UPDATE 2: Transcript of the press conference is here.
UPDATE: Here’s a picture of the “mis-labeled” bag imported through ChemNutra that containted the melamine-tainted wheat flour.
When asked why ChemNutra didn’t disclose previously that it played a part in that deal, Stern said the company did notify the FDA in mid April. However, the company chose not to include the co-brokered shipment in an April 2 recall of the wheat gluten it had imported for use in pet food … because it hadn’t sold the ingredient, Stern said.
So what other company was involved?
(Correction: Wheat flour spiked with melamine was sold as wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate)
May 8th FDA press conference on melamine investigation update. We have posted the major points below.
Fish feed contaminated: Contaminated feed went into fish feed in Canada, sold to US fish farms. Investigators have only been to one farm and no fish has entered the market yet. Learned in the last week (about 2 months after the first recall) that contaminated fish feed ingredient was brokered through ChemNutra — the same company that supplied Menu Foods. Fish meal constitutes less than 50% of fish food.
Pet food quality control failed to detect problems: Wheat flour added instead of rice protein concentrate or wheat gluten. Pet food companies are responsible for testing for correct ingredients.
Contaminated shipments actually wheat flour: Not labeled wheat flour. Wheat gluten and wheat flour are related. Pet food with contaminated rice protein concentrate actually contained wheat flour.
Affects on farm animals not yet conclusive: Animal exposure risk assessment not yet complete. May take a week. Although the FDA is saying that the exposure to the animals was brief and the concentration is low and even if you take an extreme position of exposure, the risk is 2500 times below any known possible risk.
FDA in reactive mode: FDA is currently focused on testing new imports of wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate, not other possible suspects. FDA will look at other ingredients if they start to see unusual spikes of unexplained illnesses.
The process of making wheat gluten: FDA comments: Wheat gluten is a component of wheat flour. It uses a process where you wash the starch away and then you’re left with the wheat gluten (the protein). This is when we are speculative — it certainly is a simpler process of a manufacturer where they take wheat flour or whole wheat and grind it up and then it would still have some wheat gluten in it. The total protein content of that is low. If you add melamine, you are adding nitrogen to it and when you do that, the measure of protein is actually measuring nitrogen. You have a wheat based product with high protein and then that creates the appearance of high protein when it actually is high nitrogen.
Attendee list after the jump.
On the call:
- David Acheson, M.D., assistant commissioner for food protection, Office of the Commissioner, FDA
- Kenneth Petersen, D.V.M., M.P.H., assistant administrator for field operations, Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA
- Stephen Sundlof, D.V.M., Ph.D., director, Center for Veterinary Medicine, FDA
Julie Zawisza, assistant commissioner for public affairs, Office of the Commissioner, FDA
- Captain David Elder, director, Office of Enforcement, Office of Regulatory Affairs, FDA
- Michael Rogers, director, Division of Field Investigations, Office of Regulatory Affairs, FDA
- Vera Adams, Executive Director, Commercial Targeting and Enforcement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection