China destroys tons of tainted animal feed 

By David Barboza Published: November 2, 2008

SHANGHAI: Chinese regulators said over the weekend that they had confiscated 
and destroyed more than 3,600 tons of animal feed tainted with melamine, an 
industrial chemical that has been blamed for contaminating food supplies in 
China and for leading to global recalls of Chinese dairy products.

In what appears to be the biggest food safety crackdown in years, the 
government also said Saturday that it had closed 238 illegal feed makers in a 
series of nationwide sweeps that involved more than 369,000 government 

The aggressive moves come amid growing worries that the Chinese animal feed 
industry could be contaminated by melamine, endangering the national food 
supply and posing a health threat to consumers.

Over the past week and a half, eggs produced in three different Chinese 
provinces were found to be tainted with high levels of melamine, a chemical 
commonly used to make plastic and fertilizer. And in September, 
melamine-tainted milk supplies were blamed for sickening more than 50,000 
children and causing at least four deaths in China.

Regulators in the southern province of Guangdong, which is heavily populated 
with about 80 million people and is also a major manufacturing center near Hong 
Kong, said they had discovered six tons of melamine-tainted animal feed.

An official at the Agriculture Ministry said that the government would mete out 
harsh punishments to those who were deliberately adding melamine to animal feed.

"It is illegal for any individual or any enterprise to add melamine into feed, 
and we will crack down uncompromisingly on melamine," Wang Zhicai, director of 
the animal husbandry and livestock bureau at the Agriculture Ministry, said 
Saturday, according to a transcript of his news conference.

But government officials also said that China's animal feed supply was largely 
safe and that the quality of feed had improved in recent years. They insisted 
that only a small number of rogue operators had deliberately added melamine to 
feed, often using it as cheap filler in order to save money.

The government said something similar early last year when several animal feed 
makers were caught exporting melamine-tainted feed ingredients to the United 
States and other countries, resulting in contaminated pet food supplies that 
sickened and killed cats and dogs.

That case led to the largest pet-food recall in U.S. history. Melamine dealers 
in China said in interviews last year and as recently as Friday that it was not 
uncommon for animal feed operators to purchase melamine scrap, a cheaper form 
of melamine waste, and use it as filler.

A massive food safety campaign was announced in China late last year, with 
inspectors closing down thousands of substandard and illegal food and feed 
operators. And yet this year melamine has been found in animal feed, dairy 
products and eggs in China, triggering food recalls and warnings all over Asia 
and even in the United States.

The Chinese government has responded by firing high-ranking regulators and by 
arresting dozens of people suspected of intentionally adding melamine to milk 
supplies. The government has repeatedly promised to ensure the safety of the 
Chinese food supply.

But the nation's food safety woes are troubling global food companies that 
import from China and consumers around the world who fear that melamine may 
turn up in their food. Although China is not a leading dairy exporter, it is 
one of the biggest food exporters in the world.

Still, some food safety officials are asking consumers not to be too alarmed 
because although the melamine-contaminated eggs found in Hong Kong exceeded the 
government limit, a young child would have to consume about two dozen in a 
single day to become sick.

The concentrations in some of the Chinese baby milk supply, however, were far 
higher and caused kidney stones or renal failure in tens of thousands of 



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