SK: Resend...1st Dry Food Recall...Cat, but still..........

SkunkLady2 at SkunkLady2 at
Sat Mar 31 08:19:42 PDT 2007

Pet Food Recall Expands to Dry Food Maker

Testing Continues to Determine Cause of Poisonings


WASHINGTON (March 31) - Federal testing of recalled pet foods turned up a 
chemical used to make plastics but failed to confirm the presence of a cancer 
drug also used as rat poison. The recall expanded Friday to include the first dry 
pet food. 

The Food and Drug Administration said Friday it found melamine in samples of 
the Menu Foods pet food involved in the original recall and in imported wheat 
gluten used as an ingredient in the company's wet-style products. Cornell 
University scientists also found melamine in the urine of sick cats, as well as in 
the kidney of one cat that died after eating some of the recalled food. 

Meanwhile, Hill's Pet Nutrition recalled its Prescription Diet m/d Feline dry 
cat food. The food included wheat gluten from the same supplier that Menu 
Foods used. The recall didn't involve any other Prescription Diet or Science Diet 
products, said the company, a division of Colgate-Palmolive Co. 

FDA was working to rule out the possibility that the contaminated wheat 
gluten could have made it into any human food. However, melamine is toxic only in 
high doses, experts said, leaving its role in the pet deaths unclear. 

Menu Foods recalled 60 million containers of cat and dog food, sold 
throughout North America under nearly 100 brands, earlier this month after animals died 
of kidney failure after eating the Canadian company's products. It is not 
clear how many pets may have been poisoned by the apparently contaminated food, 
although anecdotal reports suggest hundreds if not thousands have died. The FDA 
alone has received more than 8,000 complaints; the company, more than 

Company officials on Friday would not provide updated numbers of pets 
sickened or killed by its contaminated product. Pet owners would be compensated for 
veterinary bills and the deaths of any dogs and cats linked to his company's 
products, the company said. 

The melamine finding came a week after scientists at the New York State Food 
Laboratory identified a cancer drug and rat poison called aminopterin as the 
likely culprit in the pet food. But the FDA said it could not confirm that 
finding, nor have researchers at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New 
Jersey when they looked at tissue samples taken from dead cats. And experts at 
the University of Guelph detected aminopterin in some samples of the recalled 
pet food, but only in the parts per billion or trillion range. 

"Biologically, that means nothing. It wouldn't do anything," said Grant 
Maxie, a veterinary pathologist at the Canadian university. "This is a puzzle." 

Meanwhile, New York officials stuck to their aminopterin finding and pointed 
out that it was unlikely that melamine could have poisoned any of the animals 
thought to have died after eating the contaminated pet food. Melamine is used 
to make plastic kitchen ware and is used as a fertilizer in Asia. 

An FDA official allowed that it wasn't immediately clear whether the melamine 
was the culprit. The agency's investigation continues, said Stephen F. 
Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine. 

In a news conference, Sundlof and other FDA officials said the melamine had 
contaminated a shipment of wheat gluten imported from China and purchased by 
Menu Foods from an undisclosed supplier in the United States. At least some of 
the that wheat gluten was used in all the recalled wet pet food, according to 
Menu Foods. 

Menu Foods said the only certainty was the imported Chinese product was the 
likely source of the deadly contamination, even if the actual contaminant 
remained in doubt. 

"The important point today is that the source of the adulteration has been 
identified and removed from our system," said Paul Henderson, Menu Foods chief 
executive officer and president. Henderson suggested his company would pursue 
legal action against the supplier. 

New York remained confident in its aminopterin finding, said Patrick Hooker, 
commissioner of the state Department of Agriculture and Markets. Hooker added 
that neither aminopterin nor melamine should be in pet food, but that it was 
unclear why the latter substance would be poisonous to the cats in which it was 

"While we have no doubt that melamine is present in the recalled pet food, 
there is not enough known data on the mammalian toxicity levels of melamine to 
conclude it could cause illness and deaths in cats. With little existing data, 
many questions still remain as to the connection between the illnesses and 
what has caused them," Hooker said. 

Wheat gluten, a source of vegetable protein, is also used in some human 
foods, but the FDA emphasized it had found no indication that the contaminated 
ingredient had been used in food for people. The FDA said it would alert the 
public quickly if the melamine was found in any foods other than the recalled pet 

About 70 percent of the wheat gluten used in the United States for human and 
pet food is imported from the European Union and Asia, according to the Pet 
Food Institute, an industry group. Menu Foods used wheat gluten to thicken the 
gravy of its "cuts and gravy" style wet pet foods, FDA officials have said. 

One veterinarian suggested the international sourcing of ingredients would 
force the U.S. "to come to grips with a reality we had not appreciated." 

"When you change from getting an ingredient from the supplier down the road 
to a supplier from around the globe, maybe the methods and practices that were 
effective in one situation need to be changed," said Tony Buffington, a 
professor of veterinary clinical sciences at Ohio State University. 

The FDA's Sundlof said the agency may change how it regulates the pet food 

"In this case, we're going to have to look at this after the dust settles and 
determine if there is something from a regulatory standpoint that we could 
have done differently to prevent this incident from occurring," he said.

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