Thursday, May 3, 2007

Reports say pet food death toll exceeds 8,000

Just a few days into this nightmare I projected that the number of pet deaths would reach 10,000. It won't be much longer before the FDA's numbers back up that projection. I really hate being right about this, especially since so many pets will have died and not been counted for one reason or another. (Including countless feral cats being fed recalled food, who would have just stopped showing up one day.)

From The Los Angeles Times

By Abigail Goldman and Don Lee, Times Staff Writer
7:22 PM PDT, May 3, 2007

Consumers have reported the deaths of as many as 8,500 dogs and cats as a result of tainted pet food, federal officials said Thursday.

In the two months since dead pets led to a massive U.S. pet food recall, the Food and Drug Administration said about half of the calls to its hotline were from owners of deceased cats and dogs.

Officials said the agency has not confirmed those reports, but added that the numbers of allegations likely will increase as it catches up with a backlog of calls reporting sick or dead animals.

The statistics came as the FDA tried to reassure consumers about the food supply for both pets and humans: The pet food recall was expanded; food safety agents were dispatched to U.S. food manufacturers for inspections; and Chinese authorities reportedly detained the head of a Chinese company suspected of shipping contaminated wheat gluten to U.S. pet food suppliers.

Canada-based Menu Foods Income Fund, which first identified a health risk in its products in March, expanded its recall list late Wednesday to include 3 million more cans and pouches of pet food.

That new list, adding to the company's previously announced recalls of more than 60 million products, includes foods that may have been tainted by cross-contamination, Menu Foods said.

Federal officials traced the initial problem to protein concentrates imported from China that were tainted with melamine and other chemicals.

On Thursday's call, new food safety czar David Acheson said he wanted to assure consumers that the human food supply was safe. "It is very unlikely that there is a human health effect here," Acheson said.

In addition to tightening import rules for similar food ingredients from China, the FDA said it has begun visiting domestic food manufacturers to "raise awareness" and test Chinese ingredients.

Some of the tainted pet foods were sold for use in feed for 6,000 hogs and nearly 3 million chickens destined for human consumption.

Chinese authorities have detained the head of a Chinese company suspected of shipping melamine-contaminated wheat gluten to pet food suppliers in the U.S., according to news reports Thursday.

The arrest of Mao Lijun comes after he repeatedly denied in interviews that his company exported wheat gluten, The New York Times reported. Mao is the general manager of Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co., based in Jiangsu Province, north of Shanghai.

Until a few days ago, Xuzhou Anying's Web site stated that its products include wheat gluten and ESB Protein Powder, an additive for animal feed that artificially boosts the protein content. The company, founded in 1995, said that its "latest researched, developed and produced" ESB powder was "a new way to solve the problem of shortage of protein resource."

"Don't be fooled by those names. Whatever they call it, NPN, ESB ... no matter how good they boast their products are ... they are all the same, it's still melamine," said Zhang Huimin, president of Hebei Haojia Husbandry Co. in Handan city.

Goldman reported from Los Angeles and Lee from Shanghai.


And from The New York Times (thanks Mike!)

Volunteers Needed! Get food off shelves...

howl911.com, itchmo.com, thepetfoodlist.com, petconnection.com, petfoodtracker.com and spockosbrain.com have joined together to ask for your help.
Update 6-10: Recalled food was purchased from a
California store on 5-29th – this stuff is still out there!
We need Volunteers to help get recalled food off store shelves. Read this post at Spocko’s Brain for instructions. Print a list (or two) on this site. Visit stores, then report safe stores here at Itchmo.com.

Printing Information:
1. Print the main FDA Pet Food Recall page http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/petfood.html – this will be handy to show retailers who haven’t heard anything about the recall. (3 pages)

2. Print the list of 14 Major National Brands - it includes flavors and date information where applicable so you can tell if specific products for these brands have been recalled. The brands are: Alpo Prime Cuts, Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul, Doctors Foster and Smith, Eukanuba, Gravy Train, Hill’s Science Diet, Iams, Jerky Treats, Lick Your Chops, Mighty Dog Pouches, Natural Balance, Nutro, Pounce, Royal Canin. (It’s 7 pages and includes FDA contact information.)

3. Print the List of All Brands – it will remind you what products have been recalled - but it does not give you date and flavor information, there is just too much to put in one document. (7 pages, but the 7th page is links to more detailed information so you don’t need to print it)

If you want, and are going to a store that you know has store brands that have been recalled (such as Walmart), go to that recall information at the links on the summary or at the FDA site and print it out. Some of the information is formatted in ways that make it difficult to read (one of the main reasons for this site), but it’s better than nothing.

Note: The FDA is the official source for all recall information and recalled products. This is an unofficial volunteer effort to help get the word out and get recalled foods off of shelves. We’re doing the best we can but can’t guarantee these lists are completely accurate. Again, here is the official recall site: http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/petfood.html