I'm just catching up on my two week backlog of the Economist which despite Georgia's lack of a postal system still manages to arrive. It normally arrives 5-10 days late, but the ones due immediately after the war didn't make it at all, which was a blessing as I had already bought and read them on my travels.
Sometimes reading the news a week or so later is enough to make things that would normally be past their sell by date become live again. And so it was rather unexpectedly with this book review: Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine by Marion Nestle.
I'm not so desperate for reading matter that I would normally bother about a book telling me how in the spring of 2007 contaminated pet food killed thousands of cats and dogs in America. Even though my cat would probably want me to read it. It doesn't get a very good review, but they do say it deserves a wider readership. It seemed to be yet another story about the failure of American Regulators in cahoots with the bosses of American pet-food companies, and lack of supervision in China.
I was having a laugh about Bee's summer job last year packing organic cat and dog food.
But then I read the word melamine and looked closer.
It seems the outbreak was caused by shipments of wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate from China that had been adulterated with melamine and cyanuric acid, two cheap chemicals which are rich in nitrogen. Now doesn't that begin to sound familiar?
According to the review, the book says:
Since the usual test for protein in animal feed just measures the level of nitrogen these chemicals can be added to far more expensive feed ingredients without anyone noticing. Both chemicals can be tolerated in small doses but are harmful in large doses, and they are even more dangerous when combined, producing crystals in the urine and causing potentially fatal kidney damage.Now isn't that beginning to sound very familiar?
The review continues:
the contaminants also found their way into the human food chain, "salvaged" pet food (left over from the production process) is fed to chicken and pigs and wheat gluten also goes into feed for fish and farm animals.
Personally I have had two mild kidney infections in the last year and put it down to old age, but now I'm beginning to wonder. Perhaps I'm safer in Georgia where food is normally imported from Turkey not China.
But how come the Chinese are still getting away with melamine substituting for protein in milk products, over 18 months later. Did no one tell the Chinese, or did they not care? And what else has got melamine in now?