SALEM, Ohio – Eight U.S. hog farms were quarantined last week when authorities determined the animals ate contaminated feed.
This week, the contamination has also been linked to chicken feed on Indiana farms.
The feed was tainted with a chemical called melamine, which is known to cause kidney failure. The hog feed also tested positive for other melamine-related compounds, such as cyanuric acid.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the source of contamination was rice protein imported from China in early April. The rice protein was used to make pet food and a byproduct was used to produce animal feed.
Health concerns. Melamine alone, at detected levels, is not a danger to human health. But research hasn’t confirmed the effects of combining melamine and melamine-related compounds.
Poultry link. As of May 1, the USDA and FDA investigation indicates that approximately 30 broiler poultry farms and eight breeder poultry farms in Indiana received contaminated feed in early February.
It’s likely that additional farms will be identified.
The feed was fed within days of receiving it. All of the broilers believed to have been fed contaminated feed have since been processed. The breeders are under voluntary quarantine by the flock owners.
The swine or poultry that ate the tainted feed are not approved to enter the food supply, said Capt. David Elder, director of the office of enforcement with FDA’s office of regulatory affairs.
But no recall of poultry products has been issued because there is no evidence that eating chicken fed the contaminated product is harmful to humans.
“The likelihood of illness after eating such pork is extremely low, however, the agencies believe it is prudent to take this measure,” Elder said during a media teleconference April 26.
Affected hogs. About 6,000 hogs in California, Kansas, North Carolina, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Utah are being held until further notice. Authorities have also contacted a feed mill in Missouri that might have received tainted feed.
State authorities are in the process of determining if meat from animals that ate contaminated feed entered the food supply before the problem was realized.
“Pork and pork products derived from animals that were fed the adulterated product will also be destroyed,” said Kenneth Peterson, assistant administrator for field operations with USDA’s food safety inspection service.
USDA will compensate producers who euthanize hogs or poultry that ate the contaminated feed, according to Peterson.
Not in Ohio. The melamine investigation originally included an Ohio hog farm that received feed shipped during the days in question. However, it turned out the feed delivered to the farm was manufactured before the contamination occurred.
“It predated any exposure and so the concerns from that farm didn’t pan out,” Peterson said.
(Reporter Janelle Skrinjar welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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