By-products from pet food contaminated with poisonous wheat gluten imported from China were used in chicken feed by some Indiana poultry producers, raising fears that toxins have been passed along into the human food chain.

This information came to light as part of the continuing investigation into imported rice protein concentrate and wheat gluten that have been found to contain melamine and melamine-related compounds. Pet food contaminated with melamine has killed at least 16 cats and dogs and sickened thousands of others

In a joint statement released yesterday (30 April) the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration said that 30 broiler poultry farms and eight breeder poultry farms in Indiana had received contaminated feed in early February. All of the potentially affected chickens have since been processed, entering the food chain.

The FDA and USDA said that the risk of people falling ill due to consumption of contaminated meat is minimal because the contamination was diluted. Without evidence of harm to humans, the agencies said they were not recalling any of the processed chicken products.

The USDA and the FDA revealed last week that eight pork producers in seven states had also purchased adulterated feed.

Yesterday (30 April), Tyson Foods acknowledged that it had sent nearly 200 hogs that had potentially eaten feed containing melamine to a processing plant. Again, it is not thought that this represents a risk to human health.