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Fears grow on pet food<br>
New findings expand the threat beyond wheat gluten.<br>
By Carrie Peyton Dahlberg - Bee Staff Writer<br>
Published 12:00 am PDT Wednesday, April 18, 2007<br><a href="http://www.sacbee" target="_blank">http://www.sacbee</a>. com/101/story/ 156967.html<br><br>
The monthlong pet food recall expanded Tuesday with a troubling twist, for the first time involving foods that do not contain wheat gluten but still tested positive for a potentially lethal chemical.<br><br>
The finding makes it much tougher to tell people what to safely feed their pets and fuels suspicions that the chemical melamine is being deliberately added to some pet food ingredients to bolster apparent protein.<br><br>
Natural Balance, a Pacoima-based company, is "99.9 percent sure" that a rice protein made in Asia is responsible for the melamine detected Tuesday in some of its venison-based pet foods, company President Joey Herrick said.<br><br>
"It was pretty shocking," he said in a phone interview after the company recalled several of its venison foods. "I was livid."<br>
Herrick declined to name the supplier of the rice protein or the country it came from, saying only that a large American company acquired the ingredient for Diamond Pet Foods, which makes some Natural Balance products.<br><br>
Because both wheat gluten and rice protein enhance the protein content of pet food, "it certainly is suspicious" that melamine now is associated with both, said Bob Poppenga, a UC Davis veterinary toxicology professor.<br><br>
Melamine isn't an edible protein, but it has plenty of nitrogen, which can be used as a marker for protein in chemical analyses.<br><br>
So, if someone wanted to use less of the relatively pricey sources of vegetable protein, such as wheat gluten, and throw in cheaper starches instead, adding melamine to that mix would still make it look like a protein-rich product, numerous veterinary nutritionists and toxicologists have said. With such speculation swirling, the rice protein-melamine link further alarmed pet owners as it began appearing on Web sites Tuesday, said Gina Spadafori, a Sacramento-based author who runs a pet Web site.<br><br>
"I see people who are being almost panicky," she said. "Last week, it was easy for veterinary associations to say if you want to feel better, just avoid wheat gluten," Spadafori said. "Now for this expansion to be an entirely different protein source ... I don't think right now anybody can say, 'Go feed this, it's safe.' "<br><br>
Natural Balance President Herrick was so shaken by the melamine finding that he imposed a new policy Tuesday to hold all company foods in a warehouse until an offsite lab tests each batch for melamine. He won't ship anything until it has tested clean, he said.<br><br>
Local veterinarians who've tracked kidney ailments nationwide have tentatively identified five more foods, not at this point under any recall, that they plan to have tested as soon as possible.<br><br>
The Veterinary Information Network, used by about 16,000 of the estimated 35,000 U.S. veterinarians, noticed the five foods kept recurring in vet-described disease reports, said Paul Pion, the Davis vet who co-founded the service. Pion said it would be premature to name the foods.<br><br>
He hopes to get suspect food samples to the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory at UC Davis to start testing as early as today. As the recall expands, "my sense is it's time for every manufacturer to go testing for melamine," Pion said.<br>
The notion that melamine could be a deliberate additive -- not an industrial mistake -- arose as early as April 5, when Stephen Sundlof, head of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, said that the pet food recall could turn into a criminal investigation if investigators find that melamine was added deliberately.<br><br>
Later, the New York Times reported that the Chinese company that supplied tainted wheat gluten to Menu Foods sought to buy large amounts of melamine through Internet trading sites.<br>
More than 4,000 pet deaths have been reported on Spadafori's petconnetion. com site. Others have estimated recall-related deaths at hundreds to thousands of pets nationwide.<br><br>
All the 100 or so products recalled previously had involved wheat gluten, the vast majority of them dog food, cat food and treats manufactured for many labels by the Canada-based company Menu Foods.<br><br>
Amid complaints that the multiple recalls were hard to follow, the FDA tried to assemble all the recalled foods on a single list, now over 5,000 items long, on its Web site at <a href="http://www.accessdata" target="_blank">www.accessdata</a>. <a href="http://fda.gov/scripts/" target="_blank">fda.gov/scripts/</a> petfoodrecall/<br><br>
As of Tuesday evening, the Natural Balance recalls hadn't appeared there. Natural Balance recalled two products Monday and added more Tuesday after learning of the melamine test results. It has pulled back Venison and Brown Rice canned and bagged dog foods, Venison and Brown Rice dog treats and Venison and Green Pea dry cat food.<br><br>
For pet owners, vets said, the important thing to be aware of is any behavior change that seems linked to either a new food, or even a new bag of the same food. Symptoms could include loss of appetite, vomiting, lethargy and excess drinking or urinating.
 

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In this article it states that contaminated corn was sent to South Africa from China and suggests that in the US more recalls might be underway:<br><br><a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=3058844" target="_blank">http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=3058844</a><br><br>
Here's a website that is keeping track of this whole mess:<br><br><a href="http://howl911.com/" target="_blank">http://howl911.com/</a>
 

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If that is true that melamine was added on purpose, what a dirty conspiracy! Is this in human food too??? Makes me want to buy 10 acres of farm land and raise/grow my own food and pet food. It still seems like grain-free pet foods would be safe, since there is no need to artificially increase protein in a pet food made mostly of real meat.
 

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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/scared.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="scared"> I thought I was safe with Natural Balance.
 
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