Business

Charges in toxic food incidents

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Two Chinese businesses and a U.S. company were indicted Wednesday in the tainted pet food incidents that potentially killed thousands of animals last year and raised worries about products made in China.

Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co.; Suzhou Textiles, Silk, Light Industrial Products Arts and Crafts I/E Co.; and Las Vegas-based ChemNutra Inc. were charged in two separate but related indictments.

The U.S. attorney's office in Kansas City said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has received consumer reports suggesting that 1,950 cats and 2,200 dogs died after eating food contaminated with the toxic chemical melamine.

U.S. Attorney John F. Wood said authorities haven't been able to substantiate all those reports, but "as for pet deaths, we think it's in the thousands."

One of the indictments charges Xuzhou Anying Biologic, in China's Jiangsu Province, and Suzhou Textiles, in Suzhou, China, with 13 felony counts of introduction of adulterated food into interstate commerce and 13 felony counts of introduction of misbranded food into interstate commerce.

The indictment also names Xuzhou's owner and Suzhou's president.

ChemNutra and company owners Sally Quing Miller, a Chinese national, and her husband, Stephen S. Miller, were charged with 13 misdemeanor counts of introduction of adulterated food into interstate commerce, 13 misdemeanor counts of introduction of misbranded food into interstate commerce and one felony count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

The indictments allege that Suzhou Textiles, an export broker, mislabeled 800 metric tons of tainted wheat gluten manufactured by Xuzhou to avoid inspection in China. Suzhou then did not properly declare the contaminated product it shipped to the United States as a material to be used in food, the indictment says.

The indictment said ChemNutra picked up the melamine-tainted product at a port of entry in Kansas City, then sold it to makers of various brands of pet foods.

Wood said prosecutors aren't alleging that the Millers and ChemNutra knew that the product was toxic, only that they were aware the product had been shipped into the United States under false pretenses and failed to notify their customers.

  Comments