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Friday, March 30, 2007

FDA Announces: Melamine in Tainted Pet Foods...

While the official announcement from the FDA has yet to make it to their website, they have announced that a substance called melamine has been found in the tainted pet foods that were associated with a nationwide recall. Menu Foods' CEO Paul Henderson has made a public statement which has been posted on their website. Melamine is a substance commonly associated with the manufacturing of plastics and is also used as a fertilizer.

The pet food recall has recently been expanded with Hill's Science Diet recalling their dry cat food m/d. Contradicting some of today's news reports that the wheat gluten has not made it into dry pet food products.

Science Diet m/d Recalled March 30, 2007

I'm Just Thinking Out Loud...

I have been thinking quite a bit about the pet food recall but have refrained from posting many of my thoughts about it all. Partly because I have been too busy to do so, but mostly because of a general "wait and see" attitude that I have.

I understand that there have been thousands of anecdotal pet deaths reported across the nation. But that's the biggest problem about it all. They're anecdotal reports. A logical and scientific approach to pets that became ill, or even died, would be that you cannot have a conclusive cause of death without testing, such as is associated with pathology reports and toxicology screening. Additionally, this kind of extensive testing is very time consuming. Even more so when you think about the normal pace of "business as usual" at these laboratories which have most certainly now become inundated with a backlog of tagged specimens.

So for those who are wondering how many pets have died from this recall, there's just not any official numbers out now. And it will probably be quite some time before there are. Especially since another chemical has been identified in the recall. But I am compelled to make a prediction that the official numbers aren't going to be as high as many people want them to be. This certainly puts a kink in the plans of lawyers who are busy filing class action lawsuits, that's for sure.

Now I'm not calling anyone who claims that their pet died or became ill from the recalled pet foods a liar. But one thing that has always been in the forefront of my mind are the cases that I see come in our facility on a daily basis. There are many pet owners who do not seek medical care for their pets at the first onset of their symptoms. Either they simply ignore the symptoms, believe that it is a passing malady, or just don't pay enough attention to their pets to notice the symptoms, until they are pointed out to them by news reports, mass hysteria and fear.

I will venture another prediction. I believe that there is a great possibility that many of the pets who succumbed to the toxins that are present in the recalled foods were already suffering from a chronic illness that had been left undetected. In this compromised state of health, these beloved pets were unable to process these toxins through their natural body processes. In other words, our bodies already have protections in place for events such as these. Both our liver and kidneys are our primary defense. Although they cannot withstand a lethal dose of any poison; neither can our organs operate under "normal" challenges if they are diseased.

If we biopsied our livers and kidneys, who knows what chemicals and compounds could be found there.

There are innumberable pets that are currently suffering from various stages of chronic renal disease. Chronic renal failure that cannot be attributed to the pet food recall. And many of these pets go undiagnosed until there is not any hope for the management of the disease. CRF can be silently progressing for quite some time without obvious symptoms to the casual observer, and that is why we recommend twice a year blood testing and urinalysis for our patients. Catching diseases early means that there will be a greater chance of managing it. I wonder how many of the pets who reportedly became ill from the recalled pet food really did become ill from the food. There are many, many reasons why kidneys can begin to fail, but only laboratory testing will give us these answers.

Another thought that has crossed my mind is the fact that the foods that are being shipped into our country are exposed to many things that aren't commonly used here in the United States. Things that have been deemed to be not healthy. So I wonder what kind of regulations have been placed on the food products that are shipped to the United States. Since many of the pet food companies are proud of the fact that "human grade" products are used in their pet foods it makes me wonder how many of these foreign substances make it into our food supply. And how long have they been there.

Along this train of thought is of course the terrorist aspect of it all. And I certainly couldn't mention something like this without presenting some sort of conspiracy theory. My theory would be that the tainted wheat gluten was destined for human consumption, which some how was diverted to the pet food market instead.

So today we are presented with another substance that was found in the wheat gluten. A substance called melamine. And this raises a whole other train of thought.

First, I would like to say that for some reason I'm not surprised. I just didn't feel that the evidence was there for a nationwide pet poisoning event. We didn't have the influx of critically ill pets in our facility that would have suggested such a problem.

This leads me to the main reason why I am writing this post. Since we did not see any obviously poisoned pets who had consumed the recalled pet foods, I began to think about contaminants that are probably present in all of our foods. Foods that we eat every day.

Let's say we took a food product off of the shelf at our local grocery store. Any product would do, just pick one. And let's say we sent it to a toxicology lab and tested it for every known toxin possible.

How do you think that final report would read?

I think we would be very surprised.

Now for those of you who think that you'll just eat "organic" and fresh foods I have a couple of thoughts.

First of all, organic foods are grown with 'natural' fertilizers. Farmers have to use fertilizers because if they don't produce volume, they can't make any money. These organic fertilizers consist of products such as manure. And manure is laiden with E. coli. Remember the spinach scare?

