News 219 views last update:6 Aug 2012

Lethal pet food contaminants identified

Melamine and cyanuric acid in pet food is identified as the lethal combination that killed dozens of cats and dogs New Scientist magazine reports.

Melamine is an organic base for plastics and resins, and cyanuric acid is used in swimming pools. Both were illegally added in China to wheat and rice gluten to raise nitrogen levels. The consignments were subsequently exported to the US and added to pet food by manufacturers.

Now a team led by Birgit Puschner of the University of California, Davis, has found the combination is to blame (Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation, vol 19, p 616). Autopsies of cats fed the chemicals revealed kidneys clogged with crystals. "The crystals seemed to cause an obstruction in the kidney leading to damage and inflammation," Puschner says. "It will make any future diagnosis much more straightforward."

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