country-of-origin labeling on food products. Congress has
already passed the labeling law, but the Bush administration has
declined to implement it, citing cost concerns.

FDA officials acknowledged that they are closing seven labs but said
they are older facilities that needed renovation and that other labs
are being expanded to compensate.


What price safety?
The end of this pet food crisis appears more elusive than ever,
shedding light on issues beyond the largely self-regulated pet food
industry to America's growing dependence on cheap imported ingredients
from China and other countries, where safety precautions may be more
lenient.

But just as troubling, federal officials and congressional critics of
the FDA say, is the ease with which the bad gluten was passed along
once in the U.S. After the Sept. 11 attacks, food and water safety were
an issue of great concern, they say, but those concerns seem to have
eroded.

America's increasing reliance on low-cost food creates a complicated
food distribution system, Busta said; and that leaves "many
potential vulnerabilities."

Chicago Tribune

*Pauline*
30th April 2007, 11:09 AM
Would you have the time karlin to draft a petition we can sign or tell me what to do please, I don't think I'm up to composing anything as good as you. This really makes me angry. We are all struggling with health issues and it's greatly affected by the crap people are aloud to put in the air, the water and our food.

Revelation 11:18