Pet Food Recall May Have China Connection
Topic Marketing Channels, Distribution, and Supply Chain Management
Key Words Procurement, channel, marketing intermediary
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News Story 

When thousands of pets began experiencing kidney failure in early 2007, few pet owners could have imagined that the seemingly random illnesses were linked to problems in the global supply chain. Yet in the wake of a nationwide pet food recall that removed dozens of wet-food brands off shelves and sparked warnings from the Food and Drug Administration, investigators say that the illnesses stem from chemically tainted wheat gluten shipped from a Chinese agricultural supplier.

The sudden appearance of the chemical melamine in pet foods ranging from Iams and Eukanuba to Nutro hints at intentional food tampering. Regulators are looking into the possibility that melamine, the chemical linked to pet illnesses and deaths, was mixed into wheat gluten in China as a way to bolster protein content. According to various news reports, the Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Company was selling batches of wheat gluten with concentrations of melamine as high as 6.6 percent. Xuzhou Anying has denied the claim, saying it does not manufacture or export wheat gluten and acts only as a middleman trading in agricultural goods and chemicals.

Regardless of Xuzhou Anying's role in the incident, the pet-food contamination case exposes challenges confronting the global marketplace. As China seeks to become a worldwide supplier of agricultural products, the country's reputation for lax food-safety could be a bigger problem for global business partners than previously thought. As a result of the melamine contamination, North American food manufacturers now have to consider the risks associated with importing goods from Asia. A conclusive finding that melamine was intentionally added to the exported wheat gluten could set back agricultural trade between China and the U.S.

Questions
1.

What are examples of lax food-safety in China, according to the article?

2.

How can U.S. food companies gain greater control over suppliers and reduce the risk of experiencing a food contamination crisis?

Source David Barboza, "Some Suspect Chemical Mix In Pet Food," The New York Times, April 12, 2007 pC1(L)
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