V.I.P. Pet Mince laced with dangerously high levels of sulphur dioxode, tests reveal

Someone asked if V.I.P. Pet Mince was a good product, so I had a look and noticed the use of preservative 223. This is a sulphite that can inhibit absorption of B vitamins and cause thiamine deficiency.

Further research shows the company are aware of the dangers of this ingredient, which was previously omitted from the label.

The food was tested to contain excessive quantities of the preservative.

An article published on news.com.au on July 17th, 2011 discussed the issues with sulphite preservatives in pet mince, specifically referencing the levels of sulphur dioxide found in V.I.P pet mince. The article has since been removed from news.com.au so is reproduced below for reference purposes.

VetWest also speak of the dangers of sulphite preservatives in pet foods.

Dry foods in Australia use the American AAFCO guidelines, which at the current time is not applicable for pet mince.

Pet food laced with dangerously high levels of sulphur dioxode, tests reveal

Article sourced from news.com.au. The original source is no longer available so has been reproduced below:

SOME pet food is being laced with high levels of a preservative that can trigger severe neurological conditions in cats and dogs, Sunday Mail tests reveal.

Companies are allowed to use the preservative, sulphur dioxide, in pet meat products with impunity because there are no rules about labelling or how much can be added.

One product tested by The Sunday Mail last week had 435 times the sulphur dioxide level claimed on the packet, while others included the preservative without any mention.

“The problem is because often it is the cheapest thing you can get to feed an animal, ill-informed people or pensioners feed that,” University of Sydney veterinary specialist Professor Richard Malik said yesterday.

After being alerted to the test results by The Sunday Mail, one major supplier to Coles and Woolworths withdrew its website claims about the preservative.

The results come as a wider debate rages over whether pets are being harmed by an exclusive diet of canned and dry food.

Clinical studies over the past two decades have proven that sulphur dioxide can destroy Vitamin B (thiamine) levels in food, which is essential to animal health.

Scientists have warned that thiamine deficiency can cause neurological breakdown in cats and dogs.

The RSPCA has been pushing for new laws to ensure there is enough thiamine in pet food and last week said it was alarmed at The Sunday Mail‘s test results.

“If you want to feed your pet raw meat, our recommendation is to use human-grade products until we have adequate safeguards,” scientific officer Dr Jade Norris said.

Vet and nutritional expert Linda Fleeman treated a cat for thiamine deficiency at her Victorian clinic in April.

“It happens very suddenly and is extremely severe. They get neurological signs that are over a very short period of time,” Dr Fleeman said. “It may appear that the animal has a brain tumour or other neurological condition.”

Confusing symptoms could lead owners to have their pets put down unnecessarily, she said.

A new Australian Standard requires that pet food has adequate thiamine but the voluntary system does not apply to fresh pet meat.

Sulphur dioxide is used in red wine and dried fruits but in pet food can cause illness when the animal’s entire diet consists of products high in sulphur dioxide with no thiamine added.

The Sunday Mail last week bought 10 products, selected at random, from Woolworths, Coles and a pet store chain and passed them to Biotech Laboratories for testing.

VIP Pet Foods Supreme Steak Mince for Dogs had the highest sulphur dioxide level at 1140mg/kg. Published research says a level of 1000mg/kg depletes thiamine levels in pets by 95 per cent.

Paws Fresh Roo Mince for dogs and cats – part of the VIP group – had a level of 870mg/kg, despite the brand’s website claiming it “keeps sulphur dioxide at a minimum, at just 2mg/kg”.

The brand withdrew the website claim after being contacted by The Sunday Mail and said it accepted consumers could have been “confused”.

VIP’s Supreme Steak Mince for Dogs and Gourmet Fresh Mince for cats did not mention preservatives on their packs. The company says all its packaging will have a preservative statement by the end of next month.

A VIP company spokesman said extra thiamine was added to all its products to make up for any lost through the use of sulphur dioxide. He said VIP conducts regular tests which show the thiamine levels in their products meets or exceeds international standards.

“The sulphur dioxide we use is a food-grade product; it’s no different to what you’d consume in wine,” he said.

Pet Cafe Fresh Meal for cats, manufactured by Sydney Pet Foods, had a level of 715mg/kg.

A Sydney Pet Foods spokesman said levels were safe, however the company would soon sell products free of preservatives after developing a process where sulphur dioxide was not needed.

Vet Dr Bruce Syme from Vet’s All Natural helped develop the product some years ago and continued to receive a “small royalty” but his company withdrew its endorsement after being told of the test result last week.

“I don’t know if that’s safe, unsafe or not an issue, but we don’t have preservatives in our pet foods,” said Vet’s All Natural managing director Andrew Gleeson.

A spokesman for Coles said the company would contact manufacturers of the pet food it stocks to “have them verify that their products are appropriate for sale”.

“The Coles product you’ve tested contains appropriate and safe levels of sulphur dioxide and is fortified to counter the effect of the sulphur dioxide on thiamine,” the spokesman said.

“There is no current Australian standard for pet food so we follow the American one.”

Woolworths has begun running its own tests on a range of pet food it stocks, including its own brand. All products will remain on the shelves until testing is finished.

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David D'Angelo

David D'Angelo has worked as a scientist since graduating with a BSc (Hons) in 2000. In addition, David holds a CPD accredited Diploma in Pet Nutrition as well as being CPD accredited VSA (Veterinary Support Assistant). However, his experience and involvement in the pet food industry for 15+ years has given true insight into pet food, formulations, science, research, and pet food marketing. Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram | Pinterest

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