- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

SHANGHAI (AP) — China says checks on food exporters have turned up no sign of a chemical blamed for the deaths of cats and dogs in North America, and the country has urged U.S. authorities to refrain from further action against Chinese producers.

The government body responsible for overseeing food safety said it accompanied U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspectors on visits to two companies blamed for the chemical contamination.

The incidents involving Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. Ltd. and Binzhou Futian Biology Technology Co. Ltd. were “special individual cases,” the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said in a statement viewed on its Web site yesterday.

U.S. inspectors said wheat gluten exported by the companies and used to make pet food was tainted with a mildly toxic melamine and caused the deaths of an unknown number of dogs and cats. That led to a recall of 154 brands of pet food contaminated with the chemical.

Chinese authorities have detained an undisclosed number of managers from the two companies.

The statement said FDA inspectors also expressed satisfaction with the quality controls and tracing measures in place at another exporter of vegetable protein, Sinoglory, saying those met U.S. production standards for similar products.

“China emphasizes that its determination to crack down on law-breaking enterprises is firm and its policies are effective,” according to the statement.

“We hope the American side will accurately and objectively deal with problems among individual companies and not take stringent measures against other Chinese companies producing the same type of products,” it said.

China says the two companies added melamine to the gluten after failing to provide the protein level required in their contracts.

Melamine, used in plastics, fertilizers and flame retardants, has no nutritional value but is high in nitrogen, making products to which it is added appear to be higher in protein.

China also has accused the companies of illegally mislabeling their exported products to avoid inspections.

U.S. officials say they don’t believe melamine to be harmful to humans, but say they have too little data to determine how it reacts with other substances.

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