Melamine Spiking of Food Goes Back Decades in US and China

Two stories with similar themes. One in China, one right here in the US in pet food as well as human food:

Pet food melamine spiking in China goes back at least 15 years:

“We’ve been running the melamine feed business for about 15 years and receiving positive responses from our customers,” Wang said in a telephone interview. “Using the proper quantity of melamine will not harm the animals. Our products are very safe, for sure.”

Spiking of baking ingredients in the US happened as early as 1975:

In 1985, the Schulers made an estimated $750,000 on adulterated wheat. During FDA’s investigation, evidence was found that suggested the Schulers also sold adulterated wheat in 1975 and 1981, Stauffacher said.

(Thanks to mike and Carol)

43 Responses to “Melamine Spiking of Food Goes Back Decades in US and China”

  1. Maureen says:

    Tomorrow/TUESDAY on CSPAN3
    HOUSE HEARING on the Food & Drug Administration (10am ET) - LIVE

    This just came in an email alert from CSPAN. Note that CSPAN3 may not be on all cable networks. In my area you have to subscribe to more than basic cable to get it.

    It’s probably available through the House webcam system. Hope someone tracks that down.

  2. dulcinea47 says:

    It’s just killing me that they’re saying “oh, it’s fine, it won’t hurt the animals.” Did they do testing that showed that? I certainly haven’t seen anything giving evidence of that.

  3. pat says:

    oh yeah, it’s fine. of course, it’s illegal to use melanine in the the states as fertilizer, and also to put it in any food. they just made those rules on a whim, though. don;t think twice, it’s alright. here, have a pork chop…

  4. Maureen says:

    Re: recent posting re: CSPAN3 alert that they are webcasting the House Hearing on the FDA tomorrow at 10 a.m.. It’s not on the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations schedule online. I also called the DC committee’s office and they don’t have it on the schedule. So perhaps it’s another FDA hearing…sorry to alarm or excite people unnecessarily. However, there should be another hearing by Rep. Stupak coming up with the FDA soon, as he announced.

  5. teric says:

    We should hold a Melamine Cocktail Party for the FDA & Wang. Then we will see just how safe they really think it is.

  6. 4lgdfriend says:

    ban imports. period.
    and fire the FDA clowns.

    exceptional cloditude.

  7. Mary says:

    Here is an interesting question from the chinamatters blog:

    “Did the U.S. importers blend the Chinese material—a common precaution to dilute whatever nasties were inside the imported protein materials and also, perhaps, allow the importer to claim U.S. origin for the stuff—or did some companies take the rather reckless step of sending their pet food customers 100% Chinese material?”

  8. lacy says:

    Do any of you use California Natural dry cat food? I am a little upset because as of today they have changed their ingredients. The only grain was Brown rice. Now the ingredients say Brown rice, Rice,… One of my cats had been drinking a ton of water, another was at the emergency vet for his goopy swollen eyes. He also has lip licking. Someone not sure who, threw up yellow liquid this morning. It better not have to do with this new “change” in ingredients. I am so upset!

  9. Lorie says:

    Lacy,

    How long have you been using the new bag?

  10. Stephanie says:

    Lacy,

    I was checking out their site yesterday, and noticed some changes. I couldn’t get a cached version of the pages on their site. I was able to get one, and yes they are changing the ingredients.

    The changes on the site have occured in just the last week.

  11. Helen says:

    Hey, it’s illegal to feed pet food to cows, but it’s not illegal to feed cow feed to cows…cow feed with melamine from China! Mmmmm. Moo? Has anyone tested any milk to see if melamine is excreted in milk? If it is and mommies eat it, they are giving it to babies and cows are giving it to everyone who drinks milk. And people who don’t drink milk substitute with…SOY milk and RICE milk. Grassfed beef anyone?

  12. KatieKat says:

    I thought I was nuts over Natura chanding ingredients…..I truly thought with all the stuff I had been reading lately, that I was just forgetting what was in it before.

