updated 5/10/2007 6:54:21 PM ET 2007-05-10T22:54:21

Fish feed made with a contaminated Chinese ingredient was distributed to about 120 fish hatcheries and farms, roughly split between the United States and Canada, officials said Thursday.

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U.S. officials said the risk to people from eating fish that ate the contaminated feed was very low.

The feed, manufactured by Skretting Canada, used imported Chinese wheat flour, purchased from a second Canadian company, that was spiked with melamine and mislabeled as wheat gluten. Wheat gluten is a mix of two proteins obtained when wheat flour is washed to remove the starch.

A second imported Chinese vegetable protein, sold as rice protein concentrate but also simply wheat flour, has been found to have been contaminated by melamine. The nitrogen-rich chemical typically is used to make plastics, but can skew tests to make ingredients like wheat flour appear more protein rich than they really are.

Together, the two contaminated ingredients have led to the recall of more than 150 brands of cat and dog food. Scraps from those pet foods also were used to make some pig and chicken feed.

The Food and Drug Administration said Skretting has 198 U.S. fish feed customers, although just 50 to 60 are likely to have received products made with the contaminated ingredient. Two of those customers apparently farm fish for human consumption, FDA officials said.

The rest are fish hatcheries, including at least seven Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife facilities that use the feed as a starter diet for juvenile salmon and trout.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Skretting supplied 57 fish hatcheries and farms in that country.

The spiked wheat flour came from two Chinese firms. Neither remains in business, according to the FDA.

A message left Thursday with Skretting Canada was not immediately returned.

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