January 11

Rat poison ID’d in pet deaths, recall of foods

first_imgIn dogs and cats, the amount of aminopterin found – 40 parts per million – can cause kidney failure, according to Bruce Akey, director of Cornell’s diagnostic center. “It’s there in substantial amounts,” Akey said. Officials said there is no risk to pet owners from handling the food, but Donald Smith, dean of Cornell’s veterinary school, said he expected the number of pet deaths would increase. The federal government prohibits using aminopterin for killing rodents in the U.S. State officials would not speculate on how the poison got into the pet food, but said no criminal investigations had been launched. Stephen Sundlof, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s top veterinarian, said the agency hasn’t ruled out sabotage, but doesn’t have any leads – nor any theories how the drug could have contaminated the pet food. The FDA believes the drug was used only in animal feed but has asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to watch for any uptick in human cases of poisoning. “This is very, very precautionary. We have no reason whatsoever to believe this chemical has entered the human food supply,” Sundlof told reporters. The FDA has said the investigation into the pet deaths was focused on wheat gluten in the food, and Sundlof said it remains the suspected source of the contamination. Paul Henderson, chief executive of Ontario, Canada-based Menu Foods, confirmed Friday that the wheat gluten was purchased from China. Menu Foods, already facing lawsuits, said Friday it is testing all the ingredients that go into the food. “We have a lot of work to do, and we are eager to get back to it,” Henderson said. “This is a highly unusual substance.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Menu Foods expanded its recall Friday to cover each of the tens of millions of cans and pouches produced under the affected brands. The original recall covered only pet food produced from Dec. 3 to March 6. “Before they put this stuff in the bags, there should be some kind of test,” said Jeff Kerner, whose Yorkshire terrier Pebbles died Thursday of kidney failure days after eating some of the food. Scientists at the New York State Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University and at the New York State Food Laboratory tested three cat food samples provided by the manufacturer and found aminopterin in two of them. Aminopterin is a cancer drug that once was used to induce abortions in the United States and is still used to kill rats in some other countries, state Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker said. Aminopterin inhibits the growth of malignant cells and suppresses the immune system. ALBANY, N.Y. – Aminopterin has been used to induce abortions, treat cancer and kill rats. What it was doing in pet food is what owners of a rising number of sick or dead animals are demanding to know. The drug was identified Friday as the likely culprit in a poisoning scare that prompted the recall of 95 brands of “cuts and gravy”-style dog and cat food. Scientists had no theories on how aminopterin got into the products of Menu Foods, which makes pet food for most of North America’s top retailers. Some pets that ate the food suffered kidney failure, and the company has confirmed the deaths of 15 cats and two dogs. last_img read more