    Well I can say as much as Innova is, they start cheapening it, I will not be staying with them….2 rice ingredients is definately cheapening it and cutting cost, but we still have to pay the same…..Iams did that 20 or something years ago it was a good food, now it’s cheapy grocery store stuff…..

  13. Stephanie says:

    KatieKat,

    They have corn gluten meal on the ingredient list for one of the Healthwise cat foods (I think it was cat food). I don’t recall seeing corn gluten in any of the products before. I was kind of shocked to see that one. I thought I was crazy too, until I found a cached page that had changed.

    Worries me since Natural Balance pulled a switch in all of this. Maybe the companies have been cheapening their product all along, and finally one of them got caught.

  14. Kim says:

    I have a bag of Healthwise Cat Food that I bought before the recall - it *does* have Corn Gluten Meal listed in the ingredients, which is why I stopped giving it to them and put it in my ’save for possible testing’ cat food cabinet.

  15. johhypaycut says:

    Lacy,
    I had a simular sitiuation about a month ago..
    it seems the gooie eyes are more like frv. (feline rino virus)
    it is like a cat cold.. if thats what you have. you should remember this ,
    i delt with my cats cold, after she refushed to eat i let it go for
    almost 12hrs. then i decided to act, it’s important to keep the cat hydrated
    like a cold in people? i used a mixture of tuna water , and tap water
    warmed slightly , adminstered by a 3cc syrnge orally .. 6cc’s is enought
    i did that once a day ,until she ate without my intervention.. that took 4days
    cats need water. not alot , but especially when they’r trying to fight a bug?
    it’s also true with a kidney problem, as the toxins must be flushed ..
    i would advise dilgence , but don’t panic , it may only be a cold?
    it’s the time of year when that happens..if you see the symptoms of
    renal (kidney) trouble seek a vet. i am sure though he’l agree that hydration is vital in clearing the kidneys.. i am hopeful it’s only
    a spring cold?
    good luck!

  16. Grace says:

    Your pets were poisoned thanks to unrestricted trade with China and now our human food supply is tainted, too. Who is the biggest promoter of free trade in our government? Senator Patty Murray of Washington state. Check it out on her own website. All that seems to matter to her the the huge amount of money free trade with China brings to the elite of Washington State. (Don’t blame most of us WA state residents: the money does not trickle down!) And don’t blame the average Chinese citizen, either. They are being poisoned, too, and their honest exporters’ websites had warnings about cheap, contaminated grain proteins as far back as 2005. The ethical Chinese business people are being hurt, too, by the criminals that have taken over our foreign trade system.

    Here is a link to Senator Murray’s web page about her position on free trade:
    http://murray.senate.gov/trade/trade-work.cfm
    And here is a link to e-mail her and let her know how trade with China is currently impacting you:
    http://murray.senate.gov/email/index.cfm

    Let Senator Patty Murray know that we demand safe trade!

  17. Donna says:

    I have put together a Webshots photo album of affected pets. My pets have not been affected, so I don’t have any photos in it yet. Please feel free to give the email address below to anyone with an affected pet…have them email me a photo, pets name, food they ate, date of passing if they died, and contact name/email address. I think this will serve a similar function as the postcard blitz, but may be able to reach more people.

    My email address is AngelSimba61 at yahoo dot com.

  18. johhypaycut says:

    i’ve just sent the good congresswoman a letter .. a bit of a warning actually
    i am no fan of communist goverements! (obviously this polito is a blind
    butthole warrior). i hope she gets the picture , as if this continues we’l
    have 1 of several outcomes?
    1> a War
    2> pet deaths
    3> american deaths
    4> wealthy ceo’s ,and a war.
    when will women like this wake up? they want responsibilty , they then act
    like their’s no threat..?
    honestly ? if you can’t handle the job , leave it to those who can!

  19. Steve says:

    Well, here is how a Republican responds, one month later.

