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| | |-+  Another Chemical Emerges in Pet Food Case
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« on: May 09, 2007, 09:05:41 AM »

Another Chemical Emerges in Pet Food Case

A second industrial chemical that American regulators have identified as a pet food contaminant may have been intentionally added to animal feed by producers seeking larger profits, according to interviews Tuesday with chemical industry officials.

Three chemical makers said Chinese animal feed producers often came to purchase cyanuric acid to blend into their feed because it was cheaper and helped increase protein content. In the United States, cyanuric acid is often used as a chemical stabilizer in swimming pools, though it is not thought to be highly toxic on its own.

Up until now, American regulators had focused on a chemical called melamine. Animal feed producers here have acknowledged recently that for years they added melamine to animal feed to gain bigger profit margins.

But American regulators and scientists have also been aware for several weeks that cyanuric acid may have played a role in causing sickness or death in pets.

China said on Tuesday that it had found two companies guilty of intentionally exporting pet food ingredients containing melamine to the United States.

The country’s watchdog for quality control released a statement on its Web site late Tuesday saying officials at the two companies were also detained for their roles in shipping tainted goods that may have contributed to one of the largest pet food recalls in American history.

“The two companies illegally added melamine” to wheat gluten and rice protein, the government said, “in a bid to meet the contractual demand for the amount of protein in the products.”

The revelations from chemical producers help address uncertainties about the presence of cyanuric acid. For instance, it has not been clear whether it is a derivative or a byproduct when melamine is broken down in the animals, or whether the cyanuric acid was separately placed in the feed.

In China, chemical producers say it is common knowledge in the chemical and agriculture industry that for years feed producers in China have quietly and secretly used cyanuric acid to cheat buyers of animal feed.

“Cyanuric acid scrap can be added to animal feed,” said Yu Luwei, general manager of the Juancheng Ouya Chemical Company in Shandong Province. “I sell it to fish meal manufacturers and fish farmers. It can also be added to feed for other animals.”

Yang Fei, who works in the sales department of the Shouguang Weidong Chemical Company in Shandong Province, echoed that view: “I’ve heard that people add cyanuric acid and melamine to animal feed to boost the protein level.”

The Food and Drug Administration in the United States said Tuesday that farmed fish had been fed meal contaminated with melamine and other contaminants but that the level was probably too low to harm anyone who ate the fish. Moreover, the feed was mislabeled as wheat gluten, when in fact it was wheat flour spiked with melamine and other nitrogen-rich compounds to make it appear more protein-rich than it was, officials said.

Two of the Chinese chemical makers say that cyanuric acid is used because it is even cheaper than melamine and high in nitrogen, enabling feed producers to artificially increase protein readings which are often measured by nitrogen levels of the feed. The chemical makers say they also produce a chemical which is a combination of melamine and cyanuric acid, and that feed producers have often sought to purchase scrap material from this product.

Competition among animal feed producers here is intense. But the practice of using cyanuric acid may now provide clues as to why the pet food in the United States became poisonous.

Scientists had difficulty pinpointing the precise cause of the deaths, for neither melamine nor cyanuric acid are thought to be particularly toxic by themselves. But scientists studying the pet food deaths say the combination of the two chemicals, mixed together with perhaps some other related compounds, may have created a toxic punch that formed crystals in the kidneys of pets and led to kidney failure.

“I’m convinced melamine can’t do it by itself,” said Richard Goldstein, an assistant professor at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. “I think it’s this melamine with other compounds that is toxic.”

On May 1, scientists at the University of Guelph in Canada said they had made a chemical discovery that may explain the pet deaths.

In a laboratory, they found that melamine and cyanuric acid may react with one another to form crystals that could impair kidney function. The crystals they formed in the lab were similar to those discovered in afflicted pets, they said.

In the United States, some contaminated pet food and protein meal recently found its way into hog and chicken feed, which led the government to ask farms to quarantine and slaughter some animals as precaution.

But on Monday, a joint assessment by scientists working for the Food and Drug Administration, the Agriculture Department and several other federal agencies said there was a very low risk of danger to humans who consume meat from animals that were accidentally fed melamine-tainted feed.

The scientists said the dilution was a major factor in lowering the risk. The government also said that both chickens and hogs fed the melamine-tainted feed appear to be healthy.

In pets that apparently consumed a higher concentration of melamine, however, a result was often kidney failure.

The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine in China said an investigation named two animal feed companies previously under suspicion: the Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Company and the Binzhou Futian Biology Technology Company.

China essentially acknowledged Tuesday that the two companies had cheated pet food companies by adding a fake protein to the feed to make pet food suppliers think that they were purchasing higher-protein feed when in fact they were getting lower-protein feed.

China also said that a nationwide survey did not uncover other companies using melamine in feed products. Chemical producers of cyanuric acid, however, say the practice for them may be different.

“The substance is nontoxic — it’s legal to add it to animal feed,” Mr. Yu at Juancheng Ouya Chemical said of cyanuric acid. “The practice has been around for many years. I often sell it to animal feed makers.”

Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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