In a conference call with media this afternoon, USDA Assistant Administrator Kenneth Petersen revealed that as many as 3 million chickens, contaminated with melamine from a single Indiana feed mill, have already been slaughtered, distributed and eaten. An additional 100,000 breeder chickens are currently being voluntarily quarantined by farmers.
Well, great. Just great.
If you’re tracking the melamine story there are some new developments of interest this morning. If you’re not tracking the story, you probably ought to be.
- The FDA has now discovered that melamine-laced byproducts have found their way into the poulty cycle. This particular finding is limited to 38 farms in Indiana, but the affected chickens have been “processed” (FDA-speak for “sold and eaten,” I believe).
- A scholar in South Africa believes the process of using melamine to spike apparent protein levels has been going on for years, and says there’s no reason to assume that it’s been limited to pet and livestock food. The chemical has been shown to cause cancer in rats.
- Now the FDA has authorized border inspectors “to detain vegetable-protein imports from China because they may contain the chemical melamine.” It doesn’t help that FDA resources are already over-taxed, of course.
- UPDATE: This indicates that inspectors are being ordered to hold all vegetable protein. It also notes that nearly 20,000 pets have been reported killed or injured as a result of suspected melamine poisoning.