    Thank you for contacting me regarding pet food safety. I appreciate having
    the benefit of your comments on this matter.

    As you may know, recent events have revealed toxins in some pet foods that
    have caused health problems and death of many beloved family pets. These
    events resulted in the recall of those foods by the companies that produce
    them.

    The United States has the safest and most plentiful food supply in the world
    because our food safety policy is rooted in sound science and supervised by
    the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. You may be certain that I
    will continue working with my colleagues to ensure that the production,
    transportation, and marketing of pet food is held to a high standard.

    I appreciate having the opportunity to represent you in the United States
    Senate. Thank you for taking the time to contact me.

    Sincerely,

    JOHN CORNYN
    United States Senator

  20. Steve says:

    (How much can you contribute?)

  21. Lorie says:

    Lacy,

    Have your cats been sneezing, or blowing not to be gross snot bubbles out their nose. My littlest Geisha had an URI andher eyes water none stop and she sneezed her head off. You have to force feed them I kept Geisha alive thanks to a friend showing me how to literally put water droplets on my fingers and puttiing it on her lips to have to lick off, same with baby food if they cannot smell. Also if it is URI they need Batryl meds.

  22. Helen says:

    Steve, is he kidding? Did he just say we should trust that the FDA is going to save us all from the bad bad poison?

  23. Ann says:

    Oh, me. Steve. Where did you find that man?

    Wherever it was - throw him back!!

    I surely didn’t know there were trolls in that place - Don’t Feed Him.

    Ann

  24. johhypaycut says:

    Certain republican’s in office = rental robot= mental midget= draft doger(s)= contractable corporate lackeys= bearers of red star(not star of texas).

    I am not susprised that events have led us to this ?
    we let morrons sit in positions of authority?
    are they any less than 5thcentury morrons runing other countrys?
    can we expect any better?
    what next!

  25. teric says:

    Steve,…it sound like BS to me. It probably took a month for them to write this form letter.

    The United States has the safest and most plentiful food supply in the world
    because our food safety policy is rooted in sound science and supervised by
    the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. You may be certain that I
    will continue working with my colleagues to ensure that the production,
    transportation, and marketing of pet food is held to a high standard.

  26. martin says:

    http://www.horsesass.org/ 4/29/07

    The Shandong Mingshui Great Chemical factory in Zhangqiu, Shandong Province, which manufactures urea, melamine and melamine scrap. (Ariana Lindquist for The New York Times)

    Who knows what kind of shit is adulterating our imported and domestic food supply? But whatever it is, it’s about to hit the fan.

    Months after dogs and cats started dropping dead of renal failure from melamine-tainted pet food, American consumers are beginning to learn how long and how wide this contaminant has also poisoned the human food supply. Last week, as California officials revealed that at least 45 people are known to have eaten tainted pork, the USDA announced that it would pay farmers millions of dollars to destroy and dispose of thousands of hogs fed “salvaged” pet food.

    But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Through the salvaging practice, melamine-tainted pet food has likely contaminated America’s livestock for as long as it has been killing and sickening America’s pets — as far back as August of 2006, or even earlier. And while it may seem alarmist to suggest without absolute proof that Americans have been eating melamine-tainted pork, chicken and farm-raised fish for the better part of a year, the FDA and USDA seem to be preparing to brace Americans for the worst. In an unusual, Saturday afternoon joint press release, the regulators tasked with protecting the safety of our nation’s food supply go to convoluted lengths to reassure the public that eating melamine-tainted pork is perfectly safe.

    In a fit of reverse-homeopathy the press release steps us through the dilution process, tracing the path of melamine-tainted rice protein through the food system. The rice protein is a partial ingredient in pet food, we are told, which is itself only a partial ingredient in the feed given to hogs, who then “excrete” some of the melamine in their urine. And, “even if present in pork,” they reassure us, “pork is only a small part of the average American diet.”

