Have You Had Your Melamine Today?

I took a walk through my grocery store today, looking closely at product labels. I always find that a harrowing experience but today more so than usual. I looked at a loaf of bread: wheat gluten. A can of soup: wheat gluten. A can of Beefaronis: wheat gluten, wheat protein, soy protein. Stouffers Meat Loaf: wheat protein, soy protein. Lean Cuisine Spaghetti Dinner: wheat protein, soy protein. It was truly amazing how many different products had wheat gluten, rice gluten, corn gluten, wheat protein, rice protein, or soy protein in them.

I never thought that I’d see the day when, potentially, the hot dogs were the healthiest thing on their shelf.

A few days ago the FDA announced an import alert on a broad range of vegetable protein source products from China because they contained melamine. No one really knows what the longterm health consequences of human consumption of melamine are. It’s not thought to be particularly toxic but the honest truth is that no one knows because no one expected that people would consume melamine in their food.

Now, in the interests of full disclosure I want to mention that I don’t buy any of the products I listed above. Practically everything I buy is something to make something to eat: a raw fruit or vegetable, meat, fish, grain, etc. I rarely buy something that’s ready-to-eat at the grocery store and the more convenient a food is by and large the more processed it is and, indeed, the more likely it is to contain the various vegetable proteins that have been put on alert.

Now, the $64,000 question: do you know where the wheat gluten, rice gluten, etc. in the foods you eat (or that’s in the feed of the livestock whose flesh is neatly packaged in your grocery case) is from?

Have you had your melamine today?


I called Kellogg’s customer service department today to ask about a few of their products. They are painfully aware of what’s going on, they rushed to assure me that none of their products used Chinese-sourced vegetable proteins, and, as soon as the original recall of pet foods took place a month ago they conducted an audit of their suppliers to ensure that none of them were using Chinese-sourced vegetable proteins, either. Now as long as everybody is telling the truth…

As I’ve said a number of times, a modern economy is based on trust.

6 comments… add one
  • I finished the first set of samples from the baby food manufacturer and they’re clean (even though the rice protein concentrate is from China). Thank goodness for small favors! That would have been a nasty can of worms…

  • I breathe a sigh of relief. Honestly.

    But at the rate that the FDA reports that they’ve found contamination this is like Russian Roulette.

  • Mary Link

    What kind of bread are you buying now?

  • reader_iam Link

    Try following this whole story, from a personal standpoint, in terms not just (and please don’t over-read that, to be diminishing: not at all) of your beloved dogs, but also your vegetarian husband and child, the latter of whom is entirely dependent on my choices, as are our dogs.

    I’m the primary feeder of all of them (also, both not vegetarian and not a dog-food eater). I worry.

  • reader_iam Link

    Also, I’ve been meaning to thank you for staying on top of the pet-food recall story.

  • You’re welcome, reader_iam. And I understand what you mean about “primary feeder”. That’s my role, too. I’m a daily consumer of wheat gluten in the form of various meat substitute products.

    First thing I did when I heard that contaminated wheat gluten was implicated was get on the horn to the customer support lline of the brand I use and check with them on the source of their wheat gluten.

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