updated 5/15/2007 5:37:11 PM ET 2007-05-15T21:37:11

Roughly 56,000 pigs that were fed contaminated pet food scraps are safe to be eaten, the Agriculture Department said Tuesday.

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The all-clear allows the pigs to be slaughtered for human consumption. They had been on hold or under quarantine in seven states: California, Illinois, Kansas, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina and Utah.

The feed included scraps from pet food made using an imported Chinese ingredient later found to have been tainted by the industrial chemical melamine and related compounds. While those chemicals proved lethal to an unknown number of dogs and cats fed tainted pet food, the contaminants were sufficiently diluted when mixed into farm animal feed to not pose a risk to pigs — or the people who eat them.

About 80,000 poultry fed contaminated feed remain on hold in Indiana until officials develop a test that can detect melamine levels in their flesh. A similar test already was developed for pork.

Feed given fish at two fish farms in Hawaii and Washington state may have contained the same tainted Chinese ingredient used to make the pet food. Those fish also are being held until they and the feed they ate can be tested.

USDA and Food and Drug Administration officials repeated assurances Tuesday that there is little risk to humans from eating melamine-contaminated meat or fish. For instance, a 132-pound person would have to eat more than 800 pounds a day — an impossible task — of melamine-tainted pork to run any health risk, officials said.

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