Case Study of Animal Deaths from Counterfeit Pet Food

Those of us who have pets love our animals. We play with them, care for them, clean up their messes, and give them warm and safe homes where they can live happily. We also make all their decisions for them, and that includes what they eat.

In recent years, there have been more and more incidents where pet food has been compromised and animals have become sick or even died because of it. Increasingly, food that is offered at a steep discount, especially online, has been compromised at some point.

2007 was a particularly important year in the fight against counterfeit pet food. Upon receiving complaints about people’s pets getting sick after eating their products, Menu Foods ran tests and found that wheat gluten from China, an ingredient in their product, was causing kidney failure in test animals. They issued a massive recall in March of 2007, which prompted other companies around the world to look into their own imported ingredients. By April of that year, over 3,600 pet deaths had been reported, but only about a dozen were confirmed, as there was no centralized database for disease and sickness in pets. It’s estimated that up to 8,500 deaths related to kidney failure could be linked to this one source.

Wheat and rice glutens were found to be contaminated across the board, which led to investigations into the food supply chain for humans as well as pets. Melamine, a chemical used to falsify nutrition tests (among many other less savory functions), was found to be the primary contaminant. For this reason, all vegetable proteins imported from China, such as glutens and proteins derived from wheat, rice, corn, and soy, were subject to detention and severe testing. Once it was known to search for melamine, however, the results were shocking. There were concentrations as high as 6.6% in the wheat gluten, with visible crystals forming in some cases.

Ultimately, after investigations pinpointed the sources of the melamine contamination, the Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Company and Binzhou Futian Biology Technology Company were shut down by Chinese authorities. Menu Foods enacted a policy where they would reimburse pet owners for illnesses caused by their products if the problems could be traced to their food.

However, this has not satisfied pet owners who were distraught over the illnesses and deaths of their precious pets. Menu Foods continued to be served with lawsuits. It also came out that there were potentially related incidents which should have tipped authorities off long before things got that out of hand. In 2006, there were reported kidney failures in cats eating the Xiduoyu brand of cat food in China and even earlier in 2004, thousands of dogs got sick thanks to similar contaminations.

Due to all of these issues, there have been calls for reform in the way we monitor and track illnesses and deaths in pets. When many animals die from similar causes, they should be tracked in a database so as to quickly identify what the problems are and to hold the companies selling contaminated products responsible. Derived ingredients, such as vegetable proteins and glutens, are also being held to much more rigorous testing.

When it comes to the wellbeing of our pets, we can’t let our guard down. Due to flaws in the food supply chain, new methods of tracking food and ingredients need to be implemented. IDLogiq is working on solutions to these problems, and we want to ensure that no pet owner has to worry about what they’re feeding their animals. Pets can’t buy their own food, so it’s up to us to make sure that what they’re eating is healthy and nutritious, but more importantly, isn’t harming them.