April 3, 2007 / 1:02 AM / in 11 years

U.S. blocks wheat gluten linked to pet food recall

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. health officials have told import inspectors to detain wheat gluten shipments from a Chinese company identified as the supplier involved in a major recall of pet food.

A notice from the Food and Drug Administration directed inspectors to stop all wheat gluten imports from Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Company Ltd.

The FDA said wheat gluten supplied by the company to Menu Foods was found to contain melamine, a chemical used in plastics and fertilizers. Menu Foods has recalled 60 million cans and pouches of “cuts-and-gravy” style wet pet food sold under various brands after the deaths of 14 cats and dogs.

Melamine should not be in pet food, but its presence has not been confirmed as the cause of any pet sickness or death, the FDA said on Friday.

In an alert to import inspectors, the FDA told personnel to detain wheat gluten from the Chinese company until it had provided results of an investigation into melamine contamination and other information.

The notice was dated March 30 and posted on the FDA Web site here

Other companies besides Menu Foods have recalled pet products because they received wheat gluten from the Chinese company.

Colgate-Palmolive Co. unit Hill’s Pet Nutrition Inc. recalled its Prescription Diet m/d Feline dry food, while Nestle SA’s Purina PetCare Co. recalled Alpo Prime Cuts in Gravy wet dog food with specific date codes.

Del Monte Pet Products recalled certain dog treats and wet food.

FDA officials told reporters on Monday there was no sign that wheat gluten contaminated with melamine has entered the human food chain.

”At this time, we can say there is no evidence“ the gluten was used in food products for people,” said Michael Rogers of FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs.

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