AVMA reports on contaminants in last year's pet food recall

 |  Feb 8th 2008  |   0 Contributions


The December 1, 2007 Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) included an article entitled "Researchers examine contaminants in food, deaths of pets." The article discusses new revelations about last year's massive pet food recall.

Some of the researchers' findings are outlined below. Before you read them, I should warn you: what they discovered might not make you happy.

  • The total number of animals killed or sickened by tainted food is not known.
  • Cats and small dogs were more likely to be sickened by the contaminated foods, implying that small animals were not able to tolerate the contaminants as well as larger ones.
  • Two contaminants, melamine and cyanuric acid, appear to have been the main agents that led to kidney damage, illness, and death.
  • Neither contaminant, on its own, has been found to cause significant damage to kidneys in cats and dogs. However, in combination they form crystals in the body. This leads to kidney failure in some cases.
  • Melamine is an adulterant that is used to make the protein content of food components (wheat flour in this case) appear artificially high. According to JAVMA, "Adding melamine could throw off a test for the protein concentration of an ingredient, allowing flour to pass for a costlier high-protein ingredient."
  • According to the prevailing theory of the researchers, cyanuric acid was present because of incomplete chemical reactions during the manufacture of the melamine.
  • Here's how it looks to me. Note that what I am about to say is speculation, not proven fact.

    The manufacturer of the wheat flour involved in the recall may have purposefully added melamine in order to obtain a higher price for the product. The manufacturer used low-quality melamine that was contaminated with cyanuric acid.

    The combination of melamine and cyanuric acid caused kidney failure in some of the pets that ate contaminated food. If this hypothesis is true, it is scandalous indeed.

    For reference, the article is J Am Vet Med Assoc 2007;231:1636-1638.

    Further information can be obtained by visiting the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians website. Click on the 2007 conference proceedings (warning: large PDF file; relevant information is on page 29).

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