Hours after a Food and Drug Administration spokesperson denied that the already massive pet food recall would be expanded to include products containing rice and corn gluten, Natural Balance has confirmed that it has found melamine in its rice gluten, and is now recommending that customers avoid all of its products containing this ingredient.
Melamine-tainted wheat gluten, imported from China, had previously been blamed for what has grown to become largest pet food recall in U.S. history, with over 39,000 dogs and cats sickened or killed. Natural Balance says that the contaminated rice gluten was produced by a U.S. company, raising further questions as to the broader safety of the food supply.
Earlier today, after receiving a tip from an industry insider that products containing tainted rice and corn gluten were about to be recalled, I contacted an FDA Public Affairs officer for confirmation, and received a quick and firm response:
From: Castro, Veronica
Sent: Tue 4/17/2007 12:37 PM
To: David Goldstein
Subject: RE: From FDA
Rice gluten and corn gluten are not being recalled. The latest information we have is on our website. It is up to date.
Then again, this was the same spokesperson who emailed me that she had no information about a previous recall… six days after it was issued. I can only conclude that the FDA is keeping its Office of Public Affairs as much in the dark as it is keeping the public.
I have received no confirmation that tainted corn gluten is also suspect, but at this point I have no reason to doubt my original source. Given this new information and past experience, I personally will not serve my pets — or my family — any product containing wheat, rice or corn gluten until the FDA and the industry have proven to me that their products are safe to eat.