Meat products from animals fed melamine are safe

by Staff
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WASHINGTON — Scientists have concluded there is little risk to human health from eating meat from hogs and chickens that consumed feed containing food scraps with melamine and melamine-related compounds.

The conclusion is the result of a risk assessment done in collaboration with five federal agencies: the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection of the Department of Homeland Security and the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Even in the most risky of situations — when scientists assumed that all the solid food a person consumed in a day was contaminated with melamine at levels observed in the animals fed the feed — the exposure was about 2,500 times lower than a dose considered safe.

The investigation follows the discovery that imported wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate from China was contaminated with melamine and melamine-related compounds. Scraps of contaminated pet food that contained low levels of melamine were distributed to farms in a few states and added to feed for swine and poultry. However, these contaminated scraps were only a small portion of the farm animal rations.

Additionally, while melamine caused kidney damage in the cats and dogs that ate contaminated pet food, there were no signs of kidney damage in the hogs, and both the hogs and chickens that were fed the contaminated feed appear healthy.

The overall conclusion of the risk assessment supports the decision to not recall meat from animals fed contaminated feed.

Hogs and poultry on farms suspected of receiving contaminated feed are under voluntary or state quarantine. However, some feed samples have tested negative for melamine and related compounds, and the U.S.D.A. has concluded that these animals no longer need to be quarantined or withheld from processing. In other situations where feed samples have tested positive for melamine, or where feed samples aren’t available or have not been submitted for testing, the animals continue to be withheld from processing. An animal risk assessment should be completed within a week, and its results will determine future actions.

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