Food Poisoning in the News: Menu Foods, Inc. Pet Food
On March 16, 2007, following reports of U.S. pets developing kidney failure after eating its "cuts and gravy" style dog and cat foods, Menu Foods, Inc., a private-label pet food manufacturer based in Ontario, Canada, began recalling all affected pet food produced at its facility in Emporia, Kansas between December 3, 2006 and March 6, 2007. The FDA is conducting an investigation and working with Menu Foods, Inc. to ensure the effectiveness of the recall.
Product Details and Recall Information
The potentially contaminated dog and cat food products are packaged in cans and pouches under numerous brand names and are marketed in the U.S. by many pet food retailers including Ahold USA Inc., Kroger Company, Safeway, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., PetSmart, Inc., and Pet Valu, Inc., and also sold in Canada and Mexico. The Menu Foods website has posted specific information on Recalled Cat Products and Recalled Dog Products, as well as Recall FAQs for Consumers. Menu Foods is notifying retailers by telephone and mail and is arranging for the return of all recalled products.
Pet Deaths Reported to the FDA
To date, Menu Foods, Inc. has reported 14 animal deaths to the FDA. Nine cats died during routine taste trials conducted by the company, and consumers reported additional deaths of four cats and one dog.
Testing of Pet Food Products
On March 30, 2007, the FDA announced that testing of Menu Foods pet food had revealed the presence of a chemical used in the production of plastics. The chemical, called "melamine", was also found in testing of wheat gluten that was used as an ingredient in the affected pet food products.
On March 23, scientists at the New York State Food Laboratory announced that they found aminopterin (used as rat poison) in two of three cat food samples provided by the New York State Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University. See press release here. FDA testing has failed to confirm these findings.
Advice for Consumers
Consumers who have any of these products should immediately stop feeding them to their pets. Owners of dogs or cats who have consumed the suspected food and show signs of kidney failure (such as loss of appetite, lethargy and vomiting) should consult with their veterinarian. Those with questions may contact Menu Foods at 1-866-895-2708. Consumers who wish to report adverse actions or other problems to the FDA can contact the FDA complaint coordinator in their state at http://www.fda.gov/opacom/backgrounders/complain.html.
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