|Barked: Thu Jun 18, '09 9:59am PST |
|Some of the findings about Zinc in Nutro Pet Food:
June 16, 2009:
The test results are back from an unopened bag of Nutro Max Cat Adult Roasted Chicken Flavor, Best by: 07 JUN 2010 07:17 2AD6 "A". Zinc, as fed, came in at a deadly 2,100 parts per million. Using this food by Nutro recommended feeding guidelines, a pet eating this food would receive over 38 times the amount of zinc recommended by the National Research Council, or 175 mg. zinc a day. Using the most frequently cited median lethal dose for zinc of 100 mg. per kilogram of body weight, a 4 kilogram cat (9 pounds) would be exposed to the median lethal dose of zinc in slightly over 2 days. It is highly unlikely a pet exposed to this food would survive after being exposed to it for more than a few days to a week. Clinical symptoms consistent with pancreatitis would be the most likely outward signs of exposure to this food, with possible liver and kidney damage.
June 17, 2009: To help better visualize the Nutro test results, the graph below gives a scale comparison to the NRC recommended minimum, the AAFCO recommended minimum, the European Union recommended maximum, the European Union absolute maximum allowed, the AFFCO absolute maximum allowed, and the actual Nutro test results for zinc. All numbers are converted to the actual daily dose in 3 ounces of kibble with a 10% moisture content.
NRC Minimum ........... 5 mg as fed
AAFCO Minimum........ 6 mg as fed
EU Max .................... 21 mg as fed
AAFCO Maximum ... 153 mg as fed
NUTRO Results .......179 mg as fed
The point is, by US standards, one batch could have the minimum, the next could have the maximum, and would be considered in compliance and safe, but could be lethal.
May 26, 2009: What a difference an international border makes! The European Union sets a maximum of 250 ppm zinc in all animal foods, with a recommended maximum of 150 ppm (mg/kg). (Scroll down to page 43) Compare that to the AAFCO maximum of 1,000 ppm in dog food and 2,000 ppm in cat food. By any measure of such things, the EU is light years ahead of the US in food safety. It makes a difference when food safety is regulated by industry lobbyists versus responsible professionals who recognize the fact they may have to consume the products they regulate.
Most of us remember the deadly pet food recalls of 2007. What few pet owners realize, however, is that AAFCO aggressively lobbied for allowing nonprotein nitrogen in pet food and in fact was able to slip the allowance past numerous state legislatures, including Washington State. By AAFCO standards, melamine and cyanuric acid in pet food was nothing more than a labeling violation, as AAFCO sees nothing wrong with including those substances in pet food at up to 1.25%. Using cyanuric acid, for example, by AAFCO standards, would allow 5,875 ppm cyanuric acid content in pet food, provided the label included a decidedly deceptive disclaimer of “This includes not more than 1.25% equivalent crude protein, which is not nutritionally available as protein”. The reckless and incompetent disregard for pet food safety by AAFCO is monumentally staggering. In one study, as little as 30 mg/kg day destroyed the kidneys of lab animals in six months. As an ancient Roman once said, "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" Who will guard us from the guardians?
May 22, 2009: After over 9 months of denying pfpsa.org findings that Nutro products contain unsafe levels of zinc, Nutro, while still denying those findings, yesterday announced a massive recall of dry cat food. Consumer Affairs has the story. From available information, these products were apparently manufactured in December 2008 and January 2009, leaving vulnerable pets exposed to toxic levels of zinc for half a year. This is in spite of Nutro's adamant proclamations of enhanced product testing and oversight. If Nutro actually had quality control procedures in place as claimed, it would have cost less than $40 to test these ingredients before going into production.
This recall is based on excessive levels of zinc, and low levels of potassium. That potassium has to be supplemented at all is an indication of a very substandard quality of cat food. Cats are obligate carnivores. What this means is that meat protein is the only food source their bodies are able to use as food. Meat is naturally very high in potassium. In other words, a need to supplement the food with potassium indicates there is very little meat content.
From our research, a pet food company could formulate a product within AAFCO guidelines, and actually produce a product that would be lethal to pets within a matter of days to weeks. Pfpsa.org advocates formulating to National Research Council (NRC) minimums, within a small margin of error. NRC does hard research. AAFCO is for all practical purposes an industry lobbyist, and appears to do no original research. AAFCO allows a maximum of 2,000 parts per million of zinc in cat food. The median lethal dose (LD50) for zinc is 100 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. For a 4 kilogram cat (9 pounds), this would translate to 400 milligrams of zinc being lethal to half the cats exposed to it in a single feeding. A cat exposed to food with 2,000 ppm zinc, that eats approximately 1/3 pound of food per day, would be receiving approximately a 300 mg. dose, each and every day.
According to Nutro, the recalled cat food had "excessive" levels of zinc. As Nutro has previously denounced that zinc levels in dog food were "excessive" according to AAFCO standards, we may presume the recalled cat food contained zinc above the 2,000 ppm level. According to Nutro, it has received no complaints related to the recalled cat food. But, then again, that's what Nutro said about the over 800 complaints reported on its dry dog food. In light of zinc's known toxicity, and the length of time these products were on the market, it is impossible to imagine this was anything other than an extraordinarily deadly event.
While pfpsa.org does not endorse the use of commercial pet food because of lack of FDA oversight of the industry and the typically poor quality of ingredients, if you do have to use commercial pet food, it is pfpsa.org's view that Mars/Nutro products are among the worst of the worst. This is a company, that by its own actions, has clearly demonstrated it simply does not care if your pet lives or dies as long as it can make a quick buck, while being totally unaccountable to those they harm with their deadly products.
February 6, 2009: Two law firms are investigating suspected problems with pet food. In general, pfpsa.org supports the concept litigation may be an effective tool in promoting pet food safety, by holding pet food companies directly accountable to pet owners. Simply stated, when pet food companies cut corners on quality control to increase profits, holding pet food companies liable for damages caused by unsafe pet food has the potential to remove such incentives.