People Ate Tainted Pork, We May Be On the Verge of Crisis

The Chicago Tribune has detailed information (reg. req.) on how a pet food recall has brought a federal agency to its knees. The agency admits being behind the curve, while the bulk of the investigation has yet to begin. Also, FDA is investigating an Illinois shipment of rice protein used in human food.

Here are the highlights:

The end of this pet food crisis appears more elusive than ever…

About 45 [California] state residents ate pork from hogs that consumed animal feed laced with melamine from China.

What last month was a limited recall of canned pet food is on the verge of becoming a full-fledged public health scare.

The FDA’s real detective work may be just beginning. Having found many sources of contamination, investigators must now determine exactly how widespread the problem is and how it began.

More highlights after the jump.

From the Chicago Tribune:

The investigation’s progress in Illinois alone illustrates the problem.

About half of the 32 FDA investigators in the state have worked on responding to more than 500 complaints of sick or deceased dogs and cats since the recalls began March 16. They must collect medical records from veterinarians and gather samples of contaminated pet food.

The office is also involved in recall effectiveness. “It’s very taxing on our resources,” said Scott MacIntire, director of the FDA’s Chicago office, which oversees state operations.

MacIntire said his office is investigating a shipment of rice protein concentrate imported to Illinois and potentially used in a human product.

121 Responses to “People Ate Tainted Pork, We May Be On the Verge of Crisis”

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  1. BluesKat says:

    About plastic bowls - they get scratches, dents, and chips that harbor bacteria and odors. Stainless steel bowls don’t and they can be bleached to sanitize them. That’s why stainless is preferable and recommended for cats who have feline acne and rodent ulcers on their chins. Just FYI from a vet tech…and the director of an animal rescue home who’s praying I don’t feed any contaminated food to my 40+ rescues here!

  2. BluesKat says:

    Lorie - sorry to hear about your babies and my prayers are with you - and everyone else who has sick fur kids!

    You were feeding your kids Purina? What variety and canned or dry? I’ve been feeding Purina Cat Chow at my animal rescue home for a few years now. So far I’ve been lucky not to have any signs of poisoning and thought I’d be safe sticking with it as it has no wheat gluten or rice protein concentrate listed in the ingredients. I’ve spoken with them several times and they assured me that, after the recalls started, they begain testing all their grain products (rice, wheat, corn, etc…) and have stopped buying any imported grains.

    Is there something going on with Purina now that I’ve missed? It was the one company I felt fairly safe with and now I have my doubts!

  3. xyz says:

    About the plastic- thanks for the heads up about nose color. No, it wasn’t just because of the sanitation issue. A good point, though. I’m reasonably sure it was mouth or skin irritation.

    I was reading elsewhere about the Morgellon’s post. I think it’s a perfect example of how many of you were treated before anyone admitted there was a problem with the food. Not meaning to hijack this but it doesn’t matter if you agree with the page cited, management of an organization, or consider Wikipedia an authority. There is no difference between people telling their vet they think the food is a problem and people being deemed delusional because doctors can’t figure something out. If 2,000 reports come in from people about a pet food and they can only prove 1,000 of them, do the rest go away? This is about keeping an open mind, not an agenda.

    Sorry about getting off topic. Thanks Itchmo for being tolerant of such things.

  4. BluesKat says:

    Bush won’t sign a food labeling/source law because: 1) to fund might take money away from his precious war and 2) somehow, someway, he probably has an interest in one of the companies involved and it might hurt his bank account!

  5. xyz says:

    Thanks Bluescat. With so many people considering raw switching to stainless
    bowls sounds like a good idea. Perhaps a help to those pets recovering as well on the chance they sense melamine as a toxin.

  6. Marilyn says:

    Concerning the plastic bowls and why some animals develop sores on their chins and noses… The theory that I am familiar with is that some animals are allergic to the petroleum products that are in the plastic. We see this problem frequently in the vet clinic.

    Some animals can’t wear the plastic e-collars either. I had one Saint Bernard years ago that had that problem, and we see it once in awhile in the clinc, but not every often. Maybe because they usually don’t have to wear the collars very long, whereas if they are eating out of a plastic bowl, they are in contact with it every day.

