what's in YOUR pantry?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Health officials are now looking at whether humans may have consumed food containing a chemical linked to a recall of pet foods and livestock feed, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday.

FDA officials said they would inspect imports of six grain products used in foods ranging from bread to baby formula for traces of melamine, a chemical thought to have killed and sickened cats and dogs.

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Melamine, a chemical used in plastics and fertilizer, has already been found in wheat gluten and rice protein imported from China for use in some pet foods, triggering a recall of more than 100 brands.

The FDA named the six grain products to be inspected as wheat gluten, corn gluten, corn meal, soy protein, rice bran and rice protein.

"We're going to target firms that we know are receiving imported products," said David Acheson, chief medical officer of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition in a conference call with reporters. "The goal is obviously to sample as much as we can."

FDA examines if pet food contaminant in human food

and, in case you missed it:

In recent years... China’s food safety scandals have involved everything from fake baby milk formulas and soy sauce made from human hair, to instances where cuttlefish were soaked in calligraphy ink to improve their color and eels were fed contraceptive pills to make them grow long and slim.

also, careful reading reveals:

More than 130 countries ship food items to the United States. Canada, Mexico and China have led the way, with China shipping nearly five times as much in food items to the United States as it did in 1996, international trade commission figures show. Beverages, fish, nuts and fresh fruits and vegetables are among the categories showing the biggest growth.

There have also been increases in categories like residues and waste from food industries; prepared animal feed and "gums, resins and other vegetable saps and extracts,” the trade commission said. “Emulsifiers” or “stabilizers” found in chewing gums and candies, for example, come from sub-Saharan Africa and Pakistan, Mr. Hubbard, the former FDA official, said.

Imports of milling industry products like wheat gluten, while still small, have more than doubled in value since 1996. Food processors use glutens to raise protein content and thicken everything from candy bars to pet food.

“In the same meal these days we may be eating food from several regions of the world,” said Caroline Smith DeWaal, the director of food safety for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington lobbying group. “These food processors may be looking for a cheap new source, but they may pay for it down the line.”

see also:
* what's for dinner?
* Import Alert IA9929
* we don't know means we don't know
* dangerous products
* It's not just a "pet food" story
* ASPCA Pet Food Recall List
* It's bigger than you think
* Pet Food Scandal Grows