This I Believe

Cathy - Draper, Utah
Entered on April 30, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: injustice

Hog Heaven

Is our food chain safe in America? In March we were advised to start reading the label ingredients on canned and bagged pet food. A lot of people have been encouraged to read the labels on their personal food products. We do if we want to check calories, fat content, and carbohydrate grams on the food label. The FDA has reassured the public that the human food chain is safe.

I lived in a rural area of Minnesota over twenty years ago and some friends’ acquired semi truck loads of old Cracker Jacks. The Cracker Jacks were fine, they were past their expiration date so; they could not be sold to the public for consummation. The Cracker Jacks were given to some hog farmers. The hogs were in hog heaven with this sweet treat adding to their weight gain. I never heard what happened to all the prizes in the boxes. Creative and right thinking people turned a loss into a win-win situation for the farmers and the hogs. Remembering that story has made me wonder, what has happened to all the recalled pet food?

Today in the Salt Lake Tribune I read about new recalls on pet-food manufacturers in the United States. Almost two months after reports of contamination in China’s wheat gluten imports, melamine has been found in rice protein concentrate purchased from China. The rice protein was imported and sold by Wilbur-Ellis one of the largest privately owned companies in the United States. According to the Wilbur-Ellis corporate website they had acquired the assets of the Knox McDaniel Company in Ogden, Utah to expand its feed operations. The Wilbur-Ellis Ogden site is just four blocks away from American Nutrition, Inc. (ANI) that manufactures pet food for other pet food companies along with their own American Nutrition Product line It appears the ANI had been adding the unauthorized rice protein concentrate to the Harmony Farms products along with other animal food products for some time. ANI only told the other companies that the food ANI had manufactured for them was contaminated with melamine when the FDA was about to disclose that information to the various pet food companies. . Ironically the American Nutrition, Inc. product line was not affected by the recall. The pet food I changed to in March so as not to feed the melamine poison to my dog is the latest to be added to the recall list. Wheat gluten was not on the ingredient label and the brand name “Chicken Soup for Dog Lovers” made me feel safe and caring. I am making my own dog food again but, it will not contain pork.

Hogs are frequently fed “salvage” food, like the Cracker Jacks I mentioned earlier, which includes pet food that has spilled from bags during manufacturing and is therefore unsuitable for dog and cat consumption. The saga continues as hog farms in the states of Utah, North Carolina, Ohio, New York, California and possibly Ohio are suspected of receiving tainted pet food. Some hog farms have been placed on quarantine. The FDA is conducting testing on the hogs to determine if melamine is in their systems. FDA officials now believe three pet food ingredients; wheat gluten, rice protein concentrate and corn gluten imported from China were tainted by melamine.

To say I ’m angry would be an understatement. I’ve been betrayed by immoral companies, profiteers and the cowardice of many people that know there are problems with our imported food supplies. Reaction from the government and the companies involved seems to wait until it has entered the human food chain and there is sickness and possibly death.