May 7, 2007


China begins testing wheat gluten for chemicals



Responding to the sweeping recalls of pet food in the US and to worries about contamination in its own food supply, China said it has begun nationwide inspections to determine whether wheat gluten is being contaminated with chemicals, according to state-controlled Xinhua News Agency, the New York Times reported on its website.


A spokesman for the main export and import inspection agency, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, said the inspections began on Monday (Apr 30), the Times reported. Regulators are testing for a chemical sometimes used as a rat poison, as well as for melamine, an industrial chemical that is believed to have killed or sickened thousands of pets in the US and South Africa.


Xinhua's report, which came during the country's week-long May holiday period, is the latest sign that China is beginning to cooperate with US investigators and is stepping up its efforts to determine what caused the problems with the pet food that was recalled in the US, the Times said.


A spokesman from the state inspection office was not available for comment today. Most government offices were closed for the holiday period, according to the report.


According to Xinhua, the inspections being carried out by the agency are looking for traces of melamine and aminopterin, a chemical sometimes used as a rat poison that was mentioned in the early going as a possible cause of the deaths of some pets, the Times said. Regulators have never been able to confirm that aminopterin was present in contaminated pet food.


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