The Pet Food Products Safety Alliance provided pet owners with some startling test results of Nutro Cat Food; zinc levels tested lethally high. What is the allowed amount of zinc in pet food and what happens to pets if overdosed? The answer is going to make you very angry; the rest of the zinc story.
Thanks to the outstanding efforts of Pet Food Products Safety Alliance (PFPSA), some startling pet food testing results have been made public. Released June 16, 2009, an unopened bag of Nutro Max Cat Food tested 2,100 parts per million (ppm) of zinc. http://www.pfpsa.org/news.html
AAFCO regulations state for an adult maintenance cat food the minimum requirement of zinc is 75 mg; maximum allowance of zinc is 2000 mg (adult dog food minimum 120 mg; maximum 1000 mg). That’s rather a large difference between the minimum and maximum isn’t it? (At the time of publishing this article, AAFCO had not responded to my questions regarding the large variation between minimum and maximum of zinc in pet food. Should they ever respond, I will publish their answers.)
To complicate matters one step further, the National Research Council (non-profit institution providing science, technology and health policy) recommends only 4.6 mg of zinc for cats (daily allowance for dogs recommended by the NRC 15 mg). Using the same measurement language as AAFCO (as fed Dry Matter) 4.6 mg NRC recommendations translates into 60 mg Dry Matter.
Cat nutrition document compiled by the NRC published July 2006.
Dog Nutrition document compiled by the NRC published July 2006.
This is more than shocking; it’s absolutely absurd. Look again at the variations allowed by AAFCO of this one pet food ingredient pictured above. Now, imagine the countless possibilities of allowed differences in pet food when you consider the hundreds of different approved pet food ingredients, all with their own AAFCO allowed variations. Furthermore, think about one specific brand of cat food or dog food; one batch of food might contain the minimum 75 mg of zinc and the very next batch of food could contain the maximum 2000 mg of zinc. All within the legal limits set by AAFCO. Imagine how the variations of zinc allowed by AAFCO effect your pet. Take it one step further and imagine how all the variations of every pet food ingredient allowed by AAFCO effects your pet. It’s scary to even think about.
Clinical signs of zinc toxicity are vomiting, diarrhea, red urine, icterus (yellow mucous membranes) liver failure, kidney failure, and anemia. http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&A=565&S=2
The good news is that SOME pet food manufacturers realize the absurdity of AAFCO nutrient profiles. Some pet food manufacturers have far more confidence in the updated, science based nutrient profiles recommended by the NRC. To get around AAFCO, these conscientious pet food manufacturers perform feeding trials (humane, safe, feeding trials) to gain AAFCO approval of a pet food. As example, if a pet food wishes to use the NRC recommended 4.6 mg of zinc instead of the AAFCO required minimum 120 mg of zinc (cat food), the company performs a feeding trial providing AAFCO with animal health conditions at the end of the trial. It’s extra work and extra expense for such a pet food manufacturer, but if they don’t wish to poison pets with toxic overdoses of nutrients, it is their only option.
And of course, SOME quality minded pet food manufacturers bother to test every batch of minerals and vitamins added to their foods (and SOME don’t bother to test). Ask your pet’s food manufacturer if they test every shipment of ingredients and every batch of pet food.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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