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Food Recall Info from Veterinarian...

Many of you know that I work with Sea Otters at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  The vet we work with there, Dr. Mike, being a wonderful human being, sent out the following info to all Aq staff/volunteers...


FYI for all of you pet owners who have cats and dogs – from Dr. Mike Murray -


Debbie Keller
Sea Otter Research and Conservation 

From: Dave Rasco
Sent: Thursday, March 22, 2007 12:27 PM
To: Everyone E-Mail
Subject: Aquarium Pet Owners - Pet Food Recall Information

This is a message to Everyone from Dr. Mike Murray, Veterinarian, x7507


On Friday March 16, 2007 a large pet food recall was announced by Menu Foods:  As many of us are pet owners, I thought it advisable to disseminate a bit of information regarding the pet food recall and how it might affect our pets.  The information to follow is extracted from a veterinary information website, intended for vets, but I hopefully took out all of the medicalese.  Please don't hesitate to contact me should you have any further questions or concerns.

Dr Mike

Q: Why are so many different brands of pet food affected?
A: Menu Foods manufactures “cuts and gravy” type dog and cat foods for many brand name and private label pet food lines, including several companies VINners believed produced all of their own foods at their own facilities. The explanation provided by those familiar with the pet food industry is that the equipment needed to manufacture these foods is very specialized and that Menu Foods manufactures the foods to the specifications of each individual company using ingredients specified and, in many cases, provided by the company contracting with Menu Foods.

Q: Which foods are affected by the recall?
A: Only canned and pouch foods appear to be affected. Dry foods are not manufactured by the same process, and are manufactured at different facilities. There is no indication that dry foods are affected. The recall is restricted to canned and pouch foods.
dog foods affected
Specific cat foods affected 

Q: When was the problem first noticed?
A: There are conflicting answers to this question.
The version we’ve heard most consistently is that at the end of February, a new flavored pet food produced by Menu Foods, for an undisclosed company, was undergoing feeding trials and several cats in the feeding trial developed renal failure.

Q: Why was the recall not initiated at that time?
A: Since the renal failure was observed only in cats on the as-yet-unreleased trial diet, Menu Foods believed this “problem” was isolated to that single new food that was not yet on the market. This food was withdrawn from further testing and never marketed. There was no indication at that time of a more generalized issue.

Q: Why did it take another month for the problem to recognized and reported to the FDA and the recall initiated?
A: The details of this timeline are sketchy. One scenario that seems plausible is that the wheat gluten suspected of being the source of the offending agent did not enter the manufacturing process until December and that it takes up to three months for pet food to reach store shelves after manufacture. This explains the lag time between initial detection in the laboratory setting and the general population.

Q: What is known about the cause of the problem?
The cause at this stage remains unidentified. Substances that have been preliminarily ruled out include:

  • ethylene glycol
  • cholecalciferol
  • other glycols, including diethylene glycol, propylene glycol, etc.
  • heavy metals
  • ochratoxin
  • several solvents and cleaning products known to be used on the machinery used in the production of these foods
  • several pesticides

Mycotoxins have not been ruled out, although preliminary testing failed to identify the presence of mycotoxins. However, some mycotoxins are extremely difficult to identify. Investigations are currently under way in an effort to identify a cause.

Q: Will a cause be identified?
A: While it is hoped that a cause will be identified soon, it is possible that no cause will be found, or the inciting agent will remain unidentified. Remember that we do not know why grapes or lilies are nephrotoxic and these have been studied for much longer.

Q: What is the basis of the implication of gluten as a cause?
A: Gluten is not nephrotoxic. However, Menu Foods observed that a new gluten source or batch was used in December, when the recalled food was manufactured. Thus, they suspected that the offending “agent” may be associated with this particular batch of gluten. However, without knowing the “toxin” involved, it may be difficult to definitively determine the source.

Q: What signs do affected animals show?
A: Colleagues at IAMS reported that the cats receiving the diet in laboratory settings demonstrated a severe and peracute reaction. Affected individuals often vomit soon (1-12 hours) after ingesting the food, some become anorectic and lethargic. Some salivate and have oral ulcerations. Weakness and bloody urine has also been reported. Blood values for BUN/creatinine and phosphorus (kidney function tests) are greatly elevated (often requiring dilution of the sample to get a value).

However, other veterinarians are reporting confirmed exposure to the diet with a much wider spectrum of presentations where some individuals affected exhibit signs of mild renal insufficiency, developing after days or weeks, while others rapidly exhibit signs of acute renal failure.

Q: Are dogs and cats equally affected?
A: Currently, most clinical cases have been cats. However, several dogs have been reported as affected, and one dog has reportedly died after ingesting an implicated food. . Small breed dogs and cats are more likely to consume the types of foods implicated (canned, pouch foods), than large breed dogs, who are usually fed dry foods which cost less. Both cat foods and dog foods have been recalled.

Q: Is the toxicity dose-dependent?
A: We don’t know. Without knowing the toxin involved, it’s difficult to make generalizations. In feeding trials, only some of the animals exposed to the contaminated diet developed clinical problems. The determinants of susceptibility are unknown at this stage.  

Q: Which patients should have kidney function tested?
A: There are no specific guidelines. Options include:

  1. All patients who have consumed recalled foods (see list)
  2. All patient who have eaten recalled foods and are showing clinical signs
  3. All patients

Currently, it would seem reasonable to test all exposed patients. We do not at this time know how many of the recalled foods are truly a risk.

How to read product code on pet foods: (see attached file)

-- Edited by BoxerSue at 22:37, 2007-03-22

Susan **Boxers... not just dogs, they're an adventure!
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