Tainted Pet Food Convictions
The owners of a Nevada pet food company pled guilty in federal court Tuesday of distributing tainted ingredients intended for pet food that led to a nationwide recall in and the deaths of countless pets.
Matt J. Whitworth, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, said, “Millions of pet owners were impacted by the pet food recall in 2007. The conduct of these defendants in violating federal health and safety standards caused the deaths and illness of thousands of family pets, as well as anxiety among dog and cat owners across the country and economic harm to many pet food manufacturers.”
The business owners, Sally Qing Miller, 43, and her husband Stephen S. Miller, 56, of Las Vegas, pled guilty of selling adulterated food and one count of selling misbranded food through their company, ChemNutra.
ChemNutra bought food components in China then sold them throughout the U.S. to food companies including the industrial component, melamine, used to make plastics and cleaning products, which contaminated the wheat gluten, giving it a higher protein count.
Altogether they are accused of bringing in 13 separate shipments of tainted wheat gluten and a profit of $850,000. The Millers admit they substituted melamine for wheat gluten to increase the protein requirement. They also admitted that the labeling of the wheat gluten was false and misleading since it w as supposed to contribute a minimum of 75 percent of the protein level.
Melamine, which is a commercial byproduct, is not approved for use as an ingredient in human or animal food. It was not listed as an ingredient.
The Millers actions led to the recall of more than 150 brands of dog and cat food in 2007. Many pet owners reported that their dogs and cats suffered kidney failure. Since there is no national tracking system for pets, the exact numbers are not known, however consumer reports received by the Food and Drug Administration suggest nearly 2,000 cats and more than 2,200 dogs died.
The Millers face up to two years in prison without parole and fines up to $200,000, while their company, ChemNutra, is subject to a $400,000 fine and an order of restitution.
China was also implicated in melamine-tainted baby formula that killed six infants and made thousands of babies sick with kidney stones. The former company chairwoman was jailed for life and fined $3.6 million for her role in the scandal.
In 2007, Menu Foods recalled 60 million containers of cat and dog food after animals died of kidney failure. The FDA alone had received more than 8,000 complaints.
The Pet Food Product Safety Alliance was formed after a number of pet food contaminations. It's mission is to promote safe pet food. #