The pet food scare that started in March this year continues unabated. One more firm has said it is withdrawing two of its brands following reports that animals fed the brands had vomited and also experienced kidney problems.
Yet another US pet food manufacturer has recalled its products on receiving reports of animals vomiting and experiencing kidney problems, the Food and Drug Administration said Monday.
The Natural Balance Pet Foods is the company involved and it has withdrawn two of its brands, one dog food and another cat.
The company says it does not know the cause of the problem, but that it is working with the FDA to investigate the matter and is urging consumers to not feed either pet food product to their animals.
Last month Canadian pet food manufacturer Menu Foods recalled 60 million cans of dog and cat food after the deaths of 16 pets, mostly cats, that ate its products.
Menu Foods had said the problem was traced to wheat gluten obtained from the Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Company in China. The FDA has blocked further gluten imports from the company.
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Pet food manufacturers have voluntarily recalled more than 100 brands of dog and cat food across the nation since March 16 this year.
Although many different types of pet food are affected by the recall, the recalled products represent only about one percent of the total pet food available for purchase, according to the Pet Food Institute, the trade association for pet food manufacturers.
'There remains an ample supply of safe cat and dog food available at stores throughout the United States,' says Stephen F. Sundlof, Director of the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM). 'We encourage the public to continue to use pet food that is not subject to the recall.'
But the FDA said pet owners should consult a veterinarian if their animals show signs of loss of appetite, lethargy or vomiting.
It received over 14,000 such reports in the first four weeks since March 15, more than twice the number of complaints typically received in a year for all of the products the agency regulates.
Federal testing of some of the cat and dog food and the wheat gluten used in their production turned up the chemical melamine, which can be toxic in high doses.
Melamine is a molecule that has a number of industrial uses, including use in manufacturing cooking utensils. It has no approved use in human or animal food in the United States, nor is it permitted to be used as fertilizer, as it is in some parts of the world.
FDA is not 100 percent certain that melamine, a relatively non-toxic substance, is the cause of the spate of pet illnesses and deaths. Although some studies have shown a toxic effect of melamine in rodents, research is scarce on melamine's effect on cats and dogs.
Now the FDA must attempt to determine whether or not it is the melamine itself that is the culprit, or whether it's some other contaminant associated with the melamine.
Anyway the association between melamine in the kidneys of cats that died and melamine in the food they consumed is undeniable, it says.
At this time in the ongoing investigation, there is no evidence that any imported wheat gluten contaminated with melamine has entered the U.S. human food supply, says Michael Rogers, Director of FDA's Division of Field Investigations. As an added precaution, however, FDA has asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to use its surveillance network to monitor signs of human illness that could indicate contamination of the human food supply.
Earlier, the New York State Food Laboratory identified aminopterin, a cancer drug also used as rat poison, as the likely culprit in the pet food. But the FDA Administration said it could not confirm that finding.