Filler in Animal Feed Is Open Secret in China

CHINA - As American food safety regulators head to China to investigate how a chemical made from coal found its way into pet food that killed dogs and cats in the United States, workers in this heavily polluted northern city of Zhangqiu openly admit that the substance is routinely added to animal feed as a fake protein.
calendar icon 1 May 2007
clock icon 3 minute read
Pieces of melamine displayed by a worker. The melamine is ground into a powder and added to animal feed as a filler to keep costs low.

For years, chinese feed compounders have secretly used melamine, as a cheap additive because in tests it looks like protein. However, it does not provide any nutritional benefits, according to melamine scrap traders and agricultural workers here.

“Many companies buy melamine scrap for animal feed, such as fish feed,” said Ji Denghui, general manager of the Fujian Sanming Dinghui Chemical Company, which sells melamine.

“I don’t know if there’s a regulation on it. Probably not. No law or regulation says don’t do it, so everyone’s doing it. The laws in China are like that? If there’s no accident, there won’t be any regulation.”

Melamine is at the centre of a food scandal which has recalled 60 million packages of pet food. The chemical was found in wheat gluten linked to the deaths of at least 16 pets in the United States in April.

No one knows exactly how melamine, which is not believed to be particularly toxic, became so fatal in pet food, but its presence in any form of American food is illegal.

The link to China has caused concern among critics of the Food and Drug Administration that ingredients in pet food and human food that are increasingly coming from abroad, are not being adequately screened.

Source: The New York Times

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