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Govt. Quarantines Some Hogs, Unsure About Human Food Supply

Govt. Quarantines Some Hogs, Unsure About Human Food Supply



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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Salvaged pet food contaminated with an industrial chemical was fed to hogs in as many as six states, federal health officials said Tuesday. It was not immediately clear if any of the hogs then entered the food supply for humans.

Food safety officials said hogs at farms in California, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and possibly Ohio ate the contaminated products. Hogs at some of the farms -- it wasn't immediately clear which -- have been quarantined.

The urine of some has tested positive for the chemical, melamine, the Food and Drug Administration said. "At this point, I don't have a definitive answer other than to say that the issue is being addressed," Stephen Sundlof, the FDA's chief veterinarian, told reporters when asked if any of the hogs had entered the human food supply. A poultry farm also may be involved, he added.

Larry Lewis, the spokesman for the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, did not immediately return a call seeking more information.

The FDA also said it planned to begin testing a wide variety of vegetable proteins at firms that imported the ingredients to make everything from pizza dough to infant formula, and protein shakes to energy bars. The ingredient list includes wheat gluten, corn gluten, corn meal, soy protein and rice bran.

Pet food companies have recalled more than 100 brands of cat and dog food since the first reports of animal deaths a little over a month ago.

Investigators have found melamine in at least two imported Chinese vegetable proteins used to make pet foods. The chemical possibly was used to skew analyses that measured the protein content of the ingredients, wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate.

There were no direct shipments of either of the two ingredients to firms that make food for humans or for animals used as food, said Michael Rogers, who directs field investigations for the FDA.

A second, related chemical called cyanuric acid also has been found to contaminate rice protein concentrate samples, Sundlof said.

The analyses the FDA plans to begin later this week will look at producers of both food for humans and animal feed, said Dr. David Acheson, the chief medical officer within the agency's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. Acheson stressed that there was no evidence any of the other vegetable proteins had been contaminated, but that the FDA wanted to "get ahead of the curve" and raise awareness among manufacturers.

FDA officials said the hogs were fed salvaged pet food made with tainted rice protein concentrate. The food was given to the animals prior to the products' recalls, Rogers said. Adulterated food cannot be legally fed to either humans or animals, Sundlof said.

Meanwhile, the FDA is sampling for melamine and related compounds in all wheat gluten, rice protein and corn gluten coming into the United States from China.

Also Tuesday, the FDA said another pet food company, SmartPak, had recalled products made with tainted rice protein concentrate. The company said the recall covered a single production run of its LiveSmart Weight Management Chicken and Brown Rice Dog Food.

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(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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