Theres more troubling news for pet owners, who have worried for the past few months if the food they give their dogs and cats is safe. Or tainted with the chemical melamine, which can cause kidney failure or death.
A Texas laboratory says its uncovered the pain killer acetaminophen in samples of pet food.
According to a report by KTRK in Houston, technicians at the medical testing laboratory, EperTox, discovered the popular pain killer is at least a half dozen pet food samples.
The Deer Park, Texas, laboratory did not disclose the brands of the foods tested because of a confidentiality agreement.
"We don't really how big and how involved this problem is right now, the labs Dr. Ernest Lykissa told KTRK. We are only uncovering the beginning of it.
The lab tested more than a thousand samples of different pet food for the past month, according to KTRK. In more than two dozen samples, the lab discovered either cyanuric acid or acetaminophen in the foods.
The highest level of acetaminophen found in the samples was 2 milligrams per gram of dog food.
Fatal to Cats
Veterinarians say that concentration could make a dog sick and would kill a cat.
Our data show that if an average-sized cat ingests as little as one extra-strength acetaminophen pain-reliever caplet and is not treated in time, it can suffer fatal consequences, said Dr. Steven Hansen, a board-certified toxicologist and senior vice president with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
He manages the organizations Animal Poison Control Center (APCC), in Urbana, Illinois and called this latest discovery extremely worrying.
His organization issued a statement this week urging pet owners to keep a close eye on their dogs and cats in the wake of this new finding.
Depending on the amount ingested, clinical effects can include a condition called methemoglobinemia, which affects the ability of blood cells to deliver oxygen to vital organs, or even liver damage, Hansen said. At this point, we have very little information as to the actual level and concentration of this reported contamination, so its extremely important to be able to recognize any potential warning signs of this kind of poisoning.
Hansen, however, said early information indicates the concentration levels of the pain killer are not high enough to have an adverse effect on most dogs.
But cats, he and other veterinarians warn, are more at-risk.
Cats are especially sensitive to acetaminophen toxicity for two reasons, said Dr. Louise Murray, director of medicine at the ASPCAs Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City, and a board-certified internist.
First, they dont have enough of a specific enzyme that enables the body to metabolize the drug well. Second, cats are typically more susceptible to red blood cell damage than certain other species of animals. Put these together with a high dose of acetaminophen, and you have a potentially deadly combination.
Veterinarians say the most common effects of acetaminophen poisoning in cats are swelling of the face and paws, depression; weakness; and difficulty in breathing.We also see a condition called cyanosis, which is literally when their gums and tongue start turning a muddy color due to the lack of oxygen, Dr. Hansen said.
FDA is Mum
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not commented on this discovery by EperTox.
In the meantime, ASPCA says pet owners should immediately contact their veterinarian if their dogs and cats show any signs of illness.
This new finding by Expertox increases the fears that pet owners nationwide have faced since March, when Menu Foods announced a massive recall of 60 million containers of tainted dog and cat food.
The FDA discovered the food was contaminated with melamine, a chemical used in plastics and fertilizers. It is not, however, approved for use in pet or human foods.
Menu and several other companies have since recalled more than 5,600 pet food products that contain melamine-tainted ingredients.
The FDA learned two companies in China export the tainted ingredients wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate -- to the United States.
FDA inspectors also discovered those companies intentionally added melamine to the ingredients to increase the protein content.
The presence of melamine in the pet food is blamed for the deaths and illnesses of thousands of cats and dogs in the United States.
Pet food makers in South Africa also received shipments of melamine-tainted corn gluten from China, which is linked to the deaths and illness of hundreds of dogs and cats in that country.
To counter the mounting global pressure its faced in the wake of the pet food recall, China announced last week that it has set up a monitoring system to ensure the safety of its exported food.
"Over the past two years, 99 percent of food exported to the United States was up to safety standards, which is a very high percentage," said Li Yuanping, senior official in charge of imported and exported food safety in the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (GAQSIQ).
His comments appeared on the Chinese Governments Official Web site,GOV.cn.
Chinese companies that export food must meet safety requirements before producing, processing, and exporting food, Li said. He also said his country will regularly inspect companies during production.
Chinese officials said the two companies that exported the melamine-tainted ingredients to the United States -- Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Company and Binzhou Futian Biology Technology, Ltd. -- eluded Chinas inspections because they declared the items as non-food products.
Li also said his country has ordered more stringent inspection on all vegetable proteins, like wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate. His country will also include vegetable proteins on exports list, which are subject for quality check-ups.
Li also reported that his country checked 399 samples -- from 173 exporters -- and did not find any melamine-tainted products.
China has also faced criticism in recent weeks after the FDA discovered a poisonous chemical in toothpastes imported from that country.
The FDA said it received reports in late May that several countries -- including Panama -- had received toothpastes imported from China that were contaminated with the chemical diethylene glycol (DEG).
The FDA has since banned all toothpastes made in China from the United States.
The Chinese-imported toothpastes that contain DEG are usually sold at bargain stores and include the following brands: Cooldent Fluoride; Cooldent Spearmint; Cooldent ICE; Dr. Cool, Everfresh Toothpaste; Superdent Toothpaste; Clean Rite Toothpaste; Oralmax Extreme; Oral Bright Fresh Spearmint Flavor; Bright Max Peppermint Flavor; ShiR Fresh Mint Fluoride Paste; DentaPro; DentaKleen; and DentaKleen Junior.
A recent investigation by ConsumerAffairs.com discovered 17 tubes of illegally imported toothpaste in discount stores in the Washington D.C.-area. The tubes were all manufactured in other countries and not intended for sale in the U.S. One tube of toothpaste came from China.
The deaths of at least 100 people in Panama last month are blamed on cough syrup tainted with DEG. According to The New York Times, China produced the DEG-tainted cough syrup and exported the product as the harmless glycerin. It was then used in Panama to make the cough syrup.Another pet food company has recalled bags of its dry dog food, but this time it's not because the food contains melamine-tainted ingredients imported from China.
Doane Pet Care is recalling a single lot of 55 pound bags of OlRoy Complete Nutrition dry dog food because they may be contaminated with salmonella.
The Manassas, Virginia-based company sold the food at 69 Wal-Mart stores in Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. The company produced the potentially contaminated food at one facility in Virginia.
The recalled bags of food have the USC Code 6 05388 72076 4, the lot number 04 0735 1, and the Best Buy Date Apr 13 08.
This voluntary recall has been issued because FDA (the Food and Drug Administration) detected Salmonella in the product, the company said on its Web site. Doane Pet Care has not confirmed the presence of Salmonella, despite extensive independent testing of duplicate samples.
The company said it has not received any reports of illnesses linked to the food. It did, however, warn pet owners who handled the food that they may be exposed to salmonella -- especially if they do not thoroughly wash their hands after coming into contact with the product.
Salmonella is a bacteria found in the intestines that can cause food poising and gastroenteritis.
The company said pet owners should immediately stop feeding the food to their dogs.
A complete list of stores that sold the recalled food can be found on the companys Web site: www.doanepetcare.com/recall/stores.
Pet owners with questions about the recall can also call the company at 1- 800-624-7387.
Doane Pet Care emphasized this action is not connected to the massive recall of millions of bags of dog and cat food -- contaminated with the chemical melamine -- announced in March.
The presence of that chemical triggered one of the largest pet food recalls in U.S. history. Its also blamed for the deaths and illnesses of thousands of dogs and cats nationwide.
The FDA discovered melamine in the wheat gluten, corn gluten and rice protein imported from China and used to make the pet foods.