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The announcement also underscores China's dismal food-safety record.

Mass cases of food poisoning are common in China. Many are blamed on cooks who disregard hygiene rules or mistakenly use industrial chemicals instead of salt and other ingredients. But there has been no reaction so far from the Chinese public to the tainted wheat-gluten and Beijing authorities have not said whether they are investigating the matter.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week blocked wheat gluten imports from the Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. in the eastern city of Xuzhou, saying they contained melamine, a chemical found in plastics and pesticides.

The company has said it is investigating the claims.

Anying produces and exports more than 10,000 tons of wheat gluten a year according to its Web site, but only 873 tons were linked to tainted U.S. pet food, raising the possibility that more of the contaminated product could still be on the market in China, or abroad.

Li Cui, director of Anying's foreign exports, told The Associated Press on Thursday the United States is the company's only overseas market for wheat gluten. It wasn't clear if the company had more than one customer in the United States.

Most of the company's wheat gluten is sold to domestic Chinese buyers, Li said, refusing to say whether the allegedly contaminated batches were sold in China.

An official at the Chinese Ministry of Health, who refused to give his name, said the case was not an issue for the ministry and directed questions to the Ministry of Agriculture.

An official there, who also refused to give his name, told The Associated Press to stop calling.

Both ministries did not respond to faxed questions on whether they had concerns about tainted gluten in China.

China is struggling to improve its food safety record, but manufacturers often mislabel food products or add illegal substances to them.

Last year, 임실출장안마 seven companies were punished for using banned Sudan dye to color egg yolks red. In 2004, at least 12 infants died from malnutrition after drinking formula with little or no nutritional value in eastern China's Anhui province.

Other recent cases include 30 high school and primary students who became sick this week after eating beef soup at a small restaurant in Zhejiang province in eastern China.

Last month, 57 people were hospitalized in Zhejiang after eating food laced with rat poison, while nearly 400 people were hospitalized with possible food poisoning after a wedding banquet in Yunnan province in southern China.

Las Vegas-based ChemNutra Inc., which imported the wheat gluten and shipped it to companies that make pet foods, said Tuesday that Xuzhou Anying had never reported the presence of melamine in the content analysis it provided.

Earlier this week, another official at the Chinese company said the gluten was not manufactured by Xuzhou Anying, but was bought from companies in neighboring provinces.

The FDA has confirmed about 15 pet deaths, and anecdotal reports suggest hundreds of cats and dogs may have died of kidney failure from the tainted food.

Nearly 100 brands of cat and dog food made with wheat gluten have been recalled.

ChemNutra said it has recalled 873 tons of gluten that it shipped to three pet food makers and a single distributor who supplies the pet food industry. The company said the recall applied only to the product from Xuzhou Anying, one of its three Chinese suppliers of the ingredient.

Xuzhou Anying's Web site describes it as a private company set up in 1995 to make and sell animal feed, wheat gluten and vegetables. It said the company produces and exports more than 10,000 tons of wheat gluten each year.
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