Two China companies at center of inquiry

Melamine-tainted pet food samples all came from the same two companies.

Published May 4, 2007

WASHINGTON - The federal government's investigation into tainted pet food has grown to include tests of 700 samples, and all of the approximately 400 of those that have turned up positive for the chemical contaminant melamine came from just two companies in China, agency officials said Thursday.

All brands of Chinese imported vegetable proteins - the ingredient at the heart of the scandal - are still being held at the U.S. border pending tests to prove they are free of the industrial chemical. Authorities are looking into thousands of reports of pet illnesses or deaths that are suspected of being linked to melamine-tainted wheat gluten and rice protein.

The investigation is far from complete, but the latest findings suggest that only a limited number of importers have been foisting the tainted ingredients onto U.S. pet food makers, said David Acheson, the FDA's assistant commissioner for food protection.

The new results come amid unconfirmed reports from China that an official from one of the two implicated companies - Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. - has been detained by Chinese officials. U.S. investigators recently arrived in China to inspect that company's plant and one operated by Binzhou Futian Biology Technology Co.

Also Thursday, Menu Foods, whose tainted pet food first brought the scandal to light in March, announced an expansion of its recall to include some varieties of pet food that may have become cross-contaminated in its facilities.