WASHINGTON – An industrial chemical that led to the nationwide recall of more than 100 brands of cat and dog food has turned up in a second pet food ingredient imported from China.
The discovery expands the monthlong cascade of recalls to include more brands and varieties of tainted pet foods and treats.
“This has exposed that the safety standards for pet foods are not in place in any significant way and the kind of drumbeat, day after day, of recalls has shaken consumers’ confidence in the pet food industry’s adherence to food safety standards,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive officer of the Humane Society of the United States.
The chemical, melamine, is believed to have contaminated rice protein concentrate used to make a variety of Natural Balance Pet Foods products for both dogs and cats, the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday.
The FDA says there is no evidence so far to suggest any of the rice protein went to companies that make human food, said Michael Rogers, director of the agency’s division of field investigations. But the FDA has not accounted for all the imported ingredient. Previously, the chemical was found to contaminate wheat gluten used by at least six other pet food and treat manufacturers.
Both ingredients were imported from China, though by different companies and from different manufacturers.
The FDA on Wednesday began reviewing and sampling all rice protein concentrate imported from China, much as the agency has been doing for wheat gluten, Rogers said.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Wednesday the Chinese have refused to grant visas to FDA inspectors seeking to visit the plants where the ingredients were made. An FDA spokesman later said the visas were not refused but that the agency had not received the necessary invitation letter.
A message left Wednesday with the Chinese Embassy in Washington was not immediately returned.
For more information on recalled products, go to the FDA’s recall site at tinyurl.com/2bjasu.