FDA & USDA: We’re Not Done, But Keep Eating Pork

We’re paraphrasing, of course. This is a little off-topic (as it does not involve pets), but we nonetheless believe you may be interested.

The FDA and the USDA jointly issued an announcement on Saturday to summarize the risk to humans due to meat from pigs that ate melamine tainted salvage pet food. They believe more hog farms were affected than currently known (California, Kansas, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina and Utah). We already know that at least 45 people have eaten the tainted pork. (Reg. required)

Highlights below:

At this time, we have no evidence of harm to humans associated with the processed pork product, and therefore no recall of meat products processed from these animals is being issued. Testing and the joint investigation continue. If any evidence surfaces to indicate there is harm to humans, the appropriate action will be taken.

The ongoing investigation and product reconciliation and testing have led to certain farms. We expect the investigation will continue to find more places where product may have been distributed.

Full release after the jump.

Joint Update: FDA/USDA Update on Tainted Animal Feed

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continue their investigation of imported rice protein concentrate which has been found to contain melamine and melamine-related compounds. Based on information currently available, FDA and USDA believe the likelihood of illness after eating pork from swine fed the contaminated product would be very low. The agencies are taking certain actions out of an abundance of caution. As announced on April 26, swine known to have been fed adulterated (contaminated) product will not be approved to enter the food supply. (Because the animal feed in question was adulterated, USDA cannot rule out the possibility that food produced from animals fed this product could also be adulterated. USDA cannot approve potentially adulterated meat.) This update provides additional information regarding the ongoing investigation.

As reported on April 22 by FDA, the Agency determined that rice protein concentrate imported from China was contaminated with melamine and melamine-related compounds. The product was imported by Wilbur-Ellis, an importer and distributor of agricultural products. Although the company began importing product from China in August 2006, the company did not become aware of the contamination until April 2007. As part of the ongoing investigation, FDA has determined the rice protein was used in the production of pet food and a portion of the pet food was used to produce animal feed. The ongoing investigation is tracing products distributed since August 2006 by Wilbur-Ellis throughout the distribution chain.

At this time, we have no evidence of harm to humans associated with the processed pork product, and therefore no recall of meat products processed from these animals is being issued. Testing and the joint investigation continue. If any evidence surfaces to indicate there is harm to humans, the appropriate action will be taken.

The assessment that, if there were to be harm to human health, it would be very low, is based on a number of factors, including the dilution of the contaminating melamine and melamine-related compounds from the original rice protein concentrate as it moves through the food system. First it is a partial ingredient in the pet food; second, it is only part of the total feed given to the hogs; third, it is not known to accumulate in the hogs and the hogs excrete melamine in their urine; fourth, even if present in pork, pork is only a small part of the average American diet. Neither FDA nor USDA has uncovered any evidence of harm to the swine from the contaminated feed. In addition to the dilutional factor and the lack of evidence of illnesses in the swine fed the waste pet food, we are not aware of any human illness that has occurred from exposure to melamine or its by-products. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention systems would have limited ability to detect subtle problems due to melamine and melamine-related compounds, no problems have been detected to date. To further evaluate any potential harm to humans, the FDA is developing and implementing further tests and risk assessments based on the toxicity of the compounds and how much of the compounds consumers could be expected to actually consume.

The ongoing investigation and product reconciliation and testing have led to certain farms. We expect the investigation will continue to find more places where product may have been distributed. As of April 26, sites in the following states are believed to have received and used contaminated product: California, Kansas, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina and Utah. As we confirm additional sites that have received and used contaminated product, we will provide additional updates.

USDA and FDA continue to conduct a full, comprehensive examination to protect the nation’s food supply and will provide updates as new information is confirmed.

####

49 Responses to “FDA & USDA: We’re Not Done, But Keep Eating Pork”

  1. pat says:

    this is just beyond belief. every time i think things are as dark as they’re going to get, the government pulls down the shade a bit more. and their reasoning is just… is just…. i can’t even articulate how absurd this is! People don’t eat that much porks anyway?!?! WHAT GENIUS CAME UP WITH THAT???? Eva’s right, my head is going to explode.

