April 27, 2007


Utah tests hogs for melamine; FDA confirms melamine contamination on Chinese imports



Agricultural officials in Utah said they are testing hogs at there farms to determine if they have consumed feed coming from a contaminated pet food which caused a number of animal deaths and illnesses last week.


Leonard Blackham, commissioner of the Utah Department of Agriculture, said the pigs may have eaten "scraps and sweepings" from Ogden, Utah-based American Nutrition pet food plant which have received contaminated rice protein from China.


The rice protein by American Nutrition yielded negative results from melamine according to Utah officials while FDA expects its own test results back Friday.


Blackham said a total of 60 hogs will be tested for melamine, an industrial chemical used in the manufacturing of plastics and a byproduct of several pesticides. The three affected farms in northern Utah have a total of 1,000 to 2,000 hogs, he said, adding the farms have been asked not to market their hogs.


The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service is also investigating melamine cases at hog farms in

North Carolina, South Carolina, California, Kansas, Oklahoma and New York. State quarantines are in effect in California, North Carolina, New York, and South Carolina. Producers in Kansas, Oklahoma and Utah have agreed to hold their animals until further notice.


Meanwhile, USDA and the Food and Drug Administration announced hogs proven to have consumed tainted feed will not be approved to enter the food supply, though "the likelihood of illness after eating pork from swine fed the adulterated product would be very low."


FDA has verified a shipment of rice protein imported from China was indeed contaminated with melamine and melamine-related compounds, and that it was used in the production of pet food and a by-product was used to make animal feed.


Officials said scientific research indicates melamine at detected levels is not a human health concern although no scientific data has existed to determine the combination effects of melamine and melamine-related compounds.


USDA said it cannot rule out the possibility that food produced from animals that have eaten infected feed might also be contaminated, which is why the agency cannot place the mark of inspection on it.


USDA is offering to compensate producers who will slaughter hogs fed contaminated feed.

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