ALERT: 2014 Pet Food Testing Reveals High Risk Contaminants

| Published on January 12, 2015

Association for Truth in Pet Food (ATPF) recently published the results of an unprecedented pet food testing project conducted by U.S. labs late last year revealing serious concerns for pets and the human families that purchase and handle the pet food. Funding for the project came solely from consumers, who raised nearly $16,000 via an Indiegogo donation campaign.

ATPF’s Susan Thixton led the testing effort with the assistance of numerous industry experts who volunteered to aid consumers on the project. Dr. Tsengeg Purejav of INTI Service Corporation contracted various labs on behalf of consumers. All pet food products were purchased online (with the exception of one purchased from a veterinarian) and shipped directly to Dr. Purejav. Pet food samples were shipped to each contracted lab blind.

Of the twelve tested, six were cat food brands:

  1. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal LP Modified in Gravy Canned Cat Food
  2. Fancy Feast Grilled Chicken Canned Cat Food
  3. Science Diet Adult Hairball Control Minced Chicken Entree Canned Cat Food
  4. Meow Mix Tender Centers Salmon & Turkey Flavors Dry Cat Food
  5. Friskies Grillers Dry Cat Food
  6. Wellness Complete Health Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal & Rice Adult Dry Cat Food

The Results

Testing results show some of the most widely-purchased brands in the U.S. and Canada contained high levels of dangerous mycotoxins, problematic nutrient concerns and/or numerous bacterial contamination risks including antibiotic resistant bacteria the FDA terms as “Qualifying Pathogens”.

“This is history making,” says Thixton. “No one has ever taken such an up-close and thorough examination of pet food like this before – and most importantly, this was done by pet food consumers!” Thixton says the pet food testing results are “shocking”, sharing consumers donated to test pet foods for risk to pets. “Little did we know we’d find serious risks to ourselves and our human families too.”

It is important to note that all of the dog and cat foods tested are US or Canadian made, with the exception of one made in Italy. Not all of the ingredients are sourced in the US, but none have ingredients sourced in China. 

A sampling of the test findings included:

  • Meow Mix Tender Centers Salmon and Turkey Flavors Dry Cat Food: Tested positive for seven different fungus-based toxins (mycotoxins). On an industry standard risk scale (Risk Equivalent Quality) 0 = no risk, 5 = Low Risk, 10 = Medium Risk, 20 = High Risk — this Meow Mix cat food scored 70. The mycotoxins found – and at the levels found – “can cause tremors and convulsion, bloody diarrhea and lower immune response” (per analysis by Dr. Tsengeg Purejav) in cats. This cat food also tested to contain numerous bacteria including two bacteria the FDA terms as “Qualifying Pathogens” posing a “serious threat to public health”.
  • Nine of twelve pet foods tested to contain one or more bacteria the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations states is linked to “putrefaction” of meat (putrid meat).
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You can view an overview here and full results here.

What Can You Do?

Thixton believes, based on feedback from ATPF constituents and other consumers with whom she regularly comes in contact, that consumers’ trust in the pet food industry and regulatory authorities is rapidly eroding. “They continue to witness an alarming increase in the number of pet food and treat recalls, an unwillingness by many manufacturers to be more transparent, and regulatory authorities choosing to protect industry instead of our pets.”

“There is a lack of enforcement on the part of regulators,” Thixton added. “There are laws in place that should prevent much of this, but state and federal authorities choose not to enforce law with pet food. Pet food consumers pay an estimated $1 billion dollars a year in sales tax revenue on pet food purchases alone. What are consumers getting in return for this revenue?”

First, you are probably wondering what you should be feeding your cat. Thixton has a compiled a list of safe pet foods based on her studies and testings. This list can be purchased for a small donation (she has different price points set so you can donate what you want/are able to).

Next, Thixton is asking all consumers to send letters to their representatives in Washington, D.C. Not a petition, but an actual letter.

“No petitions (please) – representatives in government need to receive hundreds of thousands of personal messages directly from pet food consumers demanding change,” she explains.

Your state government website will have information on how to contact your representatives.

Here is the sample letter she provides:


Consumers recently raised the funds to test 12 of the most widely-purchased brands of pet foods sold in the U.S. and Canada. What was found in this consumer funded testing were violations of pet food regulations (nutrient imbalances), dangerously high levels of mold (mycotoxins), and very concerning bacterial contamination (bacteria determined by the FDA and CDC to be antibiotic-resistant).

Consumers pay an estimated $1 billion dollars a year to states in sales tax revenue (for pet food purchases alone). Please explain to me what consumers are getting in return for that revenue?

Pet food consumers have been complaining about the condition of pet food since the 2007 pet food recall, complaints have fallen on deaf ears. For more than seven years consumers have waited on FDA to find the lethal contaminant of Chinese jerky treats – FDA has provided us nothing. In 2007 Congress told FDA to establish pet food ingredient standards and definitions, processing standards of pet food and provide updated standards for the labeling of pet food. This work was required – by Congress – to be completed by September 2009. More than five years after the deadline – consumers still wait for the FDA. I ask you, how much longer should consumers wait for safe pet food?

Testing of pet food that should have been performed by tax dollar supported regulatory authorities was done by consumers. Now, consumers – myself – are asking you Why? How? could pet food pose such a serious risk to the pets that consume it and the humans that handle it?

Please read every page of our Pet Food Test Report – you can do that here:

I await your response on this very concerning issue.


[your name]


About the Author

Based in Wilsonville, Ore., animal lover Kristina N. Lotz is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA). She is the founder of A Fairytail House. In her spare time, she trains and competes in herding, agility, obedience, rally, and conformation with her Shetland Sheepdogs. She smartly married a Veterinary Technician, who helps keep the fur kids happy and healthy, and provides a quick resource for articles. They are owned by two rescue kitties, Roxy and Sassy.