  2. xyz says:

    The one feed animal that could weather mass extinction is safe from melamine.

    Go figure.

  3. lin52 says:

    So how many humans would have to “officially” die before anyone pays attention and takes action, as was the case with our pets?

  4. Bridget says:

    So until someone becoms sick, why worry?! I am a believer in pre-emptive measures — you know, before ANY harm is done. Oy vey.

    I’m still waiting for news on those chickens that maybe ate the stuff. I’ve been avoiding pork and chicken this week and it’s so hard! Living on fish and beef…

  5. Bridget says:

    PS of course the chicken thing is really scaring me because of course it’s the main ingredient in the cat food I’ve chosen. So while it may not cause harm to humans, it seems even a little does cause harm to cats and dogs. I pray this nightmare ends soon.

  6. pat says:

    the argument that the potential harm to humans is low is specious at best. and there’s no evidence to suggest that the toxins in question are “diluted” rather than accumulated. logically, small animals are the first to be affected because of their low body mass. they say cats have been affected because they have sensitive renal systems, but i don’t buy that for a nanosecond. i’d be willing to bet that small dogs were affected before large dogs. i’d also be willing to bet that human children will suffer long before adults… they’re probably already suffering, and have been for some time.

    let me ask you all something… i might be described as being “of a certain age”. when i was growing up, nobody had “wheat allergies”. now maybe this was because it wasn’t recognized, but i’m amazed by the number of people i know today who supposedly have wheat allergies, and how many children ostensibly have wheat allergies.

    recently, some friends of mine had to have their 2-year-old daughter hospitalized for several days because of some non-specific digestive problems. the poor little tyke was so sick that she couldn’t even lift her head. they never determined the cause, but the doctors “suspect a wheat allergy”. i really wonder if this has anything to do with allergies at all… i think that children simply are sensitive to toxins in many food items.

    i have now completely lost what little faith i had in the government to assure a safe food supply.

  7. Debra says:

    I’d consider this evidence of harm to humans, wouldn’t you:
    http://tinyurl.com/23ud2z

  8. xyz says:

    I’m starting to think Twinkies might be a good thing.

    I’ve always taken pride in our country and what we stand for. Now that “amber waves of grain” have taken on new meaning it’s been difficult to keep that sentiment going.

    For those of you with young children, teach them to read labels right along with you. It’s a sad commentary but I don’t see that reality changing any time soon.

  9. pat says:

    xyz, I’m afraid that today, what we stand for is multinational corporate interests. we can teach our children to read labels, but if the labels don’t tell them what they need to know it won’t protect them.

  10. Pam says:

    Is this the same FDA that has told us, over and over, after every recall, that the remaining pet food was “perfectly safe”? Sorry, FDA, I’m not buying it — literally — no pork for me or my family. I don’t trust you or anything you say.

  11. Marilyn says:

    Well, I guess we were wrong…you know, all of us that said “If this were happening to humans, things would be different. They’d be naming names, they’d be shutting those places down. They just don’t care because so far its ‘just pets’.” Huh! Turns out our pets *are* just as important as people! Who’d-a-thunk?

  12. Marilyn says:

    OK, my last message was “tongue-in-cheek.” This one is not. Even if, and that’s too big an “if” for me… but, even if melamine is not harmful to humans, what about the reaction between melamine and cyanuric acid that was found at the U of Guelph? Isn’t the FDA reading lab reports? OK, so maybe this message is a little sarcastic too. Can’t help it. This is just way beyond belief.

  13. Carol says:

    The FDA probable will wait until Friday at 5pm to announce the next “precautionary recall”–that way they can have a good weekend without being bothered by calls until their weekend is over!

  14. xyz says:

    Pat- you’re right. Its what we don’t know vs what is. There has to be a ray of hope in here somewhere. Darned if I can find it right now.

    Where are all of OUR representatives? Or did we just bury them, too?

