Tuesday, May 1, 2007

What actually killed our pets?

Another great post from Gina at Petconnection

The Canadian press had this reported pretty widely a couple of days ago — and it’s blogged in here somewhere. But now the AVMA is saying what may have killed the pets who ate the tainted pet food:

Tests conducted on contaminated pet food and necropsies from affected animals have resulted in a new theory to explain how animals are being adversely affected by contaminated pet foods. A chemical reaction between melamine and cyanuric acid is suspected of forming crystals and blocking kidney function.

The investigation into contaminated pet food has focused on melamine contamination of ingredients imported from China, such as wheat gluten, rice protein concentrate and corn gluten (imported into South Africa). It is now believed that cyanuric acid, as well as melamine, has been found in urine samples from animals that died.

Analysis of the crystals in the kidneys of affected animals have revealed that they are approximately 70 percent cyanuric acid and 30 percent melamine, and are extremely insoluble. Furthermore, tests mixing melamine and cyanuric acid in samples of cat urine resulted in almost immediate formation of crystals that were identical to crystals found in the kidneys of affected animals. Two other melamine- related substances—ammelide and ammeline—may also play roles and are under investigation.

Here’s the rest. And here’s the Toronto Star, from three days ago:

Guelph scientists may be closer to figuring out why North American pets are dying from contaminated food.

Two of the chemicals U.S. authorities say they’ve found in food additives from China – melamine and cyanuric acid – can react to form crystals that could block kidney function, according to the University of Guelph’s Agriculture and Food Laboratory.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration found melamine, which is used to make plastic, in wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate in some pet foods. They’ve also found cyanuric acid, a chemical used to treat water in swimming pools, in wheat gluten.

So far, 16 pets have died, but experts say that number is low. Dozens of contaminated pet food products have been recalled.

“This is a piece of the puzzle, a significant finding,” said John Melichercik, director of analytical services for Guelph’s laboratory services. “We have found these crystals in cats that have suffered renal failure.”

American health authorities have implicated the two compounds, but because neither seemed sufficiently toxic on its own, it was unclear how they were involved. But both compounds are something “you wouldn’t expect to see in pet food,” Melichercik said.

Here’s the rest.

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Volunteers Needed! Get food off shelves...

howl911.com, itchmo.com, thepetfoodlist.com, petconnection.com, petfoodtracker.com and spockosbrain.com have joined together to ask for your help.
Update 6-10: Recalled food was purchased from a
California store on 5-29th – this stuff is still out there!
We need Volunteers to help get recalled food off store shelves. Read this post at Spocko’s Brain for instructions. Print a list (or two) on this site. Visit stores, then report safe stores here at Itchmo.com.

Printing Information:
1. Print the main FDA Pet Food Recall page http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/petfood.html – this will be handy to show retailers who haven’t heard anything about the recall. (3 pages)

2. Print the list of 14 Major National Brands - it includes flavors and date information where applicable so you can tell if specific products for these brands have been recalled. The brands are: Alpo Prime Cuts, Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul, Doctors Foster and Smith, Eukanuba, Gravy Train, Hill’s Science Diet, Iams, Jerky Treats, Lick Your Chops, Mighty Dog Pouches, Natural Balance, Nutro, Pounce, Royal Canin. (It’s 7 pages and includes FDA contact information.)

3. Print the List of All Brands – it will remind you what products have been recalled - but it does not give you date and flavor information, there is just too much to put in one document. (7 pages, but the 7th page is links to more detailed information so you don’t need to print it)

If you want, and are going to a store that you know has store brands that have been recalled (such as Walmart), go to that recall information at the links on the summary or at the FDA site and print it out. Some of the information is formatted in ways that make it difficult to read (one of the main reasons for this site), but it’s better than nothing.

Note: The FDA is the official source for all recall information and recalled products. This is an unofficial volunteer effort to help get the word out and get recalled foods off of shelves. We’re doing the best we can but can’t guarantee these lists are completely accurate. Again, here is the official recall site: http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/petfood.html