Monday, April 30, 2007

Years of tainted Pet Food from China

NY Time and Reuters have now reported that melamine, used to make plastic, has been added to grains and gluten by some Chinese companies to boost the real protein content of pet food. This has been happening FOR YEARS.

What now?
I have 5 cats that died since 2000 that I am convinced got sick from food, (with a little help from vaccines tossed in for bad measure)

How will we know when our job is done?
-Kim of Petfoodtracker

(Kim along with Ben of Itchmo, Nikki of Howl911, Theresa of PetsitUSA and of course Gina and Christine of Petconnection are the brilliant bloggers tracking this pet food recall crisis, go there and read, and donate too!)

I'll give some advice to the pet food companies on what to do next. (Will they listen to a Brain in a Box? I doubt it, but I have to try.)

1) Stop treating this like a recall of a defective product. This is food that kills living things. Not a product whose malfunction causes an inconvenience. This is not Dell recalling batteries. Think Johnson and Johnson recalling Tylenol. That is your shorthand message. Learn it. Live it. Love it.

2) Listen to your real customers, people with pets. People tell you that, but I know many CEOs DON'T know what their real end users really think. Who do CEOs see as their customer? Wall Street analysts, the board of directors and the major retailers. But they are not the ones whose "fur kids" are dying. Pet parents, as many call themselves, won't just down grade your stock. They want you in jail. You killed their fur kid, they will tell EVERYONE they know, until they trust you again...if ever.

3) Do the hard thing that will restore trust for the end user. The Tylenol story is bandied about as the gold standard of the right way to do things. J&J focused on restoring trust to the end user, based on their corporate value of safety, not "how to I keep the big retailers who buy truckloads happy?"

Don't think, "How do I minimize this for Wall Street so that the quarterlies will look good after the 25 million dollar write down for the recall.' Think, 'What will it take to convince the end user, whose pet is dead, to buy my food again?" When you answer THAT question then you will know what to do.

Companies ask, "What are blogs good for? " Most companies want to push to bloggers, to sell them stuff. They ask, "How do I get them to write good stuff about my products?"
Wrong question. Ask, "What are they saying about my company and product?" READ them for customer attitudes instead of figuring out how to sell stuff to people with blogs. What would you learn? Just how PISSED people are and, since your customers are smart, what they want you to do before they trust you again.

4) Bring in third party trusted testers. Not just "inspectors", TESTERS. People who actually analyze food. Then need to be independently funded and above reproach. Test EVERYTHING. Give them veto power over everything that goes into the food. For manufacturers the phase you are afraid of but you need? "They can stop the line."

5) Open up your records. Where does it comes from, what's in it? The cat's out of the bag (and he's not eating your food!) People now know about the Chinese connection, but do they know about the other dirty little secrets like rendering plants and what THEY put in the food? Dead, diseased, dying and down cattle are not good things to put in any food.
Now is the time to do this, or just wait until the mad cow strikes again, your choice.

6) Spend more on labeling than on marketing for 6 months.

7) Demand more of the FDA and the USDA and government regulators.
Instead of screaming, "We can regulate ourselves!" Admit you have done a crummy job and say, "Please FDA, inspect us MORE. Here is MORE and FASTER access to our information. And here is the information about our suppliers. Here are our databases. This is NOT proprietary any more, you don't have to beg us for paperwork anymore." (I'm looking at you ConAgra).

8) Really communicate with your end users. The CEO and operations person should be on the phone talking to the folks whose pets have died. What do THEY want? What will it take to make they trust you again? If your communications people told you to do this and you didn't, listen to them now. If they didn't, get someone who understands how to keep your end users happy.

Lots of lawyers might have tried to help you minimize this. That ship has sailed, you need to go big with your story and THEN it will be minimized, but as we see from politics, it's often the attempts to cover up and down play a crisis that just makes it bigger.

I don't expect any companies to listen to or follow any of this advice. Why? Because right now they are listening to the "experts". The experts you need to hear from first are the people whose pets are sick or dead. Then trust your gut, if you have a heart you'll know what really needs to be done.

We hear you say, "We have pets too." But we don't hear what you would do if this happened to YOUR pet. What could you do to make your dead dog proud of you again? What would your dog, who you fed tainted food, ask of you to make it stop, so it never happened again? Your dog can't talk to you, but their guardians can. The parents of "fur kids" can tell you want they need.

What do I think? The company that goes big and demands testing, and welcomes regulation and opens up their books, will "win" this crisis. Everyone else might survive, but they will never come out of this like Johnson and Johnson did.

Who do you want to be like Mr. Pet Food CEO and Mr. Pet Food Brand Manager? Union Carbide after Bhopal or Johnson and Johnson after Tylenol? The choice is yours.

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

IHT Article: "Feed sellers in China routinely use protein substitute" Pulled?

For some reason the article below about melamime routinely being added to animal feed in China disappeared. I wrote them a letter to find out why. I'd call, but it's 5:00 AM in Hong Kong. Probably just a technical glitch because of heavy traffic. Just to help them out I've replicated the entire article below. Once they get more capacity up I'll snip it and link to it (don't want to violate any copyrights!)

April 29, 2:45 pm PDT, San Francisco

Press Relations, Asia/Pacific
International Herald Tribune
May-Ling Nam
1201 K Wah Centre
191 Java Road, North Point
Hong Kong

Press Relations, U.S.
Diane C McNulty
229 West 43rd Street
New York
NY 10036-3959

Dear Ms. McNulty and Ms. Nam:

The article titled "Feed sellers in China routinely use protein substitute"

Is currently unavailable on your website.

By David Barboza and Alexei Barrionuevo
Published: April 29, 2007

Story at url:

This has disappeared from the International Herald Tribune website as of 1:45 pm Pacific Daylight time in San Francisco. As of 2:45 pm PDT it is still off line. I have spoken to several colleagues around the United States and it is unavailable for them as well. This does not appear to be an isolated problem in my region.

Is there a problem with the story that is being corrected? Is there another source of this important story? There are many people that are very interested in a story about contaminated food being sold to the United States.

Please advise,
Mr. Spocko

For your identification purposes below is the text of the article:
Feed sellers in China routinely use protein substitute

The Shandong Mingshui Great Chemical factory in Zhangqiu, Shandong Province, which manufactures urea, melamine and melamine scrap (Ariana Lindquist for The New York Times)

By David Barboza and Alexei Barrionuevo
Published: April 29, 2007

ZHANGQIU, China: American food safety regulators trying to figure out how an industrial chemical called melamine contaminated so much pet food in the United States might come to this heavily polluted city in Shandong Province in the northern part of the country.

Here at the Shandong Mingshui Great Chemical Group factory, huge boiler vats are turning coal into melamine, which is used to create plastics and fertilizer.

But the leftover melamine scrap, small acorn-sized chunks of white rock, is then being sold to local entrepreneurs, who say they secretly mix a powdered form of the scrap into animal feed to artificially enhance the protein level.

The melamine powder has been dubbed "fake protein" and is used to deceive those who raise animals into thinking they are buying feed that provides higher nutrition value.

"It just saves money," says a manager at an animal feed factory here. "Melamine scrap is added to animal feed to boost the protein level."

The practice is widespread in China. For years animal feed sellers have been able to cheat buyers by blending the powder into feed with little regulatory supervision, according to interviews with melamine scrap traders and agricultural workers here.

But now, melamine is at the center of a massive, multinational pet food recall after it was linked earlier this month to the deaths and injuries of thousands of cats and dogs in the United States and South Africa.

No one knows exactly how melamine - which had not been believed to be particularly toxic - became so fatal in pet food, but its presence in any form of American food is illegal.

U.S. regulators are now headed to China to figure out why pet food ingredients imported from here, including wheat gluten, were contaminated with high levels of the chemical.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has banned imports of wheat gluten from China and ordered the recall of over 60 million packages of pet food. And last week, the agency opened a criminal investigation in the case and searched the offices of at least one pet food supplier.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture also stepped in Thursday, ordering more than 6,000 hogs to be quarantined or slaughtered after some of the pet food ingredients laced with melamine were accidentally sent to hog farms in eight states, including California.

Scientists are now trying to determine whether melamine could be harmful to human health.

The huge pet food recall is raising questions in the United States about regulatory controls at a time when food supplies are increasingly being sourced globally. Some experts complain that the FDA is understaffed and underfunded, making it incapable of safeguarding America's food supply.

"They have fewer people inspecting product at the ports than ever before," says Caroline Smith DeWaal, director of food safety for the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington. "Until China gets programs in place to verify the safety of their products, they need to be inspected by U.S. inspectors. This open-door policy on food ingredients is an open invitation for an attack on the food supply, either intentional or unintentional."

