Is Ethoxyquin Safe In Cat Food?

April 17, 2015

I often talk about the dangers of ethoxyquin in pet food, so I thought a more complete explanation of this scary preservative might be in order.  Ethoxyquin is used in many pet foods as a low-cost preservative, and there is a lot of bad information making the rounds about this chemical.

Ethoxyquin is used both directly and indirectly in pet food and treats.  When used directly, you will see it named on the ingredients list on packages and cans of cat or dog food/treats.  If used indirectly, it won’t be listed, and you won’t necessarily know if the food contains the chemical instead of a safer alternative.

To explain, if a product includes the generic “fish meal,” that fish meal very likely was preserved at the source with ethoxyquin.  A named meal, such as salmon meal or Menhaden fish meal, would not contain it.  If the manufacturer of the pet food did not specifically add the ethoxyquin to the meal, and it was done by the supplier of the meal to him, he does not have to list it as an ingredient. Sneaky, but it works for the pet food manufacturer.

Ethoxyquin was developed by Monsanto (that same company that brings us GMO corn and soy that are sprayed with chemical fertilizers) and from the beginning, there were complaints from pet owners about Ethoxyquin causing cancers, liver problems, and skin lesions in cats and dogs.  But Monsanto conducted its own series of tests and determined that Ethoxyquin wasn’t the culprit and was safe to use in pet food. Note that it is only allowed in human foods in minute doses – in chili powder and paprika – to preserve the red color and is not used in other human foods. Since Monsanto conducted its own studies, it’s rather like the fox guarding the hen house.  The FDA ok’d the use of ethoxyquin in pet food based on those studies and isn’t concerned about all the reports that continue to surface.

“ states ‘Ethoxyquin may undergo a hazardous polymerization at temperatures above 320 degrees F.’  If any food that contains ethoxyquin is heated above 320 degrees, a hazardous chain reaction could alter the entire pet food/treat.” (

We have no way of knowing the temperatures that many pet food companies use to cook their ingredients because many of them consider that to be proprietary information and don’t share it.  Therefore, we have no way of knowing if any ingredients containing ethoxyquin have been damaged.

Ethoxyquin is considered a carcinogen and is used as a rubber preservative.  Many studies have shown a correlation between the chemical and deformities in pets, diseases and sterility.  Yet many well-known and popular brands continue to use it in their products.  It’s cheap for use as a preservative, so look for it on the ingredients lists in lower-priced pet foods.  If you see fish meal, assume that it was preserved with ethoxyquin.  Many by-products are preserved with ethoxyquin but remember, if the manufacturer did not add the Ethoxyquin himself, he doesn’t have to list it.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) admits that the information on the risks and safety of ethoxyquin in pet food is limited. They state that known information suggests limited use of the chemical.  ( )

So…why do pet food companies use ethoxyquin in their products instead of a natural preservative?  We have to assume that it boils down to money.  The safety of our pets comes in second to the company’s bottom line.

Be your own pet advocate!  Read and understand the ingredients listed on pet food packages and cans.  Do not be swayed by sharp advertising gimmicks.  Buy what you know and from whom you trust.

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