Exporter mislabeled tainted pet food ingredient
Wheat gluten branded as nonfood product avoided inspection, FDA says
SHANGHAI, China - The exporter of a contaminated pet food ingredient blamed for the deaths of dogs and cats in the United States may have avoided Chinese export inspections by labeling it a nonfood product, a U.S. government report says.
The company, Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co., was not the original producer of the tainted wheat gluten, but may have purchased it from up to 25 different suppliers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a statement.
The identities of those suppliers remain a mystery and all calls to listed numbers for Xuzhou Anying on Friday rang unanswered. Investigators are also looking into the origins of a second contaminated food additive imported from China, rice protein concentrate
The New York Times reported that Xuzhou Anyingâ€™s manager, Mao Lijun, had been detained by Chinese authorities, although the paper gave no details about possible charges against him.
Calls to police and government offices in the city of Xuzhou, in eastern Chinaâ€™s Jiangsu where the company is based, rang unanswered on Friday, which was a public holiday.
The scandal concerns the use of the mildly toxic chemical melamine as an additive to animal feed, a practice believed to be common in China, where scandals over contaminated or unsafe food are routine.
Adding the chemical to food is illegal under American law, and while no laws govern the use of melamine in China, the government last week said it was banning its application in food products.
A wave of animal deaths in the U.S. in March was blamed on melamine contamination, prompting one of the biggest recalls of pet food in American history â€” more than 100 brands. The recall has since been expanded to include pet food products in Canada and Europe.
Food facilities checked for melamine
The FDA on Thursday said U.S. government inspectors are checking food makers who use protein concentrates to ensure none of their products were contaminated with melamine.
There is no evidence that any of the two contaminated batches of wheat gluten and rice protein from China ended up as an ingredient in human food, â€œbut itâ€™s prudent to look,â€