Pet Food Recall Commentary by Dr. Laura Pasten

This was sent to me by one of my colleagues and I thought you would like to peruse it:

Pet Food Recall Update from Laura Pasten, D.V.M. May 3, 2007

The Pet Food Recall and investigation continues to expand; as of today 61 brands of cat food, 94 brands of dog food, and 21 brands of pet treats have been recalled (see end of article for alphabetical list). The recall now includes brands such as Science Diet, Royal Canin USA, Doctors Foster and Smith (Adult Dry Lite dog and cat food), Natural Balance, CJ Foods, LiveSmart, Alpo and Mighty Dog. The Food and Drug Agency has now found wheat gluten, rice gluten, corn and corn gluten contaminated with melamine and cyanuric acid (30% melamine and 70% cyanuric acid). The FDA is investigating 17,000 cases of alleged death or illness of pets as a result of contaminated food; 8,000 of these cases have seemingly valid data entered already—half of which claim their pets died as a result of tainted food. Amazingly, it has been discovered that U.S. pet food companies sold recalled pet food to hog and chicken farmers, resulting in 3 million tainted chickens for human consumption being processed, thousands of hogs intended for human consumption excreting both melamine and cyanuric acid in their urine, and unknown quantities of eggs which could be tainted. (Further sales of these animals has been blocked, but the tainted food was only a small portion of what the animals ate, and human consumers would only use the poultry or pork as a small portion of their diet—by contrast, pets often eat the same product exclusively, increasing the toxicity.) The FDA has expanded their testing of imported ingredients and finished products that contain cornmeal, soy protein, rice bran and rice pro tein and corn gluten. In addition to pet food, these ingredients can be used to make many products, including breads, pastas, pizza dough, baby formulas, protein shakes and energy bars.

The FDA thinks the tainted products may have started coming into the U.S. as early as July 2006. Factories in China have dedicated huge boiler vats into turning coal into melamine, which is then used to create plastics and fertilizer. The leftover melamine scrap is made into a powdered form and mixed into animal (and probably people) food to deceive people into thinking they are buying feed that is higher in protein. The amine molecule in melamine is rich in a non-protein nitrogen; pet food companies, trying to spend as lit tle as possible on tests, have been doing a “quick and dirty way to screen for protein” measuring nitrogen, which oftentimes is an indication of the protein level. It has not been proven that the U.S. companies knew they were purchasing food with much less protein than what was tested, but the cost to the manufacturing companies should have given a clue—Melamine cost about $1.20 for each protein count per ton, whereas real protein cost about $6. There is a much greater profit to the companies selling the nitrogen-rich, but protein-poor ingredients. Manufacturers of animal feed in the U.S. were caught in years past doing the same sort of scam by adding urea to feed—another cheap, nitrogen-rich non-protein supplement, which would make feed containing grains lik e wheat, corn, rice and soy appear to have greater protein content, but be far less nutritious. At least two companies in China have exported melamine-laced grains, as have companies in other parts of Asia, including South and North Korea, Indonesia and Thailand.

It took two months for the FDA to gain visas or permission to go to China to investigate. They found it to be common practice in China to add melamine to food products. They bragged that the melamine powder could be dyed any color to match the right feed stock. In recent years, China’s food safety scandals have involved everything from fake baby milk formulas and soy sauce made from human hair, to instances where cuttlefish were soaked in calligraphy ink to improve their color, and eels were fed contraceptive pills to make them grow long and slim. Obviously, this has set off concerns among critics of the Food and Drug Administration that ingredients in pet food as well as human food, which are increasingly coming from abroad, are not being adequately screened.

Eight pork producers in the states of California, Kansas, North Carolina, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Utah are known to have purchased the tainted feed from San Francisco-based Wilbur-Ellis—but investigations are still continuing. The 3 million chickens ate the contaminated food in Indiana. Several other large pet food manufacturing plants (besides Menu Foods) have belatedly admitted to having used melamine-laced grains—including Chenango Valley Pet Foods in the U.S., and the U.S. company, American Nutrition Inc (ANI). Some companies, like Diamond Pet Foods, Natural Balance, Harmony Farms and Blue Buffalo Company Pet Foods were surprised to hear their foods, manufactured by American Nutri tion, were being recalled for contaminated rice gluten—BECAUSE THEIR PRODUCTS WERE NOT FORMULATED NOR LABELED TO CONTAIN RICE PROTEIN—American Nutrition Inc. tampered illegally with their foods, apparently to supply a protein requirement by substituting the “false protein” of the nitrogen in melamine, and thereby increasing their profits. To Blue Buffalo’s credit, they were stunned that their trust in this company was so seriously violated (and apparently for some time—even before the melamine problem)—and they will cease to release any more pet food until they secure a new manufacturer.

Melamine as an additive to grain is illegal in the U.S.; however, scientists are not certain that melamine alone is responsible for the dog and cat deaths. Unusually high levels of cyanuric acid are also being found—a chemical reaction between melamine and cyanuric acid is suspected of forming crystals and blocking kidney function. Two other melamine-related substances—ammelide and ammeline—may also play roles and are under investigation. Most affected cats and dogs are recovering through the use of standard fluid therapy and supportive care. Anyone who suspects that their pets have been affected should contact their veterinarian immed iately—he or she will complete a survey conducted by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (accessible at Everyone needs to be reminded that kidney samples should not be preserved in formalin (the crystals dissolve in formalin), but should be preserved in 100 percent ethanol or snap-frozen in OCT medium and sent to a laboratory on dry ice.

About 70% of the grain used in the United States for human and pet food is imported from the European Union and Asia, according to the Pet Food Institute. Now that the majority of our foods have at least one component from a country other than the United States, it makes us realize why Home Land Security and safeguards against Bioterrorism have become increasingly important. “When you change from getting an ingredient from the supplier down the road to a supplier from around the globe, maybe the methods and practices that were effective in one situation need to be changed,” said Tony Buffington, a professor of veterinary clinical sciences at O hio University (the professor who discovered that it was the alkalinity or high pH of the urine, not the magnesium in the food, which caused urinary calculi).

Obviously, we are becoming aware that even when a company demands quality ingredients, manufacturers can’t be trusted to deliver what they say they’ll deliver or from whom they’ll purchase it. Pet food companies now realize they must police the manufacturing and testing of their foods—not rely on a manufacturer’s reputation. Legislation has now been introduced that would give the FDA the power to order mandatory recalls of adulterated food products, plus establish fines for companies that don’t promptly report contaminated products. Rep. DeLauro says, “It is time to transform the FDA from the toothless agency it has become to one that takes the proactive steps necessary to protect our food supply and the public health.”& nbsp; Dr. David Kessler, who served as Food and Drug Administration Commissioner said, “The Federal Government has more authority to halt the distribution of dangerous toys than it has over unsafe food products. And the agency has no ability to impose fines on companies that are slow to remove unsafe foods.”

The following brands of cat foods have been recalled (in alphabetical order).

1. Americas Choice, Preferred Pet

2. Authority

3. Best Choice

4. Blue Buffalo Co (RICE GLUTEN)

5. Doctors Foster & Smith (RICE GLUTEN)

6. Lick Your Chops (RICE GLUTEN)

7. Companion

8. Compliments

9. Demoulas/Market Basket

10. Diamond Pet Food (RICE GLUTEN)

11. Eukanuba Cat Cuts and Flaked

12. Eukanuba Morsels in Gravy

13. Fine Feline Cat

14. Food Lion

15. Foodtown

16. Giant Companion

17. Hannaford

18. Harmony Farms (RICE GLUTEN)

19. Hill Country Fare

20. Hill’s Prescription Diet

21. Hy-Vee

22. Iams Cat Slices and Flakes

23. Iams Select Bites

24. J.E. Mondou

25. Laura Lynn

26. Li’l Red

27. Loving Meals

28. Medi-Cal

29. Meijer’s Main Choice

30. Natural Balance (RICE GLUTEN)

31. Nutriplan

32. Nutro Max Gourmet Classics

33. Nutro Natural Choice

34. Nutro Products

35. Paws

36. Pet Pride

37. Pounce

38. Presidents Choice

39. Price Chopper

40. Priority US

41. Publix

42. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet (RICE GLUTEN)

43. Save-A-Lot Special Blend

44. Schnucks

45. Science Diet Feline Cuts Adult

46. Science Diet Feline Cuts Kitten

47. Science Diet Feline Cuts Mature Adult 7+

48. Science Diet Feline Savory Cuts Can

49. Sophistacat

50. Special Kitty Canada

51. Special Kitty US

52. Springfield Prize

53. Sprout

54. Stop & Shop Companion

55. Stop & Shop/Giant Companion

56. Wegmans

57. Weis Total Pet

58. Western Family US

59. White Rose

60. Winn Dixie

61. Your Pet

The following brands of dog foods have been recalled (in alphabetical order).


