Department of Agriculture & Markets

    

Jessica A. Chittenden
518-457-3136
jessica.chittenden@agriculture.ny.gov

March 23, 2007

New York Laboratories Identify Toxin in Recalled Pet Food

Aminopterin Confirmed in Recalled Pet Food and Implicated Tissue Samples

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker and Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Donald F. Smith announced today that scientists at the New York State Food Laboratory identified Aminopterin as a toxin present in cat food samples from Menu Foods, the manufacturer of the many brands of dog and cat food that are currently the subject of a nationwide recall.

The Food Laboratory received the pet food samples from a toxicologist at the New York State Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University, where testing has been underway to try to identify the cause of kidney failure in dogs and cats that consumed the recalled brands of pet food. At Cornell’s request, the Food Laboratory tested the samples for poisons and toxins, and identified Aminopterin in the pet food samples at a level of at least 40 parts per million.

“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 Commissioner said. “New Yorkers can be assured that we have two of the nation’s leading laboratory programs in food safety and animal health working on this problem.”

The Dean of the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine Donald F. Smith concurred by saying, “The close partnership between the Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University and the Department of Agriculture and Markets was key to this finding.”

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.

On March 16, 2007, Menu Foods initiated a recall of numerous varieties of dog and cat food that were manufactured at two of its plants in the United States between December 3, 2006 and March 6, 2007. The products are both manufactured and sold under private-label and are contract-manufactured for several national brands. Information on the specific brands of pet food subject to the recall can be found at http://www.menufoods.com/recall.

Since the recall, Department food inspectors have contacted all of the organizations that represent retail food and pet food stores to ensure that the stores were aware of the recall and that the recalled products had been removed from store shelves in New York State.

New York State is home to two laboratories that are part of federal emergency lab networks, created through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security after 9-11 to keep the nation’s animals and food supply safe. 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. The New York State Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University is a member of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network and thus, is uniquely qualified to investigate the causes of animal health emergencies, like the sudden deaths of dogs and cats from the recently recalled pet food.

Links to Federal Recalls:

http://www.fda.gov/opacom/7alerts.html

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fsis_Recalls/index.asp

2007 Press Releases