The pet food case is also putting China's agricultural exports under greater scrutiny because the country's dubious food safety record and history of excessive antibiotic and pesticide use.

In recent years, for instance, China's food safety scandals have involved everything from fake baby milk formulas and soy sauce made from human hair, to instances where cuttlefish were soaked in calligraphy ink to improve their color and eels were fed contraceptive pills to make them grow long and slim.

China's government disputes any suggestion that melamine from the country could have killed pets. But Friday, regulators here banned the use of melamine in vegetable proteins made for export or for use in domestic food supplies.

Yet it is clear from visiting this region of northern China is that for years melamine has been quietly mixed into Chinese animal feed and then sold to unsuspecting farmers as protein-rich pig, poultry and fish feed.

Many animal feed operators advertise on the Internet seeking to purchase melamine scrap. And melamine scrap producers and traders said in recent interviews that they often sell to animal feed makers.

"Many companies buy melamine scrap to make animal feed, such as fish feed," says Ji Denghui, general manager of the Fujian Sanming Dinghui Chemical Company. "I don't know if there's a regulation on it. Probably not. No law or regulation says 'don't do it,' so everyone's doing it. The laws in China are like that, aren't they? If there's no accident, there won't be any regulation."

(Page 2 of 2)

Most local feed companies do not admit that they use melamine. But last Friday here in Zhangqiu, a fast-growing industrial city southeast of Beijing, a pair of animal feed producers explained in great detail how they purchase low-grade wheat, corn, soybean or other proteins and then mix in small portions of nitrogen-rich melamine, whose chemical properties give a bag of animal feed an inflated protein level under standard tests.

Melamine is the new scam of choice, they say, because urea - another nitrogen-rich chemical that works similarly - is illegal for use in pig and poultry feed and can be easily tested for in China as well as the United States.

"If you add it in small quantities, it won't hurt the animals," said one animal feed entrepreneur whose name is being withheld to protect him from prosecution.

The man - who works in a small animal feed operation that consists of a handful of storage and mixing areas - said he has mixed melamine into animal feed for years.

He said he was not currently using melamine, which is actually made from urea. But he then pulled out a plastic bag containing what he said was melamine powder and said he could dye it any color.

Asked whether he could create an animal feed and melamine brew, he said yes, he has access to huge supplies of melamine. Using melamine-spiked pet food ingredient was not a problem, he said, even thought the product would be weak in protein.

"Pets are not like pigs or chickens," he said casually, explaining that cheating them on protein won't matter. "They don't need to grow fast."

The feed seller makes a heftier profit because the substitute melamine scrap is much cheaper than purchasing soy, wheat or corn protein.

"It's true you can make a lot more profit by putting melamine in," said a second animal feed seller here in Zhangqiu. "Melamine will cost you about $1.20 per ton for each protein count whereas real protein costs you about $6, so you can see the difference."

Few people outside of agriculture know about melamine here. The Chinese media, which is strictly censored, has not reported much about melamine or the pet food recall overseas. And no one in agriculture here seems to believe that melamine is particularly harmful to animals or pets in small doses.

A man named Jing, who works in the sales department at the Shandong Mingshui Great Chemical Group, said Friday that melamine scrap prices had been rising but he was not aware of how the company's product was being used.

"We have an auction for melamine scrap every three months," he said. "I haven't heard of it being added to animal feed. It's not for animal feed."

David Barboza reported from Zhangqiu and Alexei Barrionuevo reported from Chicago. Rujun Shen also contributed reporting.

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A Marine Who's A Mom Talks back to Moronic War Supporters

It you haven’t been shot at in that f__king hell hole, SHUT THE F__K UP!

How do I dare say this to you moronic war supporters who are “Supporting our Troops” and waving the flag and all that happy horse sh_t? I’ll tell you why. I’m a Marine and I served my tour in Iraq. My husband, also a Marine, served several. I left the service six months ago because I got pregnant while he was home on leave and three days ago I get a visit from two men in uniform who hand me a letter and tell me my husband died in that f__king festering sand-pit. He should have been home a month ago but they extended his tour and now he’s coming home in a box.

You f__kers and that god-damn lying sack of sh_t they call a president are the reason my husband will never see his baby and my kid will never meet his dad.

best of craigslist > s.f. bayarea > From an Angry Soldier
Originally Posted: Tue, 10 Apr 13:00 PDT
PostingID: 309485032
Read the original at best of Craigslist

Spotted this letter at Gentilly Girl, (hi Morwan!) via The Katrinacrat who picked up original from San Francisco's Craigslist

This woman probably better not identify herself or she will be a target for attack by the right-wing talk radio. Why? Because she used bad language! Since she is still a Marine she isn't officially supposed to say bad things to the media, I think there is some kind of order about that (there is a reason that only retired generals speak out strongly against the war and the Commander in Chief). But really, read the whole thing (link).

Maybe this Marine mom will be the fun new target for people who feel that they can attack Cindy Sheehan because she is just a mom of a dead solider and didn't serve herself ("But, but, Casey chose to go! She is dishonoring his memory!").

Considering how strong this Marine, wife and mother's language is, maybe she won't be able to talk on commercially-supported broadcast radio, where we have decades old, agreed upon rules that limit what people can say. Does that limit their ability to attack her? No. But it does limit her ability to swear at the obscenity of this war from a position of real authority.

The next time I hear some pearl clutchers bitching about what dirty mouths the bloggers have, as compared to the "polite" talk radio hosts who joke about the death of millions, I'll send them this letter. I don't always redact swear words, but I did so here for effect. This is a case where I want people to see the context, and if they choose, read the rest.

BTW, even if the radio hosts DO say swear words, they have a seven second delay to catch it. But I ask you, which is more obscene, what happened to this woman or the people who will attack her for calling out the moronic war supporters?

Friday, April 27, 2007

Q. Can the FDA recall Food? A. No.*

Windows media Video of GAO superstar Lisa Shames speaking about FDA. Link about 7 minutes

Q. Can the FDA recall food? A. No. (*with the exception of baby formula)

The FDA can not make mandatory recalls for food tainted with bad wheat, rice or corn gluten. They can't issue a recall for HUMAN food folks. NOT just pet food. I've been asking people this question lately and most are surprised to find out this simple piece of information.

So if you hear a story about this bad gluten getting into the human food chain AND that gluten is put into a product shipped to a store near you, remember, the company has to voluntarily issue a recall, the company has NO deadline to issue information to the public (or the FDA for that matter) in a timely fashion.

Now most companies are smart enough to do the right thing, but if they delay, dither and withhold information there are no penalties.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Frightening Food Facts about the FDA from the GAO

From Tuesday's House hearings about the FDA:

Did you know:
The federal government can issue mandatory recalls for tires and toys but not food?
The only exception is baby formula. Did you know that? Does that surprise you?

How the heck did this happen? Who decided that killing your customers is just the cost of doing business? Is letting citizen's pets die a good way to get votes? I thought that even illogical humans would figure out that old Vulcan saying,
"Killing your customers is bad PR."
For those who didn't get to watch the hearing they feature my new hero
Lisa Shames, Acting Director Natural Resources and Environment, Government Accountability Office.

How cool is she? First she has a great name like "shamus - as in detective or it could be "She shames the people who rip us off. " And she works for our beloved GAO! I think Scout Prime and I will have to give them The Greatest Government Agency in America Award.
Seriously doesn't everyone want MORE accountability in government?

For this video I some titles and pulled out some key quotes for emphasis. I'm still new at this video stuff so your advice is welcome and yes, I'm sure you could have done it better Rich.

The video is in Real Media format. I'll try and get it in WMA soon.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Opening Statement Paul Henderson Menu Foods Congressional Hearing

Paul K. Henderson, President and CEO of Menu Foods Income Fund.
Opening Statement Video (link)

Diminished Capacity: Can the FDA assure the Safety and Security of the Nations Food Supply. on April 24, 2007

Things I want you to notice.
1) Everyone is under oath
2) He says inspections would not have fixed this. What would? Remember, inspection is not the same as testing. Who does the testing?
3) Regarding testing. "Industry standard testing" took several weeks. I think we should compare time lines. The one he submitted and Itchmo's.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Some Questions for the FDA hearings on Food Safety

I asked the folks posting at Petconnection, "What questions do you want asked of the gluten importers like Wilbur-Ellis and ChemNutra?" I sent the list to some people on the committee, but don't know if they got them in time. We'll see if any of the questions get asked. And if they don't get asked the media covering this can always ask them! It's want the people want to know!

