Apr 4, 2007
The Tainted Wheat Gluten, Are We Eating It Too?
After over 2 weeks of the Pet Food Scandal.
The horror of watching a formerly healthy pet die, or reading about perhaps hundreds of other pets dying, because of a mistake or greed or both of a pet food manufacturer is hard to bear, but many other people have been asking this question in the back of their own minds... after all, pet food is touted as being even more nutritious and tasty and carefully made than our own food... so what if....
March, 2007, in the Bush Administration. Pets are dying. Pet food is being recalled. The suspected ingredient is imported wheat gluten, contaminated with melamine.
How can this be? It sounds like a bad fiction story again. Dog food doesn't have wheat in it, does it? Cats too? Cats dying from eating formica product crystals?
Wheat Gluten, the protein extracted from the wheat kernel, is indeed used heavily by processed food manufacturers of human foods. Because I don't eat it, I'm slightly "more aware than the average bear" when it comes to having this knowlege of just how many of our American food products HAVE the stuff. Besides being used in many baked goods to add texture, and obviously bread, it's in iced tea mix, vanilla powder, cereals like honey bunches of oats, some ketchups, canned soups, beef jerkey, BBQ spice rubs, lunchmeat, processed cheese, flavored yogurts, sauces, gravies, some artificial sweeteners, flavored tofu, candy bars, it's injected into your thanksgiving turkey, it's in manufactured salad dressing, TV dinners, butter sauces at restaurants, many canned spaghetti sauces, meatloaf fillers, au jus sauce on prime rib, etc.
You're thinking of trying to gulp... avoid this stuff? Welcome to my world !
Of course, pet food manufacturers now also use many different grain byproducts left over from other uses to act as cheap filler in pet foods. Corn distiller's mash from alcohol production, rice bran from rice hulls, and wheat gluten in the form of modified food starches to give some stickiness to sauces and gravies, or gluten protein powder in jerkey chews. Oh, how we love to feed our pets little chunks of meat in gravy. Or at least the pet food advertisers try to convince us our pets would love to be eating something that had been made to have that appearance.
Now, imagine if you're the FDA, and you have an imported tainted gluten problem. Would you be eager to share that problem with the American Consumer, given that ....gulp... incomplete list I just made up off the top of my head? Or would you be feeling some Republican Reluctance to broadcast this? This could be... expensive.
After over 8000 calls about sick pets,the FDA this weekend finally issued an Import Alert, #99- 26, a stop and detention on the importation of wheat gluten from the Xuzhou Anying Biological Development Company, China, due to the presence of melamine.
The Xuzhou Anying's Bio. Dev. Company's website is here.
In case it goes down, they say they produce and export "biologic feed, feed additive, wheat gluten meal, fresh preserved vegetables and so on."
Xuzhou Anying can also be found on the giant Chinese trade listing site, alibaba.
According to their "about us" page:
"Our company specializes in the export of wheat gluten, wheat flour, cornstarch, sweet potato starch, and other agricultural and sideline products. We wish to cooperate with domestic and abroad merchants hand in hand."
"Industry Focus: Agriculture and By- product agents, agriculture product stocks, fodder, feed additives, fresh preserved vegetables"
I have been researching this gluten story heavily since yesterday. When something like this happens, everyone would immediately like to find a scapegoat to blame. Where is it from, who brought the tainted wheat into this country, and are we humans also at risk of eating it? It was speculated that ADM could be the culprit, but...
Just because Archer Daniels Midland manufactures wheat gluten domestically does not make it the importer.
Just because the wheat gluten from Xuzhou Anying was contaminated with melamine does not mean it was it was "poisoned." It may, however, been accidently or purposely mismarked and sold at a discount. Melamine is not poisonous to all animals that ingest it. While it is not supposed to BE in wheat gluten, and is a harmful contaminant for pets, it could have been in this because of a manufacturing process or mixing process error on the part of the Chinese company.
This Chinese company, per their websight and a trade websight, also manufactures high protein powders from grain products that use a process that applies Non Protein Nitrogen, also known as Urea, to the grain protein to make it more soluble and stable. Urea is also used in melamine manufacturing.
Urea is also used in processing some livestock animal fodders, but if not manufactured properly, it can cause ammonia poisoning to stressed or hungry livestock such as sheep and cattle.
Melamine C3 H6 N6, ( Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen) is a organic base produced from urea by either using catalyzed gas- phase production or high pressure liquid- phase production. Melamine is used to produce melamine resin, which is combined with formaldehyde to produce themosetting plastic. This plastic is often used in kitchen utensils like Melmac, and is the main ingredient in high pressure laminates such as Formica and Arborite and of laminate flooring.
From Zuzhou Anying's Company's advertising on alibaba, we found they also sell Camella (not "camellia" but Camella, tea nut) seed dregs, or the meal leftover from processing out the edible oil. This meal product is used in aquaculture ponds where fish and crab are raised, to kill unwanted fish. There is no mistaking their pride in the quality of their wheat gluten meal
"Wheat gluten meal is also named wheat vital protein. The flour is used as its raw material, and from which extracts a light brown natural grain powder through intensively processing. It is a good soluble protein, containing fifteen amino acid essential for human body. After all, it can yet be regarded as a plant protein food looking good, smelling good and tasting good. "
Here is the alibaba description of their "Esb Protein Meal" , using the original spelling. They say it will" bring about revolutionary effect."
