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From Dogs to Hogs: How Safe is the Food Supply?

Posted April 26, 2007 6:00 AM by Steve Melito
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In ancient times, Roman legions used Rottweilers to guard encampments in conquered territories. These massive dogs also helped drive the cattle that fed Roman armies during distant campaigns. Last month, Rottweilers across North America warned their masters about a new danger to the food supply. Although these mighty animals did not die on a field of battle, they still stood as sentinels until the very end. Menu Foods, a Canadian-based food processor, recalled some 60 million containers of wet pet food after receiving death notices from the owners of Rottweilers and other domestic animals. Eventually, the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets determined that the wheat gluten from a Chinese supplier was laced with aminopterin, a fatal toxin used in rat poison.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported that thousands of hogs in at least five states and poultry at a farm in Missouri have eaten pet food laced with melamine, a chemical used in plastics and fertilizer. The FDA is also testing rice protein concentrate for cyanuric acid, a nitrogen-rich chemical used to clean swimming pools. In addition, the regulatory agency plans to test wheat gluten, corn gluten, corn meal, soy protein, and rice bran. These ingredients are used in supermarket staples such as breakfast cereal, pizza dough, protein shakes, and baby formula. Dr. David Acheson, chief medical officer at the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, assures us that "there is no evidence" these foods contain contaminants. If you believe that, you might believe that Americans don't eat much pork or poultry either.

FDA inspections have declined in recent years, and there is no requirement that the agency conduct an on-site inspection before a foreign producer begins to ship ingredients to American suppliers. If the FDA is looking to China for regulatory guidance, it's time to look again. In 2004, the Communist government revealed that at least 13 babies had died from malnutrition after being fed fake baby formula. "The scandal," noted dairyreporter.com, "brings to light one of the Chinese food industry's biggest problems – counterfeit goods." In the case of the Menu Foods recall, the FDA theorizes that the Chinese supplier added aminopterin to inflate the nitrogen content and price of inferior wheat gluten. If an army (indeed a nation) travels on its stomach, the FDA would do well to remember the loyal Roman Rottweiler.

Resources:

http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9064206/Rottweiler

http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/04/25/business/gluten.php?page=1

http://www.dairyreporter.com/news/ng.asp?n=51597-china-faces-fake

http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/04/25/business/gluten.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aminopterin

Steve Melito - The Y Files

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#1

Re: From Dogs to Hogs: How Safe is the Food Supply?

04/26/2007 11:12 PM

aminopterin was not added to increase the tested protein content as it is far too costly and would not do that.

There is evidence that a little melamine was added, which would show up as protein for this purpose.

Now melamine seems to have too little toxicity for this. In addition very few animals died compared to the numbers who ate the feed. If melamines was that toxic we would have 10 million pet deaths. So it may have been contamination by aminopterin which killed a few animals as it is very toxic indeed, however enough aminopterin to make the whole lot of feed toxic would have had a huge cost and no one would consciously do that waste of $$. So only small amounts of feed were toxic and this is consistent with small amounts of poisoned seed for rat control being tossed into a batch and the unlucky animal who got one grain was in danger.

It will take extractive testing of a large number of consumer packs of feed to determine this problem, since only a few are toxic. This means testing a whole sack by extraction of any toxin. A small sample from each bag may very well miss it.

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#3
In reply to #1

Re: From Dogs to Hogs: How Safe is the Food Supply?

04/27/2007 8:50 AM

Thanks for your comments, aurizon. Is it possible that the problem isn't the use of the aminopterin, but a failure to remove the aminopterin before processing the wheat gluten? I've read conflicting reports about how grain-based products are shipped. Some claim that rat bait is placed outside of the shipping containers. Others indicate that rat poison is mixed right in with the product - on the assumption, of course, that the toxins will be removed later on.

I'm neither a farmer nor a rancher, but it's my understanding that animal feeds are generally rich in nitrogen and phosphate. If this is the case, then the melamine was probably added to boost the nitrogen content (and the price) of the end product. A quick check of Wiki indicates that melamine is 66% nitrogen.

Would anyone like some plastic with their bacon?

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#4
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Re: From Dogs to Hogs: How Safe is the Food Supply?

04/27/2007 9:05 AM

How about with their toast. Today we eat margarine, and they say that it is one molecule away from being plastic.

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#2

Re: From Dogs to Hogs: How Safe is the Food Supply?

04/27/2007 8:36 AM

The problem is much larger than some want to admit. Both my sister and I had to put our cats down, both having the same symptoms that were listed, both in the last six months, and both eating the same food which was listed as contaminated. I believe that across the nation, if all animal deaths recorded in say the last six months were looked at, narrowed down to those showing the signs that were listed, the numbers would be staggering. Not to mention all those not recorded.

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#5
In reply to #2

Re: From Dogs to Hogs: How Safe is the Food Supply?

04/27/2007 10:04 AM

Interesting summation here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aminopterin

neither melamine nor aminopterin are toxic at the levels found. Aminopterin requires about 2.5 Mg per kilogram in rats. and Melamine requires over 3 grams per kilogram

http://catmanager.wordpress.com/2007/03/31/melamine/

Also a lack of use for amonopterin as a rat poison due to cost. I wonder if it is a trace contaminant in melamine?

There does not seem to be a large number of animals dying from kidney failure or other causes above the average number. End stage renal failure is one of the most common causes of death in older cats, and has been for 50 years.

I have a cat now dying of end stage renal failure, but he is on a reduced protein diet and still enjoys life, and he has been this way for 6 months on a long slow decline.

I wonder if this is just a lawyer frenzy?

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#7
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Re: From Dogs to Hogs: How Safe is the Food Supply?

04/27/2007 10:36 AM

I doubt it. The initial deaths were from animals Foodmenu used in palate tasting of their foods. This is on their web site. Then it grew from there. I don't believe that any of us have any solid proof that our animals died as a result of eating the food. In my case it is just a coincident, and the right timing. With no solid proof that the animals died as a direct result of this, the lawyer wouldn't have much of a leg to stand on. However there are sure to be a few out there that will chase down the dogie/kitty ambulance to give out their cards to owners.

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#9
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Re: From Dogs to Hogs: How Safe is the Food Supply?

04/27/2007 10:55 AM

I would hope they do this type of testing before they ship the food to millions of people.

I was not aware of that. First I heard was a recall notice and a few public deaths of pets

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#12
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Re: From Dogs to Hogs: How Safe is the Food Supply?

04/27/2007 11:37 AM

I have to correct myself. I did read that this was intially from palate testing at Foodmenu, but I now can't find the article stating this to back it up. It might have been early in the reporting, and some news media had wrong data. My appologies, next time I will locate the link to back up my comments on such matters.

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#13
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Re: From Dogs to Hogs: How Safe is the Food Supply?

04/27/2007 12:01 PM

Possum,

Here is your backup:

"The company had contracted with an outside agent to conduct a feeding trial for taste, a continuous industry practice; on March 2, it received reports that three animals were getting sick. The week of March 12, the taste-test company told Menu that nine animals had died, says Menu spokesman Sam Bornstein. After confirming that it was Menu's food that had been consumed, the company informed the FDA on March 15. "Honestly, without those results, it would have been hard to relate it (the deaths) to foods, especially because in this case, the foods are under so many labels," Hansen said".

From:

http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/2007-04-05-petfood-probe-usat_N.htm

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#6

Re: From Dogs to Hogs: How Safe is the Food Supply?

04/27/2007 10:34 AM

I believe the whole mess illustrates how little we really know about where our food comes from and how it is processed. I see feeding hogs recycled pet food akin to letting them eat in garbage dumps, a practice I thought was outlawed in the 1950's. We know very little about what farms our produce comes from and what those animals are fed or what chemicals are used on our produce. Being raised in a rural area and being around agriculture a lot of my life, I know that famers don't wantonly apply chemicals to their crops or livestock just out of sheer economics - pesticides are very expensive! But I also know that when I buy a steak at my local grocery store I have no clue what state or country that animal was born or raised in. My produce used to come from California, but now it comes from at least two continents that I know of and maybe a third one. I don't know what the codes on the packages mean and I haven't seen a list of them anywhere on the Internet.

I know the USDA and company are trying to keep up, but I really think they could use a larger budget.

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#8
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Re: From Dogs to Hogs: How Safe is the Food Supply?

04/27/2007 10:44 AM

I agree. If you purchase any pre packaged beef from Wal-Mart lately, read the labels on them. They inject the steaks and such with chemicals (who knows what) to enhance flavor and prolong shelf life???? So what are we eating, and most consumers are eating without even knowing things are altered.

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#10
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Re: From Dogs to Hogs: How Safe is the Food Supply?

04/27/2007 11:02 AM
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#11
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Re: From Dogs to Hogs: How Safe is the Food Supply?

04/27/2007 11:12 AM

Possum,

You are so right. I refuse to buy the meat at WalMart anymore, if it is injected. They seem to go back and forth a bit. Occasionally, I find that it is not injected.

I don't understand how they are selling this stuff. The first time I realized that they were injecting the meat was by mistake. I bought a steak and cooked it. It had a funny taste and texture, so I took it back for a refund. Only later did I see from the package that it had been injected. Yuck!

Tad

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#15
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Re: From Dogs to Hogs: How Safe is the Food Supply?

04/28/2007 1:02 AM

The USA used to use DDT for pesticides untill approx 1960. Once an animal (example: cows) eats DDT it is stored in the tissue for ever and is nevered purged. Thus, when people eat these animals, they consume the DDT and store it in their bodies for ever.

Due to this happening for many years in the USA, I remember reading a report in approx 1970 from the FDA that the flesh of the average American citizen was not fit for human consumption because the level of DDT was to great.

This fits right in with your statement that we really do not know what we are eating.

I have to believe that nature performs other magical things that we do not know about but we think its AOK because its all natural.

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#14

Re: From Dogs to Hogs: How Safe is the Food Supply?

04/28/2007 12:45 AM

When the USA has large food surpluses, such as wheat, why are food products, such as wheat components, imported from other countries that do not have enough food for their own people.

Sounds like bad politics to me.

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#17
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Re: From Dogs to Hogs: How Safe is the Food Supply?

04/30/2007 8:14 AM

Good point, dcstoney. Didn't they used to call the U.S. "the breadbasket to the world"?

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#16

Re: From Dogs to Hogs: How Safe is the Food Supply?

04/29/2007 9:55 PM

This could be due to Ergot contamination. This is a fungal condition found on several grains and is poisonous to humans and animals. See Wikipedia.

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