April 17, 2009
Menu Foods has expanded its recall of “cuts and gravy” style wet cat and dog food to include all products listed in its March 17 announcement regardless of the date they were manufactured, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced this afternoon. The action was taken upon hearing that some the tainted products remained on shelves, FDA officials said. Previously Menu had recalled those items manufactured between Dec. 3, 2006 and March 6, 2007.
Earlier in the day, New York state officials and Cornell University researchers said they had found Aminopterin, a toxin used as a cancer treatment in this country and as a rodenticide in some foreign countries, in samples of the pet food Menu Foods used in its tasting tests that killed 9 cats. The samples were provided by Menu Foods after the deaths occurred, officials said.
The FDA’s top veterinarian Stephen F. Sundlof, D.V.M., called the substance “very toxic,” even in small doses.
At this time the FDA does not know how the toxin made its way into the pet food, although it is still examining the possibility that a shipment of wheat gluten used by the Kansas and New Jersey plants of Ontario-based Menu Foods was to blame.
The FDA said it could not yet identify the wheat gluten supplier, but said the shipment could have come from both foreign and domestic sources.
The affected pet foods have been linked to 14 confirmed animal deaths, Sundlof said, but the FDA expects that number to rise. More than 4,000 people have flooded the FDA’s recall hotline over the last few days, but it’s going to take time to sort through all of it, he noted.
Owners of pets sickened by the recalled pet foods who wish to file a report can do so via the Food and Drug Administration’s website, http://www.fda.gov/opacom/backgrounders/complain.html to find the FDA complaint coordinator in their state.
As a veterinarian, Sundlof said he was concerned that some consumers might make unhealthy food choices for their pets, such as raw foods, in the wake of the recall.
“Pet owners should continue to buy pet foods that are not part of the recall,” he said. No dry food has been implicated in the deaths or other sickness complaints, Sundlof said.
Menu Foods, which first learned of consumer complaints Feb. 20 and later reported the problem to the FDA March 15, is fully cooperating with the investigation, said Michael Rogers, director of the FDA’s division of field investigations. “We applaud their efforts,” he said on Friday.
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