Orijen Cat Food was the only common link in the mysterious illness and subsequent death of five cats in Australia. Orijen Pet Foods, a Canadian company, is well known and trusted to provide high quality dog and cat foods, thus the Australian pet deaths is a mystery to many. The suspected cause is the mandatory irradiation of the pet food required by Australian law.
When it was announced in late November 2008 that Orijen Pet Foods was recalling cat food due to the death of five cats in Australia, many pet owners all over the world were frightened. Although no certain determination to the cause of the illnesses in Australia has been made, the pet food line feels irradiation is the cause.
The irradiation of foods has long been a center of controversy. The FDA continues to approve more foods to be irradiated, and Canada follows. According to an FDA pamphlet, “So far, the FDA has approved irradiation of the following foods to enhance their safety: raw meat, raw poultry, shell eggs, seeds for growing sprouts, and herbs and spices. The FDA has also approved low-dose irradiation of foods to kill insect pests and to extend shelf life.” http://www.nclnet.org/publications/irradiation.pdf
However Rosalie Bertell, Ph.D. in a paper written for the International Institute of Concern for Public Health, has very opposing views on irradiation than the FDA. http://www.iicph.org/docs/food_irradiation.htm Dr. Bertell explains that irradiation is a method used to slow the death or decay process once a fruit is picked or meat producing animal is killed. Although the FDA, USDA, and EPA all claim that irradiation of food prevents bacteria growth, Dr. Bertell states that irradiation does not have the “ability to differentiate between desirable and undesirable bacteria.”
Most governments that approve the irradiation of food, do so with the belief that irradiation kills dangerous bacteria, the prevention of spreading salmonella and botulism are frequently noted. Dr. Bertell states “Clostridium Botulinum resists irradiation below the 10-kilogray upper-limit for food processing. The toxin produced by Clostridium Botulinum can cause botulism. It flourishes in anaerobic (oxygen free) conditions. This deadly pathogen would not be destroyed by irradiation and in fact could even thrive.”
Dr. Bertell also makes some startling claims that reinforce the suspicion that the Australian Orijen Cat Food was damaged by irradiation. “Both the U.S. FDA. and the Science Council of Canada attempt to minimize the effects of food irradiation by quoting a report from Ames, Iowa, July 1986, (Report No. 9, Council for Agricultural Science and Technology) saying that each kilogray of ionizing radiation breaks only 6 chemical bonds out of 10 million in food. This makes the magnitude, the nature and the biological impact of the breaks seem small. However, in 100 millilitres (or 0.1 litre) of water there are 5-gram moles, that is 1025 molecules. At the low-dose of one kilogray, 6 times 1018 chemical bonds are broken creating the hydroxyl radical, one of the most reactive entities known in biochemistry. Water makes up some 80% of most foods.”
Now, Imagine a pet food, with 80 to 100 different ingredients, millions of different chemical bonds involved, all being slightly altered through irradiation; the possibilities of problems are overwhelming.
The Sierra Club Canada as well has some strong opinions against food irradiation…http://www.sierraclub.ca/national/action-alert/nuclear-energy/food-irradiation-alert.html
*Chemical by-products called “unique radiolytic products” (URPs) are created in foods by irradiation. Some scientific studies carried out on URPs link serious health risks with the consumption of irradiated foods.
*Irradiated foods are less nutritious than fresh foods because radiation damages some vitamins, amino acids and fatty acids. Normal cooking methods and storage of foods will also cause nutritional losses, but irradiation plus cooking and storage decreases the nutritional value even more. Many vitamins are obtained from fresh fruits and vegetables.
*Irradiation has been hailed as an alternative to pesticides. However, at best irradiation might replace some post-harvest uses since pesticides will still be used in the field. Studies have not been done to determine the consequences of irradiating the pesticide residues commonly found in foods.
*Irradiation will not replace many additives commonly used in processed foods. In fact, some additives need to be used in combination with irradiation to control undesirable side-effects.
*Irradiation can actually cause food poisoning since treated foods may be contaminated but appear fresh. Microorganisms which normally cause meat to look or smell spoiled may be killed by irradiation, yet hardier bacteria, such as the one causing botulism food poisoning, may survive. Some organisms may even mutate when irradiated, forming new, more radiation-resistant strains.
Controversy continues; the FDA standing firm on one side of the fence, and Consumer Awareness Groups on the other. The Orijen Pet Food website (www.ChampionPetFoods.com) provides information that the company is furthering their investigation of the effects of irradiation to their foods, unfortunately the results will take months to complete. In the meantime, pet owners must make their own decisions to the safety of Orijen pet food. Although I say this cautiously, I believe the irradiation of the foods in Australia is the root of the problem.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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