Pet treats found contaminated with heavy metals – shocking data on lead, mercury and cadmium in dog and cat treats

My food science research in the Natural News Forensic Food Labs has turned up yet another alarming discovery… and this time, it’s about pet treats that may be poisoning your dogs and cats with toxic heavy metals.

Over the last several months, I’ve been testing popular brands of pet treats sold by retailers like, and what I found is downright alarming:

• An astonishing 1.8 ppm of lead in Mundy Rawhide Gourmet Dog Treats made by a company called Cadet. The treats are made in China and labeled “NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION.”

• A startling 6 ppm of cadmium found in “Red Shrimp” reptile treats made by Zoo Med.

• A shocking level of mercury — over 0.5 ppm found in “Ocean Whitefish” cat treats made by PureBites and labeled “100% natural” and “made in the USA.”

• Over 1.5 ppm lead found in “Natural Rawhide Rings” dog treats from a company called PetSafe. The product package says “Protect. Teach. Love.” and is made in Taiwan.

All results were achieved via ICP-MS laboratory testing that I conducted myself, using EPA-approved methodology variations. The Natural News Forensic Food Lab is in the process of achieving ISO 17025 accreditation.

Watch out! You may be poisoning your pet

Dog-Treats-Chew-SticksWhat these results show is that high levels of toxic heavy metals are commonly found in pet treats. Even worse, these heavy metals are invisible to the human eye, and because they aren’t labeled on products, there’s no way to know how much lead, mercury, cadmium or arsenic you may be unintentionally feeding to your pet.

The picture on the right shows chew sticks that contain alarmingly high levels of lead, but you don’t see the lead in the photo, do you?

Shockingly, manufacturers never disclose heavy metals content on product labels, and retailers almost never test for heavy metals.

Busy-Buddy-Natural-Rawhide-Rings-300See the PetSafe natural rawhide rings on the left? They’re made in Taiwan from rawhide, sorbitol and potassium sorbate. But they also contain over 1.5 ppm of lead.

Just to give you an idea of what that really means, just one rawhide ring weighing 8 grams would expose your dog to over 24 times the daily lead limit set by California Proposition 65. That’s almost a month’s worth of lead in a single pet treat.

See the full results right now at the Natural News Forensic Food Labs results page, where more than 16 pet treats are detailed.

Contaminated pet treats can kill your favorite dog or cat

Contaminated pet treats can kill your dogs or cats. The FDA openly warns about this on its website(1), saying:

Since 2007, FDA has become aware of an increasing number of illnesses in pets associated with the consumption of jerky pet treats. As of September 24, 2013, FDA has received approximately 3000 reports of pet illnesses which may be related to consumption of the jerky treats. Most of the reports involve jerky products sourced from China. The majority of the complaints involve dogs, but cats also have been affected. The reports involve more than 3600 dogs, 10 cats and include more than 580 deaths.

Over the years, thousands of family pets have been killed by contaminated pet treats, and more deaths will occur until this industry is required to meet stringent quality standards.

Sadly, the FDA still has no limits on heavy metals in pet treats or pet food, so a company can legally manufacture pet treats containing almost any level of heavy metal toxins while legally selling that product at or your favorite pet store.

The USDA, similarly, has no limits on heavy metals in certified organic pet food. So even “organic” pet foods and treats can contain extremely toxic levels of heavy metals while being certified organic by the U.S. government.

And while heavily-contaminated pet treats can kill your pet in a matter of hours or days, pet treats with sub-acute levels of heavy metals can still cause long-term chronic poisoning over time, where the heavy metals build up with each cumulative exposure.

Are there any pet treats with low heavy metals?

Yes! In fact, my laboratory research was able to verify that the “Real Meat Healthy Gourmet Dog & Puppy Treats” product made by the Real Meat Company(2) was remarkably low in heavy metals, registering zero cadmium, mercury and arsenic while showing only a tiny trace of lead.

Real-Meat-All-Natural-Beef-Jerky-Treats-250This Real Meat product, shown on the right, is made in the USA and has the following descriptive text on the label:

No added hormones, No antibiotics, No fillers, No coloring, No preservatives, Nothing artificial.

The only ingredients are beef, dried chicory root, vegetable glycerin, sea salt and mixed tocopherols.

