Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition Blog

Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition

The Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about topics related to sports and sports fitness, general fitness, bodybuilding, nutrition, weight loss, and human health. Here, you'll find everything from nutritional information and advice about healthy eating to training and exercise tips for improving your overall well-being.

Previous in Blog: From Dogs to Hogs: How Safe is the Food Supply?   Next in Blog: Future Energy Sources 6.1 Direct Culture of Meat Products
Close
Close
Close
5 comments

Pork and Poultry Poisonings: It's More Than Melamine

Posted May 03, 2007 4:07 PM by Steve Melito

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported that thousands of farm animals across the country have eaten melamine, a nitrogen-rich chemical used in plastics, fertilizers, industrial binding agents, cookware and flame retardants. The pork and poultry poisonings followed the March 2007 recall of some 60 million containers of wet pet food from retail stores across North America. In the case of the pet food recall, the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets quickly placed the blame on aminopterin, a chemical used in cancer drugs and rat poison. Further studies revealed the presence of melamine in both pet food and farm-animal feed. What's going on here? The Y Files will try to answer some questions.

Why Did They Do It?

Scientists speculate that the Chinese companies which laced their animal feeds with melamine did so for financial gain. "Animal food products," explains Gary Weaver, a veterinary pathologist at the University of Maryland, "are really priced on their protein content". Like the amino acids in proteins, melamine is nitrogen-rich. Moreover, tests for protein cannot distinguish the nitrogen in amino acids from the nitrogen in melamine. Although farm animals get "no benefit from the melamine whatsoever," Weaver claims, melamine is not particularly toxic. In fact, a 1945 study which administered large does of melamine to dogs reported only increased rates of urination.

Why Are We Worried?

If melamine is not especially toxic, and if unscrupulous companies have been adding it to animal feed for years, why are we worried now? According to Perry Martos, a chemist at the University of Guelph in Ontario, there's more to the pork and poultry poisonings than melamine. Recently, Martos analyzed the urine and kidneys of affected animals and identified the presence of not only melamine, but cyanuric acid – a chemical added to swimming pools to prevent the breakdown of chlorine. Martos and Grant Maxie, director of the University of Guelph's Animal Health Laboratory, theorize that this combination of melamine and cyanuric acid is deadly. Together, these chemicals can form a solid "super-molecular aggregate" that creates stones large enough to block an animal's urinary tract.

Where Did It Come From?

So where does the cyanuric acid in animal feed come from? According to Martos, it's unlikely that melamine breaks down into cyanuric acid within an animal's body. If this was the case, animals would have died from these "two smoking guns" long before the winter of 2006 - 2007. According to Bruce Akey, executive director of Cornell's Animal Health Diagnostic Center, the problem may be a contaminated contaminant. The cheap, crude melamine that Chinese companies used may be laced with nitrogen-laden chemical such as cyanuric acid. Alternatively, this melamine may have been of such poor quality that it began to break down long before its ingestion by animals.

Resources:

http://www.livescience.com/humanbiology/070502_pet_food.html

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=2B10D1F6-E7F2-99DF-34DAAAC1622FE3CE&chanID=sa007

Steve Melito - The Y Files

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Anonymous Poster
#1

Re: Pork and Poultry Poisonings: It's More Than Melamine

05/03/2007 4:23 PM

The NY Times is reporting that "the general manager of one of the companies accused of selling contaminated wheat gluten to pet food suppliers in the United States has been detained by the Chinese authorities".

Interesting, too, that China recently banned the use of melamine in vegetable proteins that are made for export and domestic use. For all we know, this garbage could be in a lot of foods - and maybe not just for pets.

Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member

Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 962
#2

Re: Pork and Poultry Poisonings: It's More Than Melamine

05/03/2007 8:12 PM

Hello again I have looked at the melamine and cyanuric acid there is no way melamine can break down into cyanuric acid the are both cyclic compounds but there the resemblance ends. Melamine C3N6H6 it is a six membered ring of alternating Carbon and Nitrogen atoms. with three NH2 groups.

Cyanuric acid is (HNCO)3 It is a cyclic compound having a six membered ring made up of alternating imide (NH) and carbonyl groups (CO). the chemistry is very unlikely to have the reaction suggested. It could be possible that mixed with HCl hydrogen chloride in the stomach that some cyanic acid could be made this would become hydrogen cyanide and very poisonous. just some thoughts.

__________________
There's them that knows and them that just thinks they know, whitch are you? Stir the pot and see what rises up. I have catalytic properties I get a reaction going.
Reply
Guru
United States - Member - New Member Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member Popular Science - Weaponology - Organizer Hobbies - Target Shooting - New Member Engineering Fields - Nuclear Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 3464
Good Answers: 32
#3
In reply to #2

Re: Pork and Poultry Poisonings: It's More Than Melamine

05/04/2007 8:16 AM

Thanks, BrainWave. You certainly know your chemistry! What are your thoughts on the following quote from Scientific American: "Cyanuric acid may have been added separately to the feed, however it's also likely it was present because it can result from (emphasis mine) the bacterial degradation of melamine." If melamine cannot break down into cyanuric acid, does this notion of bacteria-caused degradation make sense?

Best,

Moose

Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member

Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 962
#4
In reply to #3

Re: Pork and Poultry Poisonings: It's More Than Melamine

05/04/2007 3:35 PM

Bacteria can digest and process anything known to man yes they could possibly do this conversion. I don't know of a gut type organism of this sort. They tend to be specialist types that occupy a niche setting where regular amount of their food material can be found. Never say Never many most peculiar things can happen it could even be that the bugs came with the food stuff. The Chinese supplier has a lot to answer for. I was thinking of by normal chemical degradation ie: if left to its own devices. The damage to the animals kidneys seems to happen too fast for the normal effect of either melamine or cyanuric acid to have been the sole cause of this poisoning. As stated cancers are the main out come of these chemicals unless the amount is very high. I would expect another element to play a part in this some thing is catalysing a non standard reaction. A mass spectrometry investigation may turn up some more evidence. The jury is out on this one for now.

__________________
There's them that knows and them that just thinks they know, whitch are you? Stir the pot and see what rises up. I have catalytic properties I get a reaction going.
Reply
Power-User
United States - Member - Popular Science - Evolution - Aren't we still evolving?

Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Troy, NY
Posts: 219
#5

Re: Pork and Poultry Poisonings: It's More Than Melamine

05/09/2007 4:13 PM

It appears that another industrial chemical may have been intentionally added to pet foods.

From the New York Times: Another Chemical Emerges in Pet Food Case

"A second industrial chemical that American regulators have identified as a pet food contaminant may have been intentionally added to animal feed by producers seeking larger profits, according to interviews Tuesday with chemical industry officials."

I am a dog owner and all this pet food business has made me extremely distrustful of all pet food now. But without a full disclosure from the pet food companies on where they source their products there is no way to know where my dog's food is coming from. This company, Canidae has come out publicly and announced that they buy no products from China, the current source of all the problem food additives.

Reply
Reply to Blog Entry 5 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

Anonymous Poster (1); BrainWave (2); julie (1); Steve Melito (1)

Previous in Blog: From Dogs to Hogs: How Safe is the Food Supply?   Next in Blog: Future Energy Sources 6.1 Direct Culture of Meat Products

Advertisement