  15. pat says:

    xyz, they ceased to be our representatives practically from the time they moved into washington… they now represent the highest bidder. that is not us. i suggest sending them a nice pork chop…

  16. menusux says:

    Why pork is “safe”:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories.....0363.shtml

    Japan Retains Appetite For U.S. Pork
    Japan Retains Big Appetite For U.S. Pork Despite New Changes In Import Standards

    OMAHA, Neb., Apr. 24, 2007
    ——————————————————————————–

    (AP) As U.S. beef exports to Japan remain in flux, pork exports continue at a steady clip despite producers’ fears that new import standards could give Japan an excuse to reject pork shipments.

    Last year, producers in Nebraska and Iowa called the new rules confusing, and worried that one animal in violation of the Japanese regulations could imperil the lucrative Japanese market.

    “A lot of that had to do with not knowing what those rules and regulations were,” said Bill Luckey, a hog producer in Columbus, Neb., who raises 1,500 of his own hogs and 2,000 more for another operation.

    But once information about the rules became clear, “we realized it wasn’t too big a deal,” Luckey said of producers in Nebraska, where pork is the fourth-largest agricultural commodity.

    “I don’t want to say it was not eventful, but it was not near as drastic as we thought it could be,” he said.

    Japanese monitoring programs show there haven’t been any violations of the rules for U.S. pork, said Paul Sundberg, the National Pork Board’s vice president of science and technology.

    The new rules, which went into effect last May, changed maximum residue limits on all food products for 799 feed additives, veterinary drugs and agriculture chemicals. Some producers had to stop giving hogs these additives for a longer time before slaughter to meet new limits.

    Producers, veterinarians and state pork boards worked quickly to get the word out before the changes took effect, said Kevin Smith, assistant director of export services with the Meat Export Federation.

    The result: A smooth transition from Japan’s old standards, which limited only 293 substances.

    “It showed the industry has the ability to communicate and provide information,” Smith said.

    Gene Ver Steeg, who was president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association until January, said the organization faced some difficulties getting information from additive manufacturers to ensure producers knew when to stop giving hogs the substances. Once that was available, producers were quick to adjust.

    “I feel quite good about the fact there weren’t violations,” said Ver Steeg, who ships 18,000 hogs a year. “They needed our pork, and we needed them to buy it.”

    Japan bought nearly 744 million pounds of U.S. pork last year _ about 27 percent of all U.S. pork exports _ worth more than $1 billion, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

    Pork exports have been on the rise for 16 years, with huge increases in U.S. exports to Japan in 2005 and 2006, partly because of the decreased beef trade.

    “Initially, there was probably a clear advantage for pork as a substitute,” said Lynn Heinze, a spokeswoman for the export federation.

    But as U.S. beef makes its way back into the Japanese market, industry experts don’t expect customers to lose their taste for pork, which they say has established a solid reputation in Japan.

    Japan banned American beef imports in December 2003. The ban was eased in December 2005, but tightened again a month later after prohibited spinal bones were found in a veal shipment. Tokyo eased the restrictions again in last July, but allows only meat from cows aged 20 months or younger.

    Eating meat contaminated with mad cow disease is linked to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a rare but deadly nerve disorder.

    Before the ban on American beef three years ago, Japan had been the top destination for U.S. beef, importing $1.4 billion worth a year.

  17. pat says:

    why am i not surprised?

  18. Beth says:

    Did the pork test negative for melamine? or was it that there wasn’t enough in the hog to sicken people? I think they skirted this by picking and chosing their words.
    I went to the pet store to buy dog food yesterday. I am in Ohio and the young gal told me that all of the parakeets and canaries had been sent back to the supplier. What’s going on here?

  19. purringfur says:

    RE: JAPAN CHANGES RESIDUAL LIMITS ON 500 MORE FEED ADDITIVES, VET DRUGS, & AGRICULTURAL CHEMICALS IN FOOD IMPORTED FROM THE U.S.

    “The new rules, which went into effect last May, changed maximum residue limits on all food products for 799 feed additives, veterinary drugs and agriculture chemicals….

    The result: A smooth transition from Japan’s old standards, which limited only 293 substances.

    “It showed the industry has the ability to communicate and provide information,” Smith said….”

    cited from Menusux’s article cited above
    ……………………
    NO, it showed that other countries will strong arm the U.S. until it conforms to THEIR more stringent regulations about residual levels of additives, ag chemicals, and veterinary drugs. Again, at the prospect of losing pork sales, we complied. Only money talks!

