Melamine Now Found In Fishfeed

This melamine scam just keeps getting bigger and bigger, and it's clearly been going on for years.

Reports that melamine scrap which sells for $100-120/tonne was being used to pad out protein counts in the aquaculture industry first surfaced five years ago, according to Xinhua news agency.

Pieces of melamine displayed by a worker. The melamine is ground into a powder and added to animal feed as a filler to keep costs low.

"It's easier to mix melamine into fishfeed than it is in other feedstuffs because melamine is a powder, whereas soy meal, used in feed for pigs and poultry, comes in flake form," Wang Changmei, analyst with China Feedstuff Industry Association told Interfax.

The melamine powder has been dubbed "fake protein" and is used to deceive those who raise animals into thinking they are buying feed that provides higher nutrition value.

"It just saves money," says a manager at an animal feed factory in China. "Melamine scrap is added to animal feed to boost the protein level."

The practice is widespread in China. For years animal feed sellers have been able to cheat buyers by blending the powder into feed with little regulatory supervision, according to interviews with melamine scrap traders and agricultural workers here.

Many animal feed operators advertise on the Internet seeking to purchase melamine scrap. And melamine scrap producers and traders said in recent interviews that they often sell to animal feed makers.

But the scandal is nothing new, eighteen months ago the New York Times ran a story containing this snippet:

“Many companies buy melamine scrap to make animal feed, such as fish feed,” said Ji Denghui, general manager of the Fujian Sanming Dinghui Chemical Company, which sells melamine. “I don’t know if there’s a regulation on it. Probably not. No law or regulation says ‘don’t do it,’ so everyone’s doing it. The laws in China are like that, aren’t they? If there’s no accident, there won’t be any regulation.”