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Chickens fed tainted feed safe to eat, USDA says

Some 80,000 birds held on Indiana farms are safe to eat despite being fed rations that contained tiny amounts of the chemical melamine, the U.S. government said.
/ Source: Reuters

Some 80,000 birds held on Indiana farms are safe to eat despite being fed rations that contained tiny amounts of the chemical melamine, the U.S. government said on Friday.

The decision by the Agriculture Department to allow the poultry to go to market came a day after the Food and Drug Administration said fish from two commercial fish farms were free of melamine and could be processed for food.

Two Chinese companies are suspected of adding melamine to vegetable protein concentrates used in feed for pets, hogs, poultry and fish. U.S. agencies have stepped up testing of imported wheat and corn gluten.

“Testing confirms that meat from poultry fed rations supplemented with pet food scraps containing melamine is safe for human consumption,” said the Agriculture Department.

Based on the tests, USDA said it “will allow approximately 80,000 birds held on farms in Indiana to be released and approved for processing.”

USDA said tests show melamine does not accumulate in birds and is excreted quickly. An adult would have to eat more than 800 pounds a day of chicken before any health risk would arise based on the amount of melamine and related compounds potentially present in the meat, according to federal scientists.

On May 7, USDA cleared 20 million poultry for slaughter because tests did not find melamine in their feed.

At that time, some breeder poultry and hogs remained under hold because melamine was found in their feed, feed tests were not completed, or feed samples were not available. On Tuesday, USDA cleared 56,000 hogs in seven states for slaughter.