Pet Food Detail

 I have asked the manufacturer of each of our pet foods to answer specific questions about their products. As the responses come in I will post them in this section so you can make an informed decision when purchasing food for your cats and dogs.

There are two pet food lines we have pulled from our shelves and will no longer be selling: Evangers and Solid Gold.

In 2009 the FDA took action against Evangers because, according to the FDA, “Evanger’s, operating in Wheeling, Illinois, deviated from the prescribed process, equipment, product shipment, and recordkeeping requirements in the production of the company’s thermally processed low acid canned food (LACF) products. The deviations in their processes and documentation could result in under-processed pet foods, which can allow the survival and growth of Clostridium botulinum (C. botulinum), a bacterium that causes botulism in some animals as well as in humans.”

When I contacted Evangers about the action, they were less than forthright with their answers. Information from Evangers contrasted starkly with information I received from the FDA spokesperson. Based on my correspondence with Evangers I was unsure about the honesty and integrity of the company so I pulled all of their products from our shelves. (Interestingly, in March of 2010 the owners of Evangers were arrested. They were charged with felony theft and money laundering for illegally diverting $2 million in utilities to their company over a period of several years.)

Solid Gold has failed to respond to numerous requests for answers to my questionnaire. One of the questions I asked is about the preservative used in their fish meal. Although Solid Gold has not responded, I have been able to ascertain that their fish meal is treated with ethoxyquin. The following is an article by Jean Dodds, DVM on ethoxyquin:

Many pet food manufacturers use ethoxyquin because of it’s excellent anti-oxidant qualities, high stability and reputed safety. However, an ongoing controversy surrounds issues related to its safety when repeatedly fed at permitted amounts in dog foods, particularly when fed to genetically susceptible breeds of inbred or closely linebred dogs. Toy breeds may be particularly at risk because they ingest proportionately more food and preservative for their size in order to sustain their energy needs.
For human consumption, ethoxyquin is permitted in certain spices to prevent loss of color. Ethoxyquin is permitted in pet foods, fats and oils at levels not exceeding 0.915% in the finished product (e.g. 0.015% as fed basis). It is readily absorbed, metabolized and excreted in urine and feces, with residual levels in liver, gastrointestinal tract and adipose liver.

Ethoxyquin is assigned a toxicity rating of 3 or “moderately toxic”, indicating the probable oral lethal human dose is 0.5-5 g/kg, 3- to 33-times the maximum allowed in pet foods. This toxicity rating is slightly greater than ratings for tetracycline and penicillin, lower than for aspirin and caffeine. Susceptibility of laboratory animals to anti-oxidant toxicity increases with the nutritional stress of variable dietary constituents. Increased dietary fat, for example, increases susceptibility to toxicity of ethoxyquin fed to chickens and BHT (as well as DDT) fed to rats. The response in chickens to increased dietary fat appeared to be due to the resultant lowered protein. Chickens fed 17 vs. 23% protein showed increased susceptibility to ethoxyquin toxicity. Ethoxquin levels fed to chickens were, however, almost 17 times the maximum allowable level for pet foods.

In laboratory animals, ethoxquin increased hepatic vitamin A levels 2 to 5 fold, and at levels 3 times that found in pet foods, increased blood vitamin E levels 2 fold. These data suggest that ethoxyquin assumes some in vivo anti-oxidant activities and thus spares natural anti-oxidants such as vitamin E.

Since the late 1980’s, the incidence of chronic disorders in purebred dogs appears to have increased. These disorders include dysfunction of liver, kidney and thyroid, reproductive problems, autoimmune diseases and other immune dysfunction, birth defects in pups, increased stillbirths and neonatal mortalities, neoplasia, allergies and problems with skin and coat condition. Most concerns have focused on inbred or closely linebred dog families.

Suspicions about the safety of ethoxyquin and any association with these disorders would be difficult to corroborate because the affected animals may have received drugs or other medications to treat their symptoms and other diseases may be present. Furthermore, ethoxyquin has been used in some animal feeds since 1959, some years before the controversy arose. Nevertheless, the additive or cumulative effects of several environmental insults, could explain the increasing frequency of debilitating illnesses in these dogs. Cumulative effects of metabolites and their interactions may place inbred or closely linebred dogs exposed to other inducing agents at significantly increased risk. The Food and Drug Administration of the USA Center for Veterinary Medicine states, however, that there is insufficient scientific evidence to show that ethoxyquin is unsafe when used at approved levels or to warrant action against its use in pet foods. Future studies incorporating modern toxicological techniques, appropriate medical and epidemiological assessment of cases and consideration of multifactorial interactions in inbred or closely linebred dogs, should help to clarify the issue. Indeed, for the majority of dogs, health risks from the ingestion of inadequately preserved rancid fats might be more harmful than risks from the potential adverse effects of ethoxyquin.