Friday, March 23, 2007

Rat Poison Found In Pet Food

If you have pets you have been following the story about cat and dog deaths from kidney failure, attributed to contaminated pet food. Now it seems that the cause is rat poison.

How did rat poison get into pet food?

When I was reading about this story earlier I found it odd that Menu Foods, the manufacturer whose products were contaminated, suggested that the cause was in the wheat gluten used as a binding agent in the foods, and that this wheat gluten had been provided by a new subcontractor. But the name of the subcontractor was never given. Not only was it not given but it seemed almost protected knowledge.

This may be the way it should be, given that the actual cause of the contamination had not been determined. But why even hint at this subcontractor in that case? It smells off to me, somehow.

Economies to scale are a term economists use to explain why very large factories may offer certain products at a much lower price, and this is a good thing, on the whole. But concentrating food provision or energy provision to just a few central units is also risky, because if the system fails the repercussions will be felt everywhere. This is an example of those risks and the not-so-beneficial aspects of centralized production.
An update:

The toxin was identified as aminopterin, which is used to kill rats in some countries, state Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker said. Aminopterin is not registered for killing rodents in the United States, though it is used as a cancer drug, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The rumor (which I have not been able to verify) is that the country of origin is China.