Wed, Apr 04, 2007 - Page 7 News List

US bans imports from PRC company implicated in scare

AP , WASHINGTON

The US is blocking imports of wheat gluten from a company in China from where an investigation implicated the contaminated ingredient in recent pet-food deaths of cats and dogs.

The Food and Drug Administration acted against wheat gluten from Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co in Wangdien, China, after the recall in the US of almost 100 brands of pet food made with the chemically contaminated ingredient. The pet food, tainted with the chemical melamine, apparently has resulted in kidney failure in an unknown number of animals across the country.

Wheat gluten from China has been suspected in the outbreak since the first of multiple recalls was announced last month. Even more pet food might be recalled in the next few days FDA officials said on Monday.

The FDA reported last week that it had found melamine in samples of the vegetable protein source used in the recalled wet and dry pet foods and treats, as well as in cats that died after eating contaminated food.

"The wheat gluten that is positive for melamine all has come from this manufacturer," Neal Bataller, director of the division of compliance with the FDA's veterinary medicine office, told reporters. Melamine is used in plastics, countertops, glue and other products. Its toxicity to dogs and cats is unknown, but it is not allowed in human food in any quantity.

The FDA still does not know where all the contaminated imported wheat gluten ended up, although it appears unlikely any made it into human food.

The imported product was only minimally labeled but apparently went only to pet food producers. The FDA considers the contamination an aberration since wheat gluten generally is not considered a product at risk for contamination.

The number of confirmed pet deaths remains at roughly 15, although anecdotal reports suggest hundreds of pets may have died.

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