Melamine used in feed made in U.S.
By RICK WEISS Washington Post
Published May 31, 2007
WASHINGTON - An Ohio company has long been adding the industrial toxin melamine to animal feed ingredients, and those feeds have been consumed by livestock and fish meant for human consumption, officials with the Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday.
The Ohio company was adding the chemical as a binding agent to hold feed granules in pellet form, in contrast with the recent pet food scandal, which involved imported ingredients that were spiked with melamine to provide a false measure of protein content, officials said.
Agency officials said that melamine and related compounds were used to bind feed for cattle, sheep and goats, or fish and shrimp.
Officials said they did not know how many animals may have eaten the food. Melamine levels in the companies' livestock feed were so low as to not pose any risk to the animals, much less to consumers, said David Acheson, the FDA's assistant commissioner for food protection.
Levels in the fish and shrimp feed were high enough to raise some concerns about those animals' health, but are still "very unlikely to pose a human health risk, " he added.
Previously, the problem of melamine in animal feed was thought to be contained to China, where manufacturers had added it to wheat gluten.
The FDA alerted feed manufacturers that ingredients containing melamine and related compounds were found in products made by Tembec BTLSR Inc. of Toledo, Ohio, and used by Uniscope Inc. of Johnstown, Colo.
The contamination came to the FDA's attention May 18 after officials from Uniscope tested for melamine in the feed components they were buying - something the FDA has been encouraging food producers to do.
The FDA began an investigation. As the culmination of that process, Tembec formally recalled its products Wednesday, and the company stopped adding the chemical, officials said.
It remains unclear why Tembec did not stop using melamine months ago given the publicity generated by the pet food scandal.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
The additive tainted by melamine was made by Tembec BTLSR Inc. of Toledo, Ohio, used by Uniscope Inc. of Johnstown, Colo., and put in three feed products: AquaBond, Aqua-Tech II and Xtra-Bond.
The FDA advised manufacturers to recall feed made from AquaBond or AquaTech II but did not issue the same recommendation for feed made from Xtra-Bond, based on the low levels of melamine and related compounds. AquaBond and Aqua-Tech II are used in fish feed; Xtra-Bond is used in livestock feed.