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The mycotoxins, and


concentrations found, would be expected to cause toxicity in pets. The risk to the pet


food industry should not be underestimated – or ignored


Above: Terry McArdle, European Pet Manager for Alltech


Reputations at risk The mycotoxins, and concentrations found, would be expected to cause toxicity in pets. The risk to the pet food industry should not be underestimated – or ignored. Not only is the pet food one that depends absolutely on product quality, safety and consistency, but horses and pets – including dogs, cats, and smaller animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs – are extremely vulnerable to these harmful toxins and exposed not only in feed but also bedding. A study of levels of Fusarium DON and OTA found in Austrian dog food samples confirms the extent of the problem:


• • • •


100% of dry dog food samples contaminated with DON 3 out of 11 wet food samples contaminated with DON 3 out of 9 dry dog food samples contaminated with OTA 2 out of 11 wet dog food samples contaminated with OTA


With owners and pets developing strong bonds, the potential for


bad publicity and loss of reputation from product recalls and illnesses should not be underestimated. “Whilst cats will walk away from any food with an off smell or taste, dogs in particular, tend not to be fussy eaters,” says Mr McArdle. “The results can be disastrous. Mycotoxins can result in kidney and liver damage, suppress the immune system, cause diarrhoea, haemorrhaging and deaths are not unknown.”





• •


• 1995: (USA) Loss of $20million worth of business due to


dogs vomiting following the ingestion of Vomitoxin 1998 (global), 25 dogs killed by Aflatoxin.


December 2005: (USA) – 76 dogs killed due to Aflatoxin


contamination 2005: (Venezuela) 500 dogs, cats, birds killed by Aflatoxin contamination


Meeting the challenge So, how can the industry protect pets, owners, and itself, from mycotoxins? At present, the vast majority of pet food manufacturers – some 95% – still do not test their raw materials for mycotoxins, and the 5% that do use ELISA testing to detect the Fusarium DON variety.


ISSUE 15 PET FOOD SUPPLEMENT PAGE 27


This exposes several shortcomings: “Most mycotoxin strategies have focused on identifying individual mycotoxins,” says Terry McArdle, “In reality mycotoxins are more likely


• • • • • • •


Mycotoxin symptoms Refusal of food


Immune suppression Lesions and ulcers


Kidney & liver damage Intestinal haemorrhage Bloody diarrhoea Cancers


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