by Marion Nestle
Mar 23 2022

International food ingredients: endangered shark in Singapore pet food

Pet food, as I am fond of repeating, is an essential part of the human food supply because it uses the waste from human food production.

Also, whatever is happening with pet food indicates what could well be happening with human food.

That’s why I was fascinated to read this account in Pet Food Industry of finding DNA from endangered sharks in any number of pet food brands.

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.

The evidence comes from a report of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Pet Food Industry further explains:

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.

I wrote about the pet food supply chain (particularly as related to melamine contamination) in Pet Food Politics and, with Mal Nesheim, in Feed Your Pet Right.  

The point: If we don’t want to encourage destruction of endangered species, we ought to be checking cans of tuna for people while we are at it.