Pet Food Recall Widens After Toxin Found

SUNDAY, April 1 (HealthDay News) -- The massive pet food recall widened over the weekend to include two major brands of moist dog food, pet snacks, and, for the first time, a brand of dry cat food.

Food giant Del Monte announced late Saturday that it was recalling a number of dog and cat foods from its Pet Products division. These include select product codes from Jerky Treats, Gravy Train Beef Sticks and Pounce Meaty Morsels brands. Dog snacks and wet dog food products sold under private label brands have also been recalled, the company said on its Web site, delmonte.com.

Del Monte joined Nestle Purina and Hill's Pet Nutrition in recalling selected pet foods over the weekend for fear they were processed with imported wheat gluten that was tainted.

The recalls followed a report by U.S. health officials Friday that melamine, a toxin used in fertilizer in China and plastic in the United States, had been found in imported wheat gluten used in moist pet food made by Menu Foods. Menu Foods recalled more than 60 million cans and pouches of moist pet food nationwide March 6 after reports of animal illness and death.

Del Monte strongly suggested that people stop feeding their pets the listed products and said purchases would be refunded after consumers contact the company at 800) 949-3799.

Melamine was also found in Prescription Diet m/d Feline dry cat food, made by Hill's Pet Nutrition and sold only through veterinarians, the FDA said Friday night. This was the first time any dry pet food has been involved.

That announcement coincided with a voluntary recall by Nestle Purina PetCare Co. of all sizes and varieties of Alpo Prime Cuts in Gravy, which the company said may also contain melamine.

Hill's of Topeka, Kansas, has begun recalling Prescription Diet m/d Feline dry cat food, the FDA said in a prepared statement. The company had, for a two-month period, made the cat food with wheat gluten from the same China company that supplied Ontario-based Menu Foods, the FDA said.

Nestle Purina of St. Louis, Mo., said in its own statement that it was recalling the Alpo cans and pouches because it learned that it also received wheat gluten from the same company.

"The contamination occurred in a limited production quantity at only one of Purina's 17 pet food manufacturing facilities," the Nestle statement added.

The dog food being recalled involves 13.2-ounce and 22-ounce Alpo Prime Cuts cans and 6-, 8-, 12- and 24-can Alpo Prime Cuts Variety Packs with four-digit code dates of 7037 through 7053, followed by the plant code 1159. Those codes follow a "Best Before Feb. 2009" date. This information should be checked on the bottom of the can or the top or side of the multi-pack cartons, the company said.

Consumers should immediately stop feeding their dogs these specific Alpo products and consult with a veterinarian if they have any health concerns with their pet, the company added.

The cat food being recalled is labeled Prescription Diet m/d Feline dry food. The products are: 4 lb. bag, U.S. & Canada UPC code 52742 42770; 10 lb. bag, U.S. & Canada UPC code 52742 42790. Consumers may contact Hills Pet Nutrition at 1-800-445-5777 or at www.HillsPet.com.

The FDA warns that any cat owner who has bags of Prescription Diet m/d Feline should stop using them. In addition, they should see their veterinarian if their pet shows any signs of kidney illness, include loss of appetite, lethargy and vomiting.

Dr. Stephen F. Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, said during a Friday news conference that the FDA still hasn't determined how melamine got into the wheat gluten.

The FDA, he said, is currently inspecting all foreign shipments of wheat gluten and tracing those shipments that have already entered the United States.

Last week, New York State official said that the rodent poison aminopterin had been found in samples of the recalled food. However, Sundlof said Friday, further testing by the FDA and others have failed to confirm the presence of the poison in the pet food.

The pet food scare began March 6 with a nationwide recall of more than 60 million cans and packages of moist cat and dog food made by Menu Foods for a number of name-brand companies.

According to published reports, Menu Foods has said that 16 animals died. The Veterinary Information Network said earlier this week that at least 471 cases of pet kidney failure have been reported and more than 100 pets have died.

To date, Sundlof said Friday, the FDA has received 8,800 calls reporting kidney failure in cats and dogs. However, none of these cases has been confirmed, he added.

More information

For more information on pet food, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

SOURCES: March 30, 2007, teleconference with Stephen F. Sundlof, D.V.M., Ph.D., director, Center for Veterinary Medicine, U.S. Food and Drug Administration; March 30, 2007, FDA statement; March 30, 2007, Nestle Purina PetCare Co., statement