Hearing title: Diminished Capacity: Can the FDA assure the Safety and Security of the Nations Food Supply. on April 24, 2007 Link to video page

Here is the compilation. I added a few and combined others. Thanks to everyone who contributed*(see list below)

I. Questions for ChemNutra, Menu Foods (and other manufacturers and suppliers)

The questions asked again and again regarding ChemNutra and then Wilbur-Ellis were:

Why the delay in naming who they sold the contaminated gluten too ? They refused to release the names of the companies who purchased the product. This appears to be standard practice. Why? Were deals made regarding disclosure? Is it legal to delay this info?

Who suggested (or condoned) the delay giving info to the public? (This really looks suspicious to many people.)
-- Are the importing companies following a rule given to them by the FDA to NOT give info to the public in a timely fashion? If companies are being instructed to withhold information from the public, what is the time frame given and reason why? (For example, were they told that they had 24 hours to alert the companies first? )
(This line of questions may reveal to the public what the FDA can and CANNOT compel companies to do.)

To the public, delays and "voluntary recalls" make it look like the FDA is more concerned with protecting the corporations than the lives of the pets.

3) Why can't the FDA compel companies to reveal the names of manufacturers they sold contaminated ingredients to?
For example in this AP article we see, "Miller declined to identify what companies ChemNutra supplied.

We see this in the Wilbur-Ellis stories as well. You would never see a story where it says:
"Doctors today reported there are FIVE BRANDS of baby food on your grocery store shelves that might be poisonous, could even kill your child, but declined to identify which brands are under investigation."
This is unconceivable. Yet, when it comes to our pets this is what we get.
-- Nikki,

Did the Department of Homeland Security tell them not to name names because of potential panic if the company named also sold human food? Was there a concerted effort to keep this in the pet food category?

4) This question is for both importers: Does your company test products - for anything? Do you test your pet drugs that you import from China? (Note: ChemNutra removed the list of many of the of products they sell from their website, including pet drugs.)

5) Is anyone from the importer company actually in China looking at products or is all this done with paper analysis (guarantee) of the product? (This question from CathyA is very important because when someone is simply verifying the label that is NOT testing.)

6) If the supplier tests, are they under any legal mandate to tell the FDA they found contamination?

If Menu Foods is the tester of ingredients, when did they notify the importer that there was a problem? What did they tell them the problem was? When did they notify the the other companies the product was sold to?

7) Labeling Questions. Is it true that the ingredients in the food can change but the label doesn't have to change for 6 months to reflect the new or changed ingredients?

8) New! on 4/23. What happens to the recalled food? Is it being sold to more pigs? Other animals? Rendering plants? What are the guidelines for disposal?

I got the questions from the following posters at

*CathyA, Dorene, Sharon, Deanna, Joyce, Don, Gary, petlover, Lois Kimball, Pamela J. Betz-Baron, Kathy, SymbaandTrooper, 4lgdfriend, Linda MS, Marry Ann, slt, Jan, Kathi, FMtz, Tammy, Christie Keith, and Laurie

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

FDA to China, "Can we Please Check out the sources of contaimated pet food?" China. "No."

So the FDA wanted to go to China to check out the source of the contaminated pet food. China said no. Our Sen. Durbin said, "Hey, that's unacceptable." He's waiting for a reply. (see release and letter to Chinese ambassador below.)

One of the big frustration in this whole contaminated pet food crisis is companies (and now nations) withholding information. There are multiple reasons for this. Some are legit. If you rush to say that company X sold something that kills people and you are wrong, that could destroy reputations. But what if you have PROOF? And you have confirmed the information and you STILL don't tell people? What if you want to get more info to SAVE lives? And the people who have that info won't share it? Or they deny reality? Are there any consequences to this refusal to share? Besides the moral responsibility, is there any legal responsibility?

There are consequences to the pets when they eat poison. What are the consequences to people who withhold information or don't share it in a timely fashion?

Today the brilliant Nikki from pointed out how crazy it is that companies and now countries won't work harder and tell people faster the information they need regarding a safe food supply. She said can you imagine this news alert?

"Doctors today reported there are FIVE BRANDS of baby food on your grocery store shelves that might be poisonous, could even kill your child, but declined to identify which brands are under investigation."
This is unconceivable. Yet, when it comes to our pets this is what we get.

Today it's pet food. Tomorrow it WILL be people food.

Can we agree that now is the time to fix this system? Do we HAVE to have dead humans before we act?

Let's put into place better processes, procedures and yes LAWS so that people will move more quickly and reveal more completely information about contaminated food.

Press release from Sen. Durbin's office

Durbin, Delauro Meet With FDA's von Eschenbach.
Urge Chinese Government To Cooperate On Pet Food Contamination Investigation

[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) today met with U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, Andrew von Eschenbach in Durbin's Capitol office to discuss the latest recall of pet food, this time caused by contaminated rice protein imported from China.

In the meeting, Durbin and DeLauro learned that the Chinese Government has blocked requests from the FDA to send personnel to China to inspect the facilities suspected of producing the contaminated products. The FDA first contacted the Chinese Government on April 4, 2007, but have not been granted permission to send food inspectors into the country. In response, Durbin and DeLauro sent a letter to the Chinese Ambassador to the United States, Zhou Wenzong, urging the Chinese Government to issue visas to U.S. food inspectors as quickly as possible.

"It is unacceptable that the Chinese government is blocking our food safety inspectors from entering their country and examining facilities that are suspected of providing contaminated pet food to American consumers," said Durbin. "We have asked for two things in our letter today -- that the Chinese government allow our inspectors in and that the Chinese ambassador to the United States meet with Congresswoman DeLauro and me to discuss the larger issue of contaminated food being sent to the U.S.. These are reasonable requests and we hope that we can find a level of cooperation with the Chinese."

“At time when China is exporting more foods into the U.S, the Chinese are refusing to allow our inspectors in to the country to investigate the source of the pet food contamination. The FDA needs to be allowed to investigate this so we can better protect our pets and identify the source of the source of the problem. While we have a significant trade relationship with the Chinese, the investigation of the contaminated product comes first,” said DeLauro.

Last week, Durbin, a member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, along with Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), the Chairman of the Subcommittee, held a hearing to question witnesses on the timeline of the investigation, the source of the contamination, and the agency’s regulatory and inspection responsibilities. In the hearing, the Senators also questioned outside experts who about the current state of the pet food industry, as well as regulatory or resource shortfalls that led to the widespread recall of tainted pet food.

Additionally, DeLauro, the Chairman of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, will further explore FDA’s inspection of imported foods in a follow-up hearing before the subcommittee.

Durbin and DeLauro have been actively engaged on food safety issues for over a decade. This Congress they introduced legislation that calls for the development of a single food safety agency and the implementation of a food safety program to standardize American food safety activities (The Safe Food Act S. 654 and H.R. 1148 in the Senate and House respectively). The Illinois senator said legislation he has introduced to consolidate all federal food safety responsibilities into a single, independent agency has taken on new urgency because of a possibly heightened need to respond quickly and effectively to any acts of bioterrorism or agroterrorism. Currently, there are at least 12 different federal agencies and 35 different laws governing food safety. With overlapping jurisdictions, federal agencies often lack accountability on food safety-related issues.

The non-partisan U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) has been unequivocal in its recommendation for consolidation of federal food safety programs. In February of this year, the GAO deemed federal oversight of food safety as “high risk” to the economy and public health and safety. Over the past two decades, GAO has also issued numerous reports on topics such as food recalls, food safety inspections and the transport of animal feeds. Each of these reports highlights the current fragmentation and inconsistent organization of the various agencies involved in food safety oversight.

[copy of the letter attached and below]

April 18, 2007

Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20008

Dear Mr. Ambassador:

The ongoing investigation into the recent series of pet deaths and illnesses in the United States has revealed that contaminated batches of wheat gluten and rice protein responsible for these events were imported from China. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), China was the source of both the contaminated wheat gluten responsible for the recall of more than 60 million containers of cat and dog food, and the most recent recall of rice protein products.

Both products were contaminated with melamine, a chemical used for industrial purposes in the United States and in fertilizers in China. According to experts, no level of melamine should be found in pet or human food.

In the case of the contaminated wheat gluten, FDA has identified Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. Ltd. as the source of the product. Although spokespeople for Xuzhou Anying have denied involvement in the incident, U.S.-based importer ChemNutra, Inc., has demonstrated that it imported the contaminated wheat gluten from Xuzhou Anying and various media reports show that the Chinese company was involved in purchasing significant quantities of melamine. In the case of the rice protein contamination, U.S. importer Wilbur-Ellis has said that it imported its products from Binzhou Futian Biology Technology, Ltd.

