Tainted Pet Food Crisis: No End in Sight

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Los Angeles, CAPet owners across North America are taking legal action against Menu Foods Inc., saying it produced and distributed tainted pet food that caused thousands of pets to become ill with acute and often deadly kidney ailments.

pet food recallSince March 16, Menu Foods has recalled more than 60 million containers of pet food, sold under numerous brand names through retailers such as Safeway, Wal-Mart and PetSmart. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received nearly 10,000 complaints, and experts are concerned that the animal death toll could reach well into the thousands.

The source: Human food also tainted?
The FDA continues to explore a link to human food as yet another pet food company announces a recall. The agency and Menu Foods believe the source of the problem may be a substance called melamine found in recent supplies of wheat gluten imported from China that was used as filler in the pet food.

As the Boston Globe reported Wednesday, this wheat gluten also ended up in processing plants that prepare food for human consumption. As a result, the FDA has stated that it cannot yet fully rule out contamination of human food. The gluten contained "minimal labeling" to indicate whether it was intended for humans or animals. While the vast majority went to pet food manufacturers, it was also sent to plants that make both human and pet food. These plants are being investigated by the FDA.

Another pet food company recalls its products
In an unrelated case of contamination, Eight In One, Inc., a division of United Pet Group, Inc., is voluntarily recalling nationally all lots of Dingo CHICK'N JERKY treats due to concerns that they may be contaminated with Salmonella. (For more information on the recall, contact the Eight In One consumer affairs department at 1-888-232-9889).

This new recall has spurred even more debate over pet food industry standards. Pet owners are concerned about what is going into their pet's food, and who is watching to make sure their pets are safe. As Ann N. Martin writes in her book Food Pets Die For: Shocking Facts About Pet Food: "Pet food labels can be deceiving. They only provide half the story".

The impact on pet owners
The Menu Foods contamination has had an emotional and financial impact on pet owners. Many now face veterinarian bills for treatments of $3,000 or more. As pets return home, owners may also have to administer subcutaneous fluid-and-drip injections during their pet's long recovery process. For those people whose animals did not survive, the burden of the initial veterinarian bills is compounded by the costs of an eventual euthanasia and burial or cremation.

This financial strain only adds to the emotional toll of losing a pet. As Wendy Mena, whose puppy died after eating Menu Foods, said: "The kids are devastated. Our dogs are members of the family." In the wake of the pet food crisis, the public's trust in pet food manufacturing has been shaken. It may take years, and significant regulatory action, to restore the confidence of North American pet owners.

Menu Foods Legal Help

If your pet has suffered or died as a result of eating pet food, please contact a [Menu Foods] lawyer who will evaluate your claim at no charge.

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