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Felinexpress.com Home > Cat Health > Menu Foods

Menu Foods Under a Cloud of Suspicion

Tonight on the local news here in Oregon, they reported that there have been over ninety deaths from kidney failure in dogs and cats since the pet food recall. The pet food aisles in grocery stores and pet supply stores resembles a ghost town, with dozens of products whisked off the shelves being sent back to the pet food companies. Veterinarians are overwhelmed with phone calls from concerned pet owners wondering if their pet is going to succumb to poisoning.

Menu Foods recalled over 60 million cans and pouches marketed under different brand names. The complete list of these foods can be found on their website www.menufoods.com  The recall is unprecedented. Menu Foods received complaints about their food back on February 20, 2007. Menu Foods is a Canadian-based company. They didn't begin to test their food until Feb. 27th. The complaints centered on animals falling ill after eating products containing "gravy and slices and cuts of meat."  The research group exposed a number of dogs and cats to the tainted foods. There were a total of forty-five animals in the group. Five days after the testing began, ten of the animals were dead, yet the company did not immediately pull the food off the shelves. Menu Foods waited till late March before recalling their products.

On Monday, March 26, 2007 this Toronto-based company watched their stock plummet. The company states this recall will cost them up to forty million dollars. 
Earlier, it was reported that the culprit that was causing the problems was a form of rat poison known as aminopterin. Illegal in the United States, the poison is used in other countries to control rodent population. Aminopterin is also used in the fight against Stage IV cancer. In large amounts the substance is highly toxic.
Questions on the minds of pet owners nationwide remain unanswered. "How did rat poison seep into the pet food?  What about the dry food, is it safe? How many pets are dying from this? Why are some of the recalled products still found on shelves?
With the FDA jumping into the fray and investigating the claims, it has now been revealed that rat poison cannot be verified inside the pet food. Instead, found within pet food samples taken from recalled foods, FDA is reporting the presence of melamine found laced in the wheat gluten. The wheat gluten is used to make the gravy thicker.

What the gluten is laced with, Melamine is used to make plastic utensils. Melamine is also used in fertilizer. It is a synthetic polymer made by mixing urea with formaldehyde. Exposing these two substances (urea and formaldehyde to high heat) produces melamine. Used in whiteboards and kitchen tiles, the substance is fire resistance but under the right circumstances melamine can be melted. The FDA admits that not only is the presence of melamine in the pet food puzzling, but it is unclear if this substance is behind the recent reported deaths. According to the experts, melamine to be toxic must be consumed in large amounts.

In a news conference, FDA officials said that the apparently melamine-contaminated wheat gluten also was shipped to a company that manufactures dry pet food. They will not at this time disclose the name of the company.

With over seventy million homeowners sharing their lives with pets, pet owners everywhere are understandably confused, frightened, angry and demanding answers. Some owners have been suddenly thrust into dealing with a sickened or dying animal, high vet bills and all the stress that goes along with coping with a pet in the throes of kidney failure. It is unclear how many pets are dying, or how many will die, for kidney disease can take a victim overnight, or it may take months even years to see the damage the toxin can cause.
For the pet owners in the United States struggling to deal with this issue, anger and confusion leads the way.  There is a class-action lawsuit for those who have lost their pet(s). Menu Foods has issued a formal statement seen on national news that they will reimburse all vet bills as long as proof is sent that the food was behind the illness, death.  Menu Foods has provided two phone numbers that you can call to speak to someone if you suspect your pet has been exposed to the contaminated foods: (866) 463-6738 and (866) 895-2708.

On my blog www.feralcatbehavior.com  you will find a list of safe foods. At least, according to the reps I spoke with on the phone, or found on the websites of these companies, at this point and time, they are supposed to be safe. But today, with the further recall of more pet foods, some are wondering just what safe means? We trust these companies to help us provide the very best of nutritional care for our pets. It is unfortunate that for now it seems, trust is hard to come by.

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