FOOD CHAIN PILE-UP

First, the dogs and cats got kidney failure. Now, some 6,000 hogs in seven states will have to be euthanized after consuming tainted feed. Chickens may have eaten melamine-contaminated food, too.

Oh, and then there’s the three hundred or so hogs that have already been slaughtered and shipped off to market. Suddenly bringing home the bacon sounds slightly sinister.

The FDA expressed confidence a few weeks ago that the tainted wheat gluten hadn’t entered the human food chain, but they acknowledge now that plastic-polluted pork may indeed have entered our food supply.

Still puzzling over how a chemical used to make plastic found its way into the food chain? The evidence suggests not a random or accidental contamination, but rather a systemic and deliberate reliance on melamine, which is high in nitrogen, to artificially elevate the protein content of wheat gluten, rice protein, and other grain-based products used in animal feed as well as human food products.

Melamine is only mildly toxic, but experts have detected a second contaminant in the tainted pet food called cyanuric acid, which, when combined with melamine, appears to prompt the formation of crystals in urine, which in turn can cause kidney failure.

Cyanuric acid has all kinds of useful applications, apparently; it’s good for stabilizing the water in outdoor swimming pools and hot tubs, as well as boosting the protein content in food.

As Kitty Pilgrim reported Thursday on Lou Dobbs Tonight:

“The United States is importing tons of food and food additives from China. Imports of Chinese food and agricultural products have soared 400 percent in the last 15 years. Nobody knows how much of it is safe…

The Chinese themselves suffer from contaminated food and water. The U.N. estimates 300 million Chinese every year suffer food poisoning.

Sometimes, it’s substandard sanitation, such as the 100 restaurant goers hospitalized after eating bad snails. Sometimes deliberate fraud. A Chinese company was caught making lard from sewage. Farmers were caught adding cancer-causing dye to duck feed to enhance the eggs.

Pollution from industrial production or toxic accidents find their way into the water and subsequently into the food chain in China. Some of that food may be shipped to the United States. Almost all of it, untested and uninspected.”

Making lard from sewage? Suddenly, the Yes Men’s “reBurger” satire seems more prescience than parody.