Manager of Chinese Wheat Gluten Manufacturer Arrested

The mystery of the poisoned pet food continues to unravel as Mao Lijun, head of the Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Company, has been arrested and is being held “in coastal Jiangsu Province, about 320 miles northwest of Shanghai, though a police spokesman in Pei County declined to say on what charges,” according to the New York Times.

Mao’s company Xuzhau is accused of tainting the wheat gluten with melamine, the substance thought to have killed 16 pets and sickened thousands more. The gluten was routed through a textile company in order to avoid the necessary inspections for items marked for food use. It is thought that the melamine was added as a filler meant to register as protein content when tested, making it appear as if the wheat gluten is of higher quality.

Mao had previously denied any knowledge of how melamine got into the pet food supply, as well as denying that he’d ever exported wheat gluten to the United States. From the New York Times:

ChemNutra, the Las Vegas company that bought the wheat gluten and resold it to pet food makers in the United States, said it thought that Xuzhou was the manufacturer.

Regulators also said that Xuzhou had failed to disclose to China’s export authorities that it was shipping food or feed products to the United States and thereby avoided having its goods checked by food inspectors.

The Xuzhou shipments to ChemNutra were made through another Chinese company, the Suzhou Textiles Silk Light Industrial Company.

Despite its denials of knowing anything about melamine contamination, Xuzhou appears to have sought to buy large supplies of melamine, even in the weeks after the pet food recall.

The company had posted more than a dozen advertisement on the Internet seeking supplies of melamine scrap, the impure waste of an industrial chemical that animal feed producers here often mix into the feed to artificially increase the reading of the protein.

The producers here do that, many acknowledge, to cheat buyers into thinking they are getting higher grade feed, even though the melamine has no nutritional value.

What an %$#$^#.—MEGHANN MARCO

China Makes Arrest in Pet Food Case [NYT]

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  1. QuirkyRachel says:

    I’m just surprised people aren’t more upset that the melamine might be in the feed given to animals we eat. I get truly cage free eggs from a farm in Indiana, and let me tell you, I never saw eggs so rich in color. So what the animals eat definitely affects the quality of the food *we* eat.

  2. wikkit says:

    I found it interesting, in an NPR story about this the other day they pointed out that there are currently no laws in China preventing this, and that it is therefore a commonly known secret among the Chinese producers that melamine is added.

    I wonder what charges they are holding this guy on?

  3. wikkit says:

    Rachel,

    I think this is “pet food” and not agricultural feed. So unless you’re planning to dine on Mr. Barky-von-schnouzer…..

  4. maciejb says:
  5. Skiffer says:

    @wikkit: No, chinese producers add melamine to feedstock for both pets and agricultural. A number of hogs at a hog farm in the US were recently quarantined/slaughtered.

    I have to say, China is one big, dishonest, and scary country.

    All the chinese feedstock producers defend melamine addition by saying that it doesn’t hurt the animals since it’s in such small quantities – but they blatantly admit to adding it and defrauding their customers by faking higher protein levels. And the chinese goverment too blatantly lied and denied any wrongdoing.

    Most chinese citizens aren’t even aware of any controversy, due to goverment media censorship.

    The tainted pet food has hit other countries, too – like South Africa.

    And, apparently china even adds melamine to food for human consuption. From the NYT post:

    Despite the ban on melamine in vegetable protein [enacted last friday], chemical companies in China continue to say they sell melamine scrap to animal feed companies and even to food companies that make bakery items.

    “Our chemical products are mostly used for additives, not for animal feed,” said Li Xiuping, manager at the Henan Xinxiang Huaxing Chemical Company in central Henan Province. “Melamine is mainly used in the chemical industry, but it can also be used in making cakes.”

  6. Skiffer says:

    if you’ve been following this – it’s pretty much common chinese practice to dope feedstocks with melamine.

    The NYT article above even suggests that it may be added to bakery items for human consumption.

    Harmless or harmful, aside – it’s still defrauding purchasers into thinking it’s higher quality – which no one in china seems to have any qualms about.

    And the chinese citizens don’t even realize there’s any controversy because of goverment media censorship.

    China is becoming pretty scary – a rapidly developing country with vast resources, shaky economics and runaway inflation, and absolutely no morals or integrity.

