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China’s animal feed tainted with melamine

By Anita Yang, Associated Press, 30.Oct.2008

BEIJING — The industrial chemical melamine is commonly added to animal feed in China to make it appear higher in protein, state media reported Thursday, in what appeared to be a tacit admission by the government that contamination is widespread in the country’s food supply.

The practice of mixing melamine into animal feed is an “open secret” in the industry, the Nanfang Daily newspaper reported, describing a process of repackaging melamine scrap into an inexpensive product called “protein powder,” which is then sold to feed suppliers.

The Web sites of the official Xinhua News Agency and the Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily newspaper also carried the story, in a rare move publicizing information that reflects poorly on the country — especially given recent food safety scandals involving contaminated Chinese dairy products and eggs.

Four brands of Chinese eggs have been found to be contaminated with melamine this past week, and agriculture officials speculated that the cause was adulterated feed given to hens. No illnesses have been linked to melamine in eggs.

The discovery came just weeks after a crisis involving compromised dairy products that sickened tens of thousands of children and was linked to the deaths of four infants.

The Ministry of Agriculture and the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine did not respond to faxed requests for comment. Phones rang unanswered at the Ministry of Health.

Chemical plants used to pay companies to treat and dispose of melamine scrap, but about five years ago began selling it to manufacturers who repackaged it as “protein powder,” the Nanfang Daily reported, citing an unidentified chemical industry expert.
The inexpensive powder was first used to give the impression of higher protein levels in aquatic feed, then later in feed for livestock and poultry, the report said.

“The effect far more exceeds the milk powder scandal,” the newspaper said.

The account was backed up by a manager at a feed company based in central China’s Henan province, though he said the practice has been going on for even longer than reported — some seven or eight years.

The manager, who refused to give The Associated Press his name or other identifying details citing the sensitivity of the issue, blamed suppliers to the feed companies.

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Posted by FFC on July 13th, 2009 :: Filed under Consumers,Food safety,Media,Poultry
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