On 26 August, the FSA issued an updated statement, which highlighted that following extensive wide scale laboratory testing, no causative link between the recalled cat food and feline pancytopenia has been established.
PFMA Updated Statement on Feline Pancytopenia: No Causative Link with Pet Food Established - 26/08/21
The Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) is extremely saddened by recent cases of pancytopenia in cats. We continue to keep in close contact with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) who have been leading urgent investigations to find the cause.
On 26 August, the FSA issued an updated statement, which highlighted that their extensive wide scale laboratory testing found no link between the recalled cat food and feline pancytopenia.
The presence of specific mycotoxins (a group of naturally occurring chemicals produced by certain moulds) was found in a small number of the pet food samples. However, the FSA have confirmed this does not in itself indicate the cause of feline pancytopenia.
The FSA advises that a multi-agency investigation will now continue and widen to include other potential non-feed related sources to find the cause.
Michael Bellingham, PFMA Chief Executive, advises: “The health and well-being of pets is the top priority. This has been a distressing time for cat owners. With the investigation ongoing, PFMA will continue to keep abreast of any developments and support in any way we can.”
The latest information on the investigation can be found on the FSA website.
To support pet owners, we have put together some information on our Q&A document.
Q: What is a mycotoxin
A: Mycotoxins are a group of naturally occurring chemicals produced by certain moulds. They can grow on a variety of different crops and foodstuffs including cereals, nuts, spices, dried fruits, apple juice and coffee, often under warm and humid conditions.
Q: What are the regulations regarding mycotoxins?
A: There are regulations in place regarding mycotoxins (Dir 32/2002/EC, Annex I). Whilst there is only a maximum limit for one mycotoxin, Aflatoxin B1 there are guidance values set for some others. These guidance values are set by the EU but also apply to the UK.
Q: Some social media posts have shown the results of mycotoxin tests, suggesting food is unsafe for cats. Why has action not been taken?
A: The FSA confirms they are aware of some social media posts, in which test results have been misinterpreted as showing a danger to cats. They advise that the mere presence of mycotoxins in cat food does not necessarily pose a risk to cats. Mycotoxins are naturally occurring substances produced by certain types of moulds (fungi) which can grow on a variety of different crops and feedstuffs.
Q: When was the FSA notified about this situation and what steps were taken?
A: On 24 May, the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) alerted Defra and the FSA when they noticed an unprecedented spike in cats presenting with the clinical signs of feline pancytopenia. The RVC followed up investigations through a call for information to vets to identify further cases and collect information on possible causes.
Since being notified of the situation, Defra, the FSA, APHA, local authorities and the pet food supply chain immediately launched the investigation to determine whether there was a possible link between specific cat food products and feline pancytopenia. As a result of the epidemiological links identified through this research, the cat food recall was issued on 15 June.
On 26 August, the FSA issued a statement update advising that following extensive independent laboratory testing, no link between pancytopenia and the recalled cat food products has been found.. A multi-agency investigation will now continue to establish the cause.
Q: Does this update mean it is safe for anyone who still has the recalled cat food at home to feed it to their cats?
A: Cat owners should not feed any recalled cat food to their cats and should continue to follow the advice in the FSA recall notice.
Q: Do pet food manufacturers have protocols in place to deal with product recalls?
A: Yes. Pet food safety legislation requires that pet food manufacturers have a process in place for initiating product recalls. PFMA members will also follow the ‘Guide to Good Practice for the Manufacture of Safe Pet Foods’, which gives guidance on best practice in this area. When there are signs of a pet food safety issue, immediate action must be taken by the pet food manufacturer according to the defined procedures. The pet food manufacturer must also inform and collaborate with the competent authority – the Food Standards Agency.
Q: When will the full results be back from the new investigations?
A: The FSA do not have a timeline for the findings at this stage as the multi-agency investigation will now continue and widen to incorporate other potential sources.
Q: Can I have confidence in pet food now?
A: Yes. The cases of feline pancytopenia are extremely distressing, but we would like to reassure you that incidences related to pet food safety are extremely uncommon in the UK. There is rigorous legislation in place to ensure pet food safety. If you have any questions about your pet food brand, please speak to the manufacturer who will be happy to help.
Q: Can pet food (or ingredients in pet food) cause health problems?
A: No. There is stringent legislation in place to ensure that pet food and ingredients are safe to feed and of high quality. Furthermore, pet food is subject to ongoing study by pet nutrition experts and vets to provide optimum, safe nutrition. It is widely recognised by vets that pets are living longer, healthier lives and that improved nutrition has played an important role in this. More information on pet food ingredients is available here. Information on legislation here.
Q: How do I find out more about the ingredients in my pet’s food?
A: PFMA and its members are committed to providing you with a clear understanding of what is in your pet’s food. To support you, pet food manufacturers often provide full product information on company websites and via telephone helplines. All companies provide contact details to allow you to obtain further information and are legally required to disclose the specific ingredients within a labelled category on a product upon request.
Q: How do manufacturers ensure safety from potential contaminants in pet food?
A: There is specific legislation to ensure safety from potential contaminants in pet food. Ingredients used in pet foods are regularly checked for undesirable substances that may occasionally contaminate the supply chain. There are legally set limits for these to ensure that foods are safe to feed.
Q: How can I find out more about the checks and processes in place to ensure pet food is safe for my pet?
A: A responsible pet food manufacturer takes safety and quality very seriously and as required by legislation will have defined processes and standards in place. You can find out more on our factsheet on ‘Good Manufacturing Practice’.
More information on feline pancytopenia is available from the RVC.
If you have any concerns, please contact your vet.
For more information on the investigation, please visit:
Previous statement updates / information issued
PFMA also has a series of factsheets about pet food and popular feeding topics. Visit: PFMA Fact Sheets | PFMA