Archive for Sunday, March 18, 2007

Major recall of pet food has owners, stores frantic

March 18, 2007


— Pet owners were worried Saturday that the pet food in their cupboards could be deadly after millions of containers of dog and cat food sold at major retailers across North America were recalled.

Menu Foods, the Ontario-based company that produced the pet food, said Saturday it was recalling dog food sold under 48 brands and cat food sold under 40 brands including Iams, Nutro and Eukanuba. The food was distributed throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico by major retailers such as Wal-Mart, Kroger and Safeway.

An unknown number of cats and dogs had suffered kidney failure and about 10 died after eating the affected pet food, the company said.

Meanwhile, two other companies - Nestle Purina PetCare Co. and Hill's Pet Nutrition Inc. - announced Saturday night that as a precaution they were voluntarily recalling some products made by Menu Foods.

Many stores that sold the affected brands frantically pulled packages off shelves.

At a Petsmart store in Union, Silviene Grzybowski became worried when the four types of Iams products she buys for her cat, Smokey, had vanished from shelves. The cat was very sick and had not been eating for days, she said.

"The vet told us to buy her her favorite food, but I'm going to call the vet right now," Grzybowski said, looking at an announcement Petsmart had taped to shelves announcing the recall.

Ron Finegold of Boynton Beach, Fla., said he noticed about a week or so ago that his family's 3-year-old cat - who was regularly fed a variety of Iams cat food - had stopped eating and did not appear well. He quickly took the animal to the veterinarian, who determined she was in renal failure.

He said he heard about the recall on the radio Friday night. He checked his trash, and found out he had given the cat some of the affected food.

"That's when I realized (the illness) had to be related," Finegold said. "She won't be eating that stuff anymore."

A complete list of the recalled products along with product codes, descriptions and production dates was available from the Menu Foods Web site, The company also designated two phone numbers that pet owners could call for information - (866) 463-6738 and (866) 895-2708 - but callers kept the lines busy for much of Saturday.

Investigation under way

Menu Foods' chief executive and president Paul Henderson told The Associated Press on Friday that the company was still trying to figure out what happened.

He said that the company had received an undisclosed number of owner complaints that dogs and cats were vomiting and suffering kidney failure after eating its products. He estimated that the recall would cost the company, which is mostly owned by the Menu Foods Income Fund, an estimated $26 million to $34 million.

Sarah Tuite, a company spokeswoman, has said the recalled products were made using wheat gluten purchased from a new supplier, which has since been dropped for another source. Wheat gluten is a source of protein.

Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman Julie Zawisza said it is still too early to determine what could have affected the food. Zawisza added that even if wheat gluten is the source "it doesn't necessarily mean the wheat gluten per se. It could be another substance associated with the wheat gluten."

Some made in Kansas

The recall covers the company's "cuts and gravy" style food, which consists of chunks of meat in gravy, sold in cans and small foil pouches from Dec. 3 to March 6.

The recall covers pet food made at company plants in Emporia, Kan., and Pennsauken, N.J., Henderson said.

In Omaha, Neb., Susan Balvanz said she sometimes feeds her five cats packets of sliced meat and gravy sold by Nutro Products, one of the brands affected.

"I've done so much research on pet food. It didn't surprise me but it scared me all the same," said Balvanz.

She said her 9-year-old cat, Boots, was especially fond of the food but seemed to have lost its appetite in the last few days.

At the Missouri Valley Veterinary Clinic in Bismarck, N.D., veterinarian Jacob Carlson has been referring worried pet owners to the Menu Foods web site.

"We've had a lot of calls," Carlson said, although none of his patients were sick.

The company said it makes pet food for 17 of the top 20 North American retailers. It is also a contract manufacturer for the top branded pet food companies, including Procter & Gamble Co.


bearded_gnome 11 years, 3 months ago

whew. gnomedog only eats some human food from the gnome family. he's gettin' a good bone tonight.

God bless those pet owners dealing with this. this is amazing. I hope whoever is responsible for this pays through the nose!
when I heard about this the other night, I was upset about it, and that made gnomedog clingy, he's very sensitive that way.

meggers 11 years, 3 months ago

I think the difference between this story and the article a couple of days ago is the expansion of the recall. It turned out that a lot more brands than those previously mentioned have been found to be tainted.

I wonder how the pet food industry is regulated. In my view, pet food should have to meet the same requirements as food sold for human consumption, within the context of veterinarian-approved standards. Maybe all of that is in place already, though. After all, we certainly have our fair share of problems with the human food supply.

What a tragedy for the pets and their owners that have been affected by this. I hope this information will be broadcast widely through a variety of mediums, so that pet owners can get this information before it is too late.