  7. Kiki says:

    WOW, great posts from all - where to start:

    Purine = NESTLE = largest global market and largest US market @ 30%. We really need to put the real face to the real culprits:
    Nestle
    Colgate and Palmolive
    Proctor and Gamble
    Walmart
    Mars
    DelMont
    Nutro

    These guys may up 86% of the pet food sales market. Most of them outsource all their stuff - human food, stuff, and pet food to third world countries. The reason the story has been under-reported in the media is due to advertising dollars (think about how MUCH these guys sell). Fox news would rather report about Anna Nicole Smith, Rosie O’Donnell and the Donald, and Alec Baldwin calling his kid a pig because this is yet again ONE MORE BIG HIT on this administration - will it, can it ever end - this administration is going to go down in history as the very worst, most incompetent, most corrupt group of people ever.

    That is why there has not been a peep out of the white house.

    Finally, if they are feeding the hogs and chickens pet food that is not fit for dog and cat consumption, then they are basically feeding those poor animals their own species since dog and cat food is made from rendered animal parts. And guess what? We get to be at the end of this sick, sick sick, disgusting food chain. THIS IS SICK and I thought they banned this practice years ago???

    WTF….

  8. Lorie says:

    BluesKat,

    My cats were both eating FF Elegant Medley which contain both Wheat Gluten and Soy rice protien, it was two cans into new case that my living nightmare started and continues. However they both started having issues again on Friday night Saturday morning after be given out of desperation some of the Eukanuba dry and FF savory salmon that I had not been giving them since March 23rd. SO now I am scared of them all plus everything in between I have used. Vets aren’t sure if these new symptoms are carry over from March 23rd or new exposure from one of the ones I picked after recall thinking they were safe. it is very hard for parent to figure out what caused the problem when NOT ONE of the items she has ever fed either cat in there whole entire life has shown up on the FLIPPIN LIST

  9. Helen says:

    Robin: You are overlooking that most people are absolutely clueless that pet food is even a crisis. They are still buying new cans of the same stuff that was recalled like nothing happened. Purina sells 30% of all pet food. People who are buying from little companies like Blue Buffalo are the ones on the internet freaking out. If we quit buying their food based on this, they go out of business, and then what options are available for people to feed their pets?

  10. Helen says:

    Robin: You are also overlooking that currently the law does not dictate country of origin labelling, so even if the masses don’t want pet food grown and manufactured in China, they have no way of finding out if the food is from China or not.

  11. Helen says:

    Moony, smells do stay in plastic. Also your baby might associate that dish with the bad food. Give a ceramic dish that is a different color and shape.

  12. Sharon says:

    Bush has signed legislation delaying country of origin labeling (COOL) that has been mandated by Congress for human food over and over again throughout his time in office. They (he and his buddies) do not want safe food. It’s not good for the bottom line. This administration is the most corrupt in history. I can’t believe people wanted to impeach a president over a sex scandal but allow Katrina, the war, and this mess to continue without demanding it. This has gone beyond incompetence. Why should they care about pets? People died in New Orleans and nothing has changed. If you are poor, black, or a companion animal your life means nothing.

  13. K says:

    Attention vegans, hempies, greenies and granola heads!

    It’s easy to point fingers at, and demonize people that we don’t like, when something goes wrong. But when we step back and give some rational, unbiased, intelligent thought to the situation, we begin to see the real picture.

    Why are we in this mess? Because American-grown food is more expensive. Why is American-grown food so expensive? Because American farmers are leaving their homesteads in droves. Why? Because they can’t make enough money to feed their own families anymore. Why? Because Americans (YOU and ME) refuse to pay the American farmer enough money for their products to scratch out even a meager existence. Why? Because WE are greedy!

    We would not be importing our grains, feeds and foodstuffs from the likes of China if WE were not so self-absorbed and self-serving, that we would turn our backs on the American farmers, in favor of putting a few extra pennies in our pockets.