I personally didn't quit eating spinach. Because I hold a strong belief that the more you limit yourself to exposure to certain things, the more susceptible that you'll be to becoming ill from them. Why else do you think there has been an unprecedented rise in things like childhood asthma in the last few decades? I firmly believe it is because children aren't allowed to play outside and "get dirty". It is only through controlled exposure will you be able to build an immunity to many of the things that are beginning to ail our society.

How about the salmonella in the peanut butter? We had already eaten over two-thirds of the very large jar of peanut butter when the recall came about. And none of us became ill from it.

Now I don't promote poor hygiene or foolish food handling practices. But I don't believe in promoting "germophobia" either. However I do feel that we are causing ourselves more problems than not by trying to become a "sterile society".

With the new information that has come out today concerning the pet food recall, there are certainly a lot more questions and thoughts about the situation that needs to be addressed.

Right now I am beginning to wonder if some kind of radical animal rights or activist group is responsible for this multi-million dollar mess. You know, people like the ones who want to have the rescued polar bear cub, Knut, euthanized. Someone who was upset about the use of test animals in the manufacturing processes of pet food could certainly be the culprit.

Maybe we'll have some definitive answers concerning the "Pet Food Recall of 2007", but I think it will take quite a bit of time before we do.


Menu Foods Posts FAQ's Page...

Pet Food Recall...

Still Looking for Answers on the 2007 Pet Food Recall...

Menu Foods Pet Food Recall Update

If you are concerned about your pet's health you should contact your veterinarian. We have had numerous calls at work from concerned pet owners. There are several pet owners who have brought their animals in as well for laboratory blood testing and a urinalysis. Laboratory testing is the only way that you will be able to tell for sure if your pet's kidneys are functioning properly. Pet owners must also take into consideration that 75% of the kidney is usually damaged before some symptoms and laboratory changes occur. There may be additional testing required as well such as a protein/creatinine ratio test.

Some of the symptoms of renal failure include:

*anorexia (loss of appetitie)
*depression or lack of energy
*increased water intake (polydipsia)
*increased urination (poluria)

Advanced stages of renal failure will have symptoms of:

*gastrointestinal ulcerations
*oral ulcerations
*bad breath
*weight loss
*exercise intolerance
*anuria (no urine output due to complete failure of kidney function)

If your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms it is recommended that you take them to your veterinarian as soon as possible.


The FDA announcement has been posted.

FDA News
March 30, 2007

Media Inquiries:
Michael Herndon
Catherine McDermott

Consumer Inquiries:

FDA Finds Melamine in Wheat Gluten used by Hill's Pet Nutrition
Company Initiates Recall of Dry Cat Food
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today notified Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc., of Topeka, Kansas, that FDA testing has detected melamine and melamine byproducts in wheat gluten received by the company to make dry cat food. FDA is conducting an investigation into pet food products made with wheat gluten that contains melamine and their association with reports of injury and deaths in cats and dogs.

Because the cat food is sold exclusively through veterinarians, Hill's has notified veterinarians, and is voluntarily recalling the pet food containing the wheat gluten and will conduct its own testing.

Consumers who have any bags of Prescription Diet m/d Feline should discontinue use. They should speak with their veterinarian if their pet shows any signs of kidney/renal illness. Such signs include loss of appetite, lethargy and vomiting.

"FDA recognizes that pets are very important to the American people and our sympathies go out to those who have lost their beloved pets," said Stephen Sundlof, D.V.M., director of the Center for Veterinary Medicine, Food and Drug Administration.

During two months in early 2007, Hill's Pet Nutrition manufactured Prescription Diet m/d Feline using wheat gluten from the same company that has supplied wheat gluten to Menu Foods, Inc. Menu Foods, Inc. (menufoods.com/recall) has also voluntarily recalled products potentially contaminated with melamine. See http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/petfood.html for more information on the pet food recall.

The Hill’s cat food now being recalled is labeled Prescription Diet m/d Feline dry food. The products are:

4 lb. bag, U.S. & Canada UPC code 52742 42770
10 lb. bag, U.S. & Canada UPC code 52742 42790
The agency is continuing to work with Menu Foods, Inc., and Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc., to ensure the effectiveness of their recalls.

For more information, consumers may contact Hills Pet Nutrition at 1-800-445-5777 or visit www.HillsPet.com.

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Blogger Sicilian said...

TJ. . . thanks for being so good to share your thoughts I had not heard of it until I read your 1st post. AFTER I read your post, I saw it all over the news.

March 31, 2007 6:53 AM  
Blogger It's me, T.J. said...

Hey Sicilian...

You're welcome!

Hope things are going well with you and your wedding plans!

Have a great weekend!


