The blog ‘A China Blog on Suzhou Expat Life’ posted information on December 25, 2008 that his dog is dying. His vet explained that they had “seen a lot of dogs coming in because of the Optima dog food problem”. “The blood results showed she was definitely symptomatic of liver failure due to aflatoxin exposure.”
His blog post, http://www.thehumanaught.com/blog/2008/12/25/us-made-optima-dog-food-in-china-may-have-killed-my-dog/, states the Olympics could be to blame for the tainted pet food. “Allegedly, the reason for the contamination is because during the Olympics the Chinese gov’t set tight restrictions on ports of entry for importing. All the dog food was therefore brought in through the hot and humid Guangzhou, where it sat in a non-temperature controlled warehouse long enough for the aflatoxin to develop in the food.”
Aflatoxin is a deadly mold that can grow on grains commonly utilized in pet foods, such as corn and wheat. Hot, humid conditions are prime growing conditions for aflatoxin. Pet food manufacturers are supposed to test for aflatoxin prior to manufacturing; however as with the case of Diamond Pet Food in 2005, proper testing is not always done.
Furthermore, as what is suspected to have happened in China, there is the worry of warehousing conditions of pet foods containing these grains. Pet foods that previously tested clean of aflatoxins, could develop the deadly mold if stored in hot, humid conditions.
Improper storage of pet foods is not a problem strictly linked to China. In September 2008 Petco had such deplorable warehouse conditions at a distribution center in Joliet, Il, the FDA and U.S. Marshals seized pet foods and treats due to insanitary storage conditions; rodent and bird infestation was found in the warehouse. Also in September 2008, a pet owner reported to the Consumerist.com website of maggot infestation in their recently purchased Beneful Dog Food. Consumerist.com stated when the pet owner called Purina for an explanation, she was told: “As soon as our food leaves our factory, it is no longer our responsibility.” Petsmart, where the food was purchased, also told the pet owner it was not their responsibility.
Pet owners are left to the mercy of many concerns with pet foods and treats. One misstep by the manufacturer, one quality control test ignored, the wrong warehousing conditions; all can lead to disease and death of a beloved pet. Try to avoid pet foods and treats with aflatoxin prone grains (corn, wheat). Every time you purchase a new bag of dog food or cat food, closely examine the bag or can for any tears in the packaging; return the food if the bag is soiled or torn. Examine the new food closely; make sure it looks and smells the same each time. Any variation of color, texture, or smell could be a warning of a problem with the food. Do not feed it to your pet if you have any doubts.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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