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SMITHFIELD, Va. -- Following a warning yesterday from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that some commercial hogs may have consumed tainted pet food, Smithfield Foods said the swine feeding system for its hog production subsidiary, Murphy-Brown LLC, is free of melamine.
The company said it conducted a review that covered all feed ingredient suppliers, feed supplied to Murphy-Brown owned farms, and contract growers who produce animals for Murphy-Brown, as of this date.
"Our vertical integration model provides us with a mechanism to ensure feed quality, the ability to trace our sources of supplies, and a means of protection against things such as tainted feed ingredients," said C. Larry Pope, president and c.e.o. of Smithfield Foods, in a statement. "The model also enables us to respond rapidly to our customers on such issues. We want to assure our customers that our products are safe to eat," he said.
Several hundred of the 6,000 hogs that may have eaten contaminated pet food are believed to have entered the food supply for humans, the government said yesterday.
Salvaged pet food from companies known or suspected of using tainted ingredients was shipped to hog farms in seven states for use as feed.
Since mid-March, pet food companies have recalled more than 100 brands of dog and cat food and treats. Some pet food, while unsuitable for sale for that purpose, was still considered safe for animals to eat. Its use at hog farms raised the possibility that melamine entered the human food supply.
The risk to human health posed by the chemical is considered very low, according to the government.