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Dog Food Contaminated with Levels of Fluoride Above EPA's Legal Limit for Humans

For Immediate Release: 
Friday, June 26, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C -- Eight of 10 dog food brands tested by an independent laboratory commissioned by Environmental Working Group (EWG) contain fluoride in amounts up to 2.5 times higher than the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) national drinking water standard.

Study: http://www.ewg.org/pethealth/report/fluoride-in-dog-food

The eight dog foods, all of them major national brands, were found to contain significantly more fluoride than levels implicated by a 2006 Harvard study in bone cancer in young boys.

In all eight cases, the likely sources of excess fluoride were bone meal and animal byproducts.

“Due to a failed regulatory system and suspect practices by some in the pet food industry, countless dogs may be ingesting excessive fluoride that could put them at risk,” Olga Naidenko, Ph.D, lead researcher of the EWG-sponsored study, said.

Moreover, Naidenko said, the fact so many popular national pet food brands contain previously undetected health hazards is one more symptom of the federal food safety system’s overall laxity.

“Our findings point to the need for basic health protections that require companies to prove their products are safe before they are sold,” Naidenko said. “Bringing public health laws in line with the newest scientific research is a critical step in protecting the health of all members of American households, whether they walk on two legs or four.”

The eight high-fluoride brands disclosed contents including chicken by-product meal, poultry by-product meal, chicken meal, beef and bone meal. Any ingredient described as “animal meal” is basically ground bones, cooked with steam, dried, and mashed to make a cheap dog food filler. A small fraction of fluoride in dog food comes from fluoridated tap water added to solid ingredients at pet food plants.

Fluoride occurs naturally in some water supplies. But two-thirds of Americans -- and their pets and livestock-- drink water that has been artificially fluoridated on grounds it improves dental health.

Fluoride is also found in certain foods, those from plants grown in high-fluoride soils or those to which the chemical is introduced during processing. Once ingested with food or water, fluoride accumulates in the bones.

An average dog who drinks adequate water daily would be exposed to 0.05 to 0.1 milligrams of fluoride per kilogram of body weight, depending on the dog's weight and water consumption. But those dogs who eat food high in fluoride, day in and day out, may be exposed to unsafe levels of fluoride.

For example, a 10-pound puppy that eats about a cup of dog food a day would consume 0.25 milligrams of fluoride per kilogram of body weight per day, an amount five times higher than the ”safe” level set by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Pet food should be held to the same health and safety standards as human food and should be free of contaminants that may endanger pets' health. Yet, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA)has little authority and few resources to ensure that products produced for pets are safe.

The bottom line: when it comes to dubious food additives, chemical pollutants or untested ingredients in pet food, pets and their owners are mostly on their own.

NOTE: If your dog’s food contains bone meal and other meat by-products, EWG recommends switching to brands free of these ingredients in order to minimize your dog’s exposure to harmful pollutants, including fluoride.

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EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment. http://www.ewg.org

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