    We save the “drug-loaded, additive-added, chemical-laced” pork meat for U.S. citizens and export the “purer” meat to other countries.

    Does anyone see anything wrong with this picture?

  20. Kiki says:

    FDA SAYS KEEP EATING THE TAINTED PORK!!!

    “At this time, we have no evidence of harm to humans associated with
    the processed pork product, and therefore no recall of meat products
    processed from these animals is being issued. Testing and the joint
    investigation continue. If any evidence surfaces to indicate there is
    harm to humans, the appropriate action will be taken.”

    Hmmm FDA, and how are you going to be determining if any harm is being
    done? Are their human melamine tests for when people start getting
    sick - either acutely or chronically? Will melamine poisoning become
    part of the differential for GP’s or ER docs? Will you introduce a
    surveillance system or reporting system in anyway? How exactly are you
    going to link illness or death with exposure? How?

  21. Helen says:

    This will all continue until we all collectively refuse to buy it. What scares me now is the FDA is saying the contamination isn’t that dangerous because we don’t KNOW what it does to humans. Great. Also, they said we “probably” wouldn’t eat much toxin because our diets are so diverse. They’re not that diverse. There is wheat gluten or rice protein concentrate in almost everything including the feed fed to cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, and fish. There is a LOT of rice protein concentrate in baby food and babies have less diverse diet than adults. So they are going to wait until (more than 16) of our CHILDREN DIE from toxic poison in their food before they admit there MAY be poison in our food. And they will minimize and cover THAT up the same as they have the pet food. Also I watched Fast Food Nation last night. I highly recommend it. You won’t want another bite of ground meat after though. Just appalling. This really is like a science fiction novel, but real in front of us. Everyone still thinks I am blowing this way out of proportion. Read some Wendell Berry. He has been writing books about these very issues with our food for over 40 years. Very educational.

  22. pat says:

    check this out:

    http://www.iht.com/articles/20.....php?page=1

  23. E. Hamilton says:

    Another fabulous announcement by the FDA. And the message seems to be
    that we should all drink the kool-aid, and pay no attention to the fact that they are “humanely” killing every hog that they can find who may have gotten a dose of the poison!
    I am gonna run right out and buy some pork because the FDA says it is safe?
    I don’t think so.
    All the food on the store shelves is safe, no more recalls, just a few pets died.

    I do not think letting people who have hallucination’s or delusion’s should be in charge of food safety. Just does not seem like a good idea to me

  24. Kiki says:

    E Hamilton: Exactly. if there were low/no risk, why euthanize the hogs to begin with? If there is enough risk that hogs are not to go to slaughter, then it is enough risk to recall the meat. period.

  25. Kiki says:

    Pat: OMG - this is nuts, just nuts. In light of this discovery, the USA really should stop all import of Chinese foodstuffs and raw ingredient. This is beyond comprehension. Clearly the Chinese have been tainting food for years - all food - for profit. If something is not done by our government, then I am completely at a loss of what to think…or do. It’s beyond anything I would have ever thought. I will watch closely how are government handles this food safety crisis.

  26. pat says:

    Kiki, they ain’t gonna stop. they’ll point to this as proof that melamine is ok. they’ll say, look how long you’ve been eating it and you ain’t dead yet, so it must be fine. have a pork chop!

  27. Jan says:

    to lin52
    The official death toll of humans should be about 16 or 17 isn’t that the number?
    unbelievable I’m not feeling warm and fuzzy much anymore. I was googling yesterday about the old news wheat glutin and came across a “voluntary recall so to speak” in Oregon on fox channel 10 seems they were pulling loaves of bread off the store shelves in Safeway for the FDA to check out. This was April 11 haven’t heard what they found. But no matter Melamine is ok for human right? How does a ham sandwich sound right about now?

    By the way on CNN tonight at 6PM EST Lou Dobbs will be covering “dangerous Food” Moannnnn I can Hardly wait to see what else we can’t eat or feed to our pets.

