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Chrissie Cole
Chrissie Cole
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FDA Finds Chemical, Not Rat Poison in Recalled Pet Food

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Federal Testing of the recalled pet foods found a chemical used to make plastics but did not confirm presence of rat poison. The recall expanded Friday to include the first of dry pet food.

The FDA said Friday that melamine was found in samples of the Menu Foods involved in the original recall last week and in imported wheat gluten used to make wet-style pet foods. Cornell University scientist found melamine in the urine of sick cats along with the kidney of one of the cats that had died after eating the recalled food.

Hills Pet Nutrition recalled their Prescription Diet Feline dry cat food. The food also included wheat gluten from the same supplier as Menu Foods. The recall did not include any other Prescription Diet or Science Diet foods.

The FDA was working toward ruling out the possibility of contaminated wheat gluten being found in any human food. Melamine is toxic only in high doses, say experts, leaving its role in the pet deaths uncertain.

Menu Foods recalled 60 million containers of cat and dog food, sold throughout North America under nearly 100 brands, earlier this month after animals died of kidney failure after eating the Canadian company’s products. It is not clear how many pets may have been poisoned by the apparently contaminated food, although anecdotal reports suggest hundreds if not thousands have died. The FDA alone has received more than 8,000 complaints; the company, more than 300,000.

Company officials on Friday would not provide updated numbers of pets sickened or killed by its contaminated product. Pet owners would be compensated for veterinary bills and the deaths of any dogs and cats linked to his company’s products, the company said.

The melamine finding came a week after scientists at the New York State Food Laboratory identified a cancer drug and rat poison called aminopterin as the likely culprit in the pet food. But the FDA said it could not confirm that finding, nor have researchers at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey when they looked at tissue samples taken from dead cats. And experts at the University of Guelph detected aminopterin in some samples of the recalled pet food, but only in the parts per billion or trillion range.