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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

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Melamine Pet Food Recall - Frequently Asked Questions

Updated October 7, 2009

The Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) continue their comprehensive investigation of pet food contaminated with melamine and melamine-related compounds, and the feeding of contaminated pet food scraps to hogs and chickens. Melamine is an industrial chemical that has no approved use as an ingredient in animal or human food in the United States.

Both FDA and USDA agree that the consumption of pork, chicken, domestic fish, and eggs from animals inadvertently fed animal feed contaminated with melamine and melamine-related compounds is very unlikely to pose a human health risk. This conclusion is based on a risk assessment prepared by scientists at FDA in collaboration with scientists from USDA and in consultation with scientists from three other federal agencies.

Click on the links below to view Frequently Asked Questions on specific topics.

 

Pet Food Recall, Pet Care, and Regulation of Pet Food

Q: What pet foods are recalled?

Since March 16, 2007, more than 150 brands of pet food have been voluntarily recalled by a number of companies. Types of pet foods recalled include:

  • moist (packaged in pouches) dog and cat food
  • canned dog and cat food
  • dry dog and cat food
  • dog treats
  • dry ferret food

For a full listing of recalled pet food products, see www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/petfoodrecall/

Q: Why were the pet foods recalled?

On March 15, 2007, pet food manufacturer Menu Foods alerted FDA to 14 animal deaths in the United States: 4 cats and 1 dog reported by consumers, and 9 cats that died during routine taste trials conducted by the company. The animals were reported to have developed kidney failure after eating certain "cuts and gravy" style dog and cat food produced at Menu Foods' facilities in Emporia, Kans., between Dec. 3, 2006, and March 6, 2007.

In the following months, consumers and veterinarians reported many more illnesses and deaths potentially associated with a wide variety of pet foods made by Menu Foods and other manufacturers.

Q: Why are so many kinds of pet foods recalled?

Many companies that sell pet food do not make the food. Instead, they give their formulation, or recipe, to manufacturing firms. The manufacturer mixes ingredients according to the recipes to make a wide variety of pet foods for companies to sell under many different brand names.

Because one manufacturer may produce many kinds of pet foods at the same facility, a contaminated ingredient can get into many of these foods.

Not all of the recalled foods were contaminated, but companies acted out of caution because of the potential that contaminated ingredients got into the pet food.

Q: Are dog and cat foods the only pet foods involved in the recall?

In addition to dog and cat food, one brand of dry ferret food is recalled: Ultra-Blend Advanced Nutrition (Net Wt. 20 lbs, UPC 26851 00413, Code C7072), manufactured by Chenango Valley Pet Food.

Q: What is wrong with the pet foods?

FDA laboratories found melamine and melamine-related compounds in samples of pet food. Melamine, an industrial chemical, and its related compounds have no approved use as an ingredient in animal or human food in the United States.

FDA traced the melamine to products labeled as wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate imported from China and used as ingredients in pet foods. Cornell University scientists also found melamine in the urine and kidneys of deceased cats that were part of a taste-testing study conducted for pet food manufacturer, Menu Foods.

FDA's further testing showed that the vegetable protein products imported from China were mislabeled as "wheat gluten" and "rice protein concentrate." This information does not change the recalls or the findings of melamine and melamine-related compounds in pet food.

Q: What is melamine? And what are melamine-related compounds?

Melamine is a small, nitrogen-containing molecule that has a number of industrial uses, including as an industrial binding agent, flame retardant, and as part of a polymer in the manufacture of cooking utensils and plates. Melamine also has been used as a fertilizer in some parts of the world. It is not registered for use as a fertilizer in the United States.

Melamine-related compounds are in the same family of chemicals as melamine and include cyanuric acid, ammeline, and ammelide. Melamine and its related compounds have no approved use as an ingredient in animal or human food in the United States.

Q: Is melamine the cause of the reported illnesses in cats and dogs?

Melamine has been found in the kidneys and urine of cats that died and in the food they ate. Melamine alone may not be the cause of illness and death because melamine is a relatively non-toxic substance. FDA is examining melamine-related compounds, such as cyanuric acid, also found in pet food. The combination of melamine and cyanuric acid appears to be more toxic than either compound alone. When these two substances interact, they form crystals in urine and kidney tissue, which can lead to kidney failure. Using advanced forensics, FDA continues to examine the interactions of melamine and its related compounds to find the cause of pet illness and death.

Q: What research exists regarding melamine in cats and dogs?

Research is scarce in the published literature on melamine exposure in dogs and cats. We know of a 1945 published article in which dogs were administered 125 milligrams of melamine/kilogram body weight. The study reported melamine to have a diuretic effect (increase the flow of urine), but no toxic effects were noted.

A 2007 study conducted in 4 cats demonstrated that given separately, neither melamine nor cyanuric acid caused renal failure.  If, however, both compounds were given together, the cats developed signs of renal failure and intratubular crystals. Abstract


Q: Why does the combination of these two compounds, melamine and cyanuric acid, cause kidney failure in animals?

The two compounds bind together in the kidney producing very fine crystals that arrange themselves in spheres.  Those "spherulites" plug the tubules transporting urine within the kidney causing a mechanical obstruction.  The pressure in the kidney builds up, compressing the blood flow to the kidney, causing the cells within the kidney to die and the organ to fail.

World Health Organization: Background Paper on Toxicology of Melamine and Its Analogues

Q: Since melamine was found in wheat and rice products, can I assume a pet food is safe if the ingredient list does not contain those products?

We do not recommend choosing pet food in this way for several reasons:

  • FDA encourages pet owners to consult with their veterinarian about their pet’s health and nutrition requirements. Wheat-free or rice-free pet foods, depending on other ingredients they contain, may not meet the nutrition requirements for your particular pet's health.
  • Several pet food companies have reported that some of their recalled products were not formulated or labeled to contain wheat gluten or rice protein concentrate. The manufacturer added these ingredients without their consent, potentially contaminating the product with melamine or related compounds.

Q: If my dog or cat ate some of the recalled food, how soon would I see any symptoms?

It’s difficult to say for sure, but usually within a couple of days. The important thing is to monitor your pet closely for signs of lack of energy, loss of appetite, and vomiting. If your pet shows any of these signs, please consult your veterinarian.

Q: Has rat poison been found in pet food?

On March 23, 2007, New York State laboratories reported finding a form of rat poison, aminopterin, in some pet foods. FDA and Cornell University have not been able to confirm the presence of aminopterin in samples they have tested.

Q: Why are some pet foods recalled because of cross-contamination? What is cross-contamination?

Cross-contamination is the transfer of harmful substances or microorganisms to food by equipment, food-contact surfaces, utensils, hands, or other means. It occurs when these items are not cleaned properly after processing a food that contains a harmful substance and then processing another food.

Several manufacturers recalled pet foods that were not formulated with wheat gluten or rice protein concentrate, but were manufactured at plants during the period when pet foods using these potentially contaminated ingredients were processed. Some recalls occurred as a precautionary measure; others occurred because testing indicated the product included traces of melamine that may have resulted from cross-contamination during manufacturing.

Q: In light of the recall, what should I feed my pets?

FDA encourages pet owners to consult with their veterinarian about their pet’s health and nutrition requirements. The recalled products represent less than 1% of all pet foods, according to the Pet Food Institute. Many safe pet foods and treats not on the recall list are still available and will enable you to continue to provide safe, wholesome nutrition for your pets. Please see http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/petfoodrecall/ for a list of recalled products that should not be fed to pets.

Q: What should I do if I have cat or dog food at home?

Please check FDA’s Web site at http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/petfoodrecall/ to see if your pet food has been recalled:

  • If your pet food is not listed, the pet food is not affected by the recall and you can continue to feed it to your pets.
  • If your pet shows a sudden onset of symptoms, including loss of appetite, vomiting, or lack of energy, stop feeding the pet food and contact your veterinarian.
  • If the pet food is one of those being recalled, do NOT feed it to your animals. Feed your pets another pet food that is not included in the recall.

Q: What should I do if I have pet food included in the recall?

If your pet food has been recalled:

  • Do NOT feed the pet food to your animals.
  • Return the pet food to the store where you purchased it and ask for a refund. Stores generally have a return and refund policy when a company has announced a recall of its products.
  • If you cannot return the pet food immediately, store the food in a secure place where pets and children cannot get to it.

Q: What should I do if my pet ate one of the pet foods being recalled?

Call your veterinarian immediately if your pet shows signs of illness such as loss of appetite, weakness or lack of energy, or vomiting.

