A central Toledo plant being investigated for using an ingredient similar to a pet-food contaminant blamed for dog and cat deaths nationwide this spring was not licensed with the Ohio Department of Agriculture, a requirement of all companies involved in feedstock production, officials said.
Tembec BTLSR Inc., 2112 Sylvan Ave., used melamine, which is not approved for livestock feed, to bind feed granules in pellets from 2004 until last month.
The company, owned by Tembec Inc. of Montreal, sold its binding agent to Uniscope Inc., of Johnstown, Colo., which used it to make feed products for fish and shrimp, and for cattle, sheep, and goats.
Following the pet-food crisis, the company dropped melamine from the ingredients and on Wednesday initiated a recall of its products.
The Food and Drug Administration is conducting an investigation of the situation.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture said it was surprised to hear of the recall and investigation because it didn't know the company existed, since no feed license had been issued, department spokesman LeeAnne Mizer said.
"It doesn't matter how small or how large an aspect of feed production it is," she said. "Any product that is intended for feed manufacturing, that company is required to be licensed."
The Department of Agriculture inspects and licenses feed manufacturers to make sure they operate in a clean, safe manner and that their products meet label requirements and safety standards, Ms. Mizer said.
She said the licenses also help track feed products in the instance of contamination or other health risks.
The department is not authorized to penalize or fine companies that are not licensed, Ms. Mizer said.
John Valley, Tembec's executive vice president, declined to comment on the company's license status with the Department of Agriculture, but said it is cooperating with the investigation.
"We have cooperated with all reviews of the situation to date and we will continue to cooperate," he said.