In response to these contaminations, on March 30, 2007, FDA took steps to block imports of Chinese wheat gluten thought to pose a risk to the safety of the human and pet food supply. The Agency has also made multiple requests to the Chinese Government to allow U.S. inspectors to look at the facilities that are suspected to have produced the contaminated product. On April 4, 2007, the FDA sent its first letter to the Chinese Government asking for visas to allow its inspectors visit China. The request was not granted, and on April 17, 2007, the FDA sent an additional letter emphasizing that it wished to be allowed to send its inspectors to China.

This incident has brought suffering to pet owners who have seen their animals fall prey to illness or death, and caused significant economic losses to U.S. companies that believed they were importing wholesome products

Therefore, we strongly urge the Chinese Government to quickly issue visas to U.S. inspectors and cooperate in this investigation. Last year, the United States imported more than $2.1 billion of agricultural goods from China, up from nearly $1.8 billion the year before. Clearly, this is an important trading relationship.

We appreciate the courtesy of a timely response. We would also like to meet with you in the near future to discuss this issue.


______________________________ ______________________________
Richard J. Durbin Rosa L. DeLauro
U.S. Senator Chairwoman House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies

UPDATE 1 Edited to remove double post info

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Monday, April 16, 2007

People who Miss the Point. Swearing edition

Miss Manners often starts off her response to people Gentle Reader. Some how I don't think that S T is a Gentle Reader. (I'm not going to put his name up here because it is too easy to spoof email addresses. If this person wants to identify himself using the type of scholar he was in college I'll put up his name. Until then he's S.T.)

Note: X-rated language in the email below.

This was a response to my post on "Who would Jesus Shoot" below.

from S T<> 4:13 pm (1 hour ago)
to spockosemail @
date Apr 16, 2007 4:13 PM
subject Jerking off to Mass Murder

Hello You Sick Fuck,

You are not just a moron, you are a sick, sanctimonious pervert. You've taken the opportunity presented by a mass murder to lecture us all on what a sainted fuck you are.

Getting your jollies from jerking off to this tragedy is incredibly sick shit.
We know that you are a fucking saint.

Jesus, you might be the dumbest, sickest motherfucker on the web. And, .that's really saying something.


I think that S.T. doesn't really understand my point. We are always being lectured to by the NRA on exactly how we should have guns in our society. That is their opinion and they are very good at explaining that to us all the time. And it is only during the height of a tragedy that they back down. Why? Now is the time for them to come forward and talk to the people who are feeling the pain.

I think they need to face them now.

BTW, Brian Sussman's response to this? We need more guns on campus.

So Mr. Sussman is lecturing me on what to do in response to this (on the commercially supported broadcast radio). That is HIS response to this tragedy. He is blaming the states and campus for not voting for laws that allow more guns.

Who Would Jesus Shoot? UPDATED after Virginia Tech Shooting

This was first posted in October 13, 2005. After another round of school shootings. Today I'm reposting an update:

Virginia Tech Shooting, April 16 2007
This time around I'd like the parents of the dead children to talk personally with the NRA spokespeople. You want answers. Why did this happen? What forces are in place to make this kind of violence happen?
Don't bother asking the gun man why, he's dead. Talk to these people. They have answers (If you audio tape your phone call be sure to ask for permission first.)

The NRA spokespeople are the best in the world.

To contact an NRA spokesperson call them: Their PR firms is listed here: Here is the link to their results for NRA).

Shirley & Banister Public Affairs (link)
703 739-5920
800 536-5920 They are even in Virginia!

Ask for Diana Banister or Craig Shirley

(FYI: Diane is the one who does music for churches so if you are interested in the Christian angle to gun violence she probably is the one to talk to.)

I'm not kidding when I say these people are the world's best trained spokespeople, they are prepared to offer soothing sound bites for the parents of the dead. If you are in the media don't just talk to them one on one, you should really get them on the line together with friends and relatives of the dead. (And if you do talk to them please let us know what they say, we'll post the replies. I'll bet they are great and will be useful for other people to read.)

Those of you in the press who feel bad about interviewing the parents of dead children , why not call the NRA spokespeople? Do it NOW. Seriously.

It would be great TV/Radio. What, you think that it would be exploiting the tragedy? No.

When YOU call relatives you are already intruding, you are already exploiting the tragedy (and I know how much you HATE doing it, I would too). Now is the time to exploit the tragedy in a new way that will move the conversation forward with the two groups who are the most involved: The NRA the the Relatives of The Dead.

You are already pushing a view point when you call them. You KNOW that there will be screams for gun control right after this. Why not deal with WHERE the screams come from and WHY.

The people whose JOB it is to keep those screams silenced the rest of the year should deal with the sobbing parents, not you. You can understand. You see the pain. But you aren't the one who is working to ensure this kind of violence keeps happening.

Don't wait. This is raw emotion and I really would like the NRA people to be on air, on camera in the same frame with the people who have dead kids. Have them look into each other's eyes.

NRA spokespeople's
job every day is to make sure that these kind of great TV moments are played out over and over again. They have provided you TV people with excellent images and raw emotional interviews for years. Maybe it would be good if they could see what YOU see and talk to the people YOU talk to so that the next time they work to pass a bill, they can remember the look in the eyes of the parents and friends of the dead.


Who would Jesus Shoot? (original post)
I didn't complete a project on time last night so I punished myself by listening to our favorite morally repugnant pro-torture "theocon" radio host Brian Sussman.

I find his self proclaimed title as a theocon confusing. I missed the show were he talked about why Jesus was in support of the war in Iraq. I would have listened but I think I would have been afflicted by non-stop projectile vomiting.

One thing that I really would like the leadership of mainstream Christian churches to focus on would be separating themselves from people who claim to represent the values of Christianity. For example, I think most Christian leaders condemn Fred Phelps, (he of the famous "God Hates Fags" campaign). He's a hate-filled nut.

The right asks for the Mullahs to reign in their own crazy, Islamofacists who promote killing. That makes sense, don't you think they should also look at the log in their own eye at "theocons" (Christofacists?) who promote killing? War? Gun ownership? (Wow, would that freak out a few congregations!)

I'm curious, were there a bunch of ministers standing up against the "Kill Bill" that just went into effect in Florida? (Which was hysterically called something like the "Stand your Ground and Don't Run Away like a Girly Man if Anyone Scares You" bill.)

I know the NRA has done a lot of thinking about this. I have to give them credit, they are some of the most well prepared spokesmen on the planet. They have a reasonable sounding argument for every possible challenge to their most extreme rights. I'm sure that twisting Jesus' words into support of their "rights" is on page 2 of their spokesperson's handbook. And I'm sure they have plenty of priests, ministers, and nuns that they can trot out to support them.

Heck, even Spocko KNOWS some gun toting priests. But if pressed, I wonder how many will be behind everyone owning a machine gun? Well that's just what our favorite "theocon" father of five children under the age of 18 believes.

I think it's good Brian Sussman has gone on record with this pro-machine gun views. I also would like him to step forward and reaffirm his views every time children are killed with assault weapons. Better yet it would be swell if he talked to the parents of the dead. Now that would be some great radio! Even better TV! Can you imagine the show? "How are you feeling right now knowing that your daughter was blown away by the totally cool AK-47? Jesus must have really loved your husband to give him the privilege of getting his skull shattered by 12 rounds in rapid succession from a TEC-DC9. What? You aren't happy? Look, the death of your wife is a really small price to pay for the greater right of ours to have cool guns. The sooner you accept that fact the sooner I will be able to look at myself in the mirror."

It would be especially nice if he called up the parents of teen boys who blow their brains out with hand guns found in the home.

It really shouldn't be too hard of a call. "Hey Mom of dead teen, not having those hand guns in the house wouldn't have made any difference. He would have killed himself some other way. You obviously aren't a very responsibly parent if your kid got to your guns and used it. My kids would never do something so stupid. What do you mean you didn't think your kids would either? Well you shouldn't have left them out. Mine are in a safe and my kids don't know the combination. Oh, yours were too? Hmmm. Well I guess your kid is I mean WAS smarter than mine. Well, shit happens. I would say I'd pray for you, but everyone in my Christian community really are for MORE guns and against any kind of heathen gun control. Remember, Jesus said, 'Praise Me and Pass the Ammo!' And besides, only Godless liberals are for limiting guns. Don't look for any pro-gun control comfort from our community. Well have a nice day, there is a cooling front coming in from the north so bundle up!"

Finally, remember folks, if you son or daughter is playing over at the Sussman house, LOOK OUT! You know they've got guns, maybe the Mrs. should show you how safely they are stored. If some of Brian's Kids are in your classroom maybe you should take another look in their backpack! If you are members of Brian's congregation be sure to shake his hand after services and ask him what kind of assault weapon Jesus would be shooting.