“The American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) has recommended that pets (dogs and cats) that ingested pet food that was on the recall list, whether showing signs of illness (lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, etc.) or not (asymptomatic), should be seen by their veterinarian for baseline blood chemistries and urinalysis in order to ascertain the status of their renal (kidney) function. (The ACVIM is the official organization of the veterinary specialties of small animal internal medicine, large animal internal medicine, cardiology, neurology, and oncology. www.acvim.org/).”

Q: How do I report a reaction to a pet food?

Please call the FDA consumer complaint coordinator for your geographic area. Try to have the following information available before calling:

  • Brand name, lot numbers, and Universal Product Code (UPC) for the pet food fed to your pet when it was ill. A lot number is typically stamped on the bag/pouch or on the can lid. Lot numbers usually consist of a series of letters and numbers.
  • If your pet received treatment by a veterinarian, his/her name, address, and telephone number
  • Date illness first noticed
  • Signs displayed by the pet
  • Any veterinary reports available

Q: What if I took my dog or cat to the vet because of the recall and I want to be reimbursed for my vet bills?

FDA recognizes that there may be financial costs associated with any veterinarian visit; however, reimbursement for veterinary care does not fall under FDA’s regulatory authority.

Q: What advice do you have for veterinarians concerned about the pet food recall?

Veterinarians who have case files and post-mortem results in cases where renal failure is involved and the clients were feeding recalled food are encouraged to contact FDA through the complaint coordinator in their state.

Q: Why can’t FDA confirm the number of animals affected?

Unlike with human food, there is no surveillance network for FDA to rely on to confirm cases of illness or death. When there is an outbreak of illness from human food, FDA receives assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state departments of health to trace the illness and determine the cause.

FDA’s complaint system is designed to identify emerging problems and does not provide data on the patterns and causes of disease (epidemiologic data) that would enable FDA to conclusively link illness or death with a specific product.

FDA’s primary concern in this type of situation is making sure the recall is effective, providing information to the public, and preventing additional contaminated products from being imported and getting into pet food, animal feed, or human food.

Q: What is FDA doing in response to complaints of illnesses related to pet food?

FDA collects and analyzes samples of dog and cat food in response to calls from veterinarians and pet owners.

Q: What happens to the contaminated products that are recalled?

The recalling firm is responsible for disposing of the recalled material. The firm must make sure that the contaminated products do not re-enter the human food, pet food, or animal feed supply. The disposal also has to be done in accordance with state and federal environmental laws. Disposal options may include landfill, incineration, or industrial uses.

Q: How did FDA respond when it learned about the contamination of the pet food?

FDA took the following actions:

  • dedicated personnel in each of its 20 district offices to take consumer calls and conduct inspections and investigations
  • mobilized more than 400 employees to collect pet food and animal feed samples, monitor the effectiveness of the recall, and prepare consumer complaint reports
  • conducted numerous inspections of manufacturing facilities and warehouses to trace all of the contaminated products
  • launched a massive, nationwide testing and education campaign to help keep contaminated products from reaching American dinner tables, pets, or other animals
  • analyzed more than 700 pet food and ingredient samples in 6 FDA field laboratories and FDA's Forensic Chemistry Center
  • issued press releases, conducted media interviews, and developed a Web site to provide current information to consumers, veterinarians, and regulatory counterparts
  • worked with its regulatory partners in all 50 state agriculture and health agencies to share information and collaborate on investigative and analytical efforts
  • activated its Emergency Operations Center, with staff available to all FDA offices on a 24-hour basis, to manage incoming information from pet owners, veterinarians, and others
  • testified in April 2007 before the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee's "Pet Food Safety" hearing and in May 2007 before the House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture's "Food Safety and Animal Health" hearing
  • instituted import alerts that require all importers of all Chinese vegetable proteins and protein concentrates for food and feed to prove that their products are not contaminated before they are allowed to enter the United States
  • dispatched an investigative team to China.

Q: How does FDA regulate pet food?

FDA regulates pet food similar to the way it regulates other animal feeds. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires that pet foods, like human foods, be safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled. In addition, canned pet foods must be processed in conformance with low-acid canned food regulations to ensure safety from harmful bacteria or their toxins.