    How comforting. But the press release reaches its Orwellian best in its insistence that there is no evidence of any “human illness” due to melamine exposure:

    “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.”

    Translation: “We are unable to detect such problems, but don’t worry, no such problems have been detected.”

    It is hard to read this as anything but a preemptive press release, a calculated effort to reassure the public that it is safe to eat trace quantities of melamine… just days before they inevitably reveal that Americans have in fact been consuming it unawares for months. Menu Foods, the company at the center of the controversy, has recalled product dating back to November 8, 2006. Manufacturing forty to fifty percent of America’s wet pet food, the salvaged product from their massive operations must have surely contaminated livestock feed nationwide.

    And it gets worse. Tomorrow the New York Times will report from China, detailing how nitrogen-rich melamine scrap, produced from coal, is routinely ground into powder and mixed into low-grade wheat, corn, soybean or other proteins to inflate the protein analysis of animal feed:

    The melamine powder has been dubbed “fake protein” and is used to deceive those who raise animals into thinking they are buying feed that provides higher nutrition value.

    “It just saves money,” says a manager at an animal feed factory here. “Melamine scrap is added to animal feed to boost the protein level.”

    The practice is widespread in China. For years animal feed sellers have been able to cheat buyers by blending the powder into feed with little regulatory supervision, according to interviews with melamine scrap traders and agricultural workers here.

    […] Many animal feed operators advertise on the Internet seeking to purchase melamine scrap. And melamine scrap producers and traders said in recent interviews that they often sell to animal feed makers.

    “Many companies buy melamine scrap to make animal feed, such as fish feed,” says Ji Denghui, general manager of the Fujian Sanming Dinghui Chemical Company. “I don’t know if there’s a regulation on it. Probably not. No law or regulation says ‘don’t do it,’ so everyone’s doing it. The laws in China are like that, aren’t they? If there’s no accident, there won’t be any regulation.”

    “The practice is widespread in China,” the Times reports, and has been going on “for years.” And it is not just wheat, corn, rice and soybean proteins that should be suspect, but the animals who feed on it, including all imported Chinese pork, poultry, farm-raised fish, and their various by-products. Despite FDA and USDA efforts to allay concerns about consuming melamine-tainted meat, the health effects are unstudied, and the permissible level is zero. If China could impose a three-year (and counting) ban on the import of U.S. beef after a single incident of Mad Cow disease, then surely the U.S. would be justified in imposing a ban on Chinese vegetable protein and livestock products due to such a prevalent, industrywide contamination.

    And if in the coming weeks this ban is finally imposed, the question we must ask government regulators is… why so late? Why did they wait until our children licked the last remaining drop of bacon fat off their fingers before alerting the public to the potential health risk, however low? It seems inconceivable that the regulators tasked with overseeing the safety and purity of our nation’s food supply did not at least imagine the potential scope of this crisis back in early March when they first learned that Chinese wheat gluten was poisoning dogs and cats. Indeed, the very fact that they were so quick to focus in on melamine as the adulterating agent suggests they at least suspected what they were facing.

    It may make for entertaining TV, but popular shows like CSI get forensic toxicology exactly backwards. You don’t run a substance through a mass spectrometer and 30 seconds later get a complete readout of its chemical makeup. Rather, you painstakingly look for specific chemicals or groups of chemicals one at a time, until you find the offending toxin. Once you get beyond the basic “tox screen,” forensics is as much art as science — investigators use evidence and intuition to narrow the search to those compounds that are most likely to be the culprit.

    And so it begs the question as to why — in the face of an apparent wheat gluten contamination that reportedly killed nine out of twenty dogs and cats in Menu Foods’ quarterly taste test — would FDA scientists test for melamine, a chemical widely believed to be nontoxic?

    Why? Because they thought they might find it.

    Lacking adequate cooperation from FDA officials one is constantly forced to speculate, but given the circumstances it is reasonable to assume that the search for melamine was prompted by the “nitrogen spiking” theory, rather than the other way around. Based on their knowledge of the evidence, Chinese agricultural practices, the globalizing food industry, and perhaps prior history, the FDA hypothesized that unscrupulous Chinese manufacturers may have intentionally adulterated low quality wheat gluten in an effort to pass it off as a high-protein, high-value product. And nothing would do the job better than melamine.

    According to one synthetic organic chemist, melamine is by far the perfect candidate. It is high in nitrogen (66-percent by weight), nonvolatile (ie, it doesn’t explode,) and dirt cheap. It is also — at least according to both the scientific literature and chemical supply catalogs — widely considered to be nontoxic. For FDA officials, the mystery never seemed to be how melamine made its way into wheat, rice and corn protein, but rather, why it was suddenly killing dogs and cats.

    The technical answer may center on the unexpected interaction between melamine, cyanuric acid, and other melamine by-products, but the practical answer may be much more pedestrian. Some samples of adulterated wheat gluten reportedly tested as high as 6.6-percent melamine by weight, an off the chart concentration that was likely the accidental result of some less than thorough mixing. Had this accident never occurred — had cats, with their sensitive renal systems, not been the canary in the coal mine of melamine toxicity — we might never have known that our children and our pets were being slowly poisoned by Chinese capitalism.

    Well, despite the FDA’s best efforts, now we know.

    NOTE:
    The New York Times article referenced above originally appeared in the online edition of the the International Herald Tribune. It has since been pulled.

    UPDATE:
    The NY Times piece is now online.

  27. KatieKat says:

    Yet more contaminated food :(

    WASHINGTON, April 30 (Reuters) - The U.S. government said on Monday 38 poultry farms in Indiana were given contaminated feed in early February containing melamine, with some of the animals likely to have entered the food supply.

    http://tinyurl.com/3ausra

  28. Eric says:

    When the heck is this going to end?!? It seems that everyday something else is exposed as contaminated.

  29. Val says:

    This really gets me! So it is just a scam, a filler ingredient to satisfy those looking for high protein levels in food and paying more I might add.
    “Melamine has no nutritional value but because it is nitrogen rich, it raises the nitrogen level of feed, making it appear that the feed is higher in protein without increasing its nutritional value.”

    I’m not even done reading and my hackles are beyond up!!

  30. May says:

    The problem with our trade relations with China and our governments willingness to look the other way is more widespread and subtle than just the initial profits made by U.S. importers.

    While a very tiny percent of Americans have been making obscene amounts of money, middle class wages have remained flat, while the cost of living as slowly been climbing up. How do you keep most of us quiet? Cut prices. As in give us really cheap Chinese products. No one can afford to look this gift horse in the mouth.

    Next wage a very, very expensive war in which the same tiny elite that have been making more and more money get hundreds of billions of our tax dollars (ex. Haliburton’s no-bid contract and the V.P.). While waging this war, give a tax break worth millions to the same same very small elite. To keep the rest of us quite, don’t raise the taxes while massively increasing Federal spending. But where is the money coming from?

    It’s coming, in part, from a massive and ever-growing debt to China.

    The FDA doesn’t have enough of an incentive to fix this. Pressure the government, pressure the FDA, and most importantly, vote with your wallets, because that’s the language that all of the players in the U.S. and China understand.

  31. Mandy says:

    If it’s so safe, then how come health problems have gone up so much in the last few years? NOBODY knew why. I think now we do. Those idiots probably knew all along!

