China’s Agriculture Ministry banned the use of melamine in feed production more than a year before the current scandals involving tainted milk and eggs, state media reported. Authorities have since moved to crack down on 238 illegal feed makers and another 278 illegal companies and farms, an agricultural official said. Melamine, a chemical used to artificially inflate protein levels that is blamed for the deaths of four children in China, was banned in feed production on June 1, 2007 after it was found in pet food exports that killed dogs and cats in North America. More than 360,000 inspectors have been sent to examine 250,000 feed producers. As a result of their investigations, more than 3,600 tons of substandard feed were confiscated. The official said the recent discovery of melamine-tainted eggs in Hong Kong was a separate case and not indicative of an underlying industry trend.