U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials have announced the indictments of two Chinese companies and a U.S. firm associated with importing pet food ingredients laced with melamine.

This comes about a year after the FDA was altered to the death of 14 cats and dogs, which was later traced to pet food contaminated with melamine. More than 100,000 chickens and hogs were eventually depopulated due to pet food byproduct feeding.

Cited in the case is Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co., a Chinese firm that processes and exports plant proteins to the United States. Then there is Mao Linzhun, a Chinese national who is the owner and manger of XAC; Suzhou Textiles, Silk, Light Industrial Products, Arts and Crafts I/E Co., a Chinese export broker that exports products from China to the United States. Finally, there is Chen Zhen Hao, a Chinese national and president of SSC. All were charged in a 26-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo.

Also indicted were ChemNutra, a Las Vegas-based corporation that buys food and food components from China to sell to U.S. companies in the food industry, and ChemNutra owners Sally Qing Miller and her husband, Stephen S. Miller, who were charged in a separate but related 27-count indictment. The indictments charge all seven defendants with delivering adulterated food that contained melamine, a substance that may render the food harmful to health, into interstate commerce, among other charges, reports Meatingplace.com.

The indictments allege that more than 800 tons of purported wheat gluten, valued at $850,000, was imported into the United States between Nov. 6, 2006, and Feb. 21, 2007, and that SSC falsely declared to Beijing that those shipments were not subject to mandatory inspection prior to export.

Melamine is an industrial chemical that can be used in the manufacture of plastics, cleaning products, glues, inks and fertilizers. It can be mixed with wheat gluten to make the product appear to have a higher protein level. Pet food manufacturers often use wheat gluten as a thickener or binding agent in certain types of pet food.

A pet food manufacturer alerted FDA to the deaths of 14 cats and dogs last March. Consumers reported concern and the manufacturer's own routine taste trials raise concerns. The animals were reported to have developed kidney failure after eating pet food that had been manufactured with the purported wheat gluten.

Source: Meatingplace.com