Two receive probation in tainted pet food case

The couple who imported a tainted pet food ingredient from China that killed thousands of animals will spend three years on probation, a federal judge ruled today in Kansas City.

Stephen and Sally Miller of Las Vegas and their company, ChemNutra Inc., were fined $35,000 and barred from importing pet food ingredients in the future.

Evidence doesn’t indicate that the Millers knowingly or intentionally distributed poisoned ingredients, U.S. Magistrate Judge John T. Maughmer said. But he said they did not exercise due diligence to ensure the product was safe.

In February 2008, a federal indictment charged the Millers with importing more than 800 metric tons of tainted wheat gluten, received at a port of entry in Kansas City, over the course of about four months.

The gluten — which was laced with melamine to make it appear to have a higher protein content than it actually did — was then sold to pet food manufacturers.

The FDA estimates that roughly 1,950 cats and 2,200 dogs died after eating the contaminated food. More than 150 brands of pet food were recalled in 2007.

The Millers pleaded guilty in June.

Two Chinese companies that allegedly added the melamine to the gluten then falsely labeled it to avoid inspection were indicted, too.

However, the United States has no extradition treaty with China that would enable the court to prosecute those companies or their leaders.

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Posted: 02/13/2010 at 05:42 PM
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Posted: 02/13/2010 at 05:42 PM
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