Testing has already revealed that two pet food ingredients, rice protein concentrate and wheat gluten, have been contaminated with melamine, a component of plastic compounds and pesticides. As the list of affected brands continues to grow past 100 the theories and misinterpretations continue to increase too. But while the FDA has received more than 12,000 reports of pets suffering from related illnesses, only 16 deaths are confirmed as directly attributed to the contamination. These deaths were confirmed from analysis of urine containing melamine.
Wheat gluten is used for binding and serves as a protein source in some pet foods. The U.S. is the world’s biggest consumer of wheat gluten due to its widespread use as a meat alternative in pet food and in many baked goods. Most wheat gluten consumed in the U.S. is imported. Rice protein is a cheaper alternative to soy or whey and is protein-rich.
The U.S. government has banned the import of wheat gluten from China, suspecting a link between the melamine sometimes used in fertilizers in Asia and the wheat gluten imported from China. And while China may refute the claims, melamine has been found in both wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate imported from China – the two contaminated pet food ingredients. Reports of a third contaminated ingredient, corn gluten, have yet to be confirmed by the FDA.