March 23, 2007

China Cat and Mouse

Is China to blame for the pet-food horror unfolding across America with numerous cats and dogs dead from tainted pet food sold by the Menu Foods company of Canada?

So claims ABC in a much touted "EXCLUSIVE" news item picked up by (the "Report" mentioned in that piece is actually the ABC "report" not a goverment or lab report) and his former boss Matt Drudge and bandied about by numerous other news services.

ABC quotes an unnamed source "close to the investigation" that said the USA Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was focusing on wheat gluten allegedly imported by Menu Foods from China and used in two of its factories. Simultaneously, New York state and Cornell University veterinary school labs announced their discovery of aminopterin in the recalled pet food believing it was the culprit in the pet deaths.

The blame China storyline is a leap of faith based on these two events. There remains no substantiation that the wheat gluten imported from China was in fact contaminated with aminopterin and the investigators have not said whether there were any other potential toxins in the pet food or if aminopterin was solely to blame.

Aminopterin (or methotrexate) is widely present and used throughout China in the treatment of various cancers, ectopic pregnancies, and as a pesticide. In China aminopterin/methotrexate is used as a pesticide, that is on small insects. The extent of its use in China as a 'rodenticide' is unknown. Most rodent (rat/mouse) poisons are anticoagulent chemicals different from aminopterin/methotrexate. It is used in the USA for a variety of research purposes and was used in the 1950s to induce abortions. The substance is not registered as either a 'pesticide' or 'rodenticide' by the Federal government.

Fact is, the substance can be easily purchased and is used for a whole host of purposes. You can buy some direct from China here and here, for example.

Will ABC and Bush administration sources be successful in turning the public's outrage toward big bad rival China rather than the ineptitude of the Food and Drug Administration and their string of incredible failures on food (including pet food) safety?


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