There is no requirement that pet food products be approved by FDA before they are marketed. However, FDA ensures that the ingredients used in pet food are safe and have an appropriate function in the pet food. Some ingredients, such as mineral and vitamin sources, colorings, flavorings, and preservatives, are generally recognized as safe (GRAS). Other ingredients must have approval as food additives. For more information, see FDA’s Regulation of Pet Food and Information on Marketing a Pet Food Product.

Q: What are the labeling requirements for pet foods?

FDA regulations require that pet food products show:

  • proper identification of the product
  • net quantity statement
  • name and place of business of the manufacturer or distributor
  • listing of all ingredients in order from most to least, based on weight

Some states also enforce their own labeling regulations. Many of these regulations are based on a model provided by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Learn more about AAFCO at http://www.aafco.org//.

Learn more about labeling requirements at FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine Web site: Interpreting Pet Food Labels.

 

Contaminated Ingredients: Wheat Gluten, Rice Protein Concentrate and Other Vegetable Proteins

Q: What is wheat gluten and how is it used in pet foods?

Wheat gluten is the principal protein component of wheat flour and may be used as a thickener in pet foods. It also has uses in human food products as a stabilizer or thickener. It is not generally associated with food contamination.

Q: What is the difference between wheat gluten and wheat flour?

Wheat flour is prepared by grinding cleaned wheat grains. Wheat gluten is the principle protein component of wheat flour. Wheat gluten is obtained by hydrating wheat flour and mechanically separating the wheat gluten from the starch and other flour components.

Q: What is rice protein concentrate?

Rice protein concentrate is made by separating and isolating the protein portion from the carbohydrate portion (starch) of rice. It is used in many pet foods as part of the formulation (recipe). Rice protein concentrate adds plant proteins that contain little, if any, gluten.

Q: How are wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate related to the pet food recall?

Melamine and melamine-related compounds were found in products labeled as wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate imported from China. These products were used as ingredients in some pet foods. Melamine and its related compounds are not approved for use as an ingredient in animal or human food. FDA believes it was these contaminants that made cats and dogs sick.

Q: How did melamine get into the products labeled as "wheat gluten" and "rice protein concentrate"?

Based on the information FDA has, it appears that melamine was added to the products handled by the two Chinese suppliers to increase the apparent protein content in those products.

Q: Has contaminated corn gluten been found in pet food?

In April 2007, pet food manufacturers in South Africa recalled dry cat and dog food made with corn gluten that was contaminated with melamine and imported from China. There is no evidence that contaminated corn gluten was imported in the United States for pet food production.

Q: Where did the contaminated wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate come from?

FDA traced the source of the product labeled as wheat gluten to a single supplier, Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Company, of China. ChemNutra Inc. of Las Vegas imported and distributed the wheat gluten to pet food manufacturers. On April 3, 2007, ChemNutra issued a recall of all suspect products labeled as wheat gluten that it had imported and distributed..

FDA traced the product labeled rice protein concentrate to a single supplier, Binzhou Futian Biological Technology, of China. San Francisco-based Wilbur-Ellis Company, an importer and distributor of agricultural products, imported the rice protein concentrate and distributed it to pet food manufacturers. On April 18, 2007, Wilbur-Ellis issued a recall of all suspect products labeled as rice protein concentrate that it had imported and distributed.

Q: Did the contaminated wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate from China get into the human food supply?

We have no evidence to suggest that any of the imported products labeled as wheat gluten or rice protein concentrate that were contaminated with melamine and melamine-related compounds were used as ingredients in human food.

Import records and records obtained during follow-up tracking of products reveal that all shipments labeled as wheat gluten or rice protein concentrate from the two Chinese suppliers were purchased by U.S. firms that distributed them to pet food manufacturers and a Canadian firm that manufactures fish feed.

Q: How are wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate used in human food production?

These ingredients are used in a broad range of human foods, including:

  • bread, pasta, and cereal
  • pizza dough
  • certain kinds of baby formulas
  • meal replacement beverages
  • protein shakes and energy bars
  • specialized foods often eaten by vegetarians

Q: Does FDA inspect foreign facilities that export animal feed or human food ingredients into the United States?

FDA is not required to inspect foreign firms that export food or feed products to the United States. As part of our risk-based approach, we do conduct foreign food inspections in a number of targeted program areas, but these inspections are not a prerequisite for firms to export products to the United States. FDA's risk-based approach means that the agency uses its limited inspection resources to look at products that pose the greatest risk to public health.

