China's Tainted Food Scandal Grows Worse: Animal Feed May Be Contaminated

By Eliza Strickland | October 31, 2008 2:17 pm

China contaminated milk melamineThe toxic chemical melamine that has already contaminated Chinese milk and eggs may also have been widely used in animal feed, according to new reports from the Chinese state media. Chinese consumers were horrified when it was revealed in September that four babies had died and more than 50,000 were sickened due to tainted infant formula, and the outrage grew in October when eggs from four large companies were also found to be tainted. Since then, the widening scandal has caused companies across Asia to recall products made with Chinese milk or eggs, and the new reports suggest that there may be broader recalls to come.

Melamine can be used to make food products appear to have a higher protein content, and the new admission from the state-run media, which usually suppresses bad news, shows that the trick was commonly used. “The feed industry seems to have acquiesced to agree on using the chemical to reduce production costs while maintaining the protein count for quality inspections,” the state-run China Daily said in an editorial. “We cannot say for sure if the same chemical has made its way into other types of food,” the newspaper added [BBC News].

Melamine is commonly used to produce plastics and fertilizer, and recent findings suggest that the melanine scrap (left over from the production of melamine) has become a commodity in its own right. The Nanfang Daily said chemical plants used to pay companies to treat and dispose of melamine scrap, but about five years ago began selling it to manufacturers who repackaged it as “protein powder.” Initially, the inexpensive powder was used to give the impression of higher protein levels in aquatic feed, then companies started added it to feed for cattle and poultry, the report said, citing an unidentified chemical industry expert. “The effect far more exceeds the milk powder scandal,” the newspaper said [AP]. In Shanghai, the government is reportedly investigating more than 100 fish farming companies to see if they’ve been using tainted fish food.

Health officials urged consumers to stay calm when the tainted eggs were discovered, noting that there had been no known cases of consumers becoming seriously ill from eating melamine-tainted eggs. Hong Kong officials said … a child would have to eat about two dozen eggs in a single day to become ill [The New York Times]. Similar reassurances are now forthcoming regarding the impact of contaminated animal feed. Nutrition and public health professor Marion Nestle said it was unlikely humans would get sick from eating meat from animals raised on melamine-tainted feed, because the amount of chemical in a few servings of meat would not be harmful. However, she added: “It shouldn’t be in the food supply at all. It’s fraudulent. And the animals really can’t use it for nutrition, so it’s not good for the animals” [AP].

Image: flickr / Marc van der Chijs

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine
  • Jesse Mull

    This so stupid, we should stop sending money to those damned communist to buy their f***ing tainted food. This should be stopped immediately. What happened to the U.S. being independent? This not the United States no more its is United States on lease. The government should stop buying goods from there. But, the being full of a**holes that care about filling their pockets do not a flying s**t bout the rest of the country.

    [Moderator’s note: this post has been edited for profanity.]

  • sue colvin

    I agree with you wholeheatedly!!! I have been trying for years to NOT buy anything made in china or has parts from china – it is impossible unless you have bunches of money. I am sick of all this new world order crap and believe we as a nation need to get back to basics and stop letting other countries decide how we are going to live!

  • Wits End

    I think the Chinese Communist Party is killing the whole world. The communists are killing the Chinese common people, and killing the people outside China as well. The communists got special supplied foods which do not have any harmful chemical additives. The “elite” want to live long long years. They want to not only share the 9600 thousand kilometer square (the whole China), but also take the whole world. The communists are more dangerous than terrorists.

  • http://TwoSistersArtandSoul Lisette Root

    Greed and ignorance combined is potentially deadly anywhere and everywhere. Greed alone should carry the highest penalty. It happens here in America, just as it does in China. The punishments should be universal, no country should abdicate responsiblity for prosecuting the guilty.

  • http://festival-local.com/ festivals

    I recently found your website and have been reading along. I figured I might leave my 1st comment. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this web site very frequently. Many thanks

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

80beats

80beats is DISCOVER's news aggregator, weaving together the choicest tidbits from the best articles covering the day's most compelling topics.
ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »