The Food and Drug Administration is reportedly giving food manufacturers two years to rid their products of several artificial flavors, often labeled as "natural." These chemicals include methyl eugenol, benzophenone, ethyl acrylate and pyridine.
Consumer advocacy groups had filed suit under the 1958 Delaney Clause, a rule found in the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act that prohibits additives in human food and beverages shown to cause cancer in laboratory animal tests.
While no such clause has been applied to pet foods, Petco announced an ambitious initiative last November "to not sell dog or cat food and treats with artificial colors, flavors or preservatives," according to CEO Ron Coughlin. The company hopes to have all artificially enhanced foods removed from its stores by May.
This puts many pet food manufacturers on notice, especially considering the high incidence of cancer in companion animals and the staggering list of chemical additives in many manufactured pet foods.
Using the guidelines provided by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and the FDA, Petco defines artificial colors, flavors and preservatives as:
-- "Color from artificial sources: any dye, pigment or other substance that can impart color to a food that is not derived from a natural source.
-- "Artificial flavor: any substance, the function of which is to impart flavor, which is not derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products or fermentation products.
-- "Artificial preservative: chemical substances added to or sprayed on the outside of food to retard spoilage, deterioration, discoloration or contamination by bacteria and other disease organisms. Does not include preservatives that are derivatives of natural compounds."
For more information on Petco's new nutritional standards, as well as a complete list of all banned ingredients, go to petco.com/shop/en/petcostore/c/betternutrition-ingredients.
DEAR DR. FOX: I just saw a blurb in USA Today about a woman who is making cat collars that help stop the cats from catching and killing birds. I know this subject is a big deal to you. -- G.C., West Palm Beach, Florida
DEAR G.C.: Nancy Brennan of Duxbury, Vermont, started making her multicolored Birdsbesafe cat collars after witnessing firsthand how many birds her cat killed on his daily outdoor hunts. The collars reduce cats' predation on birds by giving birds an early warning with the bright colors.
But I have concerns: The cats are still outdoors and at risk. Can these collars break away if they get hooked on a fence wire or a branch?
Endorsing the collars indirectly endorses letting cats outdoors, but if the cats are confined on owners' property, then I guess this would be acceptable. And by all accounts, the Birdsbesafe collars do work to catch bids' attention and alert them to the predator, so they have time to escape. They would also give cats some extra protection from attacks by cats and other animals.
RECALLED 9 LIVES CANNED CAT FOODS MAY HAVE INADEQUATE THIAMINE
J.M. Smucker Co. is recalling specific lots of 9Lives Protein Plus wet canned cat food due to the potential for low levels of thiamine, or vitamin B1. Symptoms of thiamine deficiency include lack of appetite, salivation, vomiting, weight loss, imbalance and seizures. (From MarketWatch.com, Dec. 7.)
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxVet.net.)