"ESB Biologic Protein Meal" is a kind of high protein substance by mixing coin protein and NPN and using high biologic technology. It is the high protein feed, the crude protein: CP160%-CP300%. "ESB Biologic Protein Meal" has no flavor and has no coolness, torpidity, cayenne; it has no contamination of chemistry and drug. It is safe; nonpoisonous, without bad reaction. The product is yellow or grey or white powder. The protein is permanent, endure high temperature, the freshen is 90% min and has no contamination. It has the good effect to promote the protein of fish meal and other animal feed."
(ARC notes) "coin" may be "corn" or refering to the inner kernel of a grain such as wheat. NPN is the Non Protein Nitrogen, or Urea, which may be a byproduct of coal processing. "high biologic technology" means they probably heated and/or pressurize it with the Urea, the different colors of the end product could indicate they are using either different grains or different processing to get different color base products. The crude protein cannot be more than 100%, so that is an error. )
There was more than one suspect contaminant. Earlier, preliminary tests done by a New York on earlier samples of suspect pet foods seemed to show one thing, a possible rodenticide, aminopterin, and the later tests showed the melamine which was traced back to the batches made with that particular imported wheat gluten. The FDA recall is about the wheat gluten that had the melamine crystals in it.
Because the wheat gluten was "food" grade per the FDA, it is entirely possible that some of it could have been used in human food manufacturing.
Because this Chinese company, Zuzhou Anying, advertises itself as manufacturing both edible and non edible and (deliberately poisonous) powdered substances from grain byproducts, I think it is highly possible we have not yet found all the contaminents.
I was just now trying to decipher, using the FDA tutorial guide, the codes the FDA has in the #99- 26 Alert, which importers use to identify substances by code, there are three:
02F [ ] [ ] 08
02E [ ] [ ] 06
71M [ ] [ ] 01
The numbers and letters stand for five things, Industry, Class, Subclass, Process Indication Code, and Product. So by looking at the first number, we see 02, 02, and 71, which is milled grains, milled grains, and Byproducts for Animal foods, respectively.
So 2 of the codes are for food grade (human consumption) wheat gluten, E and F, but the third one is for Industry number 71, Byproducts, class M, which is not found in Byproducts Indusry 71. What is "M?" The FDA has also left blank spaces in the code numbers for these three batches of material it is searching for, there is supposed to be a series of 5 letters and numbers, and there is only 3, with 2 blank spaces left in the middle, which would help pinpoint more specifically.
This is extremely suspicious behavior on the part of the FDA, based on what I have read in Susan Hu's diary from yesterday on the FDA's drop in product inspections. I believe they may know more about the wheat gluten's whereabouts than they are currently admitting to publically. And now let me speculate that indeed this gluten MIGHT be in the human food chain, and the FDA does not want to set off a stampede of paniced consumers.
I am concerned not only because my friends and loved ones could be eating this tainted gluten, but because human foodstuffs are still used in pet and livestock manufacturing and that way the contaminated products still might end up being fed to pets. Plus, we don't have complete testing yet as to just what else is in this suspect gluten. But I'm most concerned that when I study the FDA's websight, and click on Alerts sections for Human Foodstuffs, there is no listing for this Wheat Gluten being recalled in spite of clear evidence ON THE ALERT that the wheat gluten IS human foodgrade. Being human foodgrade, then, there was nothing to stop it from being used in people food. It is only listed as a Pet Food Alert.
I guess we're all just dogs now to our government. And I'm not trying to be funny.
By American River Canyon
Is the contaminate Melamine or Aminopterin?
From the PETA Press Release - PDF:
Remarkably, the FDA appears to be covering up evidence that it is wrong in its most recent findings. Although the FDA says that melamine was found in pet food and that it may have been the ingredient that is making animals sick, at the FDA news conference on March 30, the agency did not report the fact that the New York Department of Agriculture and a top Canadian agricultural laboratory both dispute the FDA’s finding.
A spokesperson for the New York Department of Agriculture told The New York Times, "‘We don’t think this is the final conclusion. Melamine is not a known toxin. ... We are confident we found Aminopterin, and it makes sense with the pathology.’ She also said another laboratory, Animal Health Laboratory at the University of Guelph in Canada, had confirmed the presence of Aminopterin in the samples."
The compound (Aminopterin) was explored as an abortifacient in the 1960s and earlier, but was associated with congenital malformations.
Similar congential abnormalities have been documented with methotrexate, and collectively their teratogenic effects have become known as the fetal aminopterin syndrome. When a similar cluster of abnormalies appears in the absence of exposure to antifolates it is referred to as aminopterin-like syndrome without aminopterin.
Exposure and treatment
Symptoms of exposure in humans include:
* weight loss
* stomatitis – inflammation of the oral mucosa
* pharyngitis – inflammation of the pharynx
* erythematous rashes – red rashes on the skin
* hyperpigmentation – increased pigmentation associated with cleared psoriatic lesions
* gastrointestinal hemorrhage
* renal failure – in high doses necessarily involving concomitant leucovorin rescue
* abortions in pregnant women