Pigs fed contaminated pet food; meat sold to consumers

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Pet Food Aisle.jpg

The contaminated pet food that was recalled after it was found to contain a harmful industrial chemical called melamine, has been used as pig feed at a hog farm in Ceres, California, located in the United States.

At least seven urine samples taken from pigs at the American Hog Farm, were tested and the results came back positive for the chemical melamine. At least three samples from the feed used to feed the pigs were tested and those results also came back positive for melamine.

Reports say that at least 100 pigs from the farm were slaughtered and sold from the "custom slaughterhouse" that is operated on the farms site. The meat is then sold to different places as "individual orders" and is not sold commercially for supermarkets. The affected meat goes as far back as April 3 and the company is asking anyone who bought it to return the product or throw it out.

Despite the sale, California State Veterinarian Dr. Richard Breitmeyer says that no evidence has turned up to suggest that the meat that was sold entered the human consumption chain.

"There is no evidence that any products from this farm have entered the food supply. The risk to people right now is minimal," said Breitmeyer who also said that pet food from bags or boxes that have been torn or ripped, is sometimes reused as feed for small farms.

California's Department of Food and Agriculture investigated the company and found that it had received the contaminated pet food from Diamond Pet Foods, which supplies retailers with the pet food Natural Balance, one of the over 100 recalled brands of pet food. Authorities then quarantined the farm to further investigate the situation.

At least 1,500 pigs are on the farm.

As of the moment, no other farms are being investigated, but officials say that other farms may also be affected.

"In the course of our investigation, we may find similar situations in other parts of the country," said head of the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Stephen Sundlof.

The FDA is continuing to investigate and Sundlof says that there is a possibility that the contamination of the pet food may be intentional.

"It would certainly lend credibility to the theory that it may be intentional. That will be one of the theories we will pursue when we get into the plants in China," said Sundlof.

Last month, Menu Foods was the first to recall all of its 60 million products of dry and wet dog and cat food after pets began to fall ill and in some cases died of kidney failure. 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.

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