Cat food: Update on pancytopenia investigation following 330 deaths – production resuming

Cat food recall discussed by This Morning vet Scott Miller

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Back in June, three pet food brands which were sold in Pets at Home, Sainsbury’s and other retailers was urgently recalled after a suspected link with pancytopenia, a deadly cat disease. The FSA as well as manufacturer Fold Hill Foods has shared an update on the investigation into the cat deaths.

The recalled brands include Ava, Applaws and Sainsbury’s Hypoallergenic food range.

It came after more than 500 cases were reported by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) and at least 300 feline deaths.

Pancytopenia can be fatal and causes a rapid decline in the number of blood cells.

The disease is usually very rare, with vets expecting to see around one case per year.

The FSA issued an update on the ongoing investigation into the recalled cat food.

The company said: “The results of extensive testing identified higher levels of mycotoxins in some samples of the recalled cat food. 

“This includes specific compounds known as T2 and HT2. These products are no longer on sale.

“Mycotoxins are found in some types of feed and food and do not, in themselves, indicate they are the cause of feline pancytopenia.

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“No causative link between pancytopenia and the recalled cat food products has been established.”

According to the company, the presence of mycotoxins in cat food does not “necessarily” pose a risk to cats.

Although no link with the disease, the FSA is warning feline owners to not feed their animals any of the recalled pet food.

The FSA aded: “We continue to work with the Animal and Plant Health Agency and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to identify the possible cause of the pancytopenia. At this stage we are not ruling out any possible cause.”

A spokesperson for Fold Hill Foods said: “Following extensive testing and independent expert analysis, the Food Standards Agency has not identified a causative link between pancytopenia and the cat food products recalled on a precautionary basis by Fold Hill Foods.

“We understand the investigation will continue to investigate other potential causes of the pancytopenia cases, including non-feed related causes, with a multi-agency approach. 

“As no causative link has been identified, Fold Hill Foods is working with its local authority to resume production of the three recalled brands.

“As cat owners ourselves, we fully understand how upsetting and stressful this ongoing situation is and that an urgent need remains to establish why there has been an increase in cases of pancytopenia in the UK.”

In a statement, Pets at Home said it was “deeply disappointed” that the FSA had been unable to find a cause for the outbreak.

The pet specialists said: “Pets at Home has supported this investigation throughout, immediately implementing the manufacturer’s voluntary food safety recall and doing everything we could to alert all our affected customers.

“We recognise the pain and upset that this illness has caused, and our hearts go out to all the families whose cats have suffered.

“We are therefore deeply disappointed that the FSA were unable to find a definitive cause for the distressing spike in cases of feline pancytopenia.

“For us, pets come first and always will, which is why despite the lack of clear answers following the FSA’s investigations to date, the product recall will remain in place and we will continue to support our customers whose pets have been affected.

“We also believe that further research is required into feline pancytopenia and its causes, and so Pets at Home are committing £100,000 to fund further studies that we hope will improve knowledge within this area.”

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson added: “Safety is our highest priority and we have worked closely with the FSA on the investigation.”

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