Q: What is FDA doing to prevent further importation of contaminated wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate?

FDA has issued an import alert that stops all shipments of all vegetable protein products—not just wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate—from all of China. No product can enter the United States until the importer proves to FDA, through results from an independent laboratory, that the product is free of melamine and related compounds.

The import alert includes the following vegetable protein products:

  • wheat gluten
  • rice gluten, rice protein, rice protein concentrate
  • corn gluten, corn gluten meal, corn by-products
  • soy protein, soy gluten
  • proteins (includes amino acids and protein hydrosylates)
  • mung bean protein.

Please see import alert #99-29, “Detention Without Physical Examination of All Vegetable Protein Products from China for Animal or Human Food Use Due to the Presence of Melamine and/or Melamine Analogs”.

FDA is also sampling pet food and animal feed, including fish feed, from China entering U.S. ports. In addition, FDA is:

  • visiting manufacturers and processors in the United States who use protein products of various types in pet food, animal feed, or human food
  • obtaining samples from those firms to test for melamine and melamine-related compounds
  • raising awareness with those manufacturers about the importance of knowing their suppliers and the safety of the material they receive
  • encouraging manufacturers to test materials and products or take other measures to ensure the safety of the ingredients they use
  • sampling and testing some finished food products.

 

Contaminated Animal Feed, Farm Animals, and Fish

Q: Has any of the melamine been found in other species' food besides dogs and cats?

Yes, some animal feed that was fed to hogs, chickens, and fish contained melamine.

Q: How did the melamine get into animal feed?

The pet food manufacturing process results in some crushed or otherwise damaged product that cannot be sold for pet food. These scraps are often sold to livestock manufacturers to add to animal feed.

Pet food scraps containing a melamine-contaminated product labeled as rice protein concentrate went to hog producers in various states, including California, Illinois, Kansas, North Carolina, New York, South Carolina, and Utah.

Pet food scraps containing a melamine-contaminated product labeled as wheat gluten went to chicken farms in Indiana.

In addition, FDA found that some of the contaminated product labeled as wheat gluten was shipped to Skretting, a company located in British Columbia, Canada, which used it to manufacture fish feed. The feed was distributed in the United States to 197 fish hatcheries and 2 commercial aquaculture establishments.

Q: Did any of the animals that ate melamine-contaminated feed get into the human food supply?

Yes. Some hogs, chickens, and fish were processed and went to market before it was known that they were fed feed containing melamine and related compounds. Hogs, chickens, and fish identified as having eaten contaminated feed were quarantined or voluntarily held, but later released based on the findings of a risk assessment and, for some animals, the results of tissue samples. The risk assessment concluded that eating pork, chicken, domestic fish, or eggs from animals inadvertently fed animal feed supplemented with pet food scraps contaminated with melamine and related compounds is very unlikely to pose a human health risk.

Q: Why do cats and dogs become ill or die from melamine-contaminated pet food, but farm animals do not get sick from it?

Scraps of contaminated pet food that contained low levels of melamine were distributed to farms in a limited number of states and added to the feed consumed by hogs and chickens. These scraps made up only a small part of the total rations fed to farm animals, whereas pet food often constitutes the entire diet of cats and dogs, exposing them to more melamine.

In addition, melamine is excreted in animal urine. When exposure levels are much higher, as was the case with cats and dogs, the melamine and its compounds appear to cause the formation of crystals in the kidney systems, resulting in kidney damage.

There was no indication of kidney damage in farm animals. Both hogs and chickens known to have been fed contaminated feed appear to be healthy.

Q: Have any melamine-contaminated products been found that were not imported from China?

Yes. On May 18, 2007, FDA became aware of a source of melamine contamination within the United States, unrelated to pet food.

Tembec BTLSR Inc. of Toledo, Ohio, and Uniscope Inc. of Johnstown, Colo., had been producing binding agents containing melamine for use in making pelleted feed for cattle, sheep, goats, fish, and shrimp. Tembec, a contract manufacturer for Uniscope, added melamine as part of the formulation of the products to improve the binding properties of pelleted feed. Melamine is not approved as an additive for animal or fish/shrimp feed.

The companies have voluntarily recalled the products and have stopped adding melamine to the feed products. The estimated melamine levels in feed made with these binding agents is very unlikely to pose a human health risk.

Q: Why does the information from FDA keep changing?

