Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Don't panic, the fish are OK

Today, May 8, 2007, they found melamine was fed to fish, but it's not likely to cause any trouble.

Farmed fish fed contaminated material

But the safety of the fish isn't what caught my eye. It was this quote by Dr. David Acheson, "the FDA's assistant commissioner for food protection":

"What we discovered is these are not wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate but in fact are wheat flour contaminated by melamine."

So, according to Dr. Acheson, it never was imported Chinese gluten. Instead, it seems to have been simple contaminated flour all along.

Yesterday, on May 7, 2007, the FDA issued a news release titled FDA/USDA Joint News Release: Scientists Conclude Very Low Risk to Humans from Food Containing Melamine.

That article talked about how meat from hogs and chickens which were fed contaminated feed was no big deal either. As far as it goes, and if this were the only issue, I'd accept the analysis.

But the FDA release was continuing the party line that the contamination came from imported gluten and rice protein:

"In the course of the investigation, it was discovered that pet food was contaminated by wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate that contained melamine and its compounds."

But after the fish story of today and Dr. Acheson's admission that it was flour that is contaminated, not gluten, the obvious question is raised: "How safe is the supply of flour?"

The other obvious question is: "how long has the FDA known about this?"

As of this writing, there is no reference on the FDA or the USDA website regarding this new observation. They are still reassuring us about pork and chickens. It's their job, of course, to make sure we don't panic.


lauren said...

In trying to find out more about this lately, I've encountered the biggest information gap between Internet readers and groundbound media dependents that I've seen yet.

Yesterday at the feed store, I asked whether their chicken feed contained gluten. I thought people must have been asking enough that they would have bothered to find out. What a joke. She said, "No, because it's made in Oregon." Well everybody knows that only Chinese food contains gluten....OK, so I looked at the ingredients list, but first I had to pay for the feed and gtet it loaded into the car. No gluten. Just "processed grain byproducts." That assuredly could include gluten. And if it does, it likely comes from China. But now that doesn't matter anymore, because it isn't just gluten that is potentially contaminated, it's also flour. And there's no way to discover whether "contaminated" means just melamine or also its agonist, cyanuric acid, which is what causes toxic reactions.

In other words, we can't find out whether or not our food is contaminated, but if it is, it is likely to be more universally contaminated than previously thought or admitted.

Tofu is no refuge; the soybeans are likely processed with "protein-boosting chemicals."

At least the Cat's tuna is from far offshore and not farmed, and there is no incentive to fake the protein content, but I don't know if we'll around to feed him and give him his shots.

I'm afraid I have to declare this disgusting.

Ryan S. said...

The FDA stinks.