Jillster 11 years, 3 months ago

I just discovered today that I've been feeding my cats the very same foil pouch cat food that has been recalled. AND my older cat suddenly developed kidney problems in the past few weeks...we have had her in to the vet a couple of times, and she's now on a special diet.

I am just sick to my heart. And angry. I'm taking the younger cat into the vet to see if his kidney function has been affected.

Here I thought I was feeding them "premium" cat food to keep them healthy. Now I find out that the food I have been feeding them has possibly made them ill!

bearded_gnome 11 years, 3 months ago

oh Jillster, hope the one recovers and the other is okay! good luck.

Jillster 11 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for the good wishes, Bearded Gnome. I called my vet first thing this morning. He says the older cat has only a mild kidney condition, likely just because she's an old cat (almost 14 years). I'm taking the young one in tomorrow to get tests. But they both ate the Iams "Select Bites" every day for over a year, and the stuff we last had was from a recalled batch. I think the young one is fine, but I just want to check to make sure!

kj 11 years, 3 months ago

I talked with a friend the other day who had to take her cat to the Vet. She said the whole waiting room was full of Pets that were having problems with diarrhea and other flu like problems. Just curious if anyone knows what it going on. A couple of years ago all of my creatures had something like this. The vet could not give me an answer at that time.

armyguy 11 years, 3 months ago

I only feed Kibbles and Bit's, apart from only being made in Lawrence, I know from working there they test every truck load of ingredients for the toxins that cause these problems. This is not the first time a major pet food manufacturer has been caught not testing their products. K & B shows a documentary (60 Minutes I believe, from the 80's) to all their employees about the testing process, and why they spend so many resources on it.

Let the lawsuits begin.

Linda Endicott 11 years, 3 months ago

My cat eats only Hill's Science Diet Prescription c/d kibble, as he already has trouble with his urinary tract. I just made a frantic call to my vet's office, where I bought it, and they assured me that no dry food was involved in the recall, and they don't even sell any of the products in the recall.

I knew he was safe for now, as the bag I'm using was opened quite awhile ago, and he hasn't been sick or anything. But I'd just bought a new bag, and he'll be starting on it soon.

Still, it makes you scared as hell...I sincerely hope that they don't suddenly decide that dry food was affected as well...

Linda Endicott 11 years, 3 months ago

Oh, my God...I can't believe that they knew there was a problem with the food, and it was causing deaths in pets, and then they DELIBERATELY fed the stuff to "40 to 50" dogs and cats in order to TEST it??? Just to see if they died???

Well, gee, next time there's an outbreak of salmonella, e-coli or listeria related to some restaurant or other, let's just line up all the kiddies and feed it to them deliberately, just to TEST to see if it's really the food causing the deaths.

Animals depend on humans to give them food and take care of them. And they just lined up these poor animals and deliberately fed them poison?

How heartless can they be?

Jillster 11 years, 3 months ago

I can't believe that I have paid money for so many years to support a company that did that kind of testing on animals.

Linda Endicott 11 years, 3 months ago

It's not like they couldn't have just had the food samples tested at a lab to see if they were toxic.

I can't believe this kind of thing is going on in 2007...

Linda Endicott 11 years, 3 months ago

I think LJW should do a story now on how these companies are apparently using live animals for "testing". Even though lab testing is obviously an alternative.

Isn't this kind of thing illegal anymore?

Jillster 11 years, 3 months ago

At least there's good news for other cat tested out fine, so I can breathe a sigh of relief.

Linda Endicott 11 years, 3 months ago

I was beginning to think I was the only one who was upset over them using dogs and cats to test toxic food.

Linda Endicott 11 years, 3 months ago

You know, I've seen this story countless times on all the national news sources. No one apparently is concerned yet that they have been using animals in this manner.

Where is all the hue and cry about using live animals for TESTING, and deliberately feeding them toxic food?

I'm telling everyone I know about it. I will e-mail the company and tell them what I think about their inhumane practices. (right now their website isn't working properly...probably too much traffic)

To me, using live animals and feeding them poisonous food is not acceptable.

bearded_gnome 11 years, 3 months ago




that's one damned upsetting vision of these b*ds feeding tainted food to dogs and cats to test whether THEY DIE! oughta qualify for felony animal cruelty if anything does!

Jillster, glad your cats are okay.

GnomeDog loved his bone, he's gettin' another tomorrow. only eats science diet Kibble. but the thought of even one dog being treated in such a heartless manner is despicable.

yes, this company needs to go down in flames, crash and burn, and the damned execs with the bright idea should be in jail!

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