April 6, 2007 — -- Three weeks after the pet food recall began, there's no end in sight.
Pet food processor Menu Foods has expanded its recall to include more varieties of food, while another manufacturer Sunshine Mills is recalling more than 20 dog biscuit brands sold by Wal-Mart.
As the recall expands, the Food and Drug Administration struggles to deal with a growing number of consumer complaints, along with a call to investigate pet food on a national scale.
The FDA has received 12,000 complaints about contaminated pet food in the last three weeks -- double the number of complaints it received in a single year for all other products combined.
It is trying to quell concern by pointing out that the recalled pet food makes up only 1 percent of the total number of products in the pet food industry, but that hasn't stopped pet owners from flooding veterinarians' offices.
At Banfield, the largest chain of animal hospitals in the world, worried pet owners have kept offices packed for weeks.
"I was pretty concerned," said pet owner Julie Day, "and I really watched him closely. When he wasn't feeling well, I brought him in right away."
The FDA asserted that while this might represent one of the largest pet food recalls in history, there were still "plenty of pet food products available to consumers."
There's no centralized government reporting system that tracks pet illnesses like there is for humans -- that's one reason it's hard to get a handle on the number of pet deaths. While some have speculated there may be thousands, the FDA is only confirming 15. The FDA relies on private veterinarians like Banfield's Anna Knochel to track sickened animals.
"Mostly we've been seeing pets that have some lethargy, maybe they've been drinking or urinating more," Knochel said. "We're getting a lot of questions, a lot of calls. Definitely the girls up front are taking a lot of calls from concerned pet owners."
The FDA says 99 percent of all pet food is still safe. Among the brands unaffected are all Purina dry dog and cat foods, Mars Petcare brand, Newman's Own organics, Diamond pet foods and Eagle Pack pet foods.