As many as one in
six animals died in tests of suspect dog and cat food
by the manufacturer after complaints the products were
poisoning pets around the country, the government said
investigation is focusing on wheat gluten as the likely
source of contamination that sparked a recall last
Friday of 60 million cans and pouches of the suspect
food, said Stephen F. Sundlof, the Food and Drug
Administration's top veterinarian.
The ingredient, a
protein source, is commonly used as filler.
investigators are looking at other ingredients as well. The
wet-style pet food was made by Menu Foods, an Ontario,
Canada-based company. Menu Foods told the FDA it
received the first complaints of kidney failure and
deaths among cats and dogs from pet owners on February
20. It began new tests on February 27.
tests, the company fed its product to 40 to 50 dogs and
cats, and some seven animals--the mix of species was
not immediately known--died, Sundlof said. The
contamination appeared more deadly to cats than to
dogs, he said.
The recall now
covers dog food sold throughout North America under 51
brands and cat food sold under 40 brands, including Iams,
Nutro, and Eukanuba. The food was sold under both
store and major brand labels at Wal-Mart, Kroger,
Safeway, and other large retailers. The FDA has yet to
tally how many reports it has received of cats and dogs
suffering kidney failure or death. The company has
reported just 10 deaths, of nine cats and a single
''We are still
trying to find out what the true picture is out there of
animals. We're talking about 1% of the pet food [supply],
and it's really just impossible to extrapolate at this
point,'' Sundlof said.
spokeswoman Sarah Tuite told Associated Press Radio the
company was ''still trying to figure out the cause.''
and testing, but we can't identify the problem in the
product,'' Tuite said.
companies--Nestle Purina PetCare Co., Procter &
Gamble, and Hill's Pet Nutrition Inc.--said that
as a precaution they were voluntarily recalling some
products made by Menu Foods. A complete list of the
recalled products along with product codes, descriptions and
production dates was available from the Menu Foods Web
site, www.menufoods.com/recall. The
company also designated two phone numbers that pet owners
could call for information--(866) 463-6738 and
(866) 895-2708. The lines have been swamped by
Tuite said the
company has added more people and lines to cope with the
calls. Callers who get a recording saying the line is out of
order should try again, she added. The company became
aware of a potential problem after it received an
undisclosed number of owner complaints that dogs and
cats were vomiting and suffering kidney failure after eating
Tuite told AP
earlier the recalled products were made using wheat gluten
purchased from a new supplier, which has since been dropped.
The FDA hasn't confirmed the identity of that company,
but its Web site suggests it supplies only animal feed
manufacturers, Sundlof said.
itself wouldn't cause kidney failure, leading FDA
investigators to suspect contamination by other substances,
including heavy metals like cadmium and lead or fungal
toxins. Aflatoxin, a corn fungus, sparked a 2005 dog
food recall. The new 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 December 3 to March 6. 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. (Andrew Bridges, AP)