March 31, 2007 7:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your post makes me sick. What are you - in denial? Most of the illnesses and deaths anecdotally reported were of relatively young dogs and cats, in good health, who suddenly became acutely ill and either died or recovered. That doesn't sound like undetected chronic disease to me Also, if an animal were imuno-compromised (due to old age, etc..) does that mean that the acceleration of illnesses and deaths due to tainted food no longer counts? That's nuts. How many illnesses and deaths are considered enough for you to think there is a problem serving poisoned pet food to animals - 10, 100, 1000?

Your thoughts are without intelligence or humanity.

Can you bear to have this posted? I doubt it.

April 02, 2007 4:08 AM  
Blogger It's me, T.J. said...

Majerczyk said she took the 9-year-old cat to its first-ever veterinarian visit the day of the recall. The cat had lost six pounds in four days and was lethargic, dehydrated and nearly blind.

Why did this pet owner wait four days to take her pet in?

Why had she never taken her cat to a veterinarian?

Was the cat ever tested for feline leukemia or AIDS?

Was the cat spayed or neutered?

Had the cat ever been tested for parasites?

Did the woman ever provide any form of basic care for her cat such as vaccinations?

If nothing else, did she provide for bi-annual wellness exams and blood testing?

Who is exhibiting criminal behavior in this instance?

April 02, 2007 5:15 AM  
Blogger Jan said...

Well, Mr. Anonymous pants has some nerve, doesn't he? Since we don't know who he is, I'm just guessing he doesn't have the expertise you have. I'm guessing he googled pet food recall and read your post, completely unaware of your profession. Dismiss the comments, if you please.

I appreciate your comments. Contrary to displaying naivete, you have confronted some issues others may not be willing to consider, such as a deliberate poisoning. People such as Mr. Anonymouse are quick to jump all over the manufacturer, who has NO incentive to poison animals, instead of considering that they, too, are the victims here. Whether it was accidental or intentional, the pet food companies pay the biggest price. And, yes, we should be concerned that a nationwide food supply can be chemically altered to cause death. We should most definitely be concerned.

April 02, 2007 7:49 PM  
Blogger It's me, T.J. said...

Hey Jan...

Thank you so much for your thoughtful support!


April 02, 2007 9:46 PM  
Blogger Jan said...

t.j. -
My emails to you keep coming back undelivered, so I'm trying this venue! Thank you for your help today. Mama cat has been delivered to your friend and I am ever grateful. Thank you.

April 03, 2007 5:16 PM  
Blogger It's me, T.J. said...

You're welcome Jan.

Glad I could help.


April 03, 2007 5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Whether it was accidental or intentional, the pet food companies pay the biggest price"

Oh MY God Jan - you are quite unbelieveable yourself. Over 3,000 dogs and cats have died - god knows how many others became gravely ill. I know of no greater price being paid than by those poor pets that were poisoned because Menu Foods did not control the quality of their ingredients. If Menu Foods was not willing to take a little trip to China to see first hand the quality control measures of their third world suppliers - then that is a direct hit on their quality control. I encourage you to view the video of that "Bio-Tech" plant in rural China and go ahead and eat some food made with their wheat gluten -it is beyond unsanitary and filthy. Buy some Del Monte products with wheat gluten in it. If a journalist can get his butt over there to investigate the plant, then surely a Menu Foods rep could have taken a little trip. For Menu Foods, their choosing this supplier was a way to save a buck - plain and simple. That decision has cost pets lives. Menu Foods has lost n othing compared to the pet owners across the country. I only pray that you and yours never become poisoned because of poor QC of the US food supply...

April 04, 2007 2:48 PM  
Blogger It's me, T.J. said...

Nobody knows yet how many pets have died. These numbers have not been confirmed scientifically.

In fact, there isn't 100% agreement on any of the contaminants that are in the food.

As far as loss goes, what Jan was referring to was monetary loss. Additionally, we must think of the employees and their families who work at Menu Foods as well. I cannot imagine the suffering that they are probably experiencing from all of this as well.

As far as obscure news reports and videos go, we must all remember that we live in a great technological and digital age. These days when I look at a picture I think, "Was this 'photoshopped' or not?"

A recent example of news reports that weren't real was of a photojournalist that was photoshopping scenes in Iraq.

Everything must pass a litmus test.

April 04, 2007 5:24 PM  
Blogger Pattie said...

Hey TJ,
I came by earlier today and read this post, but I didn't have enough time to leave a comment. As usual, an interesting and educational post. Thanks for presenting a well-though out, rational piece to an emotional issue. Oh, and kusos for keeping the "anonymous" comment. I would have deleted it.

April 05, 2007 7:18 PM  
Blogger It's me, T.J. said...

Hey Pattie...

Thanks for stopping back by, you're such a special person.

And thanks for the kudos as well!

April 05, 2007 8:52 PM  

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