Guilty Pleas in Melamine-Tainted Pet Food Case


The Last Dragon buy Since 2007 we have been following the tragedy involving melamine-tainted wheat gluten provided to pet-food makers that killed or sickened thousands of dogs and cats and led to massive <"">pet food recalls. Now, media outlets are reporting that ChemNutra Inc., and its owners Stephen and Sally Miller, have finally agreed to enter guilty pleas to 27 misdemeanor counts of distributing adulterated and/or misbranded food as well as one felony count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, reported UPI, citing

download The Batman Superman Movie: World’s Finest The pleas will be formally entered in federal court on June 16 in Kansas City, Missouri, UPI added. And, although details of the terms have not been released, UPI noted that each misdemeanor charge could carry up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine for the couple and $200,000 for ChemNutra, citing the report. The one felony count could lead to up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine for the Millers, and $500,000 for ChemNutra, said UPI, noting that the couple could be ordered to also pay restitution.

Melamine is used to make plastics, fertilizer, and fire retardants and, because it possesses high nitrogen contents, can falsify protein levels in foods. Melamine has no approved food uses in the United States, but is a common additive in animal feed in China. Melamine is known to cause kidney problems when ingested, including kidney stones and kidney failure.

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The dangers of contaminated and tainted food was brought to the fore when it was discovered that Chinese plants produced and exported wheat gluten and rice protein laced with melamine to the U.S. for use in pet food. The problem was discovered when pets began falling ill—and in many cases died—as a result of kidney failure. As a result, a pet food recall was initially announced in March 2007 and represented the largest pet food recall in history. It involved over 150 brands of dog and cat food and a recall of tens of millions of pet food containers. Pet owners maintain that the tainted ingredients were responsible for the sickening or death of hundreds of dogs and cats in North America.

According to the Associated Press (AP), ChemNutra; the Millers; Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Company; and Suzhou Textiles, Silk, Light Industrial Products Arts and Crafts I/E Company were indicted February 2008 under allegations that export broker Suzhou mislabeled 800 metric tons of tainted gluten produced by Xuzhou. The AP noted the mislabeling was to avoid Chinese inspection and that Suzhou did not properly declare the contaminated product it shipped to the U.S. as a product to be used in food, citing the indictment. The indictment stated that ChemNutra retrieved the tainted product at a port of entry in Kansas City, then sold it to pet food manufacturers, and that Xuzhou used melamine to falsely increase the gluten’s protein levels to meet Suzhou’s contract requirements with ChemNutra.

We previously reported that the indictment cited email traffic between the Chinese manufacturers and ChemNutra, which, said investigators, proves the importer knew tainted gluten was mislabeled to avoid inspection. After news of the contamination broke, all of the companies charged said they did not know how the toxin made its way into the gluten; however, the owner of Xuzhou eventually confessed to Chinese authorities that the melamine was added to raise the glutens’ protein levels.

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