Shark DNA found in 32 cat foods: Sheba, Whiskas, Kit Cat…

Scientists suggested that endangered silky sharks and other species ended up in pet foods. However, the researchers couldn’t determine the route by which the shark meat made its way into the pet food supply chain.

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A silky shark swims past offshore of Oahu
A silky shark swims past offshore of Oahu
Swims with Fish | Bigstock.com

Researchers identified shark genetic material in cat foods purchased in Singapore, including Fancy Feast, Sheba, Whiskas, Kit Cat and Aixia Yaizu. The scientists suggested that endangered silky sharks and other species ended up in pet foods. However, the study’s authors couldn’t determine the route by which the shark meat made its way into the pet food supply chain. Likewise, they didn’t have easy solutions for how pet food companies could avoid inadvertently allowing endangered sharks into their products.

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“This is the million-dollar question,” study co-author Benjamin Wainwright, assistant professor of marine biology at Yale-NUS, told Petfood Industry in an email. He suggested better labelling and more accountability throughout the supply chain. 

Endangered shark species in pet foods

Wainwright’s team found evidence of sharks from species controlled under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) or classified as threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The silky shark (Carcharhinus falciformis), listed as CITES Appendix II, was the second most frequently encountered species in the pet foods. Silky sharks face tremendous hunting pressure for their fins. The researchers speculated that the presence of the silky sharks may reflect the use of the rest of their carcasses in pet food.

Blue sharks, Prionace glauca, were the most common species in the samples. Blue sharks are not listed in CITES or classified as threatened by the IUCN, but scientists believe it is being overfished and needs regulation.

None of the pet foods’ ingredient decks mentioned sharks. Terms such as “ocean fish,” “white fish” and “white bait” appeared though.

“The vague terminology used to describe pet food ingredients, and in some cases, the mislabeling of contents, prevents consumers, in this case, pet owners, from making informed and environmentally conscious decisions; consequently, pet owners and animal lovers may unwittingly be contributing to the overfishing of endangered sharks,” the study authors wrote in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science.

The brands used in the study were all available on the retail market in Singapore.

Pet foods containing shark DNA signatures

Brand

Recipe

Type

Shark species

Sheba

Tuna and White Fish in Gravy

Wet

Rhizoprionodon oligolinx, Carcharhinus sorrah

Fancy Feast

Tender Ocean Whitefish Feast: Kitten

Wet

Carcharhinus sorrah, Carcharhinus falciformis

Sheba

Tuna and Salmon in Gravy

Wet

Carcharhinus sorrah

Snappy Tom

Whitemeat Tuna with Flaked Salmon

Wet

Rhizoprionodon porosus

Fancy Feast

Ocean Whitefish & Tuna Feast in Sauteed Seafood Flavor Gravy

Wet

Carcharias taurus

Whiskas

Ocean Fish

Wet

Hemigaleus microstoma

Monge Jelly

Yellowfin Tuna and Whitebait

Wet

Carcharhinus spp.

Fancy Feast

Tender Ocean Whitefish Feast: Kitten

Wet

Loxodon macrorhinus

Fancy Feast

Ocean Whitefish & Tuna Feast: Classic Pate

Wet

Carcharhinus falciformis

Fancy Feast

Seafood Feast: Classic Pate

Wet

Prionace glauca, Prionace glauca

Snappy Tom

Whitemeat Tuna with Flaked Salmon

Wet

Prionace glauca, Carcharhinus spp.

Sheba

Tuna and White Fish in Gravy

Wet

Carcharhinus falciformis

aristo-cats

Tuna with Smoked Fish 

Wet

Carcharhinus spp.

NuTripe

Ocean Fish and Green Tripe

Wet

Prionace glauca

Whiskas

Seafood Platter

Wet

Carcharhinus spp.

Aixia Yaizu

Tuna and Chicken with Whitebait

Wet

Carcharhinus spp.

Kit Cat

Kitten and Pregnant Cat: Complete Premium Cat Food 

Wet

Triaenodon obesus

Whiskas

Mackerel and Sardines

Wet

Carcharhinus falciformis, Loxodon macrorhinus, Carcharias taurus

Kit Cat

Tuna and Whitebait

Wet

Carcharhinus spp., Carcharhinus spp.

Fancy Feast

Broth: Creamy, with Tuna, Chicken and Whitefish in a Decadent Creamy Broth

Broth

Carcharhinus spp., Hemigaleus microstoma, Carcharhinus spp.

Sheba

Tuna and White Fish in Gravy

Wet

Carcharhinus spp., Prionace glauca, Prionace glauca

Kit Cat

Wild Caught Tuna and Whitebait

Wet

N/A, Prionace glauca, Triaenodon obesus

Fancy Feast

Broth: Classic, with Tuna, Anchovies, and Whitefish in a Decadent Silky Broth

Broth

Prionace glauca, Carcharhinus spp.

Fancy Feast

Savory Salmon Feast: Classic Pate

Wet

Triaenodon obesus, Prionace glauca

Sheba

Tuna with Prawn in Jelly

Wet

Carcharhinus spp.

Whiskas

Tuna and Whitefish Flavored Broth

Broth

Carcharhinus spp.

Fancy Feast

Inspirations with Tuna Courgette and Wholegrain Rice

Wet

Carcharhinus spp.

Sheba

Tuna with Shredded Crab

Wet

Carcharhinus spp.

Fancy Feast

Ocean Whitefish and Tuna Feast: Classic Pate

Wet

Triaenodon obesus, Carcharhinus spp.

Sheba

Tuna and Whitefish in Gravy

 Wet

Carcharhinus spp., Carcharhinus spp., Loxodon macrorhinus

Sheba

Tuna and Salmon in Gravy

Wet

Rhizoprionodon porosus

Sheba

Tuna Fillet in Jelly

Wet

Carcharhinus spp. Carcharhinus spp.

 

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