Pet Food, Gluten and Food

The poisoned pet food story keeps getting bigger and more worrying.
Pretty clear that some food grade (as opposed to feed grade) wheat gluten was in the contaminated batch and that the FDA is worried it got into the human food chain.

FDA summary page

They still don’t really know what the contaminant(s) were.
One comment I noticed is that melamine is used as coating for slow release pesticides or fertilizer granules (can anyone confirm that?), which would explain why it was found and maybe contributed to toxicity, but may not be the main cause (since it is just not that toxic).

FDA still won’t reveal who the US distributor is – it’d be helpful if Archer Daniels Midlands would make an explicit statement denying, or confirming, their role.

Interesting speculation on kos on pet food poisoning and broader implications

FDA import detention order– anyone recognise the 71M[][]01 code?


  1. #1 Mark
    April 3, 2007

    What about the report that the contaminant was a chemical used as a rat poison outside the US? I don’t remember the particular compound. I think it was a state (New York?) official who identified it. Is that no longer believed to be the contaminant?

  2. #2 Steinn Sigurdsson
    April 3, 2007

    It is consistent with the symptoms, but FDA claims they have not found it in samples.
    Problem with Melamine is that the toxic dose is large (grams), unless cats are unusually susceptible (which has been conjectured).
    One possibility is both, possibly melamine coated aminopterin granules, if anyone makes and uses such things.

    Or it could be a third, as yet unidentified, contaminant, like a high toxicity, low dose pesticide. Organophosphates can cause renal failure, I believe.

  3. #3 Hank Roberts
    April 3, 2007

    Hasn’t the CDC long kept track of how much cat/pet food is actually eaten by humans?

    I recall they know the approximate number of elderly people living alone, mostly women, who can’t afford regular food routinely. This has been known for decades.

    Would the epidemiologists be able to pick out a change in death rates for this population to check on human effects?

  4. #4 Julie Stahlhut
    April 3, 2007

    Canned gluten products from China and Taiwan are often sold in specialty markets for use as a meat substitute in vegetarian stir-fry dishes. I have several cans in my cupboard that I’m not planning on eating until they get a credibly clean bill of health.

  5. #5 Mark
    April 3, 2007

    The general news media have pretty much lived down to their usual standards on this. I heard one tease on a local news program about dry pet food contaimination but they never bothered to give the actual story. I have heard absolutely nothing about the possibility of human food contamination.

    I would not be surprised to learn that human cases have been overlooked.

  6. #6 Jennaveave
    April 7, 2007

    so i just need to know the companies that had bad pet food, cuz i have all of this pedigree, and 9lives brand. but i dont know if its ok.

  7. #7 Steinn Sigurdsson
    April 7, 2007

    FDA now has an updated list of all brands formally or voluntarily withdrawn

    click through for lists of dates or batch numbers.

    List has expanded several times in last week or two but since they think they now know the whole batch of petfood imported by ChemNutra (the US distributing company) and they think they have tracked all of it down to the manufacturers, it ought to be complete now.

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