In 2004, an outbreak of contaminated pet foods made more than 6,000 dogs and a number of cats ill across Asia.
Kidney failure in the animals was connected to Pedigree dog food and Whiskas cat food that had been manufactured in Thailand by Mars Inc. Asian newspapers reported that thousands of pets died from the contaminated pet food.
The problems with the pet food were blamed on fungal toxins, which was also one of the first suspicions when the pet food recalls in the US broke out last year.
During the 2007 pet food recalls, a Korean graduate student told Cathy Brown, a specialist in renal pathology at Georgia’s Athens Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, that massive pet food recalls had happened before. Brown was able to track down tissue samples from pets that died in 2004.
From USA Today:
The sample contained the same type of insoluble crystals found in U.S. pets in the 2007 outbreak, which killed at least 347 cats and dogs, according to preliminary data gathered by Wilson Rumbeiha at Michigan State University-Lansing. The exact number is believed to be much higher but in the absence of a structured reporting system has not been determined.
The Georgia researchers weren’t the first to link the two outbreaks. In March 2007, soon after it became known that melamine and cyanuric acid were the culprits in the U.S. outbreak, Mars scientists made the link.
Using the new information and improved analytical techniques, Mars scientists were able to “draw parallels” between the two outbreaks, says Mars spokeswoman Alice Nathanson.
“As a responsible company, Mars immediately shared this information with the veterinary community and regulators in Asia and the United States,” she says.
The Food and Drug Administration acknowledged being informed. Major veterinary organizations, however, including the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians, the Pet Food Institute and the American Feed Control Officials, say they were never told by Mars of any link between two outbreaks.
Greg Aldrich, a consultant with Pet Food & Ingredient Technology in Topeka, says he doesn’t believe that the information would have made any difference.
The ingredients in the pet food linked to the 2004 Asian outbreak all came from Thailand, says Mars’ Nathanson.
Source: USA Today