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Pet food to be tested for contaminants

A pet advocacy group plans to have cat and dog food tested for contaminants.
A pet advocacy group plans to have cat and dog food tested for contaminants.
Marc Selinger

A pet food watchdog group announced plans April 23 to raise at least $10,000 to test cat and dog food for "dangerous" contaminants.

The Association for Truth in Pet Food asserted that current testing by government and industry is inadequate.

“Typically, unless there are numerous reports to [the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)] of serious illness or death linked to one pet food, little to no testing for contaminants, other than Salmonella [bacteria], is done on cat food or dog food,” the group said. “So we are taking matters into our own hands.”

The Florida-based association said it was motivated in part by reports that a Hong Kong consumer association found aflatoxins, melamine and cyanuric acid in several U.S.-made pet foods. Although the amounts were below limits allowed by the FDA and the European Union, the group is concerned that long-term exposure to these contaminants could cause health problems.

FDA spokeswoman Catherine McDermott declined to comment on the association's announcement. But Kurt Gallagher, a spokesman for the Pet Food Institute, an industry group, told that "all food contains harmless, background levels of a wide range of substances" and that "the results of any findings should not be sensationalized, particularly in the absence of a valid, scientific risk assessment."

The association said that $10,000 would support laboratory tests of 70 to 80 different pet foods, creating the largest such consumer-funded effort ever. If the group exceeds its fundraising goal, it will test more products. It estimated that more than 4,000 different brands and varieties of cat and dog food are sold in the United States and Canada.

The group hopes to raise $10,000 or more by June 6. As of late April 23, it had received pledges of more than $6,000.

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