March 30, 2007
FDA Finds New Chemical in Recalled Pet Food
Melamine, a chemical used to make plastics, was found in samples of recalled Menu Foods pet food and in wheat-gluten used as an ingredient in the pet food, the Food and Drug Administration confirmed on March 30.
It's unclear whether the melamine is the cause of the illnesses and deaths of cats and dogs across the country because there is little data on the toxicity levels of melamine and its effect on animals. The investigation into what poisoned the pets is ongoing.
Scientists from Cornell University also confirmed the presence of melamine in the pet food and in urine and tissue samples from the affected cats. However, they are not yet able to confirm the connection between the melamine and the cause of the illness and death in pets.
On March 23, the New York State Department of Agriculture confirmed that it had found aminopterin, a toxin used as a rat poison and cancer drug, and melamine in samples of the recalled pet food. New York officials are confident that aminopterin, not melamine, is the source of the problem. FDA and Cornell University tests were unable to confirm the presence of aminopterin in the pet food.
The FDA is working to confirm whether the contaminated wheat gluten, imported from a supplier in China, could have been used as an ingredient in human food. The FDA has found no indication that the contaminated wheat gluten had made its way into the human food supply, but said they would alert the public quickly if they found otherwise.
Menu Foods initially recalled nearly 100 brands of "cuts and gravy" style dog and cat foods, including many major pet foods sold throughout North America, on March 16. The recall now includes both dry and wet foods and is no longer limited to "cuts and gravy" style foods. Check the FDA website for the latest announcements and information.