Not so Tasty Bytes
Australia’s Heraldreports on cats paralyzed by leukoencephalomyelopathy after eating irradiated food. Orijen cat food is sold in several other countries, none of which have reported problems with the nerve syndrome associated with the food. In an odd bit of circumstance, none of these countries irradiate imported cat food either. According to the Herald:
The Government insists on irradiating the pet food at much higher levels than human food imports on the grounds that radiation will kill germs and protect Australia from foreign diseases.
Independent tests on the irradiated food have found “substantial reductions in vitamin A levels” and increased “production of oxidative by-products”.
While the pet food company and the Government argue over the precise cause of the illness, cat owners are complaining that nobody will take responsibility.
Hamilton veterinary surgeon Chris McClelland said more than 60 cats had been affected in Australia by the strange nerve syndrome.
Several had died, but others had recovered, he said.
Australian dogs have not been adversely affected by irradiated Orijen food according to the article.
Consumer Affairsreports that yet more pet foods and treats have been added to the PCA peanut recall list. These were mostly various formulations of American Health Kennels Bark Bars, Cookie Bars and Peanut Butter Crunch.
The company at the heart of this outbreak — the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) — recently filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. That action came within days after the company’s president, Stewart Parnell, refused to answer questions about the salmonella outbreak from the House Energy and Commerce investigations subcommittee.
The bankruptcy action also came on the heels of state and federal inspections of the company’s facilities in Georgia and Texas, which revealed PCA shipped products it knew had tested positive for salmonella.
The reports also revealed such unsanitary conditions at PCA’s facilities as dead rodents, roaches, mold, and bird feathers and rodent excrement in a crawl space above the production area at one of the company’s plants.
Sigh. We’ve got an entire case of peanut butter dog treats that will continue to sit in a closet until I either summon the courage to toss them out or hear definitively that they are not affected by the recall.
In other pet food news the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that animal rendering plants are preparing to comply with a new FDA rule aimed at preventing mad cow disease from reaching the food supply. The rule, which takes effect in April, requires that livestock producers clearly mark cattle 30 months of age or older before sending them for slaughter or rendering (infectious BSE prions are most likely to be found in cattle 30 months of age or older.)
Prion diseases like BSE have not been documented in dogs, but the rule will affect pet food production as rendered protein meals such as meat and bone meal, poultry by-product meal, and fish meal are used in many pet foods.
How much of these products are incorporated into pet foods? Well, according to a detailed report availabe on the National Rendering Association website, specific information on the amount of rendered animals products used to manufacture pet foods is not available. But the group estimates that about 25 percent of the total U.S. production of rendered animals materials (or about 2.4 million tons per year) is incorporated into pet foods. The new rules may therefore help prevent potentially BSE-contaminated materials from entering a significant portion of the pet food (and livestock food) stream. It will also make rendered ingredients more expensive, and therefore somewhat less desireable.