American farmers in animal feed scare

A growing number of US pig and poultry units are being placed under quarantine in response to an animal feed scare that first hit the petfood sector and has now spread to farm animals.

The problem links directly to imports of rice protein concentrate and wheat gluten from China that have been found to contain melamine and melamine-related compounds.

The story hit the headlines in mid-March when petfood manufacturer Menu Foods ordered a product recall following death by kidney failure of a number of cats and dogs. Since then, a long list of other companies have followed suit.

Last week the US authorities confirmed that the same contaminents had got into animal feed, leading to the confinement of eight pig herds in eight different states. And on Monday (30 April) it was revealed that 30 broiler units and eight breeder poultry farms in Indiana had received contaminated feed in February.

Even though all the broilers have already entered the human food chain, the US Food and Drugs Administration insists the likelihood of illness after eating chicken fed the contaminated product is “very low”.

“The same procedures are being followed in relation to both swine and poultry,” said a spokesman. “Animals are being quarantined and the US department of agriculture is offering compensation for depopulation of both swine and poultry that have been fed contaminated products.”

The authorities expect the numbers of farms affected to grow, but have no plans to order a product recall.