Carcinogens Found in Some U.S. Made Pet Foods

April 23, 2014

Aflatoxins, melamine and cyanuric acid in pet food pose an inherent danger to dogs that consume them.  The Consumer Council of Hong Kong found three pet foods made in the United States that contained this mold.  Two more U.S. made pet foods contained melamine and another one contained cyanuric acid.

The Council performed tests on 20 dog foods and 19 cat foods and discovered the presence of the carcinogen, aflatoxin B1, and contaminants melamine and cyanuric acid in some of the sampled food.  (

Veterinarians quoted in the article stated that “since aflatoxin B1 is a known carcinogen, it should best be avoided; long-term exposure…could increase the risk of liver impairment, tumors in the liver and suppressed immune system.”

The U.S. manufactured pet foods found by the Council to contain aflatoxin B1 are:

  •  Hill’s Science Diet Adult Optimal Care Cat Food
  • Purina One Smart Blend Chicken & Rice Formula Adult Dog Food
  • AvoDerm Natural Chicken & Herring Meal Formula Adult Cat Food

Melamine was found in:

  •  Solid Gold Adult Dog Food
  • Iams Chicken Cat Food

Cyanuric acid was found in:

  •  Purina Pro Plan Salmon Cat Food

Aflatoxins are molds that occur in grains resulting from poor growing conditions or improper storage.  These molds grow easily, produce carcinogens and are not easily destroyed.

The biggest source of aflatoxin in the United States is corn.  This is one more, and perhaps the best reason to never, ever buy dog or cat food containing corn in any form.

According to other grains, such as wheat, rice, barley and nuts and legumes are also frequently contaminated with molds.  The magazine’s article, “Cancer-Causing Aflatoxins Found In Dog Foods,” covered the fact that drought conditions in the U.S. Midwest in recent years have caused a record amount of mold-infested crops amounting to nearly $75 million in insurance claims.  Upon learning of this large surplus of corn that wasn’t safe for human consumption, the Food & Drug Administration increased the allowable amount of aflatoxin allowed in animal feed.

You can’t avoid aflatoxins entirely by feeding grain-free food to your pet, because even grain-free foods still contain high carb content, creating the potential for mold spores to contaminate the kibble.  But the odds are certainly better with grain-free than in foods containing grains.

Aflatoxins can kill dogs quickly.  Eating small amounts of this mold over a period of time will result in a build-up effect.

The melamine found in 2 U.S. made pet foods is also a concern.  We pet owners well remember the 2007 scare when so many cats and dogs died after eating melamine-contaminated food sourced in China.  Cyanuric acid was also implicated in that tragic situation.

Now, both of these contaminants are back and found in pet foods supposedly manufactured in the United States.  Frankly, I wonder how many ingredients in those foods were actually sourced elsewhere.  The government does not require a pet food manufacturer to disclose the source country of ingredients in the product.  You won’t find that on the package.  You could call the manufacturer and ask if any of the ingredients in a certain pet food are sourced in China or somewhere other than the United States.  I don’t know what result that would bring.

My advice is to feed your dog canned or grain-free kibble.  At least, those odds will be in your favor.  Feed cats canned food wherever possible, since it is better for them than dry cat food.

Buy the highest quality food your budget will allow!

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: