Tainted pet food case ends with couple pleading guilty

KANSAS CITY — A U.S. company and its husband-and-wife owners responsible for distributing a tainted pet food ingredient from China pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal misdemeanor charges.

Thousands of dogs and cats reportedly died across the country after eating food containing the ingredient.

But the two Chinese companies that instigated the crime remain out of the reach of U.S. authorities, who have no power to extradite their top officers from China.

"We have not received any communication from China regarding those defendants," said Don Ledford, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Kansas City.

Arrest warrants for those defendants could be served only if they travel to countries that have an extradition treaty with the U.S., officials said.

U.S. and Canadian manufacturers recalled the wet pet food in 2007. It had been made with more than 800 tons of tainted wheat gluten shipped from China to a Kansas City warehouse in late 2006 and early 2007.

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