Poisoning Pets

At least 16 pets died from poisoned food containing highly suspect ingredients imported from China.© Getty Images

In our book Green Living and in the pages of E (see "Diet for a Small Pet," Consumer News, May/June 2002 or "Perks for Pets," Consumer News, November/December 2004) we have consistently warned about dangerous ingredients in commercial pet foods. Now people are paying attention, following disclosures last March that at least 16 pets died from poisoned food containing highly suspect ingredients imported from China: wheat gluten laced with cyanuric acid and melamine (chemical byproducts that give the appearance of increased protein content). Some 60 million pet food servings, sold under many different brand names, were recalled.

E reported in 2002, "Pet food can and does include spray-dried animal blood, hydrolyzed hair, dehydrated garbage, unborn [animal] carcasses and many other things." As In These Times reported last May, multinationals that own three of the five biggest pet food companies "rely on industrial food production for most of their ingredients, and industrial food relies on the alchemy of pet food to turn its waste into profits."

According to columnist Terry J. Allen, it is not just that pet food can contain unappetizing animal parts, but "that with [Food and Drug Administration] approval it can include ingredients that are putrid, disease-ridden and filled with chemicals and pharmaceuticals."