  7. Skiffer says:

    @Skiffer: sorry, bad connection – got a time-out, didn’t mean to re-post.

  8. esqdork says:

    He should be forced to eat a spoonful of the crap each day.

  9. wikkit says:

    Sorry Rachel, guess I stand corrected.

  10. shdwsclan says:

    He will probably be sold as spare organs to some rich american.

  11. FLConsumer says:

    I’m just surprised people aren’t more upset that the melamine might be in the feed given to animals we eat. I get truly cage free eggs from a farm in Indiana, and let me tell you, I never saw eggs so rich in color. So what the animals eat definitely affects the quality of the food *we* eat.

    Oh, it *IS* in the food we eat. Much of it was sold as animal feed, SOME of it went STRAIGHT INTO human food products.

  12. oldhat says:

    @wikkit: Official Scapegoat?

    They nail (execute) this guy and then all is well, business as usual.

    Don’t laugh….we do it, too.

  13. oldhat says:

    And it seems that Americans should be waking up: Having pets are just for rich people. It costs a lot of money feed and care for them properly…ever take one to the vet?

    And the poor can have pets, but they should be considered disposable, like everything the poor has/gets.

    So: if you have a pet, stop feeding them shit that you wouldn’t eat yourself! (hopefully, feed them better than yourself, you know who you are!)

  14. Trai_Dep says:

    While I’m sure this guy ends up in a show trial, I’m concerned that the other 1,000,000 producers of tainted foods will continue unabated.

    Until China gets their act together (ha, ha, HA!!) we should ban ALL food products from there. Put the burden of proof on them that they’re not poisoning every living thing on the planet for an extra two cents/pound.

    After two-odd years of gnashed teeth, Chinese authorities will fix things. Or not. Either way, we’re safe.

  15. coelacanth says:

    Yeah, this guy’s definitely being held on the charge of having been found out.

  16. BillyMumphry says:

    That’s weird that this ended up in China. They have such an outstanding history of animal rights support.

    Wait, or are they the ones that have government-sponsored dog killing days? Oh yeah, the last one.

  17. blogette says:

    @oldhat: your comment is slightly jaded. To say only the rich should have pets isn’t true. Yes, I have a pet and yes, I take care of her exceptionally well — like my own child, yet I’m not uber-wealthy. The cost and care of a pet will depend greatly *on the type of pet*.

    As a pet owner (though, neither wealthy nor poor), I do check the labels of everything I feed my fuzzy baby.

    To date, nothing I’ve fed to my cat was listed as having melamine, but now I’m beginning to wonder whether or not the fact that melamine is added would be disclosed, especially if it would read as protein.

    It’s a scary thought that we may be putting something potentially harmful into our pet’s, as well as our own body, without any knowledge of it whatsoever.

  18. revmatty says:

    I’d like to note that if he went to the trouble of lying to the government to get around export restrictions then the government is hardly culpable in this specific issue.

  19. oldhat says:

    @blogette: Very jaded! Anyways, if your lil fuzzy—what a hamster?—was to fall ill, and you took it to a vet and the vet said $4000 to run some tests and figure out what to do while they keep for a couple days, maybe surgery, what would you do?

    Sounds to me like you have been a lucky pet owner. And no, they don’t STATE that they put melamine in there…that’s the whole point…you’re kind of slow. Btw, they make counters out of melamine.

    @revmatty: So if the Customs officials ask you if you have a bomb, and you lie and say no…should the government be responsible for protecting us from criminals like you?

    Yes, they should not take your word for it, dummy, they should actually check and enforce the laws. Now, the fact that there are no laws against melamine in China, well, I guess we only have our own government to blame, don’t we?

  20. DudeAsInCool says:

    That place looks like a rat’s nest. It’s a metaphor for the worst side of capitalism: not only did it allow lots of jobs so we can save pennies on products and allow stockholders to reap big profits, it sold our pets down the river, too. Frankly, I’d rather the jobs were here, and I’m happy to pay more for safer products than let the greedy profit.

