The importer, ChemNutra, claims only pet food makers got the wheat gluten. Their Web site only lists wheat gluten under animal feed, not food for people. AP story:
None of the contaminated wheat gluten that led to the U.S. recall of pet food went to manufacturers of food for humans, the ingredient’s importer said Tuesday.
The Chinese wheat gluten imported by ChemNutra Inc. all went to companies that make pet foods, Stephen Miller, chief executive officer of the Las Vegas company, told The Associated Press.
Miller declined to identify what companies ChemNutra supplied.
This does not match the Boston Globe’s news that the wheat gluten was sold to human food companies. We have a theory that makes sense in light of both news.
ChemNutra calls themselves the China-Source Experts: “ChemNutra imports quality ingredients from China to the U.S. for the feed, food and pharma industries. ChemNutra imports over 4,000 tons per year, and our customers include several Fortune 500 companies.” (Thanks for the reader tips)
In related news, we received a tip from Howl911 about a theory that links contamination of wheat gluten to the use of melamine-formaldehyde in the textile industry. (Read the theory after the jump.)
External Author’s Notes:
I’ve theorized the same–that an additive, probably melanine-formaldehyde, was added to the gluten to increase it’s crosslinking and hence it’s water absorption rate. Why would this be beneficial. Well, from a commercial standpoint, it means LESS wheat gluten would need to added in order to achieve the desired gelling effect (as in gravy manufacturing). Using melamine-formaldehyde as an additive represents a chemical method of modifying the gluten (increasing the protein-protein crosslinking to improve it’s gelling ability) in much the same way as with enzymatic mofication with TGase (transglutaminase). I’ve found several online references regarding using melamine-formaldehyde for not just wheat, but soy and other plant proteins as well. Also, melamine-formaldehyde is used specifically for crosslinking wheat gluten to improve the gluten’s resin-like performance in the textile/printing industry. The fact that the Chinese supplier also sold this to another Chinese supplier–a textiles company–is very telling.
Many are saying that the melamine is in itself not toxic, but rather a marker for whatever the true toxin is. I wonder if that toxin might be formaldehyde? I’ve got a number of scientific papers I’m scrutinizing for tying up loose ends to my theory, but I’m still wading thru them (although I’ve got a graduate degree in biochemistry, my chemistry is rusty…so I’m trying to be careful about drawing any false conclusions.)
THE GLUTEN STORY, PART 1
by Robert Jay Russell, Ph.D., President, Coton de Tulear Club of America
April 2nd, 2007.
As you know, I’ve been publishing many warnings about wheat gluten in dog
and human foods since this pet poisoning crises burst on the scene. I have
also been sharply critical of our government’s inaction, and their obvious
protection of guilty corporate parties. A story released by Elise Weise and
Julie Schmit yesterday (”Pet Foods Recall Spreads, and So Does Confusion,”
USA Today, 4/1/07) affirms much in my previous reports.
Weise and Schmit report that:
The FDA has not publicly identified the firm that supplied the contaminated
wheat gluten to the USA. But on Friday, the agency issued an import alert ”
found on its website” saying wheat gluten from the Xuzhou Anying Biologic
Technology Development Co. of Peixian, China, could be detained without
inspection until it produced results from “the firm’s investigation(s) into
the problem of melamine contamination” and documents showing that corrective
action had been taken.
Dr. Russell continues:
Let’s examine that shocking news:
(1) The FDA — an agency we the taxpayer pays for — will not tell us where
the wheat gluten poisoning the US food supply is coming from, and;
(2) The FDA will rely on the Chinese company that made and sold the poisoned
wheat gluten to tell us that it’s product is safe, and we can all eat it.
As it happens, I was grabbing information off the net about the Xuzhou
Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. of Peixian, China, about a week
ago and found that they export wheat gluten to both human food and pet food
makers. They do not, in their commodities sales literature, classify this
gluten — which they market as “Wheat Vital Protein” — as specifically for
pets only. Here is their product statement (it’s in broken English, to be
sure, but I appreciate their effort since my Chinese would be impossible):
Wheat gluten meal is also named wheat vital protein. The flour is used as
its raw material, and from which extracts a light brown natural Grain powder
through intensively processing. It is a good solubles protein, containing
fifteen amino acid essencial for human body. After all, it can yet be
regarded as a plant protein food looking good, smelling good and tasting
Protein: 75% min
Moistur: 8% max
Ash (lime) : 1% max
The rate of absorbing water: 160% min
The degree of thickness: 99% through 200um tough silk sieve
Taste smell: normal, with grain delicious
Outward ap: light yellow powder
The product description is innocuous, but additional referencing elsewhere
on the web has lead me to hypothesize that an as yet undisclosed Chinese
experimental gluten additive may have been added to this export gluten
product as early as last summer (July, 2006 or even earlier) and that this
additive, if I am correct, could have produced the diverse findings of
byproducts such as the plastic melamine (which the FDA says may have been
represented a whopping and very visible 6% of the total Chinese gluten
package!) and the compound aminopterin (which Cornell labs state
unequivocally is present in their samples today). At present, the etiology
of kidney disease caused by either of these two compounds is vaguely
understood at best, although both are known to be nephrotoxic under proper
conditions. If my hypothesis is correct, another compound altogether, which
is definitely causative of acute renal tubule failure and which is a newly
announced Chinese wheat gluten additive, is at fault and the previously
discovered compounds are secondary and contributory.
Further, if I am correct, other Chinese gluten producers may be using this
additive and supplying markets other than those already identified in the
pet poisoning debacle. Stay tuned.
As soon as I work out the biochemistry on this, I’ll write an article here
and contact Cornell. I think its a lead worth looking into. Hopefully
their collective, extremely intelligent heads will beat me to the punch on
this. But even if I am dead wrong about the causative molecule, these
observations stand today:
1. The human food supply subject to wheat gluten is suspect.
Bread, pizza dough, candy, crackers, pasta, cereal and so much more may
contain suspect Chinese wheat gluten;
2. The US pet food industry gets 80% of its wheat glutens from China. No pet
food, dry or wet or treats, can be considered in any way safe if it contains
wheat gluten. Period;
3. The date which toxic wheat gluten was first used in US food products
(human or pet) is NOT KNOWN. Only Menu foods has stated tangentially that it
“changed gluten suppliers
in November” and that the tainted Chinese gluten was used in its food from
that time onwards. None of the other companies who have been outed (Purina
and Delmonte to date) have stated when Chinese gluten first appeared in
4. There is a possibility that is not denied by the FDA that a great many of
America’s pets are now suffering progressive assymptomatic kidney disease.
There is also a possibility that many people are in that same boat, albeit
with an absolutely larger kidney festooned with geometrically more tubules,
they could remain assymptomatic for quite a bit longer than either Fido or
From the onset, I have urged everyone to avoid wheat and wheat gluten in
their pet’s diet. I would also suggest that this is an excellent time for
the bipeds in your household to start a wheat gluten-free dietary program. I
know that that is difficult, and that gluten, which was never good for us,
sure makes so many things taste good. But look at it this way: none of us
want to compete for donor kidneys down the road. And our poor pets don’t
even get kidney transplants, they just sicken and die painfully.
(c)2007 Dr. R. J. Russell & the CTCA