Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A Step Beyond Melamine

More on the China Pet Food Additives Scandal

It’s refreshing that the New York Times is doing some crackerjack investigative reporting.

It’s rather unique that the reporting concerns a scandal in China, rather than America: China’s role as a serial contaminator of feed additives.

And it’s ironic that it’s a story that the Chinese government is probably less than eager to see covered by any media outlet, let alone America’s most authoritative news outlet, the New York Times.

Today’s entry from the Times’ David Barboza, Another Chemical Emerges in Pet Food Case, concerns the possible presence of a second contaminate, cyanuric acid in Chinese feed ingredients.

Barboza reports that cyanuric acid, like melamine, was added to feed ingredients to inexpensively increase their perceived protein content (for more on how protein is measured, see this post).

Scientists are speculating that melamine and cyanuric acid, presumed harmless by themselves, may have combined fatally to damage the kidneys of the pets that consumed food laced with the additives.

China Matters’ humble contribution to this story is the information that a compound of melamine and cyanuric acid, melamine cyanurate or MCA (氰尿酸三聚氰胺), is used in the Chinese plastics industry as an anti-oxidant and flame retardant.

Its primary use seems to be in the production of Nylon 6 and Nylon 66, the two polymers used to manufacture nylon tire cord, the material that adds strength to the carcass of the rubber tire.

Shandong province, where the laced material (not even crappy wheat gluten but, according to Barboza, ordinary wheat flour juiced with additives to make it test like higher quality and more expensive gluten--that's a cheap, nasty trick) was probably produced is, for reasons that escape me, big in tire factories.

And it’s also big in production of MCA. MCA is an inorganic compound apparently produced by facilities involved in China’s coastal salt chemical industry, which has many facilities stretching along the shallow coastal plain from Jiangsu to Shandong to Tianjin.

On a list of MCA producers and suppliers that is probably by no means comprehensive over one third of the enterprises are in Shandong or immediately adjacent.


1 comment:

David said...

what people should really focus on is the lack of government supervision and regulation on food additives rather than bad China and made in china = BAD.

Have we forgotten that these practices are arising not only in China and US as well. we only need to look at our Sudan1 dyed beef and the added benefit of antibiotics treatment in every bite...

What should be implemented in an international directive and multilateral initiative between both US and China to inverstigate and regualte these faulty business practices.