zaftigvegan (zaftigvegan) wrote in vegancooking,

Public Service Announcement

you need to check this post. it appears that the tainted pet food alarm is now ringing for many pet foods previously considered safe, and people food too - and not just regarding wheat gluten - but pretty much any grain or grain-byproduct being imported from china. what's tough is if you're buying prepackaged food items, it's going to be tough row to hoe to figure out where the ingredients used in those things is coming from.


i posted this to speak mainly to the issue of the possibility that human food has been contaminated.

bolding mine, the original (if you click the link above) contains hyperlinks to outside sources and webpages that he references all over the place. i was too lazy to hook you up with them here - if you want to read them, go to his post.


Per CNN, the FDA is working to rule out any possibility that the contaminated wheat or wheat gluten may have entered the human food processing system. (This is why I say "Even if it's 'human grade' pet food, if it has wheat gluten or wheat, it's risky"--we STILL do not know how far the contaminated grain has been spread in food processing chains, and the news that the FDA is now worried about potential contamination of stuff in the human food processing chain is incredibly distressing indeed. As there is at least one known case of a human being sickened by contaminated pet food (specifically a woman who ate Iams pet food to convince her pet to try some; both she and her dog ended up in hospital) the idea that humans could get sick from eating contaminated grain is not far fetched.)

The fact that the FDA has a specific hold-and-detain order in regards to potentially contaminated wheat or wheat gluten further points to them being very worried this could have entered the human food chain, but we need confirmation on this--if you are worried about any wheat or wheat gluten products you are using in your household, you *may* well want to ask the makers if they either import from China or if their supplier sources wheat or wheat gluten from China (or even potentially the Netherlands).

Part of the reason that there is now concern that tainted products may have entered the human food chain is because information has since come out that the tainted wheat gluten was specifically sold as "human food grade" product; many higher-end pet food manufacturers (including Nutro) advertise that they only use human-grade ingredients in their pet food, but (as I've noted all along) "human grade" is no guarantee of safety. (As I've also noted below, China has a long history of rather severe problems with food safety, especially concerning contamination of grain products with pesticides and fertilisers which are either illegal worldwide (including in China) or are legal in China but illegal in the US due to known health effects. The problem with Chinese food safety has been highlighted in the Time Magazine article China's Unhealthy Taste For Toxins which details just how common it *is* for Chinese food products to be contaminated.)

A great deal of the concern relates to the fact that the FDA cannot in fact state they can guarantee none of the tainted grain entered the human food supply and due to the fact that the FDA has revealed the Chinese supplier (Xuzhou Anying Biologic) but has so far not identified the US-based importers and distributors who would have bought the gluten from Xuzhou Anying Biologic and ultimately distributed it to food producers. Interestingly, it is thanks to one of the companies that bought the contaminated products (Del Monte Foods) that we even know that the product being imported from Xuzhou Anying Biologic is in fact "human food grade" gluten--otherwise, we'd be in the dark on that, too. (Update 2 April--Menu Foods has also confirmed that the gluten used was "human food grade" --fer) (Update 4 April--the importer, ChemNutra, also deals in human food ingredients and has now issued a recall notice --fer)

In addition, it is extremely likely (based on a press conference from Xuzhou Anying) that quite a number of companies are involved; as noted above, a major import/export company has also been implicated, and by Xuzhou Anying's own admission they were shipping wheat and wheat gluten products purchased from a large number of other companies in surrounding provinces of China. (Again, this points back to the severe problems with Chinese food safety.)

The Boston Globe has also reported that part of the worry re potential human food contamination involves minimal labelling of the product. ChemNutra has for its part claimed none of its product ended up in human food (ChemNutra imports wheat gluten only for pet food), however, it is still unknown how many companies imported from Xuzhou Anying Biologic or any of the companies Xuzhou Anying imported from (again, Xuzhou Anying partly acted as a regional importer of grain products in China, and there are other import/export companies that purchase from Chinese companies besides ChemNutra).

At any rate, the FDA is sufficiently worried that contaminated gluten could have entered the food supply that they are doing "across the board" testing of all human food products containing wheat gluten and some stores (Safeway among them) are either holding products for testing or (WinCo among them) pulling products already even without the threat of a formal recall.

Persons concerned re implications for human health are advised that one of the higher-risk groups (if this stuff has entered the human food chain) are probably vegans; this article (which also notes a lot of the same grave misgivings I have on PETA in general) notes that wheat gluten is heavily used in meat-substitutes for the vegan market, particularly Seitan. (Interestingly, you folks unlucky enough to have celiac may be the safest of all of us!) Per the Wikipedia article on wheat gluten, particularly high-risk foods may be wheat-based breads (or any bread containing wheat gluten--again, read the ingredients) and vegetarian "meat substitutes" (including tofurkey--despite the name, the meat is largely seitan, *not* tofu); mock duck (sold in Asian groceries and stores selling goods for macrobiotic diets) is particularly risky in this regard, as it is almost entirely Chinese-sourced and almost entirely made of wheat gluten.

also, i don't mean to be snarky, but several people have posted comments linking to "official" recall lists and to the FDA's site. the whole point of the posts this guy has put together is to show people what the companies and FDA don't want to advertise: that there is a very good chance that the recall lists are going to keep growing, that the contamination spreads farther than anyone is willing to admit, and that any food (animal OR people) that contains grains that are sourced from china (and now, apparently, the netherlands and europe) should be considered suspect until further notice.

i'm only annoyed because i don't want to have to keep responding to questions/comments about specific brands of pet food when the answers are all located in the originating LJ. if you are looking for which pet foods are considered absolutely 100% free of any chinese grain or grain by-products you can click here, and scroll down a bit for a list of ones that ONLY use north american source grains.

also, i want to be clear about this: i did not write these entries, i do not know the person who's written them, i stumbled across them this afternoon doing some lazy web surfing and was impressed by how much information was compiled there about the whole thing. i only linked this community up to it because i know many of us enjoy cooking with and eating products that contain seitan/wheat gluten, and wanted to give a heads up on the fact that there is some question about whether or not it is safe to continue doing so.

peace out.
Tags: -health
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