By Patricia Sullivan
Criminal Probe Opened in Pet Food Scare
Fri May 11, 2007 22:08


Criminal Probe Opened in Pet Food Scare
FDA Says Charges Possible; Tainted Pork Confirmed in Calif.

By Patricia Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 21, 2007; A10

The Food and Drug Administration has opened a criminal
investigation in the widening pet food contamination
scandal, officials said yesterday, as it was confirmed
that tainted pork might have made its way onto human
dinner plates in California.

More than 100 hogs that ate contaminated food at a
custom slaughterhouse in California's Central Valley
were sold to private individuals and to an unnamed
licensed facility in Northern California during the
past 2 1/2 weeks. The hogs consumed feed that
contained rice protein tainted with melamine, the
industrial chemical that has sickened and killed dogs
and cats around the world.

Almost a dozen companies have found that they have
used melamine-contaminated ingredients from China in
their animal foods, either wheat gluten, corn gluten
or rice protein concentrate. In the United States,
more than 60 million containers of cat and dog food
have been pulled from the market in the past five

People who bought pork from the American Hog Farm, a
1,500-animal facility in Ceres, Calif., between April
3 and April 18 are being advised not to eat the meat,
California health officials said yesterday, although
there have been no reports of illness in either people
or the hogs. Authorities are tracking down all the

"We are making the recommendation out of a
preponderance of caution," said Kevin Reilly of the
California Department of Health Services. "The risk is
minimal, but the investigation is very early on."
Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for
Veterinary Medicine, said criminal charges are a
possibility, but he declined to say whether there is
reason to believe any individual or organization
intentionally adulterated pet food.

Late Thursday, Royal Canin USA became the most recent
company to recall pet foods. Some of its brands were
contaminated with rice protein concentrate. Its South
African subsidiary said contaminated corn gluten had
been linked to the deaths of 30 pets there.
Five companies received the contaminated Chinese rice
protein concentrate. Three firms have identified
themselves by announcing recalls; the other two are
not publicly known because the FDA will not name them
until the companies say they used contaminants in
their products.

More than six other companies, some of which make pet
food under a variety of labels, have announced recalls
because melamine-contaminated wheat gluten was used in
their products, starting with a March 16 recall. Wheat
gluten is by far the larger ingredient in American pet
food, the FDA said.

Although Banfield Pet Hospitals, a large nationwide
chain, is working with the FDA to develop a tally of
how many pets have died because of melamine in their
foods, the company would not say what their survey
shows. The FDA will say only that more than 16 cats
and dogs have died; other reports from Oregon and
Michigan veterinarians alone put the confirmed toll at

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