At least 20 dogs – including 3 in Shanghai – have apparently died from aflatoxin-induced liver failure in the Peoples Republic of China after being fed imported dog food, according to Dong Hui of the Shanghai Daily on-line. Additional dogs are ill.
The illnesses reportedly are linked to a batch of Optima Puppy Lamb and Rice Dry Dog Food that was manufactured sometime in August/September 2008. The Shanghai dealer has recalled the offending batch.
According to both the Shanghai Daily report and CNN Asia, the imported dog food was manufactured in Australia by Doane International Pet Products and distributed in the PRC by Natural Pet Corporation, a Taiwan company. But, neither we nor our Australian contacts were able to find a listing for Doane in the Australian Business Register. Nor, to our knowledge, is Optima available on the Australian market (although Mars offers "Optimum" brand dog food in Australia).
Optima brand pet food is manufactured by Doane International Pet Products LLC of Brentwood, TN (USA). Doane was acquired in 2006 by Mars, Inc. and operates under the Mars Petcare umbrella. When contacted by Associated Press, Mars issued the following statement:
"To the best of its current knowledge, the Optima-branded pet food which appears to have caused these reported incidents in the People's Republic of China was not manufactured by, or under the authority of, Mars or any of its affiliated companies."
The Natural Pet Corporation website lists Optima as one of its products, but does not indicate the country of manufacture. We have queried both Optima (Mars Petcare) and Natural Pet Corporation seeking clarification of the confusion.
Will Mars determine, on further investigation, that the offending batch of Optima was manufactured in the United States? Or is there another explanation, such as unauthorized use of the Optima name and packaging design by an unscrupulous overseas pet food manufacturer?
Dead dogs tell no tales. But someone should.