March Planned to Honor Pets that Died from Tainted Pet Food

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Boston, MAA nationwide memorial march is being planned in honor of the animals that died after eating contaminated pet food. The march is scheduled for April 28. So far marches are planned Boston, Reno, Jacksonville, Uniontown, Portland (Maine) San Diego, Orange County (California) and Austin, with more cities likely to be added before the event.

Additionally, marches will be held in Canada in Kitchener and Ottawa. Organizers of the march are hoping to push legislators to protect pets so that tainted ingredients never make it into pet food again.

cat food recallSince the initial recall announcement over 100 brands of pet food have been recalled, resulting in 60 million containers of food being removed from store shelves. However, despite the massive recall the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that some of the known contaminated pet food is still available for sale, meaning that consumers may still be unknowingly purchasing pet food that is harmful to their pets.

Senator Dick Durbin said at a Senate hearing that there is still a lot that is unknown about the pet food recall. For example, the FDA still has the official number of pet deaths at 16, although many estimates are much higher than that figure. Some estimates put the number of dog and cat deaths at 4,100 and the number of additional illnesses at 12,000. Those numbers are self-reported and therefore unofficial but even if only a portion of those numbers is confirmed many more than 16 animals died because of the contaminated food.

The Senate hearing was called to discuss what went wrong with the Menu Foods recall and how the industry can be more closely regulated to prevent this from happening again.

Other questions also remain about the recall, such as what the source of the contamination was and why the recall occurred at such a slow pace. Menu Foods has come under fire for not alerting the public to the contamination for three weeks after first learning about it. According to Durbin, Menu Foods knew about the contamination on February 20, but did not notify the FDA until March 15.

The FDA is still investigating the contamination. What is known is that wheat gluten, imported from China, was contaminated with melamine. Melamine is a chemical that is used when producing plastic utensils and fertilizer. The chemical acts as an industrial binding agent, flame retardant and a polymer in manufacturing. It is not yet known how the wheat gluten became contaminated or how the generally non-toxic chemical is linked to the animal deaths but the FDA has confirmed that melamine was found in the pet food and also in the urine of cats that died after eating contaminated food.

The FDA website notes that a study was conducted in 1945 in which dogs were given 125 mg of melamine per one kg of body weight. The study found that melamine acted like a diuretic in those dogs but did not cause any toxic effects.

According to an article in the North County Gazette (April 15, 2007) only 30 percent of pet food plants undergo an FDA inspection every three years. The Menu Foods plant that had the contaminated wheat gluten had never had an FDA inspection before the contamination was announced.

There was some concern that the contaminated wheat gluten had entered the human supply chain, but so far no evidence has arisen suggesting that this has indeed happened. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been asked to monitor for any signs that humans have eaten contaminated wheat gluten.

The contaminated pet food has also affected pets in other parts of the world. Contaminated food was sold in Canada resulting in the death of pets and at least two dogs' deaths in Puerto Rico have been linked to the recalled pet food. The dogs died of kidney failure after eating recalled dog biscuits.

Meanwhile, lawsuits against Menu Foods are piling up. The suits claim Menu Foods was negligent and breached an implied and expressed warranty in allowing the contaminated food to be sold to consumers. A lawsuit that was filed in Illinois has also accused the pet food company of fraud for the alleged delay of the recall. Lawyers in that suit are requesting a court order to prevent the pet food company from destroying the recalled food, which could be used as evidence in the lawsuit.

A fraud complaint may actually make it easier for plaintiffs to win damages in the lawsuit because negligence claims raise the issue of how the law values pets. The law considers pets to be property, similar to a television or a car, which does not take into account the emotional attachment that many people have to their pets or the feeling that a pet is a member of the family. Because a pet is legally viewed as property, plaintiffs cannot sue for emotional damages, they can only sue for the monetary value of the pet.

In addition to filing suit against Menu Foods, some pet owners are suing the companies that sold the contaminated pet food. A class action lawsuit was filed in California earlier this month against Del Monte Foods after the company's foods were part of the Menu Foods recall. The suit seeks reimbursement for veterinary bills that were paid by pet owners whose animals ate the tainted food.

According to one report, by April 7, Menu Foods faced at least six class action lawsuits related to its pet food recall. The company also faces lawsuits from Canadians whose pets died.

The FDA website has a full list of recalled foods. If your pet has eaten the recalled food, watch the animal for signs of illness. If any signs of illness arise, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, sudden weight loss, diarrhea, changes in frequency or amount of water consumption, changes in frequency or amount of urination, or vomiting contact you veterinarian immediately. If it is caught early enough, acute kidney failure can be reversed. If it is not caught early enough, it is fatal.

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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