“There has been a good deal of underground interest and concern over the so-called ‘pet food poisonings.’ This is considered to be a red hot topic in certain official circles here and as almost all the current press reportage comes directly from official Food and Drugs Administration concocted press releases, it might be instructive here to outline a history of this terrible happening and show how a politically dangerous subject is dealt with by a government and its friends in the media. This study is only concerned with the issue of contaminated pet food and does not explore the thesis of deliberate contamination of food in American restaurants and on farms. That will be covered in a later study.
Firstly, a listing of the course of events in the poisoned pet food matter:
In March of this year, reports began to surface in the American media about pets, cats and dogs, dying or becoming very ill from eating commercial pet food,. This date is not fixed because there are now more reports surfacing that indicate that this poisoning began as early as December of 2006 and went on, sporadically, through January and Februay of 2007. This new information has been emerging from reports of American veternarians.
As of March 20, 2007, reports indicated that at least ten dogs and cats had already died and that many more were considered to be critially ill due to kidney failure
As of March 22, 2007 the death toll has risen nationally to 16 confirmed dead pets:
15 feline, one canine. It is speculated by vetenary organizations that the actual death toll is probably much higher.
On March 23, 2007: As of 1pm the New York State Agriculture Department (which, incidentially, has one of the best labs in the US for determining food contamination–the FDA frequently relies on NY Ag Dept.’s own advisories for issuing its own recall notices) has announced the poison identified is aminopterin. Aminopterin is a folic acid antagonist which in the 50’s and 60’s was used as cancer chemotherapy (and, illegally, to induce abortion) until it was replaced by the less toxic drug methotrexate (and seeing as methotrexate is probably one of the most toxic drugs in the anticancer arsenal, this is telling you something; typically humans receiving MTX (much less its chemical cousin aminopterin) receive leucovorin to “rescue” them from the effects of folic acid depletion). Aminopterin is used in some countries as a rodenticide
.. On March 24, 2007 : Per a medical advisory aimed at veterinarians from the American Veterinary Medical Association, it appears that aminopterin is causing kidney failure due to the drug crystallising in the kidney tubules (thus destroying the kidneys); the medical advisory also notes that there is still testing going on for other agents besides aminopterin (advising caution to vets) and also notes the risk of other health problems as a result of aminopterin poisoning (specifically the fact that the drug depresses bone marrow; a close “chemical cousin” of aminopterin, methotrexate, is used in humans and dogs with various blood cancers (leukemias and lymphomas) and in lower doses as a “last-resort” drug in humans with rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis (both of which are autoimmune diseases) specifically for its bone-marrow suppressing effect, and methotrexate is used in very high doses to destroy bone marrow in preparation for stem-cell and bone marrow transplants).
As of March 27, 2007; the Veterinary Information Network (a veterinary medicine association that, among others, sponsors continuing medical education for vets) has reported that there are 471 cases of kidney failure linked to aminopterin- ( a commercial rat poison) tainted Menu Foods products that their association is aware of including 104 confirmed deaths (11 canine, 93 feline); this same report notes that PetConnection.com has ancedotal reports of 1792 more deaths (1018 feline, 774 canine) attributed to contaminated pet food
On March 30, 2007: The FDA has now officially discounted the use of aminopterin as the agent causing pet deaths and now states, officially that the actual cause is the inclusion of melamine their analysists state they have found in suspect pet food. Melamine is a urea-based chemical that is used widely in the manufacture of plastics (especially floor laminates and oven-proof dishware); it is also (due to its urea base) used in several countries as a fertiliser. Of note, FDA-originating news reports that melamine has been found in the kidneys of a cat who died of Menu Foods related poisoning and the NY Ag Dept. lab which first detected aminopterin in the pet food has also confirmed the melamine finding., but has not confirmed FDA statements that melamine is capable of causing deaths of pets or humans The FDA press releases claim that “As melamine is a urea-based chemical it could be a missing link as to why the poisoning is so severe–certainly, melamine *cannot* help with aminopterin-caused kidney failure. One of the known effects of melamine intoxication in humans is kidney stones, and (combined with the known mechanism of kidney toxicity with aminopterin, specifically crystallisation in the kidneys) the two chemicals likely have a synergistic effect. In particular, it’s uncertain how melamine is toxic to the kidneys of cats, who generally have better filtering systems for urea and uric acid derivatives (thanks to the fact cats are obligate carnivores
On March 30, 2007: The FDA has issued an emergency order stating that they now believe Chinese-originating wheat glutin to be the agent contaminating pet food as well as to specifically block import of any wheat or wheat gluten products containing melamine and to step up surveillance and testing of all wheat and wheat gluten products entering the US. Per a website also following the pet food scandal, one shipper of the allegedly “tainted wheat gluten” is now known to be Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Company Ltd and the FDA releases stress that “anything using wheat or wheat gluten from this company should be considered potentially tainted.” The FDA neglects to mention that wheat glutin is used extensively in the preparation of food for human consumption throughout the world and also that no known cases of human kidney failure or infection have been noted.
