No Melamine Found in Fish From Two Commercial Farms in U.S.

By David Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 18, 2007

Tests found no detectable melamine in the flesh of fish that ate feed adulterated with the chemical at two commercial fish farms in the United States, federal officials said yesterday. The fish was cleared for human consumption.

Although 198 hatcheries received potentially contaminated feed from a Canadian supplier, only two -- Kona Blue of Hawaii and American Gold Seafoods of Seattle -- sell fish for human consumption. The Hawaiian company raises tropical amberjack, much of it for sushi, and the Seattle company produces Atlantic salmon.

The other 196 operations raise fish to stock streams and lakes. Food and Drug Administration officials concluded that those fish posed no threat to human health even if they had consumed melamine-adulterated food.

Two Chinese companies sold animal-food components that had been adulterated with melamine in order to make them seem protein-rich. Melamine, normally used in plastic resins, is high in nitrogen, as is protein.

When it combines with a closely related compound, cyanuric acid, which was also found in the animal feed, it can form crystals. Those crystals apparently caused fatal kidney failure in an unknown number of dogs and cats that ate contaminated pet food last winter.

Meanwhile, the federal government has stepped up surveillance for adulterated protein additives imported from overseas.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, part of the Department of Homeland Security, has tested samples of rice concentrate and wheat and corn gluten from about 80 percent of all shippers of the material, said Vera Adams, the agency's executive director of commercial targeting and enforcement. None contained melamine, but tests are continuing.

She would not say how many countries the material came from.

The FDA has also impounded all "vegetable protein concentrate" imported from China since April 27, a total of 46 shipments.

"None have been proved melamine-free, so they are in detention," said David Acheson, assistant commissioner for food protection at the FDA. The samples are being tested by an outside laboratory using FDA methods.

For shipments to resume, importers must show that five consecutive batches contained no melamine or related compounds and that a Chinese government office, the Administration for Quality Supervision and Inspection and Quarantine, has inspected the manufacturing site and certified that proper controls against adulteration are in place.

The FDA has also collected 63 samples of Chinese-made vegetable protein concentrate from companies in Arizona, California, Minnesota, Iowa, Connecticut and New Hampshire. Of the 37 tested so far, none contained melamine, Acheson said.

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