FDA's policy is to inform the public about potential risks at the earliest appropriate time, even when our investigation is not complete. We have followed this policy since our investigation began in mid-March 2007 with the discovery of contaminated pet food. Although our information changed as we continued investigating, following new leads, and accumulating more facts, we believe that it is in the public’s best interest to know these facts as soon as they are validated.

 

Human Health Impact

Q: What is the likelihood of illness in people after eating products from animals that were fed contaminated feed?

Eating pork, chicken, domestic fish, or eggs from animals inadvertently fed animal feed supplemented with pet food scraps contaminated with melamine and related compounds is very unlikely to pose a human health risk. This conclusion is based on a human health safety/risk assessment prepared by scientists at FDA in collaboration with scientists at USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service and in consultation with scientists at three other federal agencies.

Q: What is a safety/risk assessment?

A safety/risk assessment is a scientifically based approach used to estimate the risk to human health from exposure to specific compounds. It is based on available data and certain scientific assumptions in the absence of data.

The safety/risk assessment concerning melamine provides estimates of the human exposure to melamine and related compounds from eating contaminated pork, poultry, eggs, and fish and compares this exposure to levels calculated to be safe to consume.

See "Interim Melamine and Analogues Safety/Risk Assessment."

Q: What information supports the conclusions of the safety/risk assessment?

  • Based on a worst case scenario, if all the solid food a person consumes in an entire day contained melamine and a related compound, cyanuric acid, at levels potentially present in the meat and poultry, the potential exposure would be about 250 times lower than the level considered safe. This is a large safety margin.
  • This means that a person weighing 132 pounds would have to eat more than 800 pounds per day of pork, poultry, or other food containing melamine and its compounds to reach a level of consumption that would cause a health concern.
  • Contaminated pet food made up only a small percentage of the farm animal and fish rations.
  • Testing shows that melamine and related compounds do not accumulate in the body of animals. Instead, they are rapidly excreted in animal urine.
  • There is no evidence of illness in the hogs, chicken, or fish that ate contaminated feed.
  • There have been no reports of illness in people from consuming foods that may have contained melamine or its related compounds.

Q: Who prepared the safety/risk assessment?

It was prepared by FDA in collaboration with the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the Department of Agriculture, and in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Homeland Security.

Q: Have any illnesses occurred in people from exposure to the melamine-contaminated products or to hogs, poultry, or fish that were fed melamine-contaminated products?

No. T here is no evidence of human illness that may be linked to exposure to the melamine-contaminated products or to hogs, poultry, or fish that ate melamine-contaminated products.

Although rigorous testing and the results of a comprehensive safety/risk assessment show that the risk of illness from melamine-contaminated products is very low, FDA has taken the precaution of asking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to use its surveillance network to monitor for signs of human illness related to the recalled products. CDC surveillance has not shown an increase in kidney failure, which is the most likely health outcome that would be expected from exposure to products contaminated with melamine and related compounds.

 

China Involvement

Q: How many Chinese firms have shipped melamine-contaminated ingredients to the United States?

FDA has traced ingredients contaminated with melamine and melamine-related compounds to two firms in China:

  • Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology, which shipped a product labeled as wheat gluten that was found to contain melamine and melamine-related compounds
  • Binzhou Futian Biological Technology, which shipped a product labeled as rice protein concentrate that was found to contain melamine and melamine-related compounds

Q: How long have melamine-contaminated ingredients been imported from China?

In November 2006, the first shipment of a product labeled as wheat gluten known to be contaminated with melamine or its related compounds arrived in the United States. In July of 2006, the first shipment of a product labeled as rice protein concentrate known to be contaminated arrived in the United States.

Q: Are you investigating the Chinese companies that shipped melamine-contaminated ingredients to the United States?

FDA personnel went to China in April 2007 to work with Chinese government officials to find out how the contamination may have occurred and how to prevent it in the future. FDA found that both companies that had exported melamine-contaminated products were shut down. FDA is evaluating the data and information collected from the trip to China.

Q: What is being done to help ensure that future food imports from China do not present risks to U.S. consumers?

The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Michael O. Leavitt, and the Commissioner of FDA, Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D., met with counterpart Chinese officials in Washington, D.C., on May 24, 2007. The U.S. and Chinese officials agreed to meet later this summer to work out a plan to strengthen bilateral cooperation to help assure the safety of Chinese products entering the United States.