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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

More melamine in the pet food supply
Posted by Jill | 6:02 AM
More tainted rice protein from a second Chinese source has gotten into the American pet food supply -- and the FDA isn't telling American consumers which pet food manufacturers might be affected:

A second company likely imported rice protein from China that was contaminated with a chemical linked to a major pet food recall, two U.S. senators said on Monday.

Rice protein tainted with the chemical melamine was used in pet foods from at least five manufacturers who obtained the protein from one supplier, U.S. officials have said. It also made its way into feed used at a California hog farm.

Now, another company is suspected of importing rice protein from China, Democratic Sens. Richard Durbin of Illinois and Maria Cantwell of Washington said in a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“We have learned that in addition to Wilbur-Ellis, a second United States company imported a shipment of rice protein from China that is also likely to be contaminated with melamine,” the senators wrote. “We request the FDA identify this second importer as well as those manufacturers to which it may have sold the contaminated product.”

An aide to Durbin said the senators found out about the second importer from industry sources.

The agency has said the rice protein was supplied by China-based Binzhou Futian Biology Technology Co. Ltd. but the company has denied involvement.

Last week, privately held Wilbur-Ellis said contaminated rice protein was distributed to several pet food makers. Three of them — Natural Balance Pet Foods, the Blue Buffalo Co. and Diamond Pet Foods — have pulled some of their products.

Wilbur-Ellis and the FDA declined to name the other two makers. Durbin and Cantwell called on the agency to make those two companies publicly known.

Meanwhile, kids in California have been sickened by E coli-tainted beef.

The FDA is still protecting corporations over consumers. This is what deregulation means. This is what "less government" does. This is what happens when you allow the "invisible hand" to control the market -- except that there is no invisible hand at work here. When consumers are not informed of the dangers in the food supply because the FDA is protecting the food manufacturers instead of consumers, Americans lack the information they need to punish manufacturers who use adulterated ingredients by withholding their business.

Conservatives will respond by saying that since the FDA doesn't work, it should be disbanded. And I'm sure this is the whole point of this exercise -- to demonstrate the FDA's incompetence so that it can be eliminated as a federal agency. Wouldn't it make more sense to provide oversight and ensure that it does its job properly?

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