USDA Denies Seal Of Inspection To 20 Million Chickens Fed Tainted Pet Food

Pet food tainted with melamine may have been consumed by up to 20 million chickens destined for your dinner plate. The federal government is not taking the matter lightly. The USDA, FDA, and EPA are conducting a risk assessment to determine if the chicken is safe for human consumption. Until the assessment is complete, the USDA will not issue the poultry a seal of inspection, which is required for the meat to be sold commercially. The results of the assessment should be announced early next week.

The Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said Thursday that no evidence indicated any harm to humans from chicken or pork that had entered the market after having eaten melamine-contaminated feed.


20 Million Chickens Held Because of Feed [AP]
PREVIOUSLY: Tainted Pet Food Hits Human Food Supply
(Photo: bigbold)


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  1. gwong says:

    I’m glad all those federal agencies decided it was better to err on the side of caution rather than commerce. I just worry that this is merely a dog and pony show and they’ll still issue a seal of inspection, not knowing 100% that these chickens won’t cause any harm.

  2. timmus says:

    WHY? WHY? Why the hell is the world’s breadbasket importing grain products from halfway around the world? We have chickens in our backyard and their feed comes from a mill in Ada, Oklahoma, no doubt supported by a nicely subsidized agricultural industry. Why the hell is China shipping grain products to the U.S.?

  3. superlayne says:

    We should embargo china. Force them to go capitalist and stop counterfeiting everything edible. Which, once conterfat, isn’t so edible anymore.

  4. superlayne says:

    @superlayne: China is a country. It gets a capital C!

  5. dragonflight says:

    Where does ‘commercial’ meat go?

  6. mantari says:

    a risk assessment to determine if the chicken is safe for human consumption

    So is the FDA saying…

    1] There isn’t any melamine in the chickens (all of it passed through their system as waste), but they’re wanting to be safe.

    2] There is a small amount of melamine in the chicken, but they don’t think the amount is significant and want to make sure on the levels.

    3] There is enough melamine in the chicken that they want to evaluate exactly how bad it really is for humans. (Will it poison humans, or will they break it down in their system?)

    I’d really like to know what exactly the FDA is trying to evaluate here that they don’t already know. Is it the quantity in the chickens, the risk to humans, or something else?

  7. Amelie says:

    At first I was shocked that companies were importing “wheat gluten” from China, when we are the world’s largest producer of wheat. To save a few pennies, they’ll gamble with the health of our pets? Why not?

    I wasn’t too concerned about the transfer to human food, because I naively thought we were protected by the FDA. But after further investigation, I decided to purchase meat and poultry from animals that were raised locally and fed organic feed. I can see that my fears were well founded. Unfortunately, not everyone has the means to make that choice.

    At the very least, the ingredients of food products need to be labeled with their country of origin.

  8. CatLady says:

    “I just worry that this is merely a dog and pony show and they’ll still issue a seal of inspection, not knowing 100% that these chickens won’t cause any harm.”

    You should worry. The USDA has a really good motivation not to want to tell those farmers they have to destroy their tainted chickens. If they do, they’ll have to compensate the farmers for the loss of their stock. They already did it to compensate for hogs that were fed melamine-tainted pet food.

    I suspect that the USDA is trying to figure out how bad it will be for humans if they don’t demand that the chickens be destroyed. And, of course, how bad it will be for the USDA if they do.

  9. mattbrown says:

    That’s all I needed from the USDA. I trust ’em! Now you don’t have to mark my cloned meat.

  10. Are we just going to have to accept the fact that food = poison now?

  11. ElizabethD says:

    That’s it. No more $2.99 chicken cutlets at Stop & Shop for me. Whole Foods and their ridiculously overpriced, organically-fed poultry, here I come.

    Seriously, our family eats so much chicken, I can’t afford to take a risk.

  12. ElizabethD says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation:

    I was just thinking the same thing! Oy.

  13. mac-phisto says:

    hmmm…let’s see. if we suppose that the average weight of a chicken is ~5 lbs. & the average market price is ~$0.99/lb. (from what i see at the grocery store it’s actually a little higher), that’s almost $1 billion in chickens!

    methinks the fda will say it’s fine.

    side note: i used to know an fda meat inspector. let’s just say he was VERY selective about where he bought his meat (& remember, it’s supposed to all be inspected).

  14. mac-phisto says:

    @mac-phisto: learn your basic math stoopid. ^^should be $100 million in chickens. in which case, the gov’t will probably just buy it all & use it for the free school lunch program.

  15. oldhat says:

    @mantari: I can answer that!

    A few heroes in the FDA or USDA stand up and do the right thing. The assholes at the top say WTF and immediately begin trying to water it down and make it all go away so that when they get fired they can go get posh jobs in the same industry they used to (pretend) to police.

  16. matdevdug says:

    It is interesting to me when you start looking at these situations how powerful the farm lobby is. Imagine if you built a product that the government deemed unsafe, then demanded compensation for the cost of the production of the product even though it was unsafe. Everyone in the room would laugh at you.

    With food though that doesn’t seem to be the case. People still have this image of farmers being these poor people who are working the land with their bare hands. Megafarms run the US food market for the same reasons megastores control the retail world; they can provide the same product for a lower cost and at a higher volume.

    If farmers chose to feed their animals with food from a nation without quality controls for food, they should have to pay for the animals that died and the cost of the entire investigation.

    God though, I bet Whole Foods will raise the cost of organic chickens because of this. They are clever like that.