2. Americas Choice, Preferred Pet

3. Authority

4. Award

5. Best Choice

6. Big Bet

7. Big Red

8. Bloom

9. Blue Buffalo (RICE GLUTEN)

10. Bruiser

11. Cadillac

12. Canine Caviar Pet Foods (RICE GLUTEN)

13. Champion Breed Lg Biscuit

14. Champion Breed Peanut Butter Biscuits

15. Doctors Foster & Smith (RICE GLUTEN)

16. Companion

17. Companion/Giant Companion

18. Companion/Giant Companion/Tops Companion

19. Companion/Tops Companion

20. Companion’s Best Multi-Flavor Biscuit

21. Costco/Kirkland Signature (RICE GLUTEN)

22. Demoulas Market Basket

23. Diamond Pet Food (RICE GLUTEN)

24. Dollar General

25. Eukanuba Can Dog Chunks in Gravy

26. Eukanuba Pouch Dog Bites in Gravy

27. Food Lion

28. Giant Companion

29. Giant Companion/Tops Companion

30. Gravy Train

31. Great Choice

32. Hannaford

33. Happy Tails

34. Harmony Farms (RICE GLUTEN)

35. Harmony Farms Treats (RICE GLUTEN)

36. Hill Country Fare

37. Hy-Vee

38. Iams Can Chunky Formula

39. Iams Can Small Bites Formula

40. Iams Dog Select Bites

41. Jerky Treats Beef Flavored Dog Snacks

42. Laura Lynn

43. Loving Meals

44. Meijer’s Main Choice

45. Mighty Dog

46. Mixables

47. Mulligan Stew Pet Food (RICE GLUTEN)

48. Natural Balance (RICE GLUTEN)

49. Natural Life

50. Natural Way

51. Nutriplan

52. Nutro

53. Nutro – Ultra

54. Nutro Max

55. Nutro Natural Choice

56. Nuture

57. Ol’ Roy

58. Ol’ Roy 4-Flavor Lg Biscuits

59. Ol’ Roy Canada

60. Ol’ Roy Peanut Butter Biscuits

61. Ol’ Roy Puppy

62. Ol’Roy US

63. Ol’ Roy with Beef Hearty Cuts in Gravy

64. Ol’ Roy with Beef Hearty Strips in Gravy

65. Ol’ Roy Country Stew Hearty Cuts in Gravy

66. Paws

67. Perfect Pals Large Biscuits

68. Pet Essentials

69. Pet Life

70. Pet Pride / Good n Meaty

71. Presidents Choice

72. Price Chopper

73. Priority Canada

74. Priority US

75. Publix

76. Roche Brothers

77. Royal Canin (RICE GLUTEN)

78. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet (RICE GLUTEN)

79. Save-A-Lot Choice Morsels

80. Schnuck’s

81. Shep Dog

82. SmartPac (RICE GLUTEN)

83. Springfield Prize

84. Sprout

85. Stater Brothers

86. Stater Brothers Large Biscuits

87. Stop & Shop Companion

88. Stop & Shop Companion/Giant Companion

89. Tops Companion

90. Weis Total Pet

91. Western Family US

92. White Rose

93. Winn Dixie

94. Your Pet

Not all of the pet foods manufactured by the above dog and cat food companies have been recalled—the list was 46 pages long when it listed each flavor, size, and manufacturing date of the recalled products. If you are feeding one of the above brands, go to the website of that company, or call them, to see if the particular one you have purchased is affected.

Recalled Pet Treats:

1. BLUE Health Bars Dog Biscuits w/Natural Peanut Butter

2. BLUE Health Bars Dog Biscuits w/Real Cheese

3. BLUE Health Bars Dog Biscuits w/Real Chicken Liver

4. BLUE Health Bars Dog Biscuits w/Bacon, Egg & Cheese

5. BLUE Health Bars Dog Biscuits w/Apple & Yogurt

6. Dollar General Beef Flavored Jerky Strips Dog Treats

7. Dollar General Beef Flavored Beef Sticks Dog Treats

8. Gravy Train Beef Sticks Dog Snacks

9. Happy Tails Beef Flavor Jerky Strips

10. Happy Tails Meaty Cuts with Beef in Gravy Dog Food

11. Happy Tails Beef Flavor Beef Sticks

12. Harmony Farms Health Bars w/Peanut Butter

13. Harmony Farms Health Bars w/Natural Cheese

14. Harmony Farms Chicken Liver

15. Harmony Farms Yogurt & Apples

16. Harmony Farms Peanut Butter

17. Harmony Farms Cheese

18. Del Monte Jerky Treats Beef Flavor Dog Snacks

19. Natural Balance Venison & Brown Rice Formula Baked Dog Treats

20. Ol’ Roy Beef Flavor Jerky Strips Dog Treats

21. Ol’ Roy Beef Flavor Snack Sticks Dog Treats

Each manufacturer also has a website which includes phone numbers to call with your questions.

Any recalled products should be returned to the point of purchase for a refund.

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  1. Excellent post. Thanks very much for the comprehensive and well written information.