Top US pet foods test positive for aflatoxin, melamine and cyanuric acid

A consumer organization in Hong Kong found contaminates in several top US pet food brands. The Consumer Council found trace amounts of aflatoxin, melamine and cyanuric acid in both dry dog and cat foods.




Cyanuric acid

Purina One


1st Choice




No Frills




Hill’s Science Diet




Solid Gold




Purina Pro Plan


1st Choice


Aflatoxin found

Trace amount of aflatoxin B1, ranging from 1.0 to 2.0 µg/kg dry pet food were found in 7 dry pet foods. The levels of aflatoxin found in the samples are all within the safety limits established by the European Union Commission Regulation.

EU maximum limits

The EU sets the maximum amount of aflatoxin B1 in animal feeds at 0.01 ppm (10 µg/kg) in complementary and complete feed, and at 0.02 ppm (20 µg/kg or .02 mg/kg) in feed materials.

FDA action levels

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also sets action levels for the regulation of aflatoxin content in animal feeds and feeding ingredients. Action levels for aflatoxin in human food and animal feed and animal feed ingredients vary, from 0.5 ppb in milk up to 20 ppb in all other foods and animal feed.

Maximum residue levels allowed in the US

Maximum residue level for aflatoxin B1 in animal feeds and feed ingredients. 0.02 ppm(.02 mg/kg)
Maximum residue level for melamine and related compounds (including cyanuric acid) 2.5 ppm(2.5mg/kg)

Melamine & cyanuric acid

2 US brands were found with the contaminant melamine and 2 others with cyanuric acid, both in trace amounts. The report indicated that,

“All samples in the test were found to be in compliance with the requirement.”

Residue allowed

The United Nations’ food standards body, Codex Alimentarius Commission, the FDA and the EU has set the maximum amount of melamine allowed in powdered infant formula to 1 mg/kg and the amount of the chemical allowed in other foods and animal feed to 2.5 mg/kg.

Essentially nontoxic

Cyanuric acid is classified as essentially nontoxic. in fact, FDA permits a certain amount of cyanuric acid to be present in some feed additives and drinking water. Cyanuric acid is an FDA-accepted component of feed-grade biuret, a ruminant feed additive. The additive can legally contain up to 30% of cyanuric acid (and triuret).

Deadly combination

However, when cyanuric acid is present together with melamine, which by itself is another low-toxicity substance, they may form extremely insoluble crystals, leading to formation of kidney stones and potentially causing kidney failure and death—as evidenced in dogs and cats during the 2007 pet food contamination and in children during the 2008 Chinese milk scandal cases.

Even though none of the foods tested were found to contain melamine and cyanuric acid together, and were found individually in the samples tested, the danger arises when both contaminants are consumed together.  Exposure to both substances may lead to formation of crystals, resulting in blockage of tubules in kidneys that may cause acute renal failure in animals.

To avoid the hazard do not combine pet food brands together. Or better yet, make your own pet food.

The bright side?

All samples were found to be free of Salmonella and E. Coli O157.

To find out more, visit here and here

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Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, the author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and consumer advisor. Help support her work by making a donation today.

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