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Guilty Plea in Tainted Pet Food Case

A Nevada company (Chemnutra, Inc) and its owners pled guilty in federal court on June 16, 2009 to distributing a tainted ingredient used to make pet food, which resulted in a nationwide recall of pet food and the death and serious illness of countless pets across the United States in 2007. More than 800 metric tons of wheat gluten tainted with melamine was imported by Chemnutra into the United States from China in at least 13 separate shipments, between Nov. 6, 2006, and Feb. 21, 2007. Chemnutra received the melamine-tainted product and then sold and shipped the product to their customers across the United States, who used it to manufacture various brands of pet food.

Pet food manufacturers recalled more than 150 brands of dog and cat food across the nation in 2007, following reports of cats and dogs suffering kidney failure after eating the affected products. There is no coordinated national tracking system to monitor the number of pet deaths. However, consumer reports received by the FDA suggest that approximately 1,950 cats and 2,200 dogs died after eating pet food contaminated with melamine.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gene Porter and Joseph Marquez. It was investigated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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