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Big recall of pet food has owners scrambling

March 18, 2007|From the Associated Press

Pet owners 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 Canadian-based company that produced the pet food, said Saturday that 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, Safeway and PetSmart.

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

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

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

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

A complete list of the recalled products along with product codes, descriptions and production dates is at www.menufoods.com/recall.

The company also designated two phone numbers to call for information -- (866) 463-6738 and (866) 895-2708 -- but pet owners kept the lines busy for much of Saturday.

At a PetSmart store in Union, Pa., Silviene Grzybowski became worried when the four types of Iams products she buys for her cat, Smokey, had vanished from shelves. The cat was 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 ago that his family's 3-year-old cat -- who was regularly fed a variety of Iams food -- had stopped eating and did not appear well.

He 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 discovered he had given his 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."

Menu Foods' Chief Executive and President Paul Henderson said Friday that the company was still trying to figure out what had gone wrong.

He said 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, $26 million to $34 million.

Company spokeswoman Sarah Tuite has said the recalled products were made using wheat gluten 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 was too early to determine what could have affected the food.

Even if wheat gluten is the source, she added, "it doesn't necessarily mean the wheat gluten per se. It could be another substance associated with the wheat gluten."

In Omaha, Susan Balvanz said she sometimes fed her five cats packets of sliced meat and gravy sold by Nutro Products.

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

She said her 9-year-old cat, Boots, was especially fond of the food but seemed to have lost 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 website.

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

According to Menu Foods, 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.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Pet food recall

Menu Foods is recalling 48 brands of dog food and 40 brands of cat food. The recall is limited to wet food sold in cans and pouches. The brands are:

Dog food

* Americas Choice, Preferred Pets

* Authority

* Award

* Best Choice

* Big Bet

* Big Red

* Bloom

* Bruiser

* Cadillac

* Companion

* Demoulas Market Basket

* Eukanuba

* Food Lion

* Giant Companion

* Great Choice

* Hannaford

* Hill Country Fare

* Hy-Vee

* Iams

* Key Food

* Laura Lynn

* Loving Meals

* Meijers Main Choice

* Mighty Dog

* Mixables

* Nutriplan

* Nutro Max

* Nutro Natural Choice

* Ol'Roy Canada & US

* Paws

* Pet Essentials

* Pet Pride -- Good 'n Meaty

* Presidents Choice

* Price Chopper

* Priority

* Publix

* Roche Bros

* Save-A-Lot

* Schnucks

* Shep Dog

* Springfield Prize

* Sprout

* Stater Bros.

* Total Pet, My True Friend

* Western Family

* White Rose

* Winn Dixie

* Your Pet

Cat food

* Americas Choice, Preferred Pets

* Authority

* Best Choice

* Companion

* Compliments

* Demoulas Market Basket

* Eukanuba

* Fine Feline Cat

* Food Lion

* Foodtown

* Giant Companion

* Hannaford

* Hill Country Fare

* Hy-Vee

* Iams

* Key Food

* Laura Lynn

* Li'l Red

* Loving Meals

* Meijers Main Choice

* Nutriplan

* Nutro Max Gourmet Classics

* Nutro Natural Choice

* Paws

* Pet Pride

* Presidents Choice

* Price Chopper

* Priority

* Save-A-Lot

* Schnucks

* Science Diet (limited)

* Sophisticat

* Special Kitty Canada & US

* Springfield Prize

* Sprout

* Total Pet, My True Friend

* Wegmans

* Western Family

* White Rose

* Winn Dixie

Source: Associated Press

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