Most poisonings can't be blamed on dog, cat food

Friday, March 23, 2007

News reports indicate that a huge recall of pet food -- dozens of brands manufactured by a Canadian firm -- may have been caused by rat poison applied to wheatfields in China.

The poison, Aminopterin, is not approved for use in the United States, but as a substance that can suppress the immune system, is widely used in chemotherapy.

Officials think it made its way into the dog and cat food through wheat gluten -- the manufacturer recently changed suppliers of the substance.

Despite the major recall, and other recent recalls of human food products such as spinach with e coli and peanut butter with salmonella, our nation's food supply is overwhelmingly safe.

A much bigger threat is poisoning by common substances around the house.

In fact, according to experts, approximately 1 million children under the age of 5 are exposed to poisonous substances each year.

To point out the danger, March 18-24 is National Poison Prevention Week, and the Nebraska Regional Poison Center in Omaha is urging Nebraskans to call whenever they suspect someone has been exposed to a poison.

Not only can they obtain important information quickly, they may be able to avoid a costly trip to the emergency. In many cases, poison center staff will be able to provide advice on home treatment and instruct parents to watch the child at home.

In fact, the center estimates that its services saved patients about $22 million in healthcare costs last year.

That's no excuse not to exercise every caution, such as keeping household chemicals locked up and keeping medication in childproof containers.

But keep the Nebraska Regional Poison Center's telephone number handy: (800) 222-1222. If you ever need it, you'll be glad you did.

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