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FDA rules out painkiller as pet food contaminant
By Karen Roebuck
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday ruled out acetaminophen as a pet food contaminant after a Texas lab insisted it found the painkiller in numerous varieties.
"My bottom line is I'm pretty confident in the FDA's findings," said Dr. Steven Hansen, lead veterinary toxicologist with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' animal poison control center. "Acetaminophen is not hard to find."
The FDA found no trace of the medication in five samples of one type of cat and two dog foods it tested in the past week, said spokesman Mike Herndon.
"At this point, FDA sees no compelling need to analyze any more samples for acetaminophen," he said.
ExperTox Inc., in Deer Park, Texas, found varying levels of acetaminophen -- which is toxic to pets, especially cats -- in up to a dozen samples, lab operations manager Donna Coneley said Monday. She did not return calls yesterday seeking comment on the FDA's findings.
It is not clear, however, whether the agency tested the type of food in which ExperTox said it found the highest level of acetaminophen. That sample had been submitted by the manufacturer, according to Coneley. FDA officials did not contact ExperTox until yesterday.
Agency and lab officials are reviewing scientific data, said Julie Zawisza, assistant commissioner of public affairs for the FDA.
"We cannot validate their findings," she said. "... If they give us something new, we'll look into it."
A third lab hired by a pet food company and a university lab hired by a consumer could not verify ExperTox's findings, Zawisza said.
ExperTox found acetaminophen in samples submitted by two manufacturers and several pet owners who sought testing after thousands of pets died or sickened after eating foods tainted with melamine, cyanuric acid and their two by-products, Coneley said previously. The industrial chemicals have been found in more than 150 brands during the past three months.
ExperTox could not contact the FDA or publicly identify the manufacturer of the food in which acetaminophen was found because of client confidentiality, Coneley said. ExperTox could share the information and the frozen samples if the FDA contacted the lab, she has said.
"We're open to that, because we're very positive about what we're finding," Coneley said Monday.
Karen Roebuck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (412) 320-7939.
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