U.S. pet food recall widens amid cross-contamination

A major pet food recall has expanded again as
manufacturer Menu Foods Income Fund revealed evidence of cross-contamination by
some cat and dog food pulled since
March.

About 8,500 complaints of related
pet deaths have been reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by
Thursday, but the agency said that only 16 deaths of cats and dogs have been
confirmed.

The pet foods recalled late on Wednesday were made
at the same facility at the same time as other Menu Foods products that
contained wheat gluten tainted with the chemical melamine, the company said in
statement.

Menu Foods, which initiated a
recall of 60 million packages of pet food on March 16, said the additional
products were not supposed to contain wheat gluten, but a customer report and
study results indicated
cross-contamination.

Since then, Menu
Foods has expanded its recall several
times.

Melamine, used in plastics and
fertilizer, has turned up in wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate imported
from China and shipped to various pet food manufacturers. More than 100 brands
of pet food have been recalled after reports of kidney failure in cats and dogs
and several pet deaths.

Menu Foods makes
pet food sold under a variety of labels such as Iams, Eukanuba, President’s
Choice and Nutro Max Gourmet Classics and store brands sold at Wal-Mart Stores
Inc., Safeway Inc. and Petsmart
Inc.

Other pet food manufacturers,
including Colgate-Palmolive Co., Nestle SA, and Del Monte Pet Products, have
also pulled some brands.

The recalls came
amid mounting reports of pet deaths and thousands of consumer complaints to the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s
hotline.

The agency has received about
17,000 complaints of sick pets, with deaths cited in half of them, it
said.

LITTLE RISK FOR
HUMANS

The FDA has expanded its
investigation to include livestock feed that contained tainted pet food and made
its way to some 6,000 hogs and as many as 3.1 million
chickens.

While both the FDA and the U.S.
Department of Agriculture have said food from those pigs and chickens poses
little risk for humans, they have called for remaining livestock that consumed
the feed to be slaughtered.

Wheat gluten
and rice protein concentrate are also used in human foods such as bread and
pasta, but there is “no evidence that it has ended up in baby food or for that
matter any other human food as an ingredient,” said FDA Assistant Commissioner
for Food Protection David Acheson.

He
said the FDA was continuing to hold vegetable-based proteins from China at the
border pending further inspection as well as testing samples of pet foods and
ingredients already in the United
States.

Of 700 domestic samples tested,
about 400 tested positive for melamine and were traced back to the two Chinese
companies — Binzhou Futian Biology Technology Co. Ltd. and Xuzhou Anying
Biologic Technology Development Co.
Ltd.

FDA investigators are in China
working with officials there, Acheson
said.

The FDA has said it thinks a
combination of melamine and melamine-related compounds form crystals in some
pets’ kidneys that can cause problems. “We don’t believe that the melamine alone
is the cause of this,” Acheson said.


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Posted: 05/03/2007 at 08:46 PM
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Posted: 05/03/2007 at 08:46 PM
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