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March 30 - FDA Announces New Chemical (Melamine)
Found in Recalled Menu Foods Pet Food
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith
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March 2007 News

Press Release from the American Veterinary Medical Association -
March 30, 2007

In a Friday morning press conference, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced they had identified melamine, a substance used as a fertilizer and in the production of plastics, such as kitchenware and whiteboard surfaces, in tested samples of recalled pet food from Menu Foods. The substance was also identified in urine and tissue samples taken from sickened cats and from the kidney of one cat that had eaten the recalled food.

Melamine is primarily used in Asia as a fertilizer but is not approved for that use in the United States. It is used in plastic kitchenware in this country.

On March 23, New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker and Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Dr. Donald F. Smith announced that scientists had identified aminopterin as a toxin present in samples from Menu Foods.

In today's press conference, however, Dr. Stephen Sundloff, director of the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine, said that no independent testing laboratory has confirmed aminopterin in tissue or food samples. Tests conducted by a Menu Foods client, the FDA, and Cornell University have all identified melamine, Dr. Sundloff said, and the FDA is no longer focusing on aminopterin.

The FDA stated that data concerning melamine toxicity in animals is lacking and cannot be certain it is linked to the illness or deaths of animals eating the recalled foods. The FDA recommends that existing protocols on treating pets affected by the recalled food is the best course of action.

Breaking News From FDA Confirms
ASPCA's Suspicions on Pet Food Toxin

Presence of Melamine Identified in Contaminated Food

Press Release from the American Veterinary Medical Association -
March 30, 2007

Three days ago, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) cautioned that aminopterin was an unlikely suspect in the illnesses and deaths of animals that ingested the recently-recalled contaminated foods—a suspicion that was today confirmed by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In a news conference held today, the FDA announced that further laboratory testing identified the presence of melamine in food samples from the recalled lots. Melamine, which is not highly toxic in general, is used to make durable plastic household products; cleaning products; hard, stain-resistant laminates; flame-retardant foam and in soundproofing.

"Melamine at high doses causes a pronounced diuretic affect in dogs and rats, as well as the development of crystals in their urine," said Dr. Steven Hansen, veterinary toxicologist and senior vice president with the ASPCA, who manages the ASPCA's Midwest Office, including its Animal Poison Control Center (APCC). "The twist in the tale is that melamine itself has a very high safety margin, especially when compared with a toxin such as aminopterin.

"Cats, however, are a very sensitive species, and can react adversely to many chemicals and drugs," continued Dr. Hansen. "Because of their unique physiology, we suspect that they may also be more sensitive to the adverse effects of melamine.

"Further, crystals in urine have been reported by veterinary diagnosticians and clinicians in some of the pets affected by the contaminated foods. However, the direct connection between melamine and renal failure, especially in cats, is not clear and requires additional investigation."

The ASPCA recommends that the treatment of pets for kidney failure, which has been directly linked to ingestion of the contaminated food, should continue. "It is imperative to stay in close contact with your veterinarian and follow their direction," said Dr. Hansen. "In addition, if you have any suspicion that your pet is displaying signs other than those previously noted, and believe these are directly linked to ingestion of the contaminated food, you should notify the FDA immediately."

Adverse effects or deaths of pets conclusively linked to eating the contaminated foods should be reported to the FDA at http://www.fda.gov/opacom/backgrounders/complain.html.

The FDA has also posted answers to frequently asked questions about the recall at http://www.fda.gov/cvm/MenuFoodRecallFAQ.htm.

Additionally, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has a wealth of resources at http://www.avma.org/aa/menufoodsrecall/default.asp.


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