China firm denies role in pet deaths food scare

A Chinese company at the centre of a contamination
scare that has led to a recall of pet foods in North America and Europe said on
Friday it had never exported wheat gluten to the United States.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) said wheat gluten from China’s Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology
Development Company Ltd. contained an industrial chemical called melamine, which
was suspected of causing the deaths of 16 cats and dogs.

But a manager at Xuzhou Anying told Reuters the
company was cooperating with the Chinese government to investigate the
allegations and insisted the firm was only a domestic feed dealer that had not
produced anything itself.

“We haven’t
sold an ounce of wheat gluten to the U.S. and I don’t understand how come they
are blaming us,” the manager, surnamed Mao, said by telephone.

Anying’s company profiles on the
Internet describe it as a feed manufacturer and exporter.

China’s quarantine authorities said the
country was carrying out a nationwide inspection on the quality of its wheat
gluten.

“Sampling and examination are
under way,” the official Xinhua news agency quoted Xia Wenjun, an official at
the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, as
saying.

Earlier this week, the
administration said that China had never exported wheat or wheat gluten to the
United States, a main wheat producer, or to Canada, where Menu Foods
(Toronto:MEW_U.TO – news) is based.

Menu
Foods has recalled a variety of its pet food products in the U.S., Canada and
Toronto.

Xia said officials would stay
in touch with the U.S. Embassy in Beijing on the results of the inspection but
made no comment on Xuzhou Anying.

The
FDA had said the suspect wheat gluten had been sold by Anying to ChemNutra Inc.
of Las Vegas, which in turn had sold the wheat gluten to Menu Foods and a few
other companies that have since recalled pet products.

FDA officials said they were uncertain
whether melamine had actually caused the pets to become ill. They said limited
studies have found melamine is “fairly nontoxic,” but investigators are
considering whether dogs and cats might be especially sensitive to it, or
whether another chemical may also have been present.

Chinese authorities have also dismissed
New York state officials’ earlier claim that Chinese gluten might have contained
aminopterin, a toxin used in rat poison, and might have caused the pet
deaths.


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Posted: 04/06/2007 at 04:13 PM
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Posted: 04/06/2007 at 04:13 PM
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