In an October 2008 interview with Veterinary Information Network (VIN), Dr. Ken Thorley reported he’s seen ‘a lot’ of young cats with unexplained renal failure. The VIN article refers to a melamine hangover that continues to linger over pet food. The response from U.S. Pet Food Industry is weak.
Australian schooled veterinarian Dr. Ken Thorley, who now practices in Hong Kong told VIN he wonders if the melamine nightmare hasn’t ended. He as well alluded to other possible contaminants. “In the last 12 months, we have been getting a lot of young cats with unexplained renal failure,” Thorley said. “One renal biopsy result came back that the kidneys had been damaged by ‘unusual’ crystal deposition causing renal failure. The histopathologist wasn’t sure what the crystals were. He thought they might have been ethylene glycol (antifreeze), which is surely impossible in subtropical Hong Kong.” http://news.vin.com/VINNews.aspx?articleId=10753
VIN’s article also shared what ‘pet food industry leaders in the U.S.’ felt about the rise in kidney disease in Hong Kong pets; they stated: “recurrence of melamine contamination in food products from China should have little to no impact on pets here this time around.” Kurt Gallagher of the Pet Food Institute (pet food lobby organization) told VIN that U.S. manufacturers have a test to check for melamine contamination; manufacturers have a defense. Rick Shields, executive vice president of technical services at Menu Foods Inc., told VIN not to worry; “The pet food industry doesn’t use much milk.”
Yes, there is a ‘test’ to detect for melamine contamination. No, U.S. pet food manufacturers are not required to test for melamine contamination; it is completely optional. Yes, the U.S. pet food industry doesn’t use much milk. No, milk protein products are not the only suspect Chinese food or food ingredient. Neither U.S. ‘pet food industry leader’ addressed Dr. Thorley’s recent concern, ethylene glycol.
Quoting the VIN article: “As a result of the melamine disaster, Shields said, Menu Foods has cut its business with China to a minimum. ‘We’re down to a few chemicals like vitamins that there’s nowhere else but China to buy from,’ he said. He acknowledged that the company may be spending more for ingredients as a result, but how much more, he doesn’t know. ‘No one’s given them a phone call to find out what the price is because we don’t care,’ Shields said.”
Mr. Shields statement, ‘there’s nowhere else but China to buy from’ is completely false. There are shortages of U.S. vitamin and mineral producers from U.S., Canadian, or other historically safe countries of origin, however they ARE available for those manufacturers who choose to look (and pay) for them.
His remark that no pet food manufacturer cares about the price of ingredients made at Menu Foods is ridiculous. Every manufacturer of every product – not just pet food – cares about price, they have to. To make such a statement, publically, to a reporter, was stupid.
What every pet food manufacturer that relies on Menu Foods SHOULD care about is where ingredients come from. Many of the pet food companies, that subcontracted Menu Foods to produce their canned foods in 2007, had no idea that Menu purchased tainted bargain basement ingredients from China. We have to hope that now, every pet food manufacturer with canned foods produced at the various Menu Pet Food plants, have a clear understanding of ingredient suppliers.
No follow up information from Dr. Thorley has been provided regarding pets in Hong Kong.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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