Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Pet poisoning: 1/6 die in testing?!

Whatever the Menu Foods contaminant is, it is so lethal that it killed 7/45 animals in testing:
San Jose Mercury News - Pet food recall has owners searching for answers

... Menu Foods told the Food and Drug Administration it received the first complaints of kidney failure and deaths from pet owners Feb. 20. It began new tests Feb. 27 in which 40 to 50 dogs and cats were fed its product. During those tests seven animals died, according to the FDA's top veterinarian, Stephen F. Sundlof. The contamination appeared more deadly to cats than to dogs, he said, although the mix of species tests was not immediately known....
Other articles have added a bit more detail. The animals became ill about 5-6 days post-exposure and the chief suspect is contamination of a gluten based thickening agent at a Kansas plan..
FDA has sent inspectors to company plants in New Jersey and Kansas. Most complaints stem from products made at the latter factory, though both received shipments of wheat gluten, identified as a likely source of contamination, from the same supplier, said Stephen F. Sundlof, the FDA's chief veterinarian. The ingredient is a protein source used to thicken the pet food gravy. The FDA is screening pet food samples for substances known to be toxic to the kidneys, like toxins produced by molds.
It's impressive how little we are hearing about the testing. We're going to beef and rice at our house until we know more -- and our dog is on a dry fish based Gluten free diet (yeah, she has canine sprue - happily gluten free diets are easy for dogs). In theory we should be pretty safe, but to put it mildly we have zero trust at the moment.

Update: A Kansas source has more information. If the source is the Kansas plant, the Kansas City Star may be the best information source. This article says the contamination was detected incidentally in taste tests of an experimental product, the company wasn't looking for problems ...
... Menu Foods, according to one veterinary toxicologist, was working on some experimental products when it did some testing, and found that the food sickened or killed some animals. The company reportedly traced the problem back several weeks to when they started using a new wheat component in their foods. The company immediately stopped using that new wheat source, which it used in high concentration in the experimental food. To be safe they recalled every other brand that might contain the new wheat, even in tiny quantities.
I wonder if it will be aflatoxin again ...

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