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John Bisnar
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FDA finds new chemical in recalled pet food, sick animals

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Recalled pet foods contained a chemical used to make plastics, but government tests failed to confirm the presence of rat poison, federal officials said Friday, according to an Associated Press news report posted on CNN’s Web site.

The Food and Drug Administration said it found melamine in samples of the Menu Foods pet food as well as in wheat gluten used as an ingredient in the wet-style products, the article said. The FDA was working to rule out the possibility that the contaminated wheat gluten could have made it into any human food, but was not aware of any risk to people.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the melamine was the culprit in the deaths of more than a dozen cats and dogs and the illnesses of hundreds more, officials said. In a news conference, FDA officials said that the apparently melamine-contaminated wheat gluten

also was shipped to a company that manufactures dry pet food, but they would not name the company.

The FDA is attempting to determine if that company used any of the wheat gluten, imported from China, to make dry pet food. Wheat gluten, a source of vegetable protein, is also used in some human foods, but the FDA emphasized it had found no indication that the contaminated ingredient had been used in food for people.

The FDA said it would alert the public quickly if the melamine was found in any foods other than the recalled pet food. Cornell University scientists also found melamine — used to produce plastic kitchen wares and used in Asia as a fertilizer — in the urine of sick cats, as well as in the kidney of one cat that died after eating the company’s wet food.

Menu Foods recalled 60 million containers of cat and dog food earlier this month after animals died of kidney failure after eating the Canadian company’s products. It is not clear how many pets may have been poisoned by the apparently contaminated food, although anecdotal reports suggest hundreds if not thousands have died. The FDA alone has received more than 8,000 complaints.

The new finding comes a week after scientists at the New York State Food Laboratory identified a rat poison and cancer drug called aminopterin as the likely culprit in the pet food. The FDA said it could not confirm that finding.New York officials have detected melamine in the recalled food as well.

Norfolk, Virginia-based PETA wants the FDA and the companies to extend the recall to foods that have received complaints, chemically test it and perform necropsies on the animals involved. It also wants companies prosecuted if the FDA’s probe turns up wrongdoing.

If your pet has become sick or has died as a result of the tainted pet food, call us to talk more about your options.