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Canola possibly contaminated with animal tissue

(Thursday, Jan. 15, 2004 -- CropChoice news) -- OsterDow Jones, 01/14/04: WINNIPEG -- A Canadian canola meal shipment to the U.S. was stopped last month by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration due to concerns it may have been contaminated with animal muscle tissue, a Bunge Ltd. spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday.

The FDA prevented the canola meal shipment from Bunge-owned CanAmera Foods's Nipawin, Saskatchewan, canola crushing plant from entering the U.S. on Dec. 23 or Dec. 24 because a sample was suspected to contain animal protein, said Bunge spokesperson Deb Seidel.

The suspected sample was a "visual positive" from an unknown source of animal protein, said Seidel. Bunge has asked the FDA to do a more extensive test to generate more information, said Seidel.

Bunge is willing to pay for the additional testing, but the FDA has not yet agreed to additional tests, Seidel said.

"The sample was taken from a container that we exported to a third party, that had trans-loaded the container with a bulk rail car that had been purchased from us," said Seidel. "We know that the meal was loaded in a clean and inspected car."

CanAmera's crushing facilities "are dedicated facilities that don't handle animal-related product," said Seidel.

The FDA put CanAmera's Nipawin plant on an import-alert list following the December incident, Seidel said. Currently, she said, when cars from the Nipawin plant are shipped to the U.S., a third party takes a sample and conducts tests. Those results are sent to the FDA, which then gives approval for the car to enter the U.S., said Seidel.