Oh and if you are not happy with this kind of fun lovin' gun shooting talk from a Theocon, be sure to alert your favorite KSFO advertiser. Because you KNOW that the machine gun lovers will call the advertisers and tell them they LOVE what Brian is saying.

KSFO Advertisers Pick your favorite and tell 'em how much you appreciate Brian's gun lovin' ways. They have helpfully listed their websites for you to call or write them!

Of if you want to buy some ads on Brian's show be sure to call:

Michael Black, General Sales Manager
or E-Mail Michael Black at
(Hey look, KSFO is a Family Friendly ABC company! Machine Guns and Mickey go together like landmines and legs!)

Get your "Everything's an assault weapon... you could technically assault somebody with a potato peeler!" talking point ready for pamphleteering or cable access show debates.
- From "9 Tips For Assault Weapons Revelers" by Norbizness. Check out
his great site!

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Sen. Durbin Questions Duane Ekedahl, Pet Food Institute

Things I want you to notice about this clip are listed below: Click on any image to play or download link

Note how Senator Durbin lays out the case and then doesn't let incorrect statements or the redefining of critical words go unchallenged.

  1. What does "regulation" mean to the Pet Food Institute? To the pet food industry? Is that the same as the public's understanding of what regulation means?
  2. How does "regulation" happen in practical terms?
  3. Who is doing the "regulation"? How often?

  4. What are the penalties for failure? Consequences for failure?

  5. How often does this "regulation" happen?
  6. Who can effectively, without industry bias, oversee food safety regulation?

  • Who dies when there is NO real oversight and NO real consistent regulation?
  • Who profits?

Also note the simple questions that couldn't be answered.
Note statements of fact made by Ekedahl.

Keep that claim of 100% of the incoming wheat gluten inspected in mind in the days to come.

And finally, what is the difference between inspecting and testing?

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sen. Durbin Questions Eric Nelson of AAFCO

The pet food safety hearing were... fascinating. Click on the photos for the video in Windows Video format or click on this (link)

Sen. Dick Durbin questioning Eric Nelson of the pet food industry group AAFCO

From today's hearings on pet food safety.

My favorite parts:
When Sen. Durbin asks Nelson how many employees are in charge of oversite of the massive pet food industry.
When Durbin asks who funds the American Association of Feed Control Officials, watch Mr. Nelson spin!

I'll try and get the clip of Sen. Durbin's great questioning of the Ekedahl from Pet Food Institute soon. Some really fascinating video.

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When are the Pet Food Recall Hearings?

The Senate hearing is today at 2 p.m. ET. The Webcast will be here, and C-SPAN will also be carrying it.


Monday, April 9, 2007

[CHICAGO, IL] - U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today confirmed that the U.S. Senate will hold an oversight hearing on the ongoing investigation and the regulatory mechanisms that govern the pet food industry as the widespread recall of contaminated pet food continues. Durbin, a member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, has worked with Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), the Chairman of the Subcommittee, to schedule the hearing which will be held at 2:00 p.m. (1:00 p.m. Central Time) on Thursday, April 12, 2007 in Room 192 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Spocko's listening.

For those of you who are super cynical, be aware that this is a START it doesn't have to the end of hearings. And if it doesn't answer all the questions, it might shed some light on what is broken and what is needed.

What ever happens from here on out a hearty Vulcan hand salute goes out to Sen. Durbin and his staff for their hard work on this issue.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

An Open Letter to Pet Food Retailers, Distributors and other sellers of Pet Food.

Dear Retailers and Distributors of pet food:

The current pet food recall is one of the largest in history and has put a time-critical burden on your companies, distribution network and staff. You have moved quickly to get the recalled pet food off your shelves. However, due to the size of the recall and continuing expansion of recalled products and dates, it can be confusing for both you and your customers.

Our Shared Priority: Getting All Recalled Pet Food Off Shelves

At this stage of the recall, the current priority is ensuring that all recalled pet food is off the shelves around the country.

In most cases your standard recall procedures went into effect to ensure that products involved were removed from your shelves and not offered for sale. However, in a recall of this size and scope it is possible that some products may be missed.

Since we all share the same goal of only safe products on your shelves, we have suggested ways to let your customers, a highly-motivated group of concerned people, assist you in the recall process. We have created the following tools to help:

Recall Tools and Reporting Methods

1) A printable list of recalled pet foods with new extended recall dates and additional recall items at (link)

Because this is a complex process the list will also contain some contact numbers of major retailers to speed coordination between local stores and their headquarters.
We also have contacted the FDA to determine how best to report the information collected.

2) A central online forum where people can self report what they have found out in their state and city at www.itchmo/forums (link)

The online forum will give people a place to share information and to avoid duplication of effort. It will also be helpful for any retailers who want to communicate directly with their customers and inform them of their specific processes, procedures and steps already taken in this crisis.

A Polite Reporting Process for People

We are directing people to alert your in-store management if they have questions about items on the shelf. We understand you have standard procedures and internal verification methods to follow and have advised people to be polite in the event of confusion. To that end if you would like to provide us with a special national number or group to contact within your organization (such as the recall coordinator) we will include that info on our websites and printed materials.

Retailers and Customers: Working Together to Protect Pets

We respect your desire to always do the right thing with it comes to food safety and hope you will understand our need to ensure the well being of our pets. We want to emphasize that we are not trying to play gotcha with mistakes or oversights but to simply ensure that all recalled pet food is off the shelves around the country.

This pet food recall has left many of your customers feeling frightened and powerless. By allowing them to assist in this process you can demonstrate your genuine concern for their pets as well as their business.


The Pet Food Safety Working Group*

Spocko, Spocko's Brain

*Who are we?

As Gina at Petconnection says: We are an "informal members of a team of Web sites whose owners wanted to help. None of us ever heard of the other before, but we all somehow found our niche and together, we provided more support than any one of us alone could have. Itchmo, Howl911, PetFoodTracker, The Pet Food List and more — we’ve all pitched in together to get the information out there."

To read more about our call for volunteers to get the recalled food off the shelves. See Call for volunteers.

Monday, April 09, 2007

39,000 pets may have been hurt by tainted food

How many pet effected by tainted food? Possibly up to 39,000.

So it looks like we have some new data, but want to know what is REALLY interesting. Below is the FIRST AP story.
The Associated Press April 9, 2007, 8:31PM EST

Tainted food may have hurt 39,000 pets


Pet food contaminated with an industrial chemical may have sickened or killed 39,000 cats and dogs nationwide, based on an extrapolation from data released Monday by one of the nation's largest chains of veterinary hospitals.

Banfield, The Pet Hospital, said an analysis of its database, compiled from records collected by its more than 615 veterinary hospitals, suggests that three out of every 10,000 cats and dogs that ate the pet food contaminated with melamine developed kidney failure. There are an estimated 60 million dogs and 70 million cats in the United States, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

The hospital chain saw 1 million dogs and cats during the three months when the more than 100 brands of now-recalled contaminated pet food were sold. It saw 284 extra cases of kidney failure among cats during that period, or a roughly 30 percent increase, when compared with background rates.

Snip: Go to full story here.

Now note and compare it to THIS version (link)

Apr 10, 1:53 AM EDT

Tainted Pet Food-Kidney Illness Link

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Cases of kidney failure among cats rose by 30 percent during the three months that pet food contaminated with an industrial chemical was sold, one of the nation's largest chains of veterinary hospitals reported Monday.

Tainted food may have hurt 39,000 pets vs.

Tainted Pet Food-Kidney Illness Link.

Now what is THAT about? The headline didn't just change, the whole first paragraph is different.

Who's putting pressure on whom? I'd ask Media Matters to look into it but they are busy with the whole Imus deal.

Speaking of that, thanks to JP at Welcome to Pottersville for talking about my case on the Kincaid Show today.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging

The first time I got in the New York Times (October 28, 2004) was for my "Friday Cat Blogging". I made a joke that since all the political bloggers talk about cats on Friday and showed their photos, here was mine. And I put up a photo of a giant "Cat" bulldozer.

I can't joke about this current pet food recall debacle that is leading to the death of thousands of cats and dogs.
Unoffical count Update 4/6, 6:30 a.m. PT: 3,242 pets have been reported as deceased to our PetConnection database.

And for John who said...

I'd like to see your source on that 3000+ dead pets, the most I've seen on "reputable" websites is ~250, that's a whole order of magnitude off from your numbers. I think the companies should come clean, but I also don't think anyone should be inflating numbers just to get a response.

What is "reputable" to you? Menu Foods? The FDA? Who have been saying only 16 dead for weeks past the date that they KNEW it was higher?

The point is that their is no coordinated national database for pet deaths. There is no CDC for animals tracking and correlating this.

