A Hong Kong based consumer association tested numerous brands of kibble (dry) pet foods and found 3 U.S. made pet foods to contain aflatoxins, two U.S. made pet foods contained melamine, and another U.S. made pet food contained cyanuric acid.

The Consumer Council of Hong Kong just published findings of testing performed on 39 different dry/kibble pet foods; 20 dog foods and 19 cat foods.  Their testing found “the presence of the carcinogen aflatoxin B1, and the contaminants melamine and cyanuric acid in some of the samples.”

All levels of aflatoxins found in the Consumer Council testing were below established limits of the European Union Commission, and below established limits of FDA.  However as the Hong Kong consumer group pointed out low levels of aflatoxins over time remain a serious risk to pets.  Veterinarians they consulted stated “since aflatoxin B1 is a known carcinogen, it should best be avoided; long-term exposure to aflatoxin B1 could increase the risk of liver impairment, tumors in liver, and suppressed immune system.”

The U.S. manufactured pet foods the Consumer Council found to contain aflatoxin B1 are:

  • Purina One Smart Blend Chicken & Rice Formula Adult Dog Food
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult Optimal Care Cat Food
  • AvoDerm Natural Chicken & Herring Meal Formula Adult Cat Food

Purina told the South China Morning Post the carcinogen was an “unavoidable natural contaminant” found in grains such as corn, barley and rice.  AvoDerm, stated “it had since replaced the corn in its formula that was believed to be the source of the carcinogen.” 

And then the bad news continues.  The Consumer Council reported their testing found melamine in:

  • Solid Gold Adult Dog Food
  • Iams Chicken Cat Food

And cyanuric acid was found in:

  • Purina Pro Plan Salmon Cat Food

Melamine and cyanuric acid were found to be the deadly cause of the largest pet food recall in history in 2007.

A single comment posted on the South China Morning Post article stated…

“What else would you expect? especially from USA, a nation where the average resident consumes tons of adulterated meat and other unhealthy foods. Their meat is full of growth enhancing chemicals and drugs.
In Las Vegas for instance, the food slops left over at casino breakfast buffets is cooked into a thick soup and fed to the pigs being raised on nearby farms. The same recycled food is then supplied as bacon or pork fillet to the casinos from whence it was collected as waste a few months earlier.
American pet food producers will probably blame being caught out on China. Everything wrong in the world these days is China’s or Russia’s fault.”

And I have to say – this comment has some valid points.

The food/feed that is allowed to be fed to our animals (pets and livestock) in the U.S. is unforgivable.  Poultry litter (yes, poultry poop) is an allowed ingredient in cattle feed.  Almost any type of food waste – contaminated with anything from pesticides to rodent filth – is welcome to be included into all pet foods and animal feeds in the U.S.  While China certainly must own their responsibility of melamine laced vegetable proteins pet food ingredients and illegal drug residues in jerky treats – here in the U.S. our animal food/feed system is a horrendous mess.

I’ve been told by regulatory authorities at both a state and federal level that their budget is often the challenge – specifically lacking a budget to do any type of proper testing for pet food contaminants.  State governments provide very little funding to their pet food regulatory divisions, and the FDA is financially strapped by Congress.

But here we (consumers) are…trying our best to safely feed our pets (and ourselves).  We just paid our taxes – which becomes the salaries of those regulatory authorities.  Aren’t we due some regulatory protection with our pet foods and treats?  I’m not sure what the fix is.  But low levels of aflatoxins and melamine/cyanuric acid found in pet foods is not it.  Instead, it is history repeating itself…again and again and again.  How sick do our pets and us have to become until someone of authority realizes that the food system needs a major overhaul?

To learn more about the dangers of aflatoxins/mycotoxins – even at low levels – in pet food, Click Here to read a very interesting paper published on this topic.

To learn more about the dangers of melamine and cyanuric acid, talk to one of the thousands of pet food consumers who watched their pets die in 2007.


Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
Association for Truth in Pet Food

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