WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. government inspectors are checking food makers who use protein concentrates to make sure none of the contaminated products found in pet food have reached other products, including ones for humans, the Food and Drug Administration said.
There is no evidence that any of the two contaminated batches of wheat gluten and rice protein from China ended up as an ingredient in human food, ''but it's prudent to look,'' said Dr. David Acheson, assistant FDA commissioner for food protection.
More than 100 brands of pet food have been recalled since March 16 because they were contaminated with melamine. An unknown number of dogs and cats have been sickened or died after eating the chemical-laced pet food.
Acheson said the inspections began this week, covering both human and pet food manufacturers to raise awareness of how important it is to know their supply chain and to make sure none of the contaminated products remain in stock.
The number of facilities to be visited could be in the hundreds, Acheson said, based on knowledge of what ingredients go to which manufacturer.
''This is going to go on until we feel satisfied we've got it covered. We're not setting the bar at 50 or 100 or 1,000. We're going to keep doing this until we're confident that we've got our arms around it,'' he said.
Protein concentrates are used in a number of food products such as baked goods.
The announcement came as pet food manufacturer Menu Foods expanded its recall because of possible cross-contamination between melamine-tainted products and other foods made in the same period.
Another company, SmartPak Canine, issued a recall for all lots of its Live Smart Adult Lamb and Brown Rice food, which it said had tested positive for the presence of melamine. The food is shipped directly to about 220 consumers and is not available on store shelves, the company said in a statement.
The expansion of inspections includes cuts and gravy pet food, as well as other products that were not made with the contaminated wheat gluten supplied by ChemNutra Inc., but were manufactured during the period the chemical-laced gluten was used.
While Acheson said he remains confident that none of the products contaminated with melamine ended up as an ingredient in human food, he noted that some poultry and hogs ate feed including some of the recalled petfood.
That is not expected to pose a hazard to humans because of the dilution factor, he explained.