The current reporting systems and connections are weak or non-existent for this kind of work. PetConnection put their database together to fill a void. And I ask you "John" (if that is your real name) who are you posting for? Is it really accurate info you care about? Or are you more interested in downplaying this issue?

I KNOW the people at PetConnection would LOVE to have official accurate numbers. The MSM still wants to quote the "experts" even if the experts have been holding and underreporting for WEEKS. We would LOVE and official count from an official organization. But guess what, some of the officials aren't doing the job that needs to be done. So, in the fine American Tradition and of good bloggers everywhere, PetConnection built their own database.

We also have the folks from Itchmo, Howl911, PetfoodTracker and others replicating the recall info and digging up more links in this story. They might not be "offical" but THEY are the experts now. Because they have done the work. And, they are thinking of the pet safety first, not how to sooth investors or sponsors.

If you have to see the photos and autopsies of the 3,000 plus dead pets until you believe this is real, well that might take some time and in the meantime pets are dying. Can you grasp WHY it is important to get the SCOPE of this out there?

Do you want to see one dead pet John? How about Alex? This is from and unofficial website called Menu Foods Victims. I don't know how "reputable" they are. Maybe they just made up this story to "get a response" but I doubt it. Look at the pretty cat. Read the painful words. Then ask yourself, how responsible were the people who DID NOT reveal the scope of this story for weeks?

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

When and Where is Dick Durbin's Pet Food Recall Press Conference?

Thursday, April 5, 2007
2:30 PM Central Time
Wicker Park
(north of field house)
1425 N. Damen
Chicago, IL

Senator Durbin (D-IL)*
will discuss the Menu Foods recall, the FDA's regulation of the pet food industry and the impact on pets and their owners across the nation. He will announce plans to work with Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) *to hold a Congressional hearing on the recall when the Senate reconvenes.
Pet owners are encouraged to attend the news conference with their pets (dogs and cats are welcome).
For more information, please contact
Senator Durbin’s office at 312-353-4952.

Update 4/4, 5:46 a.m.. PT: 3,168 pets have been reported as deceased to the PetConnection database. (link)

* Spocko note: I would like to point out that it has been Democrats that have been pushing to protect your pet's food supply.

Keeping an eye on the food supply is one of the things that government can do better than individuals. And those of you who think all government is bad, should note that who heads an agency makes a difference, especially when political loyalty and cronyism trump science or competence (see Fema, Katrina flooding). When the top FDA official left at the end of 2005 because politics from the Bush admin trumped science you have to wonder what kind of corporate pressure or White House pressure the FDA was getting to hold back information.

The White House loves to use Fear when it serves their purpose. But when it effects a corporation's bottom line it's profits first, poodles last.

  • The FDA didn't reveal the identity of the manufacturers of the wheat gluten until a blogger at Pet Connection found it. Why?

  • The FDA didn't reveal the name of the US distributor of the gluten until the AP got it from another source. Why?

  • The FDA hasn't required the US distributor of the wheat gluten to reveal to the public everyone they sold it to. Why not?

  • The Chinese company the FDA identified as the sole source of the tainted wheat gluten, Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology said they sold it to other companies. Who are they? Who did they sell it to?

  • There is disagreement between university labs and FDA labs on the nature of the contaminate. What is that about?

This is classic "The Public has a right to know" information. Do I know for a fact that the FDA is getting pressure to drag their feet and not reveal info? No. But I do know that the critical information about this story has been dug out by concerned pet owner/bloggers and the good journalists like Andrew Bridges at the AP.

3,168 dead pets. This is NOT "Nothing to see here, move along."
Pay attention folks. Follow the money. Pay attention to the players.

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Christie Keith of PetConnection and Ben Hu of Itchmo on KIRO 710, the David Goldstein Show

Tonight Ben Hu a blogger in Seattle (the blog is Itchmo) and Christie Keith, a writer and contributing editor to the blog PetConnection were on the David Goldstein show on KIRO 710 am in Seattle.

If you would like to listen to the show here is an edited version of the hour long show.
Total 33 minutes (there is an gap early on due to technical glitch)

MP3 Version (Link)

Windows Media Audio version (Link)

David was the first radio show host to interview me and I see that once again he's getting the story out on radio before wing-nut radio.

Right-wing radio talks about their hate of groups like Peta. And you should all note, wing-nut radio host's love of small government leads to cuts in groups that protect the food supply.

These hosts might say they care about your pets, yet they regularly mock Dick Durbin who was the first to DEMAND hearings on this. (Durbin's second news conference on this is at 2:30 CDT April 5 -Official PDF thanks Howl911!)

Problems at the FDA? Maybe it's because in 2005 the top FDA official resigned because she was told by the Bush administration to put politics before science.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

What did the FDAs Know and When did They Know it in the Pet Food Crisis?

Sometime we need to help the media ask the right questions. We bloggers can see patterns they don't. We need to help 'em out.

Question: Why is the FDA constantly holding back or not publicly revealing information in a timely fashion? What is their goal? Who do they work for? The taxpaying pet owners or the companies that sell contaminated feed? What explains their action? Are they really concerned about our food safety?

A few observations about FDA actions:

The FDA didn't publicly say who sold the tainted wheat from China. Joy, a blogger on Pet Connection found it while digging through the FDA database.

Then after it was revealed the supplier said that they sold it to others. (I dug up their name and name change along with contact info below. Has anyone contacted them this other company? )

The FDA wouldn't reveal the name of the US Distributor of this tainted wheat, ChemNutra.
(Did the AP reporter find it himself or was it handed to him by the Dept. of Homeland Security people along with the instructions to emphasize "it's not in the human food supply!" They got their AP screaming headline, so that worked.

Then Stephen S. Miller, the CEO of ChemNutra who was the US Distributor, would NOT reveal the names of the people he sold it to.

Why? Was he told NOT to by the DHS? Possibly because Del Monte would be on the list. And even if it is the Del Monte PET Food division maybe they are afraid that people will see it and think ,"It's in my ketchup!". So does that justify them holding back this info?

And why does the AP just accept that? Shouldn't for the health and safety of all the pets be a demand that Stephen S. Miller produce his list?

Of course we have no proof that Stephen S. Miller of ChemNutra only sold it to pet food companies and that the distributor he sold it didn't sell it to anyone in the human food supply chain. We just have to take his word. It's a secret. We can all wait a few more days. And then when we find out, be sure to ask the question. What was the hold up? Who held up this info? Why?

FYI Spocko Aside: Did you know that ConAgra cut a deal with the USDA so that they didn't have to notify the public about the locations of where tainted beef was shipped? Yep, and during our first mad cow scare that meant that a Vietnamese restaurant in Truckee, CA served people mad cow steak. Why? Because the information about where the food was shipped was dubbed proprietary in the "rules" negotiated with the USDA and big Ag. Is something similar going on now?

I point this out with much trepidation. Remember the Beef Industry went after Oprah for criticizing hamburgers. I'm just a brain in a box so maybe they won't notice me.

This is what happens when you strive for a government small enough to drown in a bathtub, it takes your pet first. Then when we need good government for humans, well thank Grover Norquist and the Neocons. I'm sure Grover will verify your food supply in his spare time.

Why is this downplayed in the media? Maybe if Paris Hilton's poor little dog died this would get more notice. I hope that doesn't have to happen, there is too much death.

Hey what food does Barney, the president's dog eat!? Sounds like a job for Les Kingsolver!
Is Socks still around?

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US Importer ChemNutra refuses to name buyers of contaminated wheat gluten

AP reporter Andrew Bridges has been doing some great digging on this tainted pet food story. But in the rush to assure people it's not in the human supply they missed that the critical point. IT IS in the PET Supply.

Where? They STILL WON'T TELL US. They don't trust us. Now, note this headline supplied.

Importer: No contaminated wheat gluten in human food supply
-AP headline

Why wasn't it THIS headline?
US Importer refuses to name buyers of contaminated wheat gluten
03:18 PM EDT on Tuesday, April 3, 2007
By ANDREW BRIDGES / Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- None of the contaminated wheat gluten that led to the U.S. recall of pet food went to manufacturers of food for humans, the ingredient’s importer said Tuesday.

The Chinese wheat gluten imported by ChemNutra Inc. all went to companies that make pet foods, Stephen Miller, chief executive officer of the Las Vegas company, told The Associated Press.

Miller declined to identify what companies ChemNutra supplied. Nearly 100 brands of cat and dog foods made with the ingredient, since found to be chemically contaminated, have been recalled.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

APTV-04-03-07 1514EDT

Emphasis mine.

