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Rat Poison In Recalled Pet Food

By Mark Johnson
Aassociated Press Writer
Posted: March 23, 2007
Rat Poison In Recalled Pet Food - photo

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- Rat poison has been found in pet food blamed for the deaths of at least 16 cats and dogs but researchers still don't know how the toxin got into the food, New York's agriculture commissioner said Friday.
The toxin was identified as aminopterin, state Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker said in a statement. Aminopterin is used to kill rats in some countries but is not registered for that use in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The substance was found at a level of at least 40 parts per million in tested cat food samples, according to Donald Smith, dean of Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine. Testing was done at the New York State Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell and at the New York State Food Laboratory.
"Any amount of this product is too much in food," Hooker said.

The lab tested three cat food samples provided by Menu Foods, the manufacturer that produced all the recalled food. Aminopterin was found in two samples. The lab has not tested any dog food.
Hooker said the lab would be testing individual components of the pet food.
Aminopterin inhibits the growth of malignant cells and is used as a cancer drug. It also suppresses the immune system. In high doses, the chemical is highly toxic.
The officials would not speculate how aminopterin got into the pet food, saying that question was outside the scope of the food laboratory's investigation.
"This is the first step in perhaps a long trail," Smith said.
Officials said they were releasing the test results to give pet owners and veterinarians a better idea of how to treat sick animals.
The Food and Drug Administration has said the investigation was focusing on wheat gluten in the food. Wheat gluten itself would not cause kidney failure, but the common ingredient could have been contaminated by heavy metals or mold toxins, the FDA said.
State and FBI officials said they knew of no criminal investigations in the case.
The pet deaths led to a recall of 60 million cans and pouches of pet food produced by Menu Foods and sold throughout North America under 95 brand names. There have been several reports of kidney failure in pets that ate the recalled brands, and the company has confirmed the deaths of 15 cats and one dog.

Aminopterin causes kidney failure in dogs and cats, Smith said. He said anecdotal evidence including calls from veterinarians suggests more than 16 pets have died from the tainted food.
Bob Rosenberg, senior vice president of government affairs for the National Pest Management Association, said he had never heard of the substance before Friday and said he had "a lot of questions" about how it could have gotten into the food.

"There is no product approved for use in U.S. that would ever be directly applied to a crop," he said. "It would make no sense to spray a crop itself with rodenticide."
He said grain shippers typically put bait stations around the perimeter of their storage facilities.
Menu Foods last week recalled "cuts and gravy" style dog and cat food. The recall sparked concern among pet owners across North America. It includes food sold under store brands carried by Wal-Mart, Kroger, Safeway and other large retailers, as well as private labels such as Iams, Nutro and Eukanuba.
Menu Foods is majority owned by Menu Foods Income Fund of Streetsville. The company also makes foods for zoo cats, but those products are unaffected by the recall.
The company's chief executive and president said Menu Foods delayed announcing the recall until it could confirm that the animals had eaten its product before dying. Two earlier complaints from consumers whose cats had died involved animals that lived outside or had access to a garage, which left open the possibility they had been poisoned by something other than contaminated food, he said.
Menu Foods planned a press conference for later Friday, a spokesman said.
A spokesman for New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said he was not aware of any criminal investigation involving the tainted food. FBI spokesman Paul Holstein in Albany said Friday he was not aware of any FBI involvement in the case.
"I don't know where we'll go from here," he said.
A complete list of the recalled products along with product codes, descriptions and production dates was posted online by Menu Foods and is available at The company also designated two phone numbers that pet owners could call for information: (866) 463-6738 and (866) 895-2708.
New York State is home to two laboratories that are part of federal emergency lab networks, created after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to keep the nation's animals and food supply safe.
The New York State Food Laboratory is part of the Federal Food Emergency Response Network and is capable of running a number of toxin tests on food, including the test that identified aminopterin.

Article at:

FDA News

Recall of Pet Foods Manufactured by Menu Foods, Inc.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been informed that Menu Foods, Inc., a private-label pet food manufacturer based in Streetsville, Ontario, Canada, is recalling all its "cuts and gravy" style dog and cat food produced at its facility in Emporia, Kansas between December 3, 2006 and March 6, 2007. The products are sold in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The recall was prompted by consumer complaints received by the manufacturer and by tasting trials conducted by the manufacturer. There has been a small number of reported instances of cats and dogs in the United States that developed kidney failure after eating the affected product. To date, Menu Foods, Inc. has reported 14 animal deaths to the FDA. Nine cats died during routine taste trials conducted by the company. Consumers reported deaths of four cats and one dog. The firm has undertaken extensive testing of the pet food products in question, but to date has been unable to find the source of the problem.

The products are packaged in cans and pouches under numerous brand names and are marketed nationwide by many pet food retailers including Ahold USA Inc., Kroger Company, Safeway, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., PetSmart, Inc., and Pet Valu, Inc.

Menu Foods, Inc. has identified the potentially contaminated products on the Internet at Consumers who have any of these products should immediately stop feeding them to their pets. Dogs or cats who have consumed the suspect feed and show signs of kidney failure (such as loss of appetite, lethargy and vomiting) should consult with their veterinarian. Menu Foods, Inc. is notifying retailers by telephone and mail and is arranging for the return of all recalled products.

FDA is conducting an investigation and working with Menu Foods, Inc. to ensure the effectiveness of the recall. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-866-895-2708. Consumers who wish to report adverse actions or other problems can go to to contact the FDA complaint coordinator in their state.

FDA pet food recall information: FDA