FDA says farm-bred fish fed contaminated meal

Boston Globe | May 9, 2007

The smelt in question ate food tainted with chemicals the FDA traced to ingredients imported from China.

Alabama last month began rejecting all catfish imports from China , due to 14 samples that tested positive for an unapproved antibiotic.

Farm-raised fish in an undisclosed number of states ate meal contaminated with an unapproved industrial chemical, the Food and Drug Administration said yesterday, widening the scope of one of the nation’s largest pet food recalls. Farm-raised fish are bred for purchase at grocery stores and restaurants and to stock reservoirs and lakes for anglers. It is unclear how many fish ate the contaminated meal .

The disclosure comes following news that millions of domestic chickens and thousands of domestic hogs that ate pet food laced with industrial chemicals have entered the US food supply.

The livestock and smelt in question ate food tainted with chemicals the FDA traced to ingredients imported from China. Like the chicken and hogs, the FDA said, the smelt should pose no hazard to humans because only a small part of their diet included melamine , a chemical linked to the food imports.

A Canadian firm that manufactured the fish meal included contaminated wheat gluten imported from China and shipped the fish meal to the United States.

ChemNutra Inc.’s spokesman Steve Stern said the Las Vegas company told the FDA about three weeks ago about the container of wheat gluten, which was shipped directly to Canada from China . ChemNutra was the middleman between a Canadian broker and the Chinese supplier, Stern said.

The FDA did not rule out future testing of Chinese-imported wheat flour for chemical residues. The amount of fish affected, however, could expand.

Alabama last month began rejecting all catfish imports from China , due to 14 samples that tested positive for an unapproved antibiotic.

Dr. David Acheson , the FDA’s new food safety czar , said it will use a new test to determine whether remaining catfish samples contain melamine, the industrial chemical that triggered a pet food recall that since mid-March has pulled millions of cans, pouches, and bags of food from store shelves.

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