Recalled pet food found to contain rat poison

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Friday, March 23, 2007

In a press release earlier today, New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker, along with Dean of Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine Donald F. Smith, confirmed that scientists at the New York State Food Laboratory identified Aminopterin as a toxin present in cat food samples from Menu Foods.

Menu Foods is the manufacturer of several brands of cat and dog food subject to a March 16, 2007 recall.

Aminopterin is a drug used in chemotherapy for its immunosuppressive properties and, in some areas outside the US, as a rat poison. Earlier reports stated that wheat gluten was a factor being investigated, and officials now state that the toxin would have come from Chinese wheat used in the pet food, where it is used for pest control. Investigators will not say that this is the only contaminant found in the recalled food, but knowing the identity of the toxin should assist veterinarians treating affected animals.

The Food Laboratory tested samples of cat food received from a toxicologist at the New York State Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University. The samples were found to contain the rodenticide at levels of at least 40 parts per million.

Commissioner Hooker stated, "We are pleased that the expertise of our New York State Food Laboratory was able to contribute to identifying the agent that caused numerous illnesses and deaths in dogs and cats across the nation."

The press release suggests Aminopterin, a derivative of folic acid, can cause cancer and birth defects in humans and can cause kidney damage in dogs and cats. Aminopterin is not permitted for use in the United States.

The New York State Food Laboratory is part of the Federal Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) and as such, is capable of running a number of unique poison/toxin tests on food, including the test that identified Aminopterin.


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