Tainted Pet Food Is Killing Dogs in ChinaJan 13, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP, LLP Australian-produced pet food is poisoning dogs in China. It seems that Natural Pet Corporation, distributor of Optima dog food, has recalled a brand of its imported pet food after receiving reports of sick dogs, reports CNN. The alfatoxin-tainted food is being removed from store shelves in China.
Shanghai dog food seller, Edis Pet Supply Company, has been receiving reports of sickened dogs; veterinarians have advised Edis of four poisonings that occurred after dogs ate the tainted food, said CNN. Chinese media reported on dozens more and the Associated Press said that that Shanghai Yidi Pet Company confirmed over one dozen dogs were sickened and that the Shanghai Daily newspaper said at least 20 dogs died as a result of the tainted pet food.
Aflatoxin, a rare fungal toxin, targets the liver in several types of animals and is known to contaminate pet food cereal grains. CNN confirmed that Natural Pet Corporation is aware of the problem and is testing its products; no results have been made available. Holistic Pet Food noted that aflatoxin poisoning is fatal in most—80 percent—of the cases, causing terrible pain and suffering. The food appeared to be a U.S. made food, but was distributed by a Taiwan supplier and manufactured through Australia’s Doane International Pet Products with the problem likely a result of products held in non-temperature controlled, hot, humid conditions during the recent Beijing Olympics.
This is not the first time pet foods have been involved in international recalls. In 2007, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalled over 150 brands of cat and dog food after thousands of North American pets fell seriously ill and many others died as a result of melamine poisoning, said CNN. It was later discovered that the melamine-tainted ingredients came from China, a country that is no stranger to melamine contaminations. China has been in the epicenter of a global scandal in which a variety of products have been found to be contaminated with the industrial chemical. Most notably, hundreds of thousands of babies fell ill after drinking melamine-tainted formula; at least six died. CNN noted that in addition to its use in fire retardants, plastics, and fertilizers, melamine is used in coatings and laminates, wood adhesives, fabric coatings, and ceiling tiles.
Last week, the Pet Examiner reported that over 1,000 shelter dogs in Taiwan were killed after eating moldy food made with rotten corn that contained aflatoxin; that figure was since reduced, but still numbers in the hundreds. In that case, Ji-Tai Forage Company was the pet food manufacturer involved and the pet food was sold under brand name Peter’s Kind-Hearted Dog Food. While it was reported that the dog food did not leave Taiwan, the manufacturer also produces pig feed that was found to contain moldy corn. It remains unknown if that feed was exported.
Now, said the Pet Examiner, Shanghai Yidi told its customers to stop using Optima pet food and noted that although a U.S. maker manufactures a dog food with the Optima name, it is unconfirmed if there is a connection, according to the AP, but Holistic Pet Food said that Doane Pet Care is part of MarsPetCare, best known for its involvement in a variety of pet food recalls for salmonella tainting.