Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
May 2, 2007 -- Animal feed contaminated with a chemical called melamine
poses a "very low" risk to humans, says the FDA.
Melamine is a nitrogen-containing molecule that has several industrial uses.
It has been used as a fertilizer in some parts of the world, but melamine
isn'ta registered fertilizer in the U.S.
Officials from the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
recently discovered that melamine-tainted Chinese protein products were fed to
about 6,000 U.S. hogs in six states, up to 3 million chickens at 30 Indiana
broiler poultry farms, and to several million breeder chickens at eight Indiana
breeder poultry farms.
The hog feed contained melamine-tainted Chinese rice protein. The chicken
feed contained byproducts from pet food made with melamine-contaminated Chinese
wheat gluten, says the FDA.
There is no sign that any people or animals became sick as a result of the
tainted feed, and people aren't likely to get sick from eating chicken or pork
linked to the tainted animal feed, say the FDA and USDA.
At a news conference held yesterday, the FDA's David Acheson, MD, gave three
reasons why the FDA and USDA don't see a big risk to humans.
First, the tainted products made up a small portion of the animals' feed.
For instance, the contaminated wheat gluten made up about 5% of the chicken's
feed, says Acheson, who is the FDA's assistant commissioner for food
Second, hogs excrete melamine in their urine. "It is not known to
bioaccumulate [build up] in the animal," Acheson says.
Third, people (unlike pets) eat lots of other foods in addition to chicken
"If you have a contaminated product and it's 100% of the pet food,
that's a very different scenario from a human consumer in which chicken or pork
is just essentially the meat on the side of the plate with two veggies,"
Acheson said at the news conference.
The FDA and USDA haven't recalled any chicken or pork linked to the tainted
However, any remaining chicken or swine that ate the tainted feed will not
be approved to enter the food supply.
The FDA and USDA continue to work with Chinese officials to investigate the
problem, which first surfaced in pet food.
SOURCES: News release, FDA. FDA: "Pet Food Recall Frequently Asked Questions." USDA: "Transcript of FDA/USDA Media Teleconference Providing an Update on Adulterated Feed to Poultry and Hogs."
Medically reviewed by Edward Spence, MD; American Board of Pediatrics and American Board of Medical Genetics with subspecialties in Clinical Genetics, Clinical Biochemical Genetics, Clinical Molecular Genetics