Update On The Pet Foods Recall,
April 17, 2007


Published April 2007

Since the first reports of kidney failure in pets fed specific commercial foods on March 16, 2007, over 100 brands of cat and dog food have been recalled... and the list keeps growing!

Review of The Recall

  • On March 16, Menu Foods, Inc. recalled 53 brands of dog food and 42 brands of cat food following the deaths of at least 9 cats and 1 dog and many more reports of kidney failure in pets after having eaten "Cuts and Gravy" style wet pet foods made by Menu Foods.
  • The recall affected 60 million containers of dog and cat foods packaged under 95 brands of food at two of its facilities between Dec. 3, 2006, and March 6, 2007.
  • FDA launched an investigation within 24 hours after being notified by Menu Foods of a recall and investigators arrived at the company's plant and searched for possible sources of contamination.
  • FDA's investigation identified the distributor of the contaminated wheat gluten as ChemNutra, of Las Vegas, Nevada. FDA worked with the firm to trace the suspect product, and identified its Chinese source.
  • FDA has received over 12,000 reports in the last three weeks—more than twice the number of complaints typically received in a year by the consumer complaint coordinators.
  • The first week of April, 12 more brands were added.
  • On April 5, Sunshine Mills, Inc., of Red Bay, Alabama, voluntarily recalled a portion of its branded dog biscuits made at its Red Bay, Alabama biscuit plant during part of March 2007.
  • April 10, 2007 , Royal Canin Medi-Cal Feline Dissolution Formula canned cat food diet, a prescription diet not sold in retail stores, was recalled. Royal Canin has offered to pay up to $100 in expenses to owners whose cats have been fed the food and would like to have their cats examined by their local veterinarian.
  • Alpo and Hills were added to the recall list.
  • Menu Foods, Inc., voluntarily expanded its pet food recall for selected “cuts and gravy” pet food products, manufactured back to November 8, 2006.
  • April 16, 2007, Natural Balance Pet Foods asked that purchasers discontinue feeding their Venison & Brown Rice Dry Dog Food and Venison & Green Pea Dry Cat Food following consumer complaints of animals vomiting and kidney problems.
  • All of the food recalls have been for canned and moist foods except for one dry food.
  • Banfield, The Pet Hospital, a large veterinary hospital chain says it recorded a 30 percent increase in kidney failure among cats during the three months that the contaminated pet food was sold. This was based on an analysis of records collected by more than 615 veterinary clinics.
  • The FDA’s investigation remains open and active, and the agency continues to follow leads to get closer to the root cause of the problem and to ensure that all contaminated product is removed from the market.

Rat Poison

Initially, the Agriculture Commissioner of New York State Patrick Hooker released information that Aminopterin, a form of rat poison, was found in some cat foods. Since then, it is believed that Aminopterin did not contribute to any of the animal deaths.

Melamine

On March 30th, the FDA announced that melamine, a chemical used as a fertilizer and in the production of plastics, was found in tested samples of recalled pet food from Menu Foods. The substance was also identified in urine and tissue samples taken from sickened cats and from the kidney of one cat that had eaten the recalled food.

According to the FDA, "Melamine is primarily used in Asia as a fertilizer but is not approved for that use in the United States. It is used in plastic kitchenware in this country." They believe melamine was contaminated in the wheat gluten which was distributed to both the U.S. and Canada.

It is not possible to test pets for melamine at this time. No one seems to know as to how much or if any other compounds were found. They also are not certain if melamine is linked to the illness in deaths of the pets eating the recalled foods. There are many unanswered questions. Reports are continuously being updated and there is still a lot that we don't know.

Reported Deaths

The preliminary reports indicated that the affected foods caused over 16 deaths and may have caused illness in hundreds of others. The compound involved is causing kidney failure and it seems to affect cats worse than dogs. The most common signs of kidney failure are: vomiting, not eating, drinking more, urinating more and/or lethargy.

What You Should Do

If your pet ate one of the recalled foods and is experiencing any symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately. If caught early, kidney failure can often be treated successfully.

Menu Foods has a consumer hot line at 1-866-463-6738 and 1-866-895-2708. The FDA is asking owners with sick or dead pets to call FDA state complaint coordinators. A list of contacts for such coordinators is available at http://www.fda.gov/opacom/backgrounders/complain.html.


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