While I haven’t yet tested all their varieties of pet treats, their beef treats (in the green bag) were remarkably clean of heavy metals. (Keep in mind that the Natural News Forensic Food Labs only tests for heavy metals, not other things. Also, we do NOT take money from companies to test their products. We buy products off the shelf and test them ourselves, entirely without the permission or knowledge of the companies in question.)

Natural News has no relationship of any kind with the Real Meat company.

Beware of pet treats from China

One of the patterns we are seeing in all our testing of foods, superfoods, herbs and pet treats is that products from China are consistently contaminated with high levels of heavy metals.

In almost every category of products we test, the products from China are by far the most heavily contaminated (with India in second place).

So one of the first things you can do to enhance the safety of the pet products you buy is avoid any pet treats made in China and instead seek out pet treats made in your home country such as the USA or Canada.

Why are China-made pet treats so consistently contaminated? Because China is an environmental catastrophe. Environmental laws are almost universally thwarted, and the pollution is so bad across China that producing clean food products in China seems nearly impossible (except in a few remote areas such as the high mountains).

China’s industrial contamination has reached such alarming levels that the nation’s rivers are literally deadly to bathe in. Dead bodies of humans and animals routinely float down the rivers. Just last year, 220,000 pounds of dead fish had to be scooped out of the Fuhe River after being poisoned to death by a chemical manufacturing plant(3).

Just last week, the city of Lanzhou warned its 3.6 million residents that the city’s drinking water was heavily contaminated with cancer-causing benzene and therefore dangerous to drink(4). The pollution was caused, as usual, by the city’s chemical manufacturing plants, nearly all of which simply dump toxic waste byproducts directly into rivers or water aquifers. This announcement set off a near-panic among residents who were suddenly left with no drinking water source.

There is no question in my mind that many pet treats manufactured in China are also contaminated with benzenes, pesticides and industrial chemicals. By any reasonable standard, the FDA should ban imports on all pet treats from China until reasonable quality control standards are put in place. Even then, all pet treats (and pet food) imported from China should be tested for contamination before being allowed into the United States.

I also believe that retailers like, PetSmart and local pet retailers should conduct routine testing of the products they sell. (I’m open to offering this service to retailers, by the way, if any are interested. We don’t offer testing services to manufacturers, but we would consider offering it to other retailers.)

Click here to see complete pet treat testing results at the Natural News Forensic Food Labs results page.

Legal note for companies that don’t like us publishing heavy metals data about their products

We are happy to correct any factual errors in our story, but please don’t waste your time trying to sue us for publishing scientifically-validated lab results on your products. Every time we publish laboratory data, we get threatened by someone who doesn’t like the fact that we are publicly revealing the heavy metals composition of their products. These people consistently do not seem to understand freedom of the press, the First Amendment and the ease by which such frivolous lawsuits are dismissed in the courts. Every $100,000 that you spend trying to sue us is $100,000 you will flush down the toilet.

There’s actually more to it than that: Natural News has a natural immune system: our supporters who also believe in clean food and total transparency! As is obvious from our enormous number of Facebook fans and web traffic statistics, millions of health-conscious consumers have asked me to speak on their behalf on these matters, so I am publicly stating the following message on behalf of all the millions of Natural News fans and readers who love their pets:

If you attempt to silence or intimidate Natural News for publishing accurate laboratory data on your products, your threats will be made public and accompanied by a grassroots boycott campaign against your company and all retailers who carry your product.

We the People of the natural health community simply will no longer tolerate corporate-driven censorship and intimidation attempts against honest journalism conducted in the public interest, and we will respond with a spontaneous, decentralized, peer-to-peer activism campaign to remove your products from the marketplace forever. Clear enough?

On the other hand, if you wish to engage us in a polite discussion about how we might re-test your products as your materials improve, we are more than happy to conduct such tests for you at no charge and share those results with the public. We will never ask you for money to test your products, and we will never alter our test results in exchange for money. We cannot be bought off, which is precisely the reason we are so rare in today’s corrupt society (and why we are so popular with health-conscious consumers).

Keep in mind that our goal in publishing these results is not to embarrass your company but to encourage you to do your own heavy metals testing and manufacture cleaner products. We also seek to empower consumers with factual information they can use to make informed purchasing decisions in the best interests of their pets’ health.

We believe in CLEAN FOOD. And we are willing to fight for it using every (legal) tool at our disposal, including social media, videos, articles, emails and more.

Watch for more laboratory testing of off-the-shelf products at the Natural News Forensic Food Labs.

Sources for this article include:





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