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Dog Biscuits Recalled Amid Contamination Fears

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced yesterday that pet-food manufacturer Sunshine Mills Inc. is voluntarily recalling a large supply of its dog biscuits due to fears of contamination. According to the FDA, Sunshine had received a shipment of wheat gluten tainted with the chemical melamine.

The wheat gluten in question was from the same Chinese manufacturer that has been implicated in the recent outbreak of pet illnesses and deaths. Sunshine, which produces both branded and private-label pet food, is recalling a portion of the dog biscuits it manufactured in its Red Bay, Alabama, plant during part of March, 2007.

The latest recall involves 22 brands and private labels of dog biscuits. The brands include Nurture Chicken & Rice, Nurture Lamb & Rice, Pet Life Large, Pet Life Extra Large, Pet Life Large Variety, Pet Life Large Peanut Butter, Lassie Lamb and Rice, and Pet Life People Pleasers Dog Treats. The private labels include Companion’s Best Multi Flavor Biscuit, Stater Brothers Large Biscuit, Ol’ Roy Peanut Butter Biscuit, Ol’ Roy 4 Flavor Large Biscuit, Ol’ Roy Puppy Biscuit, Champion Breed Peanut Butter Biscuit, Champion Breed Large Biscuit, and Perfect Pals Large Biscuit. According to reports, 80 percent of the contaminated biscuits were sold by Wal-Mart under the Ol’ Roy brand.

At this point, no pet illnesses have been reported in connection with the biscuits, which have less than 1 percent by weight of wheat gluten. The FDA said it has received roughly 12,000 complaints related to the pet-food contamination scare, although it has only confirmed 16 pet deaths so far.

In an odd twist to the story, the accused Chinese wheat-gluten supplier Xuzhou Anying claimed today that they “haven’t sold an ounce of wheat gluten to the U.S.,” according to a Reuters report. Meanwhile, the FDA is in the process of testing all the wheat gluten that has been imported from China–even as the Chinese government is claiming that absolutely no wheat gluten was imported into North America from China.

Additionally, many scientists and veterinary experts are baffled by melamine’s apparently toxic effects on dogs and cats, although researchers have not found any other toxins present in the contaminated products. Weeks ago, the New York State Food Laboratory identified a rat poison known as aminopterin as the toxic agent in the pet food, but the FDA dismissed that finding. No explanation for the discrepancy has been given.

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