“Rat parts” found in Tomato Sauce

One personal policy I have on Kitchen Cow is keeping things upbeat and positive. There’s already so much depressing news happening all over the world so I like keeping this blog a happy place where you can get your food fix. Still, this issue bothers me so much. I honestly still have mixed feelings about it. If you’re squeamish or eating food right now, please stop reading because this news is disgusting.

tainted tomato sauceLocal Philippine newspaper The Business Mirror reports that investigations are underway regarding the claims that an object, identified by the U.P. Los Banos laboratory as the “heart of a small mammal” that’s suspected to be from a rat was found in a pack of Del Monte Tomato Sauce.

The story goes that his wife cooked Spaghetti for lunch, using Del Monte Tomato Sauce they bought from the Puregold grocery in Imus, Cavite. The kids experienced stomach pains the next day so they were rushed to the hospital. The couple later discovered what appeared to be a small animal’s innards inside the pouch of tomato sauce.

This pack was pronounced contaminated by the above mentioned UPLB lab, saying that the protein levels in the tomato sauce were unusually high for a product that’s supposed to have no protein or zero protein level. This increase verifies the presence of the tissue samples. Other Del Monte tomato pouches belonging to the same batch were also tested and were showed to have added proteins, however, it was still the Bautista family’s pouch that had the highest levels.

tainted tomato sauceCurrently, the Bureau of Food and Drug (BFAD) is investigating Bautista’s claims, as he and his family are calling for the pull-out of that particular batch, BB08129IF8, from store shelves.

Personally, I take most things I read on the internet with a grain of salt, but there’s still that fear that it can be true. There’s always the chance that the product was contaminated after it was opened. Or it could even be a smear campaign against the brand. But the fact that other pouches used for testing (sealed I assume) also showed increased protein levels triggers a warning signal in my head. This is especially relevant because we’ve been loyal consumers of Del Monte products for ages, and it scares me that it can happen to anyone of us as well.

Please don’t just take my word for it. Read the actual report on Business Mirror’s Online edition so we may be better informed.

Images in this post are royalty-free images from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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13 Responses to “Rat parts” found in Tomato Sauce

  1. Jaja says:

    this is quite disturbing indeed. Del Monte pa naman is my brand of choice. Funny, when I clicked on your link to the business mirror site, the article can’t be found anymore…hmm…

  2. Jaja says:

    Ay, it’s still there. I searched the site of Business Mirror.

  3. Suzanne says:

    It’s disgusting to think that what you assumed was an all-tomato product had mammal tissues in it…

    My friend was asked to keep quiet about this.

  4. thats so alarming,, imagine instead of getting beta carotine.. you’ll get Leptospirosis………. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

  5. cali_maki says:

    scary…thanks for the info.

  6. Manang says:

    It is not leptospirosis you are going to worry about here. Leptospirosis is contacted when the organism (usually from rat urine) in contaminated water/fluid (like flood water) penetrates the human body through mucosa or cuts/abrasions.

    The problem here is the high protein content. Canned/processed “pure” tomatoes (which are supposed to be acidic) are processed in a different manner compared to those that have meat. Meat in such canned/processed products (like spaghetti meat sauce) require higher temp for processing to make sure organisms that produce toxins (botulinum) will not thrive and cause food poisoning in humans. The high pH (basic/alkaline) food tends to encourage growth of the organism producing botulinum toxin. In this case, since the “heart of a small mammal” will be a protein source, it creates higher pH, but was not processed correctly, apparently, so that it caused food poisoning.

    (I myself have done canning/processing of tomatoes I grow in my garden. I am very particular about hygiene when making my own processed tomatoes. I studied all I could about home canning and preservation before I trusted myself to be able to do this without poisoning myself or my family. It turns out that nowadays, the person you could trust more to prepare your food is eventualliy yourself.)

  7. cool cat says:

    it is interesting to note that tomato sauce naturally has low level of protein. the article said that the sauce contains about 1% protein, which is just natural, i don’t see any problem with that. we should avoid being fooled by articles like this one. it is a bit obvious that these guys are trying to extort money from del monte. it has happened to coke, pepsi, san miguel, cdo, etc…. these guys never learned! they will never be able to sell fabricated stories for them to win a court case against a giant firm like del monte. tsktsktsk! nitwits!

  8. Pinky says:

    Eeewww… thanks for the heads-up on this! Will definitely make a mental note not to purchase this brand of tomato sauce in the meantime…

  9. kn says:

    oh my gosh! just two weeks ago, i opened a del monte tomato sauce pouch, and it was full of molds even it was clearly stated that the expiration is August 2009. i am based here in dubai, so i don’t know if the exportation could be the cause of molds. or it was already like that before it was exported. either way it’s still scary, and the image of it was really disgusting!

  10. dyosa says:

    Alarming indeed. Now I am scared to buy anything in a pouch. Let’s just use real tomato and puree them. Thanks for the info.

  11. kaoko says:

    Sorry for the wrong link earlier. My fault totally. It’s been fixed already though. And I agree with you. I found it very disturbing as well because Del Monte is also our brand of choice, not only when it comes to Tomato Sauce but other product lines as well. :(

    That’s why I didn’t want to link to the other pages that had your friend’s statements. Won’t he get in trouble about it?

    @pinoy cravings and cali_maki
    Well, as Manang pointed out below, safe naman from leptospirosis but it’s alarming still, when you’re getting substances you’re not supposed to be ingesting.

    Thank you for the info. It really helps to know more about these things. And as a sidenote, you process your own food? I’m envious! I’ve been wanting to take a food processing course with TESDA but I can’t find the time to do it. But I guess I could do like you and read up about it myself 😀 Thanks for the idea 😀

    @cool cat
    While your extortion angle is highly possible as well, still, since it’s food, I’d be cautious whether it’s true or not. It never fails to be safe.

    I’m actually rather torn about this. Brand loyalty versus caution. I haven’t found the need to buy tomato sauce yet since this broke out but when I need to, I don’t know whether I’ll switch or gamble. :(

    Aaack. Pero it wasn’t expired or tampered with? It is scary, especially since it will be difficult for you to complain since you’re in another country. I hope what you got was an isolated case and didn’t affect the others from that batch. I’d hate to think anyone who wasn’t as cautious as you ingested it.

    Back to freshly prepared stuff versus using processed no? Not a bad idea. In fact, that would be idea. (Incidentally, I love pasta with fresh tomatoes :P)

  12. the scientist says:

    I would just like to share my two cents worth on this topic.

    The testing for protein is done by measuring the nitrogen levels (the Keijhal-N test), which is done so because protein is very high in Nitrogen.

    What people should also consider is that Molds are also high in nitrogen brought about by their characteristic skin, named N-Acetylglucosamine.

    Now… since protein is high in nitrogen, Molds are also high in nitrogen.. and the method of testing for protein is by measuring the relative nitrogen levels…. Then there is also a possibility that the claimed “rat heart” is also a mold.

    Just my two cents worth. I am not claiming that it is a mold.. but Im just shedding light that it might not be a rat heart.

    • kaoko says:

      It would be reassuring if it weren’t rat parts, though I’d still be worried if there were molds. Admittedly, it’s not as scary a thought. Thanks for your input, the scientist! More opinions on a topic, especially if they shed new light, are always welcome.

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