Now I suppose Steve Miller doesn't have an OBLIGATION to tell the public who bought this, but the question is, was Mr. Miller working overtime to reach EACH and every one of the companies that bought this wheat Gluten so they would be able to recall and test their food?
Do you suppose WE should get a list too? Or can't the public be trusted? What obligation do they have to us? Is ChemNutra the ONLY importer? What about the other company that Xuzhou Anying said that they sold to? Who did THEY sell to in the US? In the Netherlands? Elsewhere?

Why didn't the FDA tell us this companies name days ago? My guess they were protecting them so that they could get their ducks in a row for the media. How many pets have to die?

Note that the DHS crisis person is in charge, okay they have gotten their message out, according to THEM this isn't in the human food. Could you please prove it to me? Give me a list of where it came from and who bought it. I'll bet since it says names like Del Monte someone put pressure on them to not release it. On the other hand maybe their was NO pressure at all?
Why didn't he release that info? Could he please explain WHY this was released? Who told him not to release the names? FDA? DHS? Someone else?

Today the someone at CBS wanted to figure out if any Muslims were involved in the tainted wheat! Why did that do that? Because there was no good information and in the absence of info they are going to run with scary rumors.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Contact info for Pet Food committee at the Association of American Feed Control Officials

Peta sent a letter to the FDA about this pet food recall crisis. (link to PDF) coverted to JPG below

Now I know that the right-wing talk radio hosts HATE PETA. Peta was on the ball trying to protect your pets. Keep that in mind when you consider who is looking out for you and your pets.

You should note that the PETA letter contained the claim that two labs said it WASN'T the melamine.

I also note that the group that is supposed to be keeping tabs on the pet food industry is
"the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), a nongovernmental body with no power. Past analysis has shown that pet food advisory committees are largely made up of people with ties to the pet food industry, as are the board of directors."

So I looked them up and sure enough there is a committee of advisers for pet food. Maybe the media might want to check in with them. Be sure to ask them who funds their group, what are their ties to the pet-food industry (previous employment, grants, chairs, etc.) and who they get their funding from. And be sure to ask them what kind of power they have in an emergency like this. Who do they report things to first? The industry or the public? The manufacturers or the FDA? Did they know about this? When? What did they do? Don' t just ask them for perspective, to explain things, they are players, they probably had a role in this.

I don't know where they touched this crisis and how they acted, I'm as curious as you are. You are curious aren't you?

Pet Food:
Dave Syverson, Chair
Bill Burkholder (FDA)
Tony Claxton
Teresa Crenshaw

Roger Hoestenbach
Rod Noel
Lynn Sheridan
Liz Higgins

Or the
Inspection and Sampling:
Andy Gray, Co-Chair
Steve McMurry, Co-Chair
Chad Linton Co-Chair
Mike Davidson
Dan Danielson
Gloria Dunnavan (FDA)
Ken Jackson
Matthew Keppinger, III
Ron Newman
Harwood Owings, III
Garry Wagner

Brett Groves
James Fear (FDA)
Judy Thompson

Of course you could also contact
the AAFCOnvestigators! (link)
I would recommend Wheat Products Ann Brueck Boise, Idaho
Or maybe
Grain Sorghums Roger Hoestenbach College Station, Texas.

And of course if you are on deadline and need to get to reach someone whose job it is to get back to you, I'd try.
Sharon Krebs, Chair
Rod Noel, Vice Chair
Teresa Crenshaw
Donna DiCesare
Ron Newman
Isabel Pocurull (FDA)
Jim Rasekh (USDA/FSIS)

Hey look, the AAFCO gave us a handy list of numbers and names you can call the people in your state to get "the local angle!"

Pet Food Recall: Unofficial death toll 2,907

Itchmo has done a great overview Fact sheet and time line of the Tainted Pet Food Crisis
(link) I thought I'd mirror part of it here to get this info out there to help the press. I do hope that they start reporting on unofficial death toll of 2,907.

Update: 4-2-2007 10:06 pm pdt.
Since Itchmo's blog went down briefly and I wanted to make sure the media and others could have access to his (her?) great work. Therefore I've mirrored the entire timeline below.

Undercounting STILL going on at Fox
, posting at Pet Connection said that "Gretta" at Fox was still reporting that"there were only 14 total deceased from the poison. 1 Dog and 13 Cat." This was posted 4/2/2007 at 09:06 PDT

Yes, sometime pets die of other things, but to keep reporting only 14 deaths is not paying attention. Pet food companies have EVERY reason to UNDER report. And the FDA report will take time to complete. Even the Petconnection self report could be under reporting, it requires people to be online. How many don't have computers and aren't putting their info into a database? I expect the media to qualify the numbers but please don't ignore them. People notice when their kitty or puppy die. These aren't defective laptop batteries to be replaced folks. These pets MATTER. Pay attention.

Menu Foods Recall Overview and Time line

On March 16, Menu Foods, a wet foods producer of private-label pet foods based in Canada, announced the recall of 60 million cans and pouches of its meat-in-gravy products for cats and dogs across more than 90 brands – the largest pet food recall in US history.

This Fact Sheet summarizes the events leading up to the recall as well as its aftermath and vital facts regarding the tragic incident that affected 1% of the US pet food supply. Thousands of illnesses and deaths were reported by pet parents. To date the exact death toll is unknown, and it most likely will never be known.

Who is Menu Foods? / Official Company Site

This page constructs the timeline of events from media and government reports based on the available data we can find.

Unofficial Death Toll Official Death Toll



Cats: 56% Cats: 93.75%
Dogs: 43% Dogs: 6.25%
Source: PetConnection
Data as of 4/2/07, 7:35 a.m.. PT)
Source: FDA/Menu Foods

Cause of Death

Acute Renal Failure (ARF) from the ingestion of aminopterin and/or melamine (most likely the latter). The prime suspect of contamination is wheat gluten imported from China.

What is ARF? / What is aminopterin? / What is melamine?

Mortality Rate

Menu Foods feeding trial mortality rate is approximately 17%. Real-world mortality rate is unknown.


April 2, 2007

  • China denies role in pet food recall Story by USA Today reporters Anita Manning and Calum MacLeod, and Elizabeth Weise in San Francisco. However, the Chinese report focused on aminopterin, the rat poison initially found in a sample of the recalled pet food by a New York state laboratory. Since that report last week, the FDA has cited melamine as the source of the problem.
    (Spocko note: Quoted in this story are Neal Bataller at the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, FDA's enforcement director David Elder, FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach, and Ellen Morrison, director of the FDA's Office of Crisis Management. (out of Home Land Security)

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Suzhou Textile Import and Export Co Name change Contact info on pet food recall

So we know who supposedly sold the tainted wheat gluten to Menu: Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology

Then the AP reporter, Andrew Bridges, talks to a spokesperson at Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology and they say they sold it on to someone else: (link)

However, Geng said the company based in the eastern province of Jiangsu had not manufactured the gluten but had instead bought it from companies in neighboring provinces. She said Xuzhou Anying sold it onward to another Jiangsu company, Suzhou Textile Import and Export Co.

So I looked up Suzhou Textile Import and Export Co. And this is what I found. They have a NEW NAME: (link)

Suzhou Hengrun Import & Export Corp., Ltd. Was founded on the basis of the recorganization of its predecessor-Suzhou Textile Import & Export Co. Which was set up in 1978 as a trade company of textile products and has become one of the 500 largest foreign trade enterprises in China since 1991. It has been awarded the Certificate of ISO9001(2000)for Quality Management Authentication by the China ... [ Click for details ]
Contact Details

Suzhou Hengrun Import & Export Corp., Ltd.

Company Name: Suzhou Hengrun Import & Export Corp., Ltd.

Company Address: 201 Zhuhui Rd., Suzhou, Jiangsu, China

City/Province: Suzhou/Jiangsu

Country/Region: China

Zip/Postal Code: 215006

Telephone Number: 86-512-65595569,67173223

Fax Number: 86-512-65298929,65188511

Contact Person: Aisha Huang/Allen Wang

Mobile: 86-13962128946,13962122907
Contact form for Aisha Huang/Allen Wang

Homepage: Homepage link

Anyone speak Chinese? Hey media people, this looks like the next link in the chain. Kitties are dying.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Why Companies Should Listen to People who Blog

Sometimes the head of big corporations talk about bloggers as if they were some breed apart from humans.

News Flash corporate CEOs: Bloggers are your customers, your employees, your neighbors, your family members.

They want to be heard. Pay attention, this is a huge opportunity to learn and listen. But some companies are so used to outward directed communications to investors that they will make heartless mistakes in the eyes of customers. This is going to cost them, and if they get caught covering up or their foot dragging is exposed, it will cost them even more. This is NOT going to go away with a few Friday afternoon press release dumps.

You killed her Kitty. That's BAD PR, in any language.

