US Food and Drug Administration reports melamine found in contaminated pet food

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Friday, March 30, 2007

US FDA

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced at a press conference today that a chemical used in the manufacture of plastics was found in recalled pet food from Menu Foods.

The FDA found melamine in samples of Menu Foods pet food and in samples of wheat gluten, imported from China, which was used as an ingredient. The FDA analysis, however, does not confirm the presence of the rodenticide aminopterin, which was reported March 23 by the New York State Food Laboratory.

According to Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, melamine is used primarily to make plastic kitchenware, although it has been used as a fertilizer in Asia.

Sundlof also indicated that the presence of melamine in the urine of cats that died from kidney failure was revealed through testing. He stressed that melamine was not determined to be the source of illness or deaths in the affected animals.

Sundlof suggested that melamine would not be found normally in pet food.

At a news conference Friday, Paul Henderson, President and CEO of Menu Foods, indicated that Menu Foods is satisfied that the contamination problem was related to melamine and not aminopterin. "One week ago, some of the dedicated researchers who had been investigating this matter reported the discovery of a single, toxic compound in our pet food," said Henderson in his opening statement. "That, seemingly, cleared the way for us to address the problem, deal fairly with the pet-owners who had been injured, put our business back together, and move on," he continued.

"In the intervening week, other top scientists have been unable to validate the findings. That is, they were unable to find the toxin – called aminopterin – in our pet food, or in any of the component ingredients. It was also brought to our attention that some veterinary experts held the view that aminopterin was inconsistent with what was being observed in dogs and cats," Henderson said.

Menu Foods has determined that melamine in wheat gluten from a new US supplier was the likely source of contamination, and that they are confident that the issue has been resolved. "Melamine has been found in the wheat gluten from a new supplier in the United States, who sourced this wheat gluten in China," said Henderson. "This is the same ingredient that Menu Foods made reference to in its recall press release of March 16. Melamine has not been found in the wheat gluten that we obtain from our other suppliers."

Henderson refused to name the supplier of the wheat gluten, leaving that up to the FDA. "We have had correspondence with the FDA and we know that they are diligently following-up on the supply of the suspect wheat gluten. It is not our place to name the supplier as we do not want to interfere in any way with the important investigation they are conducting."

Menu Foods is maintaining the warning on the previously recalled product. "The recalled product is unfit for consumption by pets. It contains melamine. The pet food that we have manufactured after March 6 is safe and healthy," stated Henderson.

Menu Foods is the manufacturer of several brands of cat and dog food subject to a March 16, 2007 recall.

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