I have done my best here to summarize, link to, and post the best information currently available about Menu Foods' recall of tainted pet food. I will post updates as I find them...please, pass this information around to every cat and dog owner you know! The toll of this tragedy is--and will sadly be--enormous...
A major manufacturer of dog and cat food sold under Wal-Mart, Safeway, Kroger and other store brands recalled 60 million containers of wet pet food Friday after reports of kidney failure and deaths.
Monday, the Food and Drug Administration said it believes that the wheat gluten used in the pet foods may have somehow become contaminated with mold or another toxin. The ingredient was used in plants in Kansas City and New Jersey.
Pet owners can find a complete list of the recalled products along with product codes, descriptions and production dates was available from the Menu Foods Web site.
From USA Today:
Experts advise owners to call their veterinarian if a pet has eaten recalled food and shows symptoms of possible kidney failure. An animal could be in trouble if it:
• Stops eating
• Appears tired and lifeless
• Seems excessively thirsty
• Urinates much more than usual
• Has diarrhea
• Seems to have abdominal pain
Source: The FDA; veterinarian Laurie Miller of the Hope Center for Advanced Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Va.
Blogs with good coverage:
Informative posts by a veterinarian (username kestrel91316) on Democratic Underground:
Monday, 3/19/07, 11:55 AM
1) Possible Ochratoxin A contamination of the wheat gluten - ochratoxin is a fungal toxin produced by Penicillium verrusosum, IIRC. Causes renal failure, birth defects, and cancer. Question: Did contaminated wheat, pulled off the human market, get dumped at a discount onto the pet food market???? Fungi in grain is always a problem. Heat and humidity make it more likely. THANK YOU, global warming!
2) Possible contamination of the pet food with ethylene glycol (antifreeze). While many of the cases are virtually identical to antifreeze cases, it is hard for me to envision somebody buying ethylene glycol by mistake, and putting it into the pet food instead of propylene glycol. And I am not even certain that the foods all list propylene glycol as an ingredient, though I hear some do.
3) Hypervitaminosis D - too much vitamin D can also cause renal failure, but as we saw in the case a few years ago, it happens as a result of slow, long-term exposure to high levels, which build up over time. The ARF cases seen in the current problem are ACUTE. Hyperacute. VERY rapid onset.
My money is on Ochratoxin A as the cause. And given how everything with wheat gluten has been the target of the recall, it seems like the pet food mfrs think that, too. But the proof is not in yet.
Vets and labs and researchers have been hot on the trail of the problem for a week now. You can thank very clever private practice vets who ask owners details about food intake when their pets come in sick for putting two and two together and then contacting mfrs about the food.
Monday, 3/19/07 12:23 PM
Currently, based on a rough estimate of the vets reporting in on the forum I am checking in on, I think we are seeing (conservatively) hundreds of affected animals, with dozens of deaths. This is a very widespread problem, with reports coming in from all over.
I have only seen one case of ACUTE renal failure in a cat in the last 16 years, that I can remember. We see lots of CHRONIC renal failure, but the acute form is RARE, IMHO.
Vets are seeing entire households of animals affected simultaneously.
The affected dogs seem to be largely smaller breeds, because owners tend not to fee the tiny packets of chunks-in-gravy to big dogs.
LOTS of cats are affected.
Some animals are being saved. It's too soon to tell what the percentage mortality is. It's also too soon to tell if any of the damage is permanent.
Monday, 3/19/07 1:42 PM
Iams is offering to pay the medical expenses of the animals who got sick eating their food.
They ARE doing the right thing, and they are spending $$$$$ to figure out the root cause.
Monday, 3/19/07 3:35 PM
Comments from a university veterinary toxicologist on the case:
"...Lesions have not been consistent with ethylene glycol or cholecalciferol. We have tested for glycols, including ethylene glycol, diethylene glycol, propylene glycol, etc. We've tested for heavy metals, ochratoxin, various other organics, and haven't come up with anything thus far. Other tests are pending...."
"...We don't know for sure which ingredient was the source of the toxin--it's sort of difficult to implicate an ingredient when we don't even know the etiology of the disease yet. Thus far we have done separate testing on food ingredients, packets and cans of food, and tissues from animals that have died. This is a source of great frustration to our laboratory and to my personally, believe me...."
".....I would like to add that my impression thus far is that many animals have ingested the food have remained clinically normal. Some have had elevated BUN ± elevated creat, but others have had no detectable problems at all. Most of the affected animals seem to have ingested large quantities or ingested the food for several days. Also, smaller critters (cats and small dogs) appear to be more likely to be affected--probably eat more per unit body weight than larger dogs...."
Tuesday, 3/20/07 1:39 PM
"......Rumor from a friend pretty high up in the pet food industry is that it was known Canadian grain had high levels of mycotoxins this year, that Menu Foods saved money by buying what was known to be suspect grain, and they tried to counter any ill effects by adding toxin inhibitors to the grain......."