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Originally published April 19, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 19, 2007 at 2:02 AM

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Toxin turns up in second pet-food ingredient

The FDA says melamine has now been found in rice protein concentrate as well as wheat gluten.

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — An industrial chemical that led to the nationwide recall of more than 100 brands of cat and dog food has turned up in a second pet-food ingredient imported from China.

The discovery expands the monthlong cascade of recalls to include more brands and varieties of pet foods and treats tainted by the chemical.

"This has exposed that the safety standards for pet foods are not in place in any significant way, and the kind of drumbeat, day after day, of recalls has shaken consumers' confidence in the pet-food industry's adherence to food-safety standards," said Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive officer of the Humane Society of the United States.

The chemical, melamine, is believed to have contaminated rice protein concentrate used to make a variety of Natural Balance Pet Foods products for both dogs and cats, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Wednesday.

The FDA has said there is no evidence so far to suggest that any of the rice protein went to companies that make food for humans, said Michael Rogers, director of the agency's division of field investigations. But the FDA has not accounted for all the imported ingredient.

Previously, the chemical was found to contaminate wheat gluten used by at least six other pet-food and treat manufacturers.

Both ingredients were imported from China, though by different companies and from different manufacturers.

The FDA on Wednesday began reviewing and sampling all rice protein concentrate imported from China, much as the agency has been doing for wheat gluten, Rogers said.

Natural Balance said it was recalling all its Venison and Brown Rice canned and bagged dog foods, its Venison and Brown Rice dog treats and its Venison and Green Pea dry cat food.

The recalls now include products made by at least seven companies and sold under more than 100 brands. A list of products can be found at the FDA's pet-food recall Web site: http://tinyurl.com/2bjasu.

Natural Balance said recent laboratory tests showed its recalled products contain melamine. Natural Balance believes the source of the contaminant was rice protein concentrate, which the company recently added to the dry venison formulas.

How the ingredients became contaminated remains unclear.

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