Tainted pet food found in livestock feed

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Pet food tainted with the chemical melamine was found in feed rations on a California hog farm and may show up on other U.S. farms, state and federal officials said on Friday.

Slideshow ( 2 images )

Used in plastics and fertilizer, melamine has been found in imported wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate and is suspected of causing pets to fall ill and die. More than 100 brands of pet food have been recalled after reports of pet kidney failures.

California officials said Diamond Pet Foods sold pet food to American Hog Co., which used it as a feed ingredient. Tests found melamine in feed at the farm and in urine from the hogs.

Richard Breitmeyer, the state veterinarian, said it was “not uncommon” for pet food makers to sell scrap material to feedlots.

“In the course of our investigation, we may find similar situations in other parts of the country,” said Stephen Sundlof, head of the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, referring to sales of scrap pet food.

Sundlof said five pet food makers including Diamond Pet Foods had received shipments of rice protein concentrate.

State and U.S. Agriculture Department officials said there was no evidence that pork products from the farm entered the food supply but that they were still tracking the whereabouts of all the hogs produced there since April 3. Some 126 of the hogs are known to have been slaughtered for meat.

During a news conference in Sacramento, California, state officials said Diamond Pet Foods sold the food to the hog farm before melamine was linked to rice protein concentrate imported from China.

Sundlof said the FDA believes it has accounted for all of the imported wheat gluten that may contain melamine. Some of it went to a rendering plant. “We have inspectors at the rendering plant,” he said, to see what happened to the gluten.

Royal Canin USA said on Friday it was recalling all of its dry pet food products containing rice protein concentrate, because a melamine derivative was found in them.