Charges filed in contaminated pet food scheme


The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Office of Criminal Investigations announced that two Chinese nationals and the businesses they operate, along with a U.S. company and its president and CEO, were indicted by a federal grand jury on February 6 for their roles in a scheme to import into the United States products they claimed were wheat gluten. The products were contaminated with melamine and used to make pet food.

On March 15, 2007, a pet food manufacturer alerted FDA to the deaths of 14 cats and dogs. The animals were reported to have developed kidney failure after eating pet food that had been manufactured with the purported wheat gluten.

A federal grand jury in Kansas City, MO, returned a 26-count indictment against Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co., LTD. (XAC), a Chinese processor and exporter of plant proteins to the United States; Mao Linzhun, a Chinese national who is the owner and manager of XAC Suzhou Textiles, Silk, Light Industrial Products, Arts and Crafts I/E Co. LTD. (SSC), a Chinese export broker that exports products from China to the United States; and Chen Zhen Hao, president of SSC and a Chinese national.

Also charged in a separate, but related, 27-count indictment were ChemNutra, Inc., a Las Vegas corporation that buys food and food components from China to sell to U.S. companies in the food industry; and ChemNutra owners Sally Qing Miller and Stephen S. Miller.

ChemNutra contracted with SSC to purchase food-grade wheat gluten, according to the indictment. SSC then entered into a separate contract with XAC to supply the wheat gluten it needed to fulfill its contract with ChemNutra.

Among the charges against all seven defendants are delivering adulterated food that contained melamine into interstate commerce and introduction of a misbranded food into interstate commerce. The indictments allege that more than 800 tons of purported wheat gluten, valued at nearly $850,000, were imported into the U.S. between Nov. 6, 2006, and Feb. 21, 2007.