Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Update 4 on Melamine, Farmed Fish and Wheat Flour

Back in April, I fretted:

"It dawned on me that if one company could be responsible for supplying a contaminated ingredient to so many dog and cat food manufacturers, maybe they could be supplying it to poultry food manufacturers too, and cattle food manufacturers, and the pigs, and oh, the farmed salmon, not the salmon."
Yes, farmed fish:
Farmed Fish Fed Contaminated Material

The FDA declined to say which fish exactly. Please, not the salmon. (Photo not representative of affected fish.)

There are 2 more sizzling sentences in that news report:

1. "US investigators also have learned that the purported Chinese wheat gluten and a second ingredient, rice protein concentrate, were actually simple wheat flour. The flour was spiked with melamine and related, nitrogen-rich compounds to make it appear more protein rich than it was."

So, am I being exposed to melamine and other industrial chemicals by eating wheat flour? Which wheat flour? Bread? No, not the bread. I ask again, what is the cumulative effect of chronic ingestion of low levels of "melamine and related nitrogen-rich compounds"? The government has only addressed an acute situation - one pork chop.

So far, we know that melamine was found in lemon juice, orange juice, coffee, curdled milk1, pork products, chicken products, fish products, vegetable proteins, and wheat flour. Those foods make up a nice slice of a Bix diet. Should I be checking my urine for crystals?

2. "Farmed fish typically are sold for direct consumption or for stocking lakes and streams."

I had no idea ... Farmed fish are used to stock lakes and streams. How in blazes will we be able to tell if a fish is farmed or wild? If a fish has been fed grain, artificial coloring, fake protein, and antibiotics?

I have lost faith in the adage, "An educated consumer is our best customer." I'm now more inclined to believe that an uneducated consumer is a better customer.

(Have I mentioned the Safe Food Act 2007 today? Food Contamination - It's Not OK. Write your Elected Officials.)
1 To clarify: these four foods were not contaminated in the recent incident involving tainted ingredients imported from China. These foods were found to be contaminated in an experiment that placed them in contact with a melamine-containing polymer, for 30 minutes, at about 200 degrees F. This experiment demonstrated that melamine can migrate from a container into food, at temperatures less than boiling, and when those foods are acidic. It begs an answer to the question: "What is the cumulative effect of chronic ingestion of low levels of "melamine and related nitrogen-rich compounds?" See International Programme on Chemical Safety: Melamine for more info.

Photo: Homegrown. Please don't think I'm implying that Bumble Bee canned salmon is contaminated with melamine. I only show this to represent my fears, not fact.

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