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Melamine Added On Purpose to Raise Nitrogen Levels?

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Old April 20th 07, 05:49 PM posted to rec.pets.cats.health+behav
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Default Melamine Added On Purpose to Raise Nitrogen Levels?

This article is from the Balitmore Sun:

WASHINGTON // Federal investigators are probing whether Chinese
producers laced a key ingredient in pet food with an industrial
chemical in order to boost the price of their shipments, Sen. Richard
J. Durbin said yesterday.Referring to the contamination that has
prompted the recall of more than 100 brands of pet food, he said
investigators are trying to determine whether Chinese producers
purposely added melamine to their wheat gluten shipments to Menu

"It could have been intentional, not accidental," Durbin, an Illinois
Democrat, said in an interview after meeting privately in his office
with federal health officials. "Economic fraud is a theory" the
investigators are pursuing, Durbin said.The Food and Drug
Administration found melamine, a plastic component whose use is not
approved in food, in pets that died. Investigators traced the melamine
to wheat gluten, shipped from China, that is used to thicken pet food.

According to Durbin, investigators are examining whether Chinese
manufacturers added nitrogen-rich melamine to wheat gluten in order to
raise its nitrogen level. Nitrogen levels are measured to calculate
the protein content, which determines the value of a shipment.

The FDA is sampling all imports of wheat gluten from China and the
Netherlands, which also received shipments from China. The agency says
it has found no evidence that the wheat gluten entered the human food

A bag with the word "melamine" stenciled on the side was found Sunday
in a shipment of rice protein concentrate, a second pet food
ingredient that has been linked to the pet food scare.

Investigators want to visit Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology
Development Co. Ltd., the suspected wheat gluten producer, and Binzhou
Futian Biology Technology Co. Ltd., which is thought to have made the
rice protein, according to Durbin.

But FDA Commissioner Andrew C. von Eschenbach told the senator that
investigators haven't been able to make the trip because they cannot
get visas from the Chinese government. FDA officials did not respond
to requests for comment.

Durbin and Democratic Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro of Connecticut wrote
yesterday to China's ambassador to the United States, protesting the
failure to respond to visa requests from the FDA on April 4 and 17 and
urging cooperation in the investigation.

A man who answered the telephone at the Chinese embassy's press office
refused to confirm that visas had not been granted. Xuzhou Anying, the
manufacturing company, has denied making the tainted wheat gluten.

The developments come a month after Menu Foods, of Ontario, Canada,
recalled 60 million cans of pet food following reports of kidney
problems and deaths in dogs and cats.

The recall has since expanded to more Menu Foods products, as well as
food made by other companies that found tainted wheat gluten in their

On Tuesday, Natural Balance Pet Foods Inc. recalled Venison and Brown
Rice canned and bagged dog foods and dog treats, and Venison and Green
Pea dry cat food.

The company, based in Pacoima, Calif., said it acted after pet owners
reported kidney failure in some dogs and one cat that ate its food.

Laboratory tests on the Natural Balance products indicated that they
contained melamine. Natural Balance doesn't use wheat gluten, but
recently began using rice protein concentrate, which the testing
indicated had melamine.

The rice protein was distributed in the United States by Wilbur-Ellis
Company. On Sunday, the San Francisco company found a bag with the
word "melamine" stenciled on the side in a shipment of rice protein
concentrate it had received from China.

The bag tested positive for melamine, and the company has sealed the
rest of the shipment in a warehouse until it completes safety tests,
Wilbur-Ellis said on its Web site.

Durbin met with the FDA officials after complaining about the agency's
handling of the pet food scare. He and DeLauro plan to offer
legislation that would require FDA to develop national inspection
standards for pet food-making facilities, rather than relying on

The proposed measure would also strengthen penalties that FDA could
impose on pet food makers who delay reporting safety problems, an
accusation critics have levelled against Menu Foods.

Durbin, the Senate's second-ranking Democrat, said von Eschenbach
should have already penalized Menu Foods for waiting three weeks to
report its concerns


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