  28. Jan says:

    lol Supermarket ad at Tops in Buffalo N.Y. Pork Roast buy one get one Free!!

  29. Kiki says:

    Pat’s: “look how long you’ve been eating it and you ain’t dead yet, so it must be fine. have a pork chop!”

    If it wasn’t so %^$#$ true, I’d be LOL…we have to spread the word to people.

  30. pat says:

    i think if we organized an email campaign to some of the more heavy-hitting investigative journalist broadcasters someone might get a whiff of a story with legs and pick it up. how about emailing 60 minutes and frontline and asking them to take a good look at this? they’re the only ones i can think of off the top of my head that have the chutzpah to tackle it and are mainstream enough to be seen and have credibility with the public.

  31. Sharon says:

    Every time I hear 16 deaths I send an email to the news station who reported it and tell them they need to get their facts straight and not to report garbage hand fed to them as “news”. I watch all the Sunday morning news shows and none of them are touching this with a ten foot pole. At least we now know the media are just as worthless as our government.

  32. Debra says:

    According to the FDA/USDA announcement, “even if present in pork, pork is only a small part of the average American diet.” But look at these statistics:

    Approximately 3 BILLION pizzas are sold in the U.S. each year. (Source: Blumenfeld and Associates)

    Pepperoni is by far America’s favorite topping, (36% of all pizza orders). Approximately 251,770,000 pounds of pepperoni are consumed on pizzas annually. (Source: http://pizzaware.com/facts.htm)

    And what is pepperoni made of? Mainly, PORK.

  33. Kiki says:

    Pat, mainstream media isn’t touching this story because of the advertising dollars that they are afraid to lose for “telling/narking on their customers”…mark my words, mainstream media will continue to spin this story as benign as they possibly can. This is a story that may hurt their bottom line - they only have loyalty to who pays their bills, which is primarily those big multi-nationals I keep referring to. Unless we as customers boycotted them (which is unlikely because we need to get news somewhere, then all they really need to appease is their advertisers). Yep, this story will go no-where fast until maybe there is a human death toll.

  34. Kiki says:

    Guys, I think we’ve finally clocked everybody’s tea. This is all about money and fear of losing it (on every level, with every institution). Just goes to show how biased the media really is - self serving sonsofbitches…

  35. Kiki says:

    Debra: What you are implying is that the truth - if told, would cripple the US food industry. Billions of $$$ would be lost, Panic would ensue, the American Public would demand immediate action. 320 million people would be freaking out. Apocolypse Now kind of stuff, is that about right???

  36. pat says:

    if we never ask them to look at it, how can we simply presume that they won’t? i have no illusions about mass media, having worked in the biz myself, but if nobody expresses concern for or interest in a story, that pretty much assures that it will not receive coverage.

    for what it’s worth, i’ve asked them to look, and here’s the contact info i used:

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/.....ct/c4.html

    mailto:60m@cbsnews.com

    maybe it’s useless, but i can’t just do nothing.

  37. Kiki says:

    Thus, even these websites and us as blogger types who have been on the story - are being marginalized by the media, the FDA, etc…. to the greatest extent possible. Better to lose a few hundred customers rather than millions.

  38. Kiki says:

    No Pat, you are right - we have to keep trying. There is no other choice if we care about each other as Americans.

  39. E. Hamilton says:

    These news agencies are going to need some good news to offset the new scope of the tragedy, now that they finally see that it has been going on for years.

    This is GOOD news for us.

    Really it is.

    There is going to be darn little touchy feely news for a while, because the entire planet is about to achieve orbital velocity over this news. They are going to go stark raving nuts. We have been living with this long enough that WE are going to be the calm rational ones.
    So get a grip on yourself. Try not to laugh at the people who are just now “getting it” and we are going to USE THIS!
    Got it?
    Calm, rational and oh yeah, MODEST about how we saved the world.
    Our poor pets, that the FDA would not even bother to count, for political reasons, lost their lives so this dire threat to the world could become known.
    And it would NOT be known if pet owners had not banded together on the net and MADE the FDA aware and kept it going.

