delmonte says wheat gluent used was "food grade"
- Del Monte Foods has confirmed that the melamine-tainted wheat gluten used in
several of its recalled pet food products was supplied as a "food grade"
additive, raising the likelihood that contaminated wheat gluten might have
entered the human food supply.
"Yes, it is food grade," Del Monte spokesperson Melissa Murphy-Brown wrote
in reply to an e-mail query.
23456789?> <<...OLE_Obj...>> Del Monte issued a voluntary recall Saturday
<http://www.delmonte.com/petfoodrecall.html> for several products under the
Gravy Train, Jerky Treats, Pounce, Ol' Roy, Dollar General and Happy Trails
Wheat gluten is sold in both "food grade" and "feed grade" varieties. Either
may be used in pet food, but only "food grade" gluten may be used in the
manufacture of products meant for human consumption. Published reports have
thus far focused on tainted pet food, but if the gluten in question entered
the human food supply through a major food products supplier and processor,
it could potentially contaminate thousands of products and hundreds of
millions of units nationwide.
Stephen F. Sundlof, director of the Food and Drug Administration's Center
for Veterinary Medicine said the FDA is not aware of any contaminated gluten
that went into human food but said he could not confirm this "with 100
0830_pf.html> Wheat gluten is a common food additive used as a thickener,
dough conditioner, and meat substitute. It is widely used as an additive in
commercial bakery items and special purpose flours.
The FDA announced today
<http://www.fda.gov/ora/fiars/ora_import_ia9926.html> that it has traced the
contaminated wheat gluten to a single processor, Xuzhou Anying Biological
Technology of Peixian, China, but has not released the name of the U.S.
distributor who supplied the product to Del Monte, Menu Foods, Nestle
Purina, and Hills Nutritional. In all, more than 70 brands and over 60
million cans and pouches of dog and cat food are now part of this massive
recall, as well as at least one brand of dry cat food.
Public statements have indicated that the contaminated gluten was
distributed by a single U.S. company, but since the FDA refuses to name the
supplier, it is not yet known if this company also supplies human food
manufacturers. It is also not yet known if Xuzhou Anying sells direct to
food manufacturers in the U.S. or abroad.
While cats seem particularly susceptible to the effects of melamine
poisoning, there is little research on the substance's human toxicity.
Unless and until the FDA determines otherwise, one cannot help but wonder if
our sick and dying cats are merely the canary in the coal mine alerting us
to a broader contamination of the human food supply.