Read this post from Kelly B at Pet Connection. Pay attention to this voice. Corporate communications people at good pet food companies, read this post. If you help these people, and prove your food is safe (with independent experts) they will flock to your brand.

ALL PET FOOD NEEDS TO BE TESTED and the TRUTH needs to COME out Now!!!!! Our Furry Babies are dieing.. I have so much sadness/grief over losing Miss Cuddles my Precious Companion kitty for 13 yrs she was healthy, then I found her in the kitchen by her cat food helpless.. I held her all night on the Living room carpet made a Shrine toys,blaikiets pics It was a matter of hrs no time for the Vet.. I took her to bed that evening.. and at 10 am she coughed twicw had a seizure and died.. My Baby Angel.. I put her in a casket made for her She is in Cold Storage till May..when the Ground untaws so I can bury her.. I am mad and Sad.. I called the news they put this story out in the Front page.. I need more Proof.. she made need an Autopsy.. I love my Angel Miss Cuddles She’s All I HAD!!!
Please Plase Resolve this and Get at the TRUTH!!!!!!!!!
I miss My Miss Cuddles with Love and Many TeArs.. I am HEART BROKEN!!!
Love Kelly 4-Cuddles Alway!!!

Comment by kelly B — April 1, 2007 @ 11:01 pm

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The Supplier of the Tainted Wheat Gluten in Pet Food is from China

So the FDA has revealed the name of the company in China that has provided the Tainted Wheat Gluten that has gone into pet food. (FDA link)

It's Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology
Development Company Ltd.

Wangdian Industrial Zone, Peixian, CN-32, China

(Spocko Note: it's not Xuzhou anything or annoying, but Anying!)

I've done a little home work and found a contact name number for the company. (Spocko says: Follow the people as well as follow the money!)

Any smart bloggers/journalist with Chinese language skills following this may want to call them and find out who is the US distributor(s) or importers and can get a list of who buys their product directly (Big pet food manufacturers often buy direct) Did any of this go into a human food supply? Have they contacted all the companies that bought it? Is that a problem? Can we get that list of companies? Why or why not?

Company Name: Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co, Ltd
Contact Person: Kaipin Liu
Address: Wangdian Industrial Pei County Jiangsu P.R. XuZhou JiangSu
Zip: 221600
Telephone: 86-516-89741888
Fax: 86-516-89741156
Web Site:

They also might want to talk to the FDA people who created the alert
Cathie Marshall, CVM, HFV-232, 240-276-9217 and Linda Wisniowski, DIOP, HFC-172, 301-443-6553

Also, I noted that the Netherlands might be a place that this gluten flows through on it's way to other countries. (Does this mean there is a load on a dock in the Netherlands?) I have a reader in the Netherlands who might want to track this down too. (I love those people almost as much as I love Canadians!)

How the Pet Food Makers Should Have Responsed

Now if I was a pet food manufacturer (or a supplier of a safe wheat Gluten and SAFE food) I would be working my ass off to prove to MILLIONS of scared pet owners that MY FOOD IS SAFE. It has to be INDEPENDENTLY tested in a way that I can prove it to the owners and the Vets. (They won't trust YOUR tests, get a third party trusted source. And I don't think they are trusting the FDA at this moment either)

Sure it might cost some money to prove it. But it is a HUGE opportunity for the smart companies because they can get ALL the business from the companies that appear to care first about what Wall Street thinks and last about what their customers with pets think. (And by the way, don't any Wall Street types have pets?)

The companies that figure this out first and communicate it best and fastest will get a fierce loyalty from the customers. Small makers have the edge here. Move people!

These wheat protein distributors and pet food companies should be thinking TYLENOL LEVEL response. People's pets are that important.

I'm happy to see that the Democrats have jumped on this and demanded an investigation of the pet food crisis. Dick Durbin and Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, held a press conference on Sunday. Yeah! (And remember, the right wing radio types hate Dick Durbin, but he obviously cares about your cats and dogs like you do. So keep that in mind when you wonder who is REALLY looking out for your family!)

And remember that the FDA got so much pressure to put politics first and science last that the highest ranking Food and Drug official, Susan Wood, resigned in Sept. 2005. It was over Plan B, but it shows that right-wing politics rules the FDA. She said, "I can no longer serve as staff when scientific and clinical evidence, fully evaluated and recommended for approval by the professional staff here, has been overruled "

Keep that in mind when you are calling for an investigation into this issue.

For great updates check out these bloggers:

Poop City (
that's New York, I didn't name it that, they did!)

Here is the FDA Alert


TYPE OF ALERT: Detention Without Physical Examination

(Note: This import alert represents the Agency's current guidance to FDA field personnel regarding the manufacturer(s) and/or products(s) at issue. It does not create or confer any rights for or on any person, and does not operate to bind FDA or the public).

PRODUCT: Wheat Gluten

PRODUCT CODES: 02F[][]08 Wheat gluten 02E[][]06 - Wheat flour gluten 71M[][]01 wheat gluten

PROBLEMS: Poisonous or deleterious substance Unsafe food additive



COUNTRY: See Attachment

MANUFACTURER/ FEI#: See Attachment

CHARGES: The article is subject to refusal of admission pursuant to section 801(a)(3)in that it appears to bear or contain a poisonous or deleterious substance, which may render it injurious to health [Adulteration, section 402(a)(1)]" (Oasis Charge Code; POISONOUS)


The article is subject to refusal of admission pursuant to section 801(a)(3)in that it appears to bear or contain a food additive that is unsafe within the meaning of section 409 [Adulteration, section 402(a)(2)(C)(i)]" (Oasis Charge Code: UNSAFE ADD)

RECOMMENDING OFFICE: Division of Compliance, CVM (HFV-230)

REASON FOR ALERT: In March 2007, FDA became aware of the illness and death of cats and dogs associated with certain pet food. Subsequently, samples of the implicated pet food were analyzed and found to contain melamine. The consumption of pet food containing melamine may be associated with acute renal failure in cats. Investigations have revealed that the source of the melamine was wheat gluten which is an ingredient in the pet food. The attachment to this alert includes manufacturers whose wheat gluten products have been found to contain melamine.

GUIDANCE: Districts may detain without physical examination, products offered for importation from manufacturers and shippers listed in the Attachment to this import alert. Report wheat gluten samples found positive for melamine to Cathie Marshall, CVM, Division of Compliance, HFV-232, at (240) 276-9217.

Appropriate screening criteria have been set for wheat gluten from China and the Netherlands, as a country through which transshipping of Chinese wheat gluten may occur. Sampling has been recommended. Recommendations for detention without physical examination of firms with violative product should be forwarded to DIOP, HFC- 170.

For questions or issues concerning science, science policy, sample collection, analysis, preparation, or analytical methodology, contact Tom Savage, Division of Field Science, at 301-827-1026.

To enable the agency to assess whether the firm has identified the source of the problem, and has taken the appropriate steps to correct and prevent future occurrences, FDA recommends that a firm requesting removal from detention without physical examination provide the following information:

1. a. Results of the firm's investigation(s) into the problem of melamine contamination

b. Documentation showing corrective action(s)such as:

i. a description of the process(es) currently being used ii. verification that the process is adequate iii. measures that have been taken to prevent recontamination

c. Copies of three (3) production records showing the process, quantities processed, lot numbers and dates of processing.


d. Documentation showing that a minimum of five (5) consecutive entries have been released by FDA based on third party laboratory analyses that show the shipments of wheat gluten do not contain melamine.

All requests for removal from DWPE should be forwarded to DIOP,(HFC-170) which in turn will forward the requests to CVM (HFV-230) for evaluation.


FOI: No purging required

KEYWORDS: Feed, pet food, melamine, wheat gluten

PREPARED BY: Cathie Marshall, CVM, HFV-232, 240-276-9217 and Linda Wisniowski, DIOP, HFC-172, 301-443-6553


Firms and products currently under detention without physical examination


Firm: Date DWPE Product /Code:

Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology
Development Company Ltd.

Wangdian Industrial Zone, Peixian, CN-32, China
221623 FEI# 2000023594

What do they supply and who are they: From Tradelinkup

we can supply Vital Wheat Gluten Here are brief introduction of our company: Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co, Ltd was founded in 1995, which located in Pei county, Xuzhou, Jiangsu province, and the transportation is very convenient. Our company is a multiplex technological private enterprise with research, production, distribution, which exports biologic feed, feed additive, wheat gluten meal (wheat vital protein) fresh preserved vegetables and so on. wheat gluten meal is also named vital wheat gluten. The flour is used as its raw material, and from which extracts a light brown natural grain powder through intensively processing. It is a good solubles protein, containing fifteen amino acid essenti

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