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Author Topic: Factory linked to tainted food found closed - 5-11=07  (Read 2426 times)
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« on: May 27, 2007, 09:51:44 PM »

Factory linked to tainted food found closed

By Don Lee and Abigail Goldman
Los Angeles Times

XUZHOU, China -- Before Mao Lijun's business exported tainted wheat products that may have killed U.S. pets, his factory sickened people and plants around here for years.

Farmers in this poor rural area 400 miles northwest of Shanghai had complained to local government officials since 2004 that Mao's factory was spewing noxious fumes that made their eyes tear up and the poplar trees nearby shed their leaves prematurely. Yet no one stopped Mao's company from churning out bags of food powders and belching smoke -- until one day last month when, in the middle of the night, bulldozers tore down the facility.

It wasn't authorities that finally acted: Mao himself razed the brick factory -- days before the investigators from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration arrived in China on a mission to track down the source of the tainted pet food ingredients.

U.S. inspectors said Thursday the suspect facilities had been hastily closed down.

"There is nothing to be found. They are essentially shut down and not operating," said Walter Batts, deputy director of the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) office of international programs.

In the end, Chinese authorities caught up with Mao and arrested him. And Tuesday, after weeks of denials, China acknowledged that Mao's company and another Chinese business had illegally exported wheat and rice products spiked with melamine, a chemical used in making plastics and fertilizers. That chemical is banned in U.S. foods. in the U.S.

China's quality watchdog agency said the businesses had added melamine to the food ingredients "in a bid to meet the contractual demand for the amount of protein in the products." Melamine can make animal feed appear to have more protein than it actually does.

Besides turning up in pet food, melamine has been found in feed for thousands of hogs and millions of chickens in the United States. The FDA said Tuesday that melamine-contaminated foods also were fed to fish raised for human consumption. But in each case, U.S. officials said there was little risk to human health.

The number of U.S. fish hatcheries and farms known to have received the tainted feed rose sharply Thursday, with U.S. officials reporting about 60, up from 13 known Wednesday. That 60 included 23 in Oregon. The rest of the feed was shipped mostly to other Northwest states.

The FDA also said that although the tainted Chinese products were labeled as wheat gluten and rice protein, they were actually ordinary wheat flour -- with melamine and related nitrogen-rich compounds.

Melamine producers in China have said that melamine scrap, a cheaper form of the chemical, has been widely sold to entrepreneurs who use it to fool farmers into thinking that they were getting higher-nutrient animal feeds. Among the apparent buyers of melamine scrap were Mao, head of Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development, and Binzhou Futian Biology Technology.

Liu Zhaoyi, 64, a farmer who lives next to Mao's now-demolished factory, recalled seeing globs of white and yellowish scrap, which may have included melamine, piled in the yard behind the plant. One season after rains, Liu said, water with residue from the compound flowed into his family's cornfields and killed the crops.

Few people in town, which has a large food-manufacturing industry, seemed to know what Mao's factory made.

In recent days, Mao's company removed wheat gluten from the product offerings on its Web site. It also deleted something called ESB protein powder.

Xuzhou Anying had advertised the powder as its "latest researched, developed and produced" item and touted it as "a new way to solve the problem of shortage of protein resource." Several people with experience in China's food industry say such powders are invariably made with melamine.

Researchers believe another compound -- cyanuric acid -- also may have been added to the pet-food ingredients by Chinese firms or formed as a byproduct. Combined with melamine, cyanuric acid can form crystals and blocking kidney function in some animals.

China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said Tuesday that Xuzhou Anying and Binzhou Futian had evaded quality checks by labeling their products as exports not subject to inspection.

Farmer Liu said it was a shame officials failed to heed earlier complaints. "If they had done more, this company won't have such a big problem."

The Seattle Times staff, The Washington Post and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Article located HERE
« Last Edit: July 20, 2007, 09:06:21 PM by Admin-Kat » Logged

This is a GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT to put the human and pet food manufacturer's of America on alert, that we will not tolerate vague labeling of our foods, any longer.

We want full disclosure of ingredients, source/country-of-origin, place of manufacturing & place of distribution, including a toll-free number.

Oh, by-the-way -- STOP POISONING OUR FOOD!!!
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