The contaminated petfood is moving along the foodchain now. Contaminated petfood that was deemed unsuitable for cats and dogs was turned into hogfeed and before it was caught, looks like some of the hogs were introduced into the human foodchain.

The powers that be, including the FDA, have been criticized for moving too slowly in getting this situation in hand. Maybe because it was ‘just’ petfood, the sense of urgency wasn’t there. Well, it looks like the ‘sense of urgency’ will hit top notch now that people are involved, unfortunately too late for the thousands and thousands of dogs and cats that have been affected!!

Some excerpts from the Chicago Tribune

Food Safety Worries Mount WASHINGTON – 4/29/07 – The tainted pet food scare, which has swelled into a serious crisis for animal lovers, now has spread to humans.

California officials have revealed that the contamination got into the food chain: About 45 state residents ate pork from hogs that consumed animal feed laced with melamine from China. Melamine is used to make plastics, but it also artificially boosts the protein level—and thus the price—of the glutens that go into food.

It was already fatal for some pets: 17 cats and dogs are confirmed dead, more have likely died without being reported, thousands have suffered kidney problems, and 57 brands of cat food and 83 of dog food have been recalled. On top of that, roughly 6,000 hogs will be destroyed because they ate tainted feed.

Just how far reaching is this problem??

The FDA is also examining imported vegetable proteins earmarked for human products like pizza, protein bars and baby formula. That investigation, still in its early stages, hasn’t uncovered any contaminated ingredients, but the agency, an FDA doctor said, wanted to “get ahead of the curve.”

The melamine-laced food reached hogs because surplus pet food—crumbled and broken food bits rejected as unsuitable for dogs or cats—was sent to hog farms and turned into feed. The FDA says bulk shipments of feed were delivered to hog farmers in California, Utah, Ohio, Kansas, Oklahoma, New York, North Carolina and South Carolina. FDA officials said they were also concerned that contaminated livestock feed may have been shipped to Missouri.

The FDA is overwhelmed, resources are taxed to the limits!

While the FDA has targeted select states for hog inspections, the pet food recall and the large number of sick cats and dogs have overwhelmed state agencies that often only investigate a dozen pet food complaints a year. The FDA says about 400 employees across the country are collecting pet food samples, monitoring the recalls’ effectiveness and preparing complaints.

The investigation’s progress in Illinois alone illustrates the problem.

About half of the 32 FDA investigators in the state have worked on responding to more than 500 complaints of sick or deceased dogs and cats since the recalls began March 16. They must collect medical records from veterinarians and gather samples of contaminated pet food.

The office is also involved in recall effectiveness. “It’s very taxing on our resources,” said Scott MacIntire, director of the FDA’s Chicago office, which oversees state operations. Nationwide, the FDA has only enough inspectors to check 1 percent to 2 percent of the 8.9 million imported food shipments in 2006.

“We don’t have the resources or the capabilities to test every single shipment of every single food item that crosses into our country or into our state borders,” said Frank Busta, director of the National Center for Food Protection and Defense.

Is there an end in sight??

The end of this pet food crisis appears more elusive than ever, shedding light on issues beyond the largely self-regulated pet food industry to America’s growing dependence on cheap imported ingredients from China and other countries, where safety precautions may be more lenient.

But just as troubling, federal officials and congressional critics of the FDA say, is the ease with which the bad gluten was passed along once in the U.S. After the Sept. 11 attacks, food and water safety were an issue of great concern, they say, but those concerns seem to have eroded.

America’s increasing reliance on low-cost food creates a complicated food distribution system, Busta said — and that leaves “many potential vulnerabilities.”

(From the Chicago Tribune – From the full story Click here)

Thanks Itchmo for bring this to our attention! Lets see just how fast and hard the powers that be will work on this now that people are involved!!

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