  21. DudeAsInCool says:

    Correction: “not only did we allow lots of American jobs to be lost to China…”

  22. quantum-shaman says:

    from the official Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology website:

    Our company sticks to the tenet of “Sincere and Keeping Promise” and “Putting Quality at the First Place” and has won the title of “Sincere and Keeping Promise” for many times by Consumer Association.

    yeah! just like the FDA.

  23. wikkit says:

    @oldhat:

    If someone wants to charge $4000 to do work on my $30 Petco-special hamster, they can keep it.

    Seriously, I have a 7yr old golden retriever, and I’ve taken great care of it, but it’s a DOG. Same story there, I paid $500 for it at a pet store, I have an attachment to it, but i recognize that it’s an animal and that there comes a point when medical procedures for animals become ridiculous.

    And of course I feed it food that i wouldn’t eat myself, you’re talking about an animal that would happily eat its own feces and/or lick it genitals. Not to mention the fact that it has different nutritional needs than me.

    I thought you were being facetious with the “Having pets are just for rich people” line. I think you could do with a strong dose of perspective.

  24. JustThisGuy says:

    @oldhat: you’re a bit of a troll, aren’t you?

    otherwise: ok. melamine in pet food is bad. but does anyone else smell a scapegoat here? i hope steps are taken to actually solve this issue.

  25. jaewon223 says:

    @oldhat:

    Owning a pet does have its financial burden but people feel that owning a pet has more rewards than the fees that it costs. That doesn’t make them automatically into “rich people” category that you blatently made.

    Your comments don’t even make any sense. Why would I feed my dog better than myself? I don’t see your logic.

    Lastly, your comments are rude. blogette said she had a cat. YOU are the one that is “kind of slow”. Don’t make disparaging remarks.

  26. CatLady says:

    “And no, they don’t STATE that they put melamine in there…”

    The labels don’t even necessarily state that they put the rice protein or the wheat gluten in there. Because there’s no regulation that pet foods change their labeling when their ingredients change. Several of the brands have been busted on this in the past couple weeks, selling products that say “no grains” on the package but subbing in grains anyhow. That’s where some of the legislation needs to be focused.

    The fact is, some consumers will be boneheads no matter what we do. And some consumers are going to be responsible and do their homework, reading labels. If there’s no requirement that the label be correct, consumers can’t make informed decisions.

    Anyhow, this guy is totally going to be the scapegoat. Iams and the brands point their fingers at Menu Foods. Menu foods points their fingers at Chemnutra, who sold them the ingredient. Chemnutra points their finger at a Chinese company. The Chinese, deeply embarrassed, find someone at that company to take the rap… and they use the “exporting with improper labeling” excuse to do it. So this guy and his company is out of business. Someone else will be doing it next week.

    Maybe if they will require some truth in labeling, at least we’ll be able to make the choice whether we want to trust ingredients from China in the future.

  27. oldhat says:

    @wikkit: Like I said, either you have money to burn or the pet is “disposable”. Pay or watch it die.

    @JustThisGuy: There’s a little troll in all of us, I guess. Somebody has to do it. I’d rather troll than post something boring or redundant.

    @jaewon223: Because if you love you pet, consider them family, liken them to your baby, then you want to treat them like they are human…and as a parent, you treat your kids better than you treat yourselves. Duh.

    And the entire story, even back when it was “contaminated gluten” was never on the label. That’s the whole issue! Duh.

    And rich folk can afford to pay crazy vet bills and feed fancy food and treat animals like they are human. Ok, so you are middle class and manage to do it…congrats! Poor and still do it? Stupid!

    Sad but true…I’ve been poor and when cats get sick, they die very quickly without help. And poor people just watch it happen…and if you don’t know what I’m talking about then it just never happened to you.

    Also, remember the post about the vet holding the pet hostage until the bill was paid? That’s pretty classy.

    Don’t get all mad cuz you write some crap and then get called on it…this is fun, remember?

    Last, you folks are lucky I even go back to look…consumerist’s system sucks, not much comment management here.

    All cleared up? No more buying shitty food for your pets and getting mad when their health fails, m’kay? You saved your 38 cents…enough to supersize your fries!

  28. zl9600 says:

    http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/Insurance/P76008.asp

    A good roundup of pet insurance issues, which sort of speaks to the above hyperventilation about not being cheap with pet food. Don’t be.

