The Correlation between Dog & Cat Food and Mad Cow Disease
America's Finest Dog and Cat Foods Right Here
Ban sought on cattle tissues in pet food
February 11, 2004 Des Moines Register by PHILIP BRASHER
Washington, D.C. -There's one place in the supermarket where
grocers still sell the processed cattle remains that could harbor
mad cow disease -the pet food section.
Cattle brains and spinal cords -the tissue that can carry the
mad cow disease -can be used in dog and cat food as well as in feed given
to hogs and chickens.
Now, in the wake of the nation's first-ever mad cow disease case, the
Bush administration is under pressure from scientists and
consumer advocates to stop the practice.
The concern is not that hogs, chickens or the family pet will get
sick, although cats are susceptible to the disease.
Instead, scientists fear products containing infected beef could
accidentally contaminate feed intended for cattle, either through
mix-ups on the farm or in feed mills. An international panel of
experts that recently reviewed U.S. mad cow safeguards at the
Bush administration's request said cattle brains and spinal cords
"must be excluded" from all animal feed and pet food.
"The mistakes may not happen in the feed mill but could clearly
happen on the farm, where there is no regulation and no one
really monitoring the food-safety conditions," said Caroline
Smith DeWaal of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a
consumer advocacy group.
Trade groups representing pet food companies and feed
manufacturers also support new restrictions. Pet food companies
are concerned about public perception. One major pet food maker,
Iams Co., has posted a statement on its Internet site assuring
customers that there is none of the high-risk cattle tissue in
"We're in a unique business here because we're in such a
high-profile product," said Nancy Cook, a lobbyist for the Pet
Food Institute, the pet-food industry's trade group.
The issue caught the attention of some Iowa pet owners. Talk of
even a remote possibility of his cat getting mad cow disease made
Brad Chelesvig's eyes widen.
"Now I might go home and take a look at my cat food labels," said
Chelesvig of Des Moines.
Jessica Pardekooper, a cat and dog owner who was shopping
recently at a Des Moines pet store, said she definitely favors a
"If it's something that I wouldn't want in my food, why would I
want it in my cat's food?"
It's not only consumers like Chelesvig and Pardekooper who worry
the $12.5 billion pet food industry. Some half-dozen countries,
including Mexico and South Korea, have cut off imports of U.S.
pet food; exports account for $1 billion of the industry's annual
Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, is a
concern because it is believed to cause a variation of
Creuzfeldt-Jakob disease, a fatal brain illness in humans.
The government's prime defense against the disease is a 1997 ban
on using beef and bone meal in cattle feed. The international
panel of experts warned that the ban isn't foolproof and that
there probably have been other cases of the disease in the United
States besides the one found in Washington state.
The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates animal feed,
announced several new safeguards in January, including a ban on
using cattle blood in the formula given to calves.
But FDA officials decided against imposing restrictions on pet
food and hog and poultry feed, citing a Harvard University study
that has been used by the government to measure the benefits of
various control measures.
"We're trying to understand right now why there seem to be really
two different views on the . . . issue," said Stephen Sundlof,
director of FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine.
The FDA says house cats already are protected by existing
The biggest losers from new FDA regulations could be the
rendering companies that process livestock remains for use in
feed ingredients, soap, cosmetics and other products. Prices for
meat and bone meal have plunged from as much as $275 per ton
before the Washington mad cow case to about $130 to $150 a ton
due to lost export markets.
"We are not a not-for-profit organization," said Mark Meyers of
Des Moines-based National By-Products, which operates rendering
plants throughout the Midwest.
Ulrich Kihm, a Swiss scientist on the expert panel, said it only
takes 10 milligrams of infected brain matter to transmit the
disease to a cow. "This is nothing," he said.
Register Staff Writer Adam Morris contributed to this report.
Risks and actions
SUSCEPTIBLE: With the exception of cats, no pets or companion
animals are known to be susceptible to the infectious agent that
causes mad cow disease in cattle.
CATS: Approximately 90 cats in the United Kingdom and several in
other European countries have been diagnosed with the feline
version of the disease. Before it was recognized that they were
susceptible, cats were exposed to the infectious agent through
commercial cat food and through meat scraps provided by butchers.
FEED: In the United States, rendered products that are barred
from cattle feed are permitted in pet food. Among such products
are meat and bone meal. However, the Food and Drug Administration
says that the safeguards it has put into place to prevent mad cow
disease in the U.S. have protected cats. The agency continues to
review the safeguards.
HealthyPetNet's statement on Mad Cow Disease and their dog and cat food
Dog and Cat Food is Beef Free
Read more here
More Important Info about Pet