    WE poke fun at our farmers, calling them “hicks”, “bumpkins” and the like. WE think of them as uneducated, dumb “country folk”.

    Well step on down from your little ivory towers folks.

    Next time you climb up into your gas-guzzling SUV and drive the two blocks to the local super-duper mart…the next time you whine about having to pay HOW MUCH!? for those designer pumps…think about the American farmer that you ridicule and ignore on a daily basis.

    WE reap what WE sow, as they say.

    So next time YOU choose to point your long finger of blame, remember, three fingers are pointing right back at YOU!

  14. pat says:

    K, i don’t mind paying farmers, and i am in fact appalled at how little they make for all the hard work they put in and risks they take. but it’s not quite so simple as you would have us believe. the factory farm, often owned by some mega-corporation, has driven many a small farmer out of business because they simply cannot compete with the high volume, low priced goods that can be produced by these behemoths. now those same factory farms have turned a lot of their acreage over to production of biofuel components, because that’s where the money is! i doubt that the fuel producers are contracting with small farms for biomass. you would think that this could create an opportunity for smaller growers to provide food for animals and people, but no… those things are imported. it’s a simple matter to demonize the people who have to stand in line at the grocery store and count their pennies and hold their breaths when the final tally is rung up, hoping that they don’t have to put things back. i won’t argue the suv thing with you, though. at any rate, the rich get richer, and the poor, whether they live in the country or the city, get poorer. the rich have managed to convince the small farmer that it’s the consumer’s fault, and are happily counting their money while the poor fight among ourselves. it’s a system that works… for them!

  15. Kiki says:

    K, American people haven’t screwed the American farmer (at least not intentionally). Corporate farming and farm subsidies for corporate farmers have screwed American farmers. The Amercian public is clueless about where they get their food. They still think that cows graze on pastures and pigs are in pigpens and chickens walk around the farm scratching the dirt looking for grubs. Corporate farming, like corporate everything (eg. Walmart) has destroyed our food supply.

  16. Meg says:

    Okay. First they test it on the animals and then they test it on humans. Melamine is in fertilizer. Wonder if it is our food chain not just in the meat but also in our fruits and veggies. We have so many diseases now days that the doctors cannot explain. They don’t know how people develop autoimmune disorders of which there are at least 80 known and arthritis is one. My friend has an autoimmune disease which is a cousin to Lupus. She started to eat all organic foods and her symptoms are not as bad as they used to be. Could this be why we have so much cancer too? Something unnatural is being added to our food!?

  17. K says:

    Any way you slice it, it’s all about American consumers who scream at the mere thought of paying what the rest of the world pays for their food.

    The corporate mega-farms are in business because WE demand cheap food! They don’t exist in a vacuum. If the demand for cheap stuff wasn’t there, they wouldn’t exist.

    FYI…small farmers get their share of big daddy government’s subsidies as well…honey producers, peanut farmers…not just the big boys.

    And the po’, dumb little farmers aren’t as easily convinced by the big, bad rich folk as you may think. It’s actually quite insulting that you may suggest that they’re not smart enough to think for themselves, or understand simple economics and come to their own conclusions.

  18. pat says:

    it’s also kind of insulting for you to accuse us of standing around demanding cheap food, as though anybody actually listens to us! i buy what i can afford, and that makes me some kind of greedy villain? but nevermind… arguing with you simply diverts me from the real problem

  19. Stephan says:

    Good posts, K

  20. K says:

    Stephan, thank you.

    And Pat, I don’t refer to you specifically…I am refering to the American consumer in general. We speak with our wallets…and we speak volumes. And believe me, the market listens.

    I don’t see you in particular as a villain, any more than I see any one politician as such. We all are to blame, each one of us.

    As for the real problem…what is happening to our pets is horrendous, and if it’s shown that it’s become a problem in our food supply, then let’s hope it’s not too late to rectify.

    But let’s remember where it all began. With us.

  21. jgs says:

    It doesnt begin with us. It begins with a guy in China -former top food and drug regulator Zheng Xiaoyu (recently executed) whom took bribes to approve food and medicine that were contaminated.

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