A new research article published in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry is providing a critical new understanding of how polyethylenes (PEs) and their degradation products can be used safely in pet food products.
“There is no safe level of exposure for most consumers,” said lead author Rachelle Bockland, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
“That’s a huge challenge.”
The study examined the health effects of polyethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (PEA), a widely used polyester preservative in pet foods, and found that the toxicology results of pet food that contained a significant proportion of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) were similar to those of other PET-free pet foods.
PEAs are known to be highly unstable in the presence of high concentrations of CO 2 , so it is important that PET-containing products be stored at room temperature or refrigerated to avoid their formation and release.
Bocklander’s team also discovered that, unlike the PET- and PET-conjugated products, which contain an array of chemicals to prevent degradation, polyethylenic compounds that are typically found in pet-safe PET-contaminated products were found to be a risk factor for developing adverse health effects.
The researchers conducted a systematic review of the literature to determine whether PETs are safe for pet foods and concluded that, in general, their toxicity does not appear to pose an unacceptable risk for health.
PETs have been shown to be stable in the environment for many decades, and it is likely that these compounds will remain stable over the long term.
“In addition to their safety, the toxicological findings support the conclusion that the toxicity of PETs to pets is very low,” Bocklanders said.
“PETs have not been shown as a safe food additive and we would not use them in a pet food.”
The team’s findings support a growing body of evidence that suggests PETs may be beneficial for humans and animals, and should be a significant part of pet feeding practices.
PET-based pet food can be found in a wide variety of foods, including pet food, pet food formulated for humans, pet foods for livestock, pet products for human health and animal health, and pet food for food service.
PET products have also been found in animal foods that have been developed for human consumption, including those that contain ingredients derived from pig organs, pig intestines, or pig brains.
PET foods are typically not approved for human use because of their potential for toxicity.
The University of Michigan and other research groups have developed safe, PET-friendly pet food alternatives, and there is currently a petition for a ban on PETs in pet diets.
But the researchers say PETs should not be used to replace other foods that are also made from PET-derived ingredients, and the researchers suggest that it is prudent to monitor the safety of these alternatives to make sure that PETs do not pose a health risk.
“The concern with PETs is that they’re not food, they’re just a chemical that’s present in the pet food,” said Bocklands.
“What we’re trying to do here is determine how long the PET will be around in the food, how much of it is in the product, and what can be done to make PET-safe pet foods.”
PETs can be broken down to their component parts, called di- and tri-phenylalanine (DPA), and they can be separated from the main active component, DPA-N-oxide (DPA-N).
DPA is the major component of DPA, which is the main component of PEA.
“They’re the same chemicals that are used to make PEA, but they have different chemical structures,” said Kevin Dolan, an associate professor of chemistry at the College of Environmental Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
“So, the only thing you can really do is make sure the product is as stable as possible.”
The researchers used a variety of methods to identify the PETs that were in pet feed.
“We found that PET can be degraded to DPA using a variety [of] processes,” Bocksland said.
The most common method was by exposure to CO 2, which, in turn, leads to degradation to DPO-N, a compound that is also present in pet fat and food.
“As with any food, if you do not take care to do it correctly, PET can become toxic,” Bockinglands said.
A study published last year in the Journal of Applied Toxicology showed that, even when the PET was degraded to PEA-N using a method known as a “pig-to-pet food conversion,” PETs still posed a risk to human health.
“Our research shows that PET contamination in pet products is a major concern and should not happen,” said Dolan.
The findings from