Tuesday, April 10, 2007

39,000 DEAD PETS

From the AP via the Huffington Post courtesy of AlterNet:

Cases of kidney failure among cats rose by 30 percent during the three months that pet food contaminated with an industrial chemical was sold, one of the nation's largest chains of veterinary hospitals reported Monday.

Banfield, The Pet Hospital, said an analysis of its database, compiled from records collected by its more than 615 veterinary hospitals, suggests that three out of every 10,000 cats and dogs seen in its clinics developed kidney failure during the time the melamine-contaminated pet food was on the market. There are an estimated 60 million dogs and 70 million cats in the United States, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

The veterinary hospital chain saw 1 million dogs and cats during the three months when the more than 100 brands of now-recalled contaminated pet food were sold. It saw 284 extra cases of kidney failure among cats during that period, or a roughly 30 percent increase when compared with background rates. It's not clear if those animals ate the contaminated food, though it seems likely.

"It has meaning, when you see a peak like that. We see so many pets here, and it coincided with the recall period," said veterinarian Hugh Lewis, who oversees the mining of Banfield's database to do clinical studies. The chain continues to share its data with the Food and Drug Administration.

Click here for the rest.

The latest recalls have put me in a more frightening place: when the news first hit, I figured that just for safety I'd buy only from companies that weren't recalling any products; it now appears that's no longer an option. As far as I can tell, all pet food companies and distributers selling in Baton Rouge have recalled at least one kind of pet food. So, I'm being careful, staying away from the tainted varieties, but not as careful as I'd like. When I'm not nervous about what I'm feeding my own cats, however, I'm sad for the people who have lost theirs. Losing a cherished pet sucks. It's bad enough when they die of old age. I have no idea how losing a pet to something like this would affect me. I'm sure I'd be devastated.

One thing's for sure: if this can happen to pet food, it can definitely happen with human food. What's going to happen when 39,000* Americans drop dead due to mass food poisining?

UPDATE: Senate Panel To Question FDA On Tainted Dog Food

*As figured by AlterNet based on an earlier draft of the AP story.