Federal food safety regulators reported on Tuesday that the level of contaminated animal feed which was consumed by hogs does not pose a risk to humans who eventually consume the meat, and have lifted a quarantine that kept 56,000 hogs from going to slaughter. The hogs, some from South Carolina farms, were being held in quarantine by the USDA while the sources and effects of feed that was tainted with melamine, a compound that is used to make plastics were traced.
Kenneth Petersen of the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service stated, “That meat is safe for human consumption. Therefore, it’s no longer being held on those farms. Melamine does not accumulate in pork and is filtered out of the body by action of the kidneys.” According to the USDA and the FDA, melamine was added to wheat flour before it was imported from China. Both agencies are investigating the contamination in China. Chinese officials have arrested at least one processing plant manager.
The flour from China was mislabeled as wheat gluten and rice protein and then used in pet food. The presence of melamine was discovered in March after thousands of dogs and cats in the United States and Canada became ill or died. Surplus pet food also was sold as hog, chicken and fish feed, which caused concerns about melamine contaminating human food.
The FDA assistant commissioner of food protection said Tuesday that two commercial fisheries that raise fish for human consumption have used the tainted feed. Fish from those facilities, one in Hawaii, the other in Washington State, are being held from market.
The USDA has said the government will reimburse hog farmers for the cost of keeping their hogs from slaughter.