  29. oldhat says:

    @zl9600: ok, I’m calm, I took my meds…great article, thx.

  30. ChimeratechOverdragon says:

    @oldhat:

    As a child of a poor family, your callous elitism is beyond revolting. I may have never enjoyed the patrician pampering that you so obviously have, however, the fact that you refer to the pets of the poor as “disposable” based solely upon how they are fed quite clearly reveals you to lack any qualities that resemble anything even remotely close to humanity. Let us apply your principle to humans for a moment, shall we? Just because of the fact that, rather than skipping out to Costa Brava on the Cessna whenever I happen to feel a craving for El Bulli’s succulent Norway lobster, I sit at home microwaving a bowl of Easy Mac, does this mean that I am condemned to your gastronomic gas chamber? If so, by all means, dispose of me! And my father, mother, sister, aunts and uncles; hell, my entire town!

    And, getting back to your original statement, don’t forget my three cats! This means you can shoot one, drown one, and drop one from your penthouse window to the busy street below–oh, the possibilities! Despite my best efforts, I simply cannot seem to counter the ironclad logic of your perfect world, where, apparently, the fact that I can generally only afford store-brand food for my cats negates their right to exist and the fact that they are beloved members of my family. I am deeply sorry that I cannot dip into my trust fund to ship in a side of tuna from Japan once or twice a week, and for that, I offer up my cats’ lives to you, and mine as well, for, not only are we all unworthy of existence, but we realize that our existence would be burdensome on you kindly rich folk, whose perfect peace is marred by the stench of 9 Lives or Chef Boyardee wafting on the wind from the ghetto.

    My dripping, overwrought sarcasm aside, if ever I should wake up one morning to find your perfect world a reality and your infinite wisdom on the matter of the rights of pets to live extended to humans, I’ll do you a favor and dispose of myself, my family, and my cats before you ever get a chance to.

    All I ask is that you know this: anything belonging to a member of the poor is far more valuable than something belonging to the rich–the blood, sweat, and tears of our lives are encapsulated in every object we possess, and should even the slightest of our objects ever be “disposed” of, we can likely never replace it, or else it shall take months to years. You, the rich, however, have the means to replace anything you possess, and multiple times if need be–Your possessions reflect not accomplishment or triumph but nothing more than a need to project your perceived self-grandeur on your surroundings, and, I can say, without a doubt, that it is these objects–those that belong to the owner out of opulence for opulence’s sake, that are disposable. Anyone whose life provides that they are incapable of experiencing loss possesses nothing that is not disposable.

    I do not doubt that, should you read this, your are sitting at your computer and laughing at this insect railing against the gods. You should remember, however, that I bear you no malice–Although this fact is, of course, insignificant, I simply feel that you are grossly misinformed and of a cold heart. I bear ill will not toward you but toward your opinions as, however small, there remains the hope that you may one day descend from your ivory tower and suddenly see the world in the terms that it truly is. As unlikely as this is, seeing that such hatred of one’s fellow man can only come from being long-ingrained in the privileged lifestyle, I nevertheless wish not for your harm but for, so to speak, your conversion.

  31. tpardini says:

    Well I dont know if my comment will be amuzing but it is SUBSTANTIAL! These %*^%$& killed my beloved purebred persian names Tequila Popper, he passed away March 9th 2007 after eating I’ams wet food pouches for 2 months! he suffered the last week of his life, I had to put him to sleep to get him out of his misery! I want to see these *&^$&((&^#** pay for what they did to our family members and YES i agree he should be fed a CUP a day of this shit he produced, and let’s have his family watch as he declines and goes into kidney, liver and heart failure, lets watch his hair fall out and his skin get all scabby, and him CRY in pain because he cannot SHIT or go PEE because everything has shutdown! SO, am I approved for this site?

  32. tpardini says:

    If anyone has a pet that has died or become sick due to this terrible tragedy, we have a group formed for chatting givin to us by our law firm that we have retained. This law firm is awesome, they are caring giving and we have alot of good things happening. here is a link to take a peek at 2 video’s we have on You-Tube. let me know if you need anything else

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKfSsEI9BMc

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KRwv8TkRTg