Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

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How the Pet Food Recall Affects YOU, Whether or Not You Have Pets

Those of you who don't own pets or don't live in the U.S. may not have been closely following the pet food recall, but you need to start following it now, for the sake of your own health. Those of you who do own pets and do live in the U.S. but don't have all the time in the world to search for information about the recall may be far less informed than you think you are, since many aspects of it are being glossed over in most media coverage (such as how they first blamed the whole problem on aminopterin and then suddenly stopped mentioning aminopterin at all and focused entirely on melamine, despite the fact that the lab that found aminopterin stands by its results). Therefore, I highly recommend that everyone read this extremely comprehensive report on the ever-expanding pet food recall, compiled by dogemperor and pointed out to me by heron61. Here are just a few of the more important points:
  • At least one California hog farm that sells hogs for human consumption has fed the hogs food containing rice protein concentrate contaminated with melamine. If you eat pork - or any other animal that might have been fed with contaminated rice, wheat, or corn proteins imported from China - you could be eating melamine.

  • Vegans aren't safe either. In fact, vegans may be even more at risk, because most meat substitutes contain large amounts of wheat gluten. Del Monte and Menu Foods have both confirmed that the contaminated wheat gluten they purchased was labeled human grade. Wheat-based breads are another common source of wheat gluten in human diets, and some non-wheat-based breads also contain it (check the ingredients list).

  • Multiple companies in China, with no apparent connection to each other, seem to have intentionally added melamine to their wheat, rice, or corn products to make these foods look higher in protein than they actually were. (Standard tests of food protein levels measure nitrogen, which is contained in protein but also contained in melamine. Melamine is much cheaper than protein, and not so edible.) The melamine-contaminated wheat gluten was shipped from Xuzhou Anying Biologic, which was found to have purchased large quantities of melamine over the past several months. But the melamine-contaminated rice protein concentrate was shipped from a separate and apparently completely unconnected company called Binzhou Futian Biology Technology Co., Ltd.

  • These multiple companies in China have shipped their melamine-contaminated wheat, rice, and corn products to multiple countries around the world. Due to the evidence implicating two apparently unconnected Chinese companies (and the notoriously lax food safety laws in China), South Africa has blocked all imports of gluten and grain protein concentrate products from all companies in China. South Africa has also promised to out any affected pet food companies that do not recall their foods. By contrast, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is refusing to announce the names of two pet food manufacturers who received contaminated rice protein, and is continuing to allow most Chinese gluten and grain protein concentrate to be imported into the U.S. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration also still will not officially acknowledge any pet death count higher than 15 pets, but the official South African pet death toll is significantly higher despite the fact that there are fewer pets in South Africa than in the U.S.

  • Dogs and cats are the "canaries in the coal mine" of the human food supply. Their bodies are smaller and can be visibly poisoned by smaller amounts of most toxic chemicals, and food manufacturers are more likely to import cheap Chinese grain products for pet food than for human food, since U.S. farmers produce plenty of their own uncontaminated wheat, corn, and rice for any food company willing to pay the extra approximately 20 cents per pound for grain products made in the U.S. But Chinese grain products do end up in some human foods too, and they could kill you. Already a woman who coaxed her dog to eat the recalled pet food (which she didn't know had been recalled) by eating some of it herself ended up hospitalized, as did her dog.

  • The melamine crystals were easily visible in the contaminated wheat gluten at Menu Foods, yet no adequate inspections prevented it from being shipped to stores and sold. Inspections of the human food supply in the U.S. are similarly inadequate, because due to budget cuts made by the Bush administration, FDA food safety inspections have been reduced by nearly 75% since 2003.
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