    YOU GUYS JUST SAVED THE WORLD!
    This is big news.
    The FDA has screwed up so bad that they are NOT going to come off as heroes, I am not going to let that happen and neither are you.
    Go to the FDA follies thread in the forum and get those links to all the times the FDA has been wrong so we can USE this, OK?

    The best reality show in the world just took place and you OWN it, you ARE it.
    So clean up the screaming and tone it down so it will play well on the news and go get the info organized in the forums and do it calmly.
    KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON.
    That is your motto.

  40. Kiki says:

    EH: I’d like to see your reality of the story unfold, but I think I’ve become just a little too jaded to think that there will be some kind of awakening by the media or the public. I don’t think it’s going to happen, no matter how rational, calm, or evidence-based we present things…

  41. peopleandpets says:

    you know, this last recall started with 1 company (Natural Balance) owning up to a problem they had and letting everyone know up front, knowing the heat that it would bring. This has now snowballed into a global crisis. I shudder to think what would not be going on now had they not done it. Gotta give em their props for that. Personally, I probably will stick with feeding NB.. I’m just going grain free for a while. My dogs and cats are fine and at least they were at the front. More concerned about cleaning out my pantry at this point. Who knows what the next hour will bring. This well runs scary deep.

  42. Helen says:

    I am not sure I am quoting perfectly but:
    “Never doubt that a small dedicated group of people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead

    I have consulted with two local independent pet stores. There have been no complaints of illness or returned food made by Canidae/Felidae, Natura, or Nature’s Variety. Hope that is helpful information. :)

  43. Meg says:

    I gave up eating pork several months ago when I found out that they roll around in their own waste products and will even eat their newborn babies. I wouldn’t doubt that it will be found out that melamine is in our entire food chain since it is used in fertilizers. Not just in our meat but also fruits and veggies. Is anything safe to eat anymore? Mad cow disease with the beef and now possible melamine in port and chicken. Shame on the FDA!

  44. Helen says:

    The melamine is in fish and sheep food also.

  45. Meg says:

    Helen - How did you find out that it is also in the fish and sheep food? I only heard pork and maybe chicken. Will this ever end? What is the FDA doing about this? I haven’t seen much of anything about the melamine thing in the newspaper. Some people I know that have pets, still only think that Iams and Eukabana (spelling?) are the only pet foods recalled.

  46. Kiki says:

    How can they know any better when everytime there is a legitimate published news report, “someone” deletes in within minutes and it vanishes from the web??

    WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE THAT CAN JUST GET RID OF NEWS REPORTS???

  47. Helen says:

    Kiki, think Big Brother.

    Meg, I found that out reading blogs and following links here on Itchmo. In fact, I think I read quite a bit on the first comments section on Itchmo homepage today, but it has come up many times over the past few days. I am reading so furiously to keep up, I keep forgetting what is where. Keep reading the older blog threads too, as there are scads of vital info on every page.

  48. ~Martha~ says:

    Good one, Pat!

    “pat Says:
    April 29th, 2007 at 9:13 am
    xyz, they ceased to be our representatives practically from the time they moved into washington… they now represent the highest bidder. that is not us. i suggest sending them a nice pork chop…”

  49. Elaine says:

    FYI-I have been concerned about food safety for years, and I think a mandatory Country of Origin Labeling for our food, (and our pet’s food) would be a good place to start. Congress is working on the 2007 Farm Bill, and we are working to include mandatory COOL in it to take effect by Sep. 2007. It already IS law, as it was included in the 2002 Farm Bill, but the major packers and food companies would rather we not know that much of our food supply comes from countries such as China and India and Mexico, where they certainly don’t have the food safety standards we have in the U.S., so lobbying efforts by Big Business has kept congress from implementing the COOL law. People food as well as Pet food is very much at risk!

    It is all about big business influence and MONEY! Who cares about people and their pets? While waiting for the other shoe to drop, I am baking my own bread with USA wheat AND reading all labels to be assured the product is from the U.S. before purchasing.

    We can all have a big influence right now by contacting our congressmen and demanding the right to know where our food comes from. I think the U.S. is the only country in the world that doesn’t require our food supply to be labeled as to country of origin!

    Elaine


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