As of April 1, 2007, 2,822 deaths of pets have been officially reported: 1,557 feline, 1,265 canine.
On April 2, 2007: FDA press releases stress that there is “a strong possibility other manufacturers in China are also sources”; reportedly Xuzhou Anying Biologic has claimed they are in fact buying wheat and wheat gluten from “many” companies within China. The second firm linked to contaminated grain has been officially identified as Suzhou Hengrun Import & Export Corp., Ltd; Suzhou Hengrun is quite a major import/export company in China, with a great deal of their trade involving pharmaceuticals, specifically antimicrobial drugs.
As of April: 3, 2007 168 dead (1,700 feline, 1,468 canine) and 9,203 total pets reported to their database as either sick or dead from contaminated pet food; the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association reports 104 suspected cases of poisoning due to contaminated feed (68 feline, 36 canine) reported to the state public health veterinarian, of which at least 38 are known to be fatal (23 feline deaths, 15 canine); a survey of Michigan vets from the Michigan Veterinary Medical Association shows 135 suspected cases of poisoning in that state (100 feline, 35 canine) with 29 of those cases as being fatal (no breakdown as per species, though both canine and feline cases reported); the same article notes that 41% of vets responding to the survey have treated caes of kidney failure possibly related to the tainted feed, and some sources are reporting “hundreds” of deaths; if similar numbers are occuring with veterinary reporting nationwide, this would back up the petconnection.com numbers.
On April 4, 2007: An FDA press release alleges that tne shipper of “tainted wheat products from Xuzhou Anying (and possibly others) seems to be ChemNutra Inc”. The FDA states that ChemNutra is now recalling suspect ingredient. ChemNutra is an import/export company specialising in import of Chinese-source ingredients (including, notably, wheat gluten) for the food (including pet food) and pharmaceutical industries.
On April 4, 2007 and onwards: Official government (via FDA releases) de-emphasis on aminopterin being a culprit (two Federal labs were “unable to confirm the aminopterin findings”) yet it is uncertain how melamine could be sickening cats in particular.
On April 6, 2007 it has been officially reported : 9,378 dead or ill, 3,242 dead (1,731 feline, 1,511 canine); Iowa’s state veterinary college reports 43 cases of suspected poisoning, 18 fatal which backs up numbers from state veterinary associations.
On April 6, 2007 there is emerging the very disturbing possibility voiced from numerous professional but unofficial sources (and hotly denied or ignored by the FDA) that the contamination of pet food that has killed thousands of animals may have been deliberate — specifically involving aminopterin possibly as an act of domestic sabotage.
On April 6, 2007: Now up to four manufacturers other than Menu Foods affected including Del Monte Foods (makers of Pounce cat treats, among others) and Sunshine Mills (makers of Ol’ Roy pet food and pet snacks); Del Monte is on its second round of recalls, in fact, despite assurances from the FDA the day before that this would be the last of the recalls.
On April 10, 2007: 3,730 dead (1,938 feline, 1,792 canine), 11,703 dead or critically ill total; Veterinary Information Network (which covers approximately half of the veterinary practitioners in the US) estimates “hundreds, if not thousands” dead based on its own survey of veterinarians and possibly up to 10,000 pets suffering kidney failure as a result; Banfield (largest pet care clinic chain in North America, largely based in PetSmart stores) has issued very worrying statistics that state that 3 out of 10,000 pets who have eaten contaminated food and been treated at their hospitals have gone on to develop kidney failure, that kidney failure cases are up 30 percent, and that over 39,000 cases of kidney failure related to contaminated feed are expected.
On April 12, 2007: 4000 pets have been officially reported dead because of officially “unidentified causes”:: 3,973 dead, 2,058 feline, 1,815 canine; 12,419 total sickened or dead
On April 12, 2007: Cornell University’s veterinary forensics lab may have identified a secondary contaminant (or possibly a tertiary one; aminopterin has been identified in samples, and this could either be a confirmation of aminopterin or a finding of a third contaminant) which has been found both in pet food and in tissues of poisoned pets. It is presently unknown what the additional contaminant found was.
On April 17, 2007: The FDA now announces that “Contaminated rice gluten now found as well. Suspected source is from a second Chinese company, and the discovery is especially disturbing in light of rice (which is the major alternative to wheat or corn) being potentially contaminated–the pet food recall is likely to expand dramatically. FDA press releases now state authoratatively that “Contaminated rice gluten now found as well–Natural Balance (which had been previously listed as safe) has recalled food found contaminated with melamine from rice gluten.” The FDA now insists that: “All Chinese-origin foodstuffs should be considered suspect”
On April 18, 2007: Death toll is 4,211 dead with nearly an even split of canine and feline cases, 12,820 cases of food-related illness
On April 18, 2007. The FDA press releases identify alleged “Chinese origin” has been ‘confirmed” as the source of “contaminated rice protein” specifically Binzhou Futian Bioloy Technology Co., Ltd.
On April 18, 2007: The “contaminated rice protein” is also alleged to originate from a second Chinese company, indicating that the problems are in fact system-wide in the Chinese food supply. There are a number of FDA-spopnsored articles appearing in the American media ctiticizing Chinese food safety (or more properly, the lack of it) and how China’s food safety issues are an international concern. Among other things, the FDA only inspects 1.3% of all imported human food in the US (and, while not mentioned in the article, the FDA actually largely relies on state agencies to issue recall notices based on what their state agricultural boards have found in their labs–many of the FDA food recalls are based on test results from the New York Department of Agricultre, among other things
On April 18, 2007: Veterinary Information Network notes that they have informal reports of possible poisoning from five other products not presently recalled, including (in even more disturbing news) two medical products–HeartGard chewables (a heartworm preventative) and Pill Pockets (used for dosing animals needing medication).
On April 20, 2007: The FDA now states that there is at least one known case of a human being sickened by contaminated pet food (specifically a woman who ate Iams pet food to convince her pet to try some; both she and her dog ended up in hospital) the idea that humans could get sick from eating contaminated dog food is not far fetched.) However, the victim is not otherwise identified. The FDA now issued has a specific hold-and-detain order in regards to allegedly contaminated wheat or wheat gluten from Chinese sources. Further, the FDA cannot in fact state they can guarantee none of the tainted grain entered the human food supply and due to the fact that the FDA has revealed the Chinese supplier (Xuzhou Anying Biologic) but has so far not identified the US-based importers and distributors who would have bought the gluten from Xuzhou Anying Biologic and ultimately distributed it to food producers.
On April 21, 2007: With recent discoveries of contamination entering the human food chain via pigs fed contaminated products, the FDA is finally making a federal case out of this debacle–a criminal probe has been opened re the food contamination and in particular pigs being fed contaminated food and subsequently entering the human food chain.
From an FDA press release of April 26, 2007: ‘The contaminated food recall is no longer restricted to wheat or wheat glutin but also includes imported rice and corn glutin products from China and all of these should be considered highly suspect. There is also the danger that this contamination of American food products may expand in the future and for this reason, the importantion of Chinese-originating wheat, corn and rice products will be interdicted.,…”
Conclusions: While there is no question that a mass-poisoning of American pet food has occurred, the real question is why the FDC has frantically been downplaying the known use of commercial rat poison in American pet food and even more frantic attempts to blame the Chinese for this disaster. The answer, which can easily be found on internet search engines such as Google, is that for some time, American agricultural interests have been howling to anyone in the Bush administration that would listen to them that the Chinese products are selling in this country for far less than American produce.
One of the most deliberately ignored aspects of this tragedy is the issue of American companies purchasing huge amounts of Chinese wheat, rice and corn products even though they are natively produced in the States and the United States a net exporter (and in fact, with corn, there are considerable price supports). A Boston Sun article points this out very clearly in a series of interviews with the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers which clearly indicates that American companies would dearly love to sell their produce, wheat, corn and rice, to US companies but are being severely undercut by Chinese imports–and the savings are only something like twenty cents or less per pound.
Further, allegations that underpaid illegals working in the food industry, to include restaurants and food processing plants, might be involved in a protest against draconian Republican anti-immigration projects, is a subject not to be addressed and severely discouraged of discussion in the media. The reason for this is not compassion for illegal workers but the pragmatic view that if the American public were to realize that it was possible for hostile elements to introduce bacteria such as E Coli into human food, that, coupled with the wave of pet deaths would unlease an enormous outrage among the frightened public.
Because there is absolutely nothing the regulatory agencies of the government could do in the face of this storm but physically remove all Latino workers from any aspect of the food industry, this would be a logistic and economic disaster so it is much easier to convince a growingly restive public that the evil Chinese, the pet enemies of Bush and Cheney, are responsible for the deaths of beloved pets due to carelessness than to even begin to address deliberate poisonings by dissatisfied minorities.”
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