On March 15, 2007, pet food manufacturer Menu Foods alerted FDA to 14 animal deaths in the United States: 4 cats and 1 dog reported by consumers, and 9 cats that died during routine taste trials conducted by the company. The animals were reported to have developed kidney failure after eating certain "cuts and gravy" style dog and cat food produced at Menu Foods' facilities in Emporia, Kans., between Dec. 3, 2006, and March 6, 2007.
In the following months, consumers and veterinarians reported many more illnesses and deaths potentially associated with a wide variety of pet foods made by Menu Foods and other manufacturers.
FDA laboratories found melamine and melamine-related compounds in samples of pet food. Melamine, an industrial chemical, and its related compounds have no approved use as an ingredient in animal or human food in the United States.
FDA traced the melamine to products labeled as wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate imported from China and used as ingredients in pet foods. Cornell University scientists also found melamine in the urine and kidneys of deceased cats that were part of a taste-testing study conducted for pet food manufacturer, Menu Foods.
FDA's further testing showed that the vegetable protein products imported from China were mislabeled as "wheat gluten" and "rice protein concentrate." This information does not change the recalls or the findings of melamine and melamine-related compounds in pet food.
Melamine is a small, nitrogen-containing molecule that has a number of industrial uses, including as an industrial binding agent, flame retardant, and as part of a polymer in the manufacture of cooking utensils and plates. Melamine also has been used as a fertilizer in some parts of the world. It is not registered for use as a fertilizer in the United States.
Melamine-related compounds are in the same family of chemicals as melamine and include cyanuric acid, ammeline, and ammelide. Melamine and its related compounds have no approved use as an ingredient in animal or human food in the United States.