Chinese Deflect Blame in Melamine Incident

Government officials say U.S. companies should be more cautious in their purchases.

According to U.S. officials, the Chinese government and food industry was to blame for the food safety breach in which melamine and related compounds were included in shipments of pet food. Now Chinese officials say U.S. companies should be more cautious in their purchases.

"Officials like me in the Chinese government can supervise the producers here, but U.S. companies doing business with Chinese companies must also be very clear about the standards they need, and don't just look for a cheap price," says Yuan Changxiang, a deputy director in the ministry charged with inspecting imports and experts, in a USA Today report.

The incident stemmed from two Chinese export companies using wheat gluten containing the industrial compound melamine to boost protein content in pet food. Pets across the country died after eating the food, and some of the food ended up in swine and poultry feed.

China has since banned melamine use in food products and detained managers at the two companies believed to have intentionally laced the pet food.

Jin Zemin, general manager of Shanghai Kaijin Bio-Tech, which makes wheat gluten, says U.S. importers "want cheaper prices, but that can come at a cost. You should know exactly where the products you buy are coming from. Don't just look at price."

Chinese and U.S. officials talked trade this week in Washington. Among the issues were U.S. concerns about contaminated food imports from China, according to USA Today.

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