Pet Deaths Prompt Recall of Pet Food
Posted March 16, 2007 4:49 p.m. EDT
Updated March 24, 2007 7:42 a.m. EDT
WASHINGTON — A major manufacturer of dog and cat food sold under Harris Teeter, Wal-Mart, Kroger and other store brands recalled 60 million containers of wet pet food Friday after reports of kidney failure and deaths.
An unknown number of cats and dogs suffered kidney failure and about 10 died after eating the affected pet food, Menu Foods said in announcing the North American recall. Product testing has not revealed a link explaining the reported cases of illness and death, the company said.
"At this juncture, we're not 100 percent sure what's happened," said Paul Henderson, the company's president and chief executive officer. However, the recalled products were made using wheat gluten purchased from a new supplier, since dropped for another source, spokeswoman Sarah Tuite said. Wheat gluten is a source of protein.
The 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 between December 3 and March 6 throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
The pet food was sold by stores operated by the Kroger Co., Safeway Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and PetSmart Inc., among others, Henderson said.
Menu Foods did not immediately provide a full list of brand names and lot numbers covered by the recall, saying they would be posted on its Web site - http://www.menufoods.com/recall _ early Saturday. Consumers with questions can call (866) 463-6738.
Repeated calls to that number over several hours Friday night got only a busy signal. Attempts to reach a company spokeswoman for an explanation were unsuccessful.
The company said it manufacturers 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.
P&G announced Friday the recall of specific 3 oz., 5.5 oz., 6 oz. and 13.2 oz. canned and 3 oz. and 5.3 oz. foil pouch cat and dog wet food products made by Menu Foods but sold under the Iams and Eukanuba brands. The recalled products bear the code dates of 6339 through 7073 followed by the plant code 4197, P&G said.
Menu Foods' three U.S. and one Canadian factory produce more than 1 billion containers of wet pet food a year. The recall covers pet food made at company plants in Emporia, Kansas, and Pennsauken, New Jersey, Henderson said.
Henderson said the company received an undisclosed number of owner complaints of vomiting and kidney failure in dogs and cats after they had been fed its products. It has tested its products but not found a cause for the sickness.
"To date, the tests have not indicated any problems with the product," Henderson said.
The company alerted the Food and Drug Administration, which already has inspectors in one of the two plants, Henderson said. The FDA was working to nail down brand names covered by the recall, agency spokesman Mike Herndon said.
Menu Foods is majority owned by the Menu Foods Income Fund, based in Ontario, Canada.
Henderson said the recall would cost the company the Canadian equivalent of $26 million to $34 million.