The FDA (and Cornell University) previously thought that only products produced by Menu Foods that contained wheat were a danger to pets. However, there is new evidence that products not containing wheat gluten have been contaminated with melamine through rice proteins. Melamine is primarily used to produce melamine resin, which when combined with formaldehyde produces a very durable thermosetting plastic. This plastic is often used in kitchen utensils or plates. In animal studies, ingestion of large amounts of melamine in monomer form may lead to kidney stones, cancer or reproductive damage.
The new results have led to the recall of additional brands of pet food to those initially recalled, and now include one of the Natural Life brand products. Two additional production dates of eight varieties of pet food have been added to the recall list. These eight varieties of pet food had previously been withdrawn from the market and should already be off the retailer shelves.
Today another pet food manufacturer has issued a voluntary recall on some of its brands. Wilbur-Ellis shipped rice protein to a total of five U.S. pet-food manufacturers located in Utah, N.Y., Kansas and two in Missouri. Last Sunday, April 15, Wilbur-Ellis notified the FDA that a single bag in a recent shipment of rice protein concentrate from its Chinese supplier had tested positive for melamine. Wilbur-Ellis is urging all pet food manufacturers using rice protein concentrate supplied through Wilbur-Ellis to recall any pet food that may be on supermarket shelves. A list of affected brands is not yet available.
The FDA has recorded 16 animal deaths related to the wheat gluten-pet food recall. However, other organizations have put the death toll in the thousands. The FDA has since embargoed all shipments into the United States from the Chinese supplier of the suspect wheat gluten and action is expected soon regarding the contaminated rice protein. Meanwhile, PetPeoplesPlace.com has received its first online pet memorial in which the pet’s owner attributes the death to the pet food contamination (below).