  32. keen says:

    Great news everybody, Now can you help me prove that is why I have been growing tumors. Very rare tumors, (of pancreas and liver) I was the 65th in May of 05 in the world, there are others, mostly in Hong Kong. Connecting the dots I am… my kindey’s are in constant pain and 2 weeks ago docs took out another tumor in my lung. They don’t know why, or do they? Sure could use some help, your information is priceless, thankyou.

    keen without Abby Gayle

  33. KIM says:

    Has anyone had a problem with Medi-Cal, Royal Canin, Reduced Protein dry dog food or Medi-Cal by Royal Canin, Weight Reduction/Mature Dog Food. My toy poodle has lost three pounds and been diagnosed diabetic in the last three months. She is avoiding the new weight reduction bag of food like the plague and I am wondering if anyone has noticed a problem with these brands bring unusual thirst overnight with new bags or kidney problems and weight loss in an otherwise totally healthy dog, coming on quickly. Her insulin levels are okay now with two needles daily but she is still losing weight and only will eat this food when starved.

  34. Cee says:

    It’s not the melamine….it’s the combo of melamine and Cyanuric Acid that causes the crystals. In fact the link below tells you how they test water and you test for cyanuric acid by adding melamine which is a reagent and together the water becomes cloudy due to crystals. I don’t know where the CA comes from but is is commonly sold and used in your backyard pool where it is sold as “stabilizer” or “conditioner”.

    http://www.prolinedist.com/inf.....sting.html

  35. Cee says:

    Kim, I know that Royal Canin has added some foods to the recall but they have so many that I can’t tell which one is which. This link should take you to an updated recall list. If that link won’t work try:

    http://petfoodtracker.blogspot.com/

  36. Itchmo » Blog Archive » Recall Update: Tuesday says:

    […] food ingredients with fake-protein was so widespread, there were cases in the US as well as brazen requests for melamine scraps by food makers in […]

  37. lainie says:

    I Keep Reading The Names Of The Companies In China And I Have A ? Who And Why Would Buy A Food Product From A Chemical Company. Evry Exporter Name Ive Read Has The Word Chemical In It. Where I Come From If It Says Chemical Itz Not Ediable But Juzt My Thoughts. One More ? Pork Doesnt Make Up A Large Percent Of The American Diet But For Cardiac Patients That Are Advised Not To Eat Red Meat Its Pork Chicken And Fish. Add To That Those That Dont Eat Fish Thr Choices Are Pork And Chicken So Thrz Thr Small Percent. Those That Follow A Medical Diet Or Atkins Lol Top Food @ The Start Is Bacon

  38. Anonymous says:

    my dogs were all affected…all living still so far. Working on getting the big one in today for a re check up. my two lil ones are ok now until i feed them something else that is tainted. Is this why young ppl allover the US are dying of heart attacks??..we are being poisoned too??

  39. MondayNoos » Cat Blogosphere says:

    […] wrote: I’m speechless: Click to read "Melamine Spiking of Food Goes Back Decades in US and China".  Makes me want to chuck all commercial cat food and start serving rotisserie chicken or […]

  40. Joyce says:

    Boycott China. Period.

  41. Menu Foods CEO Dodges Cat and Dog Food Recall Blame | Itchmo says:

    […] pet food melamine spiking in China goes back at least 15 years and spiking of baking ingredients in …. So, Henderson, it seems like it’s been happening for awhile now. It’s a travesty that […]

  42. science diet cat food safety says:

    science diet cat food safety

    It came as no surprise, that it is quite possible to combine ingredients for hairballs, renal health, digestive tract health and cardiac and eye site health into one truly balanced diet. This leads us to the conclusion that the manufacturers are knowin…

  43. Bruce W. says:

    Jami, the family pet, died of kidney disease about 9 years ago. She was more than a Laborador, she was an angel, the best dog you could imagine. We could never figure out how this pefectly healthy dog developed kidney disease. All this time we were led to believe she had licked some anti-freeze, BUT there was no anti-freeze! I was also led to believe that the Melamine and CA problem in Menu Foods only happened in 2007,now I am not so sure. Is it really true they were adding melamine as long as 15 years ago? So…I sit here wondering how many dogs REALLY died from melamine and CA? Was it just limited to 2007 or does it go back decades and have there been tens of thousands of dead dogs and cats?


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