Ethoxyquin and Preservatives

I am really opposed to using preservatives, especially ethoxyquin as I keep hearing about the bad side effects. I try to avoid my human kids having colours and preservatives and the same goes for my four legged mates. I've also been told that ethoxyquin has to be labeled as a poison and that demonstrates how toxic the stuff is. What's your opinion?

Preservatives are not bad. (Though artificial colors are probably useless for dogs. They are for the owner's visual sense, not the dog's. I've never seen a dog turn down food because of the color.) Preservatives are good. Let me repeat. Preservatives are good. Processed foods are not nutritionally inferior to "natural" foods. While some vitamins may be deactivated in the processing, they are added back in. When used with fresh meats, etc. they can provide a healthy diet for any dog. (unless there are severe allergic reactions - but this is very uncommon) Preservatives *preserve* things. They help keep foods fresh and bacteria-free, mold-free, etc. for much longer times than their "natural" counterparts. If you think feeding bacteria and mold to your dog is better than not, then more power to you. However, this distinction generally doesn't come to us when we discriminate against foods with preservatives. Obviously, if one can afford the time, and money, to go to the store every day, prepare fresh meals for your dog, this would be ideal. But I would guess that few out there have that luxury. Besides, there is no guarantee that the food was given to you as fresh as it could be. Fungi and bacteria *do* grow in the fridge - just more slowly. So refrigeration and preservatives working together are the best combination. Preservatives have saved many lives in the developed world - before them, we either had to smoke our food or we died from infections and toxins - including our dogs. There is also no verifiable finding of a connection between preservatives and cancer or other debilitating diseases.

Recent ethoxyquin questions have popped up once again and it is just one of innumerable times it has come up in the canine world. It's akin to the Good Times virus hoax, or the Neiman Marcus cookie recipe or the fact that Microsoft is buying the Vatican. All of them are equally truth-based (as in... not) and all are based on the simple accusation or hoax by a single person snowballing into a rumor of worldwide and epic proportions. Monsanto has paid dearly for this misplaced rumor and has even had to fund two entirely separate research studies to disprove the purported "facts" of the harmfulness of ethoxyquin.

The facts: there has simply been no scientific evidence demonstrating any negative side effects of ethoxyquin in pet foods. The original story was an unfounded anecdotal incident from a single breeder that has snowballed into an urban myth (and obviously an international one too). The breeder had a problem with one of her litters and had nothing to blame it on except ethoxyquin. How she or anyone else determined that it was the ethoxyquin that was the causative agent of her pups' deformities is unclear. Her anecdotal accusations were published in a dog club newsletter and the rest, as they say, is history.

Ethoxyquin has since been blamed for a myriad of problems - none of which has ever been proven. Ask anyone that insists that they would never feed a dog food containing ethoxyquin to their dog exactly what the problem with it is, what effects or exact harm it causes, and what mechanism it works by. Inevitably they won't be able to tell you. Most folks simply know that it's "bad".

The FDA has approved ethoxyquin not only for animal consumption but human consumption as well. It's actually in quite a few human food products (paprika being the most notable) yet no one ever complains about people eating it or boycotting human products that contain the chemical. The argument that the FDA actually requires it to be labeled as a "poison" is utter nonsense, as the concentration of harmful levels of ethoxyquin are several orders of magnitude above those included in pet products. Even aspirin is a "poison" if taken at a high enough dose.

Monsanto has published the results of their first study on the safety of ethoxyquin many years ago. The results of their most recent studies are due out sometime soon. Rather than complaining that people didn't have their facts straight, they simply decided to fund a couple of projects to prove their point even further. It reminds me of the situation with McDonalds - where some rumor was started about them using beef from cattle raised on cleared rain forest lands. Everyone was up in arms about the destruction caused by McD's, so they decided to discontinue using "rain forest cattle" and spent millions of dollars on an ad campaign announcing that they were "discontinuing" using beef from rain forest countries. Funny thing is, they never were in the first place. They figured it was easier to simply tell everyone that they had quit, rather than trying to argue against the validity of the rumor. Monsanto is doing something akin to this.

There has been lots of stuff published on this subject.

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