WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government said on Monday 38 poultry farms in Indiana were given contaminated feed in early February containing melamine, with some of the chickens likely to have entered the food supply.
The U.S. Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration said there was a “low-risk” to humans and no food recalls were expected at this time. They are uncertain how many chickens were involved, how many entered the food supply or where they went.
“We haven’t completed counting yet,” said USDA spokesman Keith Williams.
In a joint statement, USDA and FDA said “all of the broilers believed to have been fed contaminated product have since been processed. The breeders that were fed the contaminated product are under voluntary hold by the flock owners.”
Birds that were given the contaminated feed will not be allowed to enter the U.S. food supply. Farmers will be compensated if they destroy the birds that consume the feed.
The discovery of chickens in Indiana was found by U.S. officials in an ongoing investigation of the spread of melamine, a chemical used in plastics and fertilizer, that so far has been found in pet food and livestock and poultry feeds. Last week, the government said a poultry feed mill in Missouri also may have purchased contaminated feed.
Melamine has been found in wheat gluten and rice protein imported from China for use in certain pet foods, some of which was later mixed into animal feeds. Tests also have detected a compound similar to melamine called cyanuric acid in some samples.
Last Thursday, USDA said around 6,000 hogs in six states — California, Kansas, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina and Utah — may have been given the contaminated feed.
The head of Tyson Foods Inc., the world’s largest chicken, beef and pork processor, said on Monday an estimated 195 hogs were sent to its pork plant in Nebraska.
“We are working closely with USDA and FDA,” Tyson Foods Inc. Chief Executive Richard Bond said in an earnings conference call with analysts.
Additional reporting by Bob Burgdorfer