Is That Poison in My Pasture-Raised Pork?

The pet-food scare has been depressing, but it’s also illuminated some interesting things about the animal-feed industry in this country, and it seemed to suggest a solution: Avoid the mass-produced puppy chow, and buy organic, local, or small-batch brands (or do it DIY-style). Not an easy or a cheap solution, true, but at least it was something.

Now, with the recent news that people may have consumed melamine-laced food, I don’t know what to think. Yes, melamine. As in plates.

As Reuters reported this week, FDA officials are inspecting suspect imports of six grain derivatives—wheat and corn glutens, corn meal, soy protein, rice bran, and rice protein—for traces of the pet-killing pesticide. While the World Health Organization doesn’t consider melamine a human carcinogen, there have been few actual studies on the chemical’s effects on people. Worse, those grain products, Reuters says, are “used in foods ranging from bread to baby formula”—meaning that infants no bigger than cats may have ingested the tainted material.

In related news, the California Agriculture Department said that it knows of at least 50 people who bought pork that may be contaminated with the stuff (it’s attempting to contact them now). And disturbingly,

‘Some of the hog operations [where feed tainted with melamine may have been sent] were fairly sizable,’ said Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. But USDA spokesman Steve Cohen said the feed was sold to smaller and independent hog farms.

Egads, smaller and independent hog farms! Perhaps eating local isn’t safe anymore either. And according to the Houston Chronicle, “salvaged pet food [!!] contaminated with an industrial chemical was sent to hog farms in as many as six states,” including New York, North and South Carolina, Utah, and Ohio. Hogs at some of the farms have been quarantined, though no one is saying which ones yet.

The FDA is not much help in shedding light on anything; in fact, it has shielded five companies that it knew to have received contaminated Chinese rice protein concentrate, Consumer Affairs reports. Three of those firms have recalled their products voluntarily, but as of now the other two are unknown to the public: By law, the FDA can’t name them until the companies come forth voluntarily. “Currently, recalls are dependant [sic] upon the media to disseminate information and for consumers to be conscientious and well-read buyers,” the article explains.

And let’s not even get into the latest E. coli business. WTF, America?

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