Current Pet Food Recalls and Product Alerts - Updated Jan, 2011
It has been a little over a year since the massive Menu Foods pet food recall occured. Over 150 brands of pet food, over 60 million containers were involved in this recall.
Ultimately, melamine and cyanuric acid, two chemical additives were determined to be the cause of the renal failure that caused the deaths of at least 1950 cats and 2200 dogs in the US alone, and the illness of tens of thousands more. These chemicals are high in nitrogen, and are added to lower grade foods in order to cheat tests that test for protein content in foods. This allows companies to market cheaper lower grade protein-deficient foods as protein rich.
In the US, the Federal pet food safety legislation has been passed and an industry commission has made recommendations to improve the safety and quality standards for pet food. Unfortunately, the legislation relies on voluntary recalls by manufacturers and does not grant the FDA mandatory recall authority.
Below is The Humane Society of Canada’s Fourteen Point Action Plan for Pet Food Safety to help protect families and their pets:
Someone has to speak up for these families and their pets. We take care of our own.
- If you have any of these products stop feeding your pet immediately. Do not as suggested by pet food companies return the food to the store where you purchased the product. Instead save the food and can/bag as evidence (record the brand name, lot number and UPC code stamped on the can/can lid/bag which usually consists of a series of letters and numbers);
- If your pet displays any signs of unusual behaviour, illness or sickness then take him/her immediately to your veterinarian. Symptoms could include, but are not limited to: a lack of appetite, lethargy, increased thirst, discoloured urine, increased urination, vomiting, diarrhoea or fever. If your pet has died, also contact your veterinarian and ask to arrange for a necropsy (animal autopsy) before your pet is buried or cremated;
- Due to the animal health related nature of this crisis and the fact that we cannot endorse any pet foods please contact your veterinarian for advice on what you should be feeding your pet;
- If you do not already have a veterinarian search for one here;
- If you are concerned and would like to have any food samples tested contact the veterinary college in Canada nearest you which can be found here and express your wishes that whatever testing methods are used they do not involve the use of animals. In the United States, contact the Food and Drug Administration here;
- If you believe your pet has become ill or died as a result of eating pet foods, send all of your information such as veterinary reports to The Humane Society of Canada here which will be forwarded on to Prime Minister Stephen Harper as part of our call for a taskforce to investigate the pet food recall and safety. A second copy of your information should be sent to the website set up by the specific pet food manufacturers: Menu Foods, Del Monte Foods, Hills Pet Nutrition, Nestlé Purina PetCare Products, Natural Balance, American Nutrition, Blue Buffalo, Diamond Pet Foods, Chenango Valley Pet Foods, Wilbur-Ellis, Royal Canin, Sunshine Mills. Make certain you keep all of the original copies of this information at home for safekeeping;
- Please write to Prime Minister Stephen Harper here to support our call for the creation of a taskforce to investigate the pet food recall and safety and to demand stronger laws to regulate the pet food industry. A copy of our letter to the Prime Minister can be found here;
- If you have decided not to join any of these lawsuits, please let us know if any of the food companies are stalling or making it more difficult when it comes to paying the veterinary bills for your beloved pet who has fallen ill or died. In this way, we can let everyone know what to expect and whats going on with the process. Please include a photo of your pet and tell us more about him/her.
- A number of law firms in Canada and the United States found here have filed class action lawsuits against pet food companies seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages which contain allegations not proven in court (any law firms wishing to be added to this alphabetical listing should send us their details here);
- Urge all local supermarkets and stores to voluntarily remove pet food products from their shelves which have been listed on the recall and put up public notices in their stores;
- Contact The Humane Society of Canada here for assistance with pet loss counselling and to include your pet and tell his/her story in our Book of Remembrance here. There is no charge for these services;
- Urge local humane societies, SPCAs, rescue groups, veterinary associations, veterinary colleges, animal shelters, and your own veterinarian to publicly disclose and review their existing investments in pet food companies as well as any corporate sponsorships or monies they receive from pet food companies (NOTE: The Humane Society of Canada is a registered charity which relies on donations to support our programs and does not invest in or receive any funds or corporate sponsorships from any pet food company);
- Before you buy pet foods or treats write to the pet food company and ask if they conduct laboratory experiments on animals. If they do demand that they stop them immediately and replace the tests with alternatives to the use of animals. Published reports indicate that tests in one of the Canadian owned Menu Foods U.S. based labs killed 9 out of 25 cats tested. Also demand that the pet food company conduct rigorous independent testing of all ingredients included in their products.
- Support the creation of The Humane Society of Canada's independent watchdog, SAFE (Safe Animal Food Everywhere), which will carry out independent monitoring, analysis and consumer awareness campaigns about the pet food industry.
Samples of the food, specifically the wheat gluten, were tested and found to contain aminopterin, a chemical that was formerly used in cancer treatments, is used as a rodenticide in some countries. However, in the United States it is not legal for use as a rat poison, and only used in cancer research. Officials are still unclear how it entered the pet food and testing is ongoing.
Further testing by the US Federal Department of Agriculture (FDA) has also found melamine, a chemical used in the manufacturing of plastics in samples of food being tested. Melamine is used in the manufacture of fertilizers, plastic kitchen ware, counter tops and flame retardants and is also used as one of the components in fertilizer in Asia.
The FDA has now begun to test several types of imported protein supplements used in both human and pet food for the presence of contaminants. Products to be tested include wheat gluten, rice protein concentrate, corn gluten, corn meal, soy protein and rice bran. Other products may be added to the list later. These ingredients are widely used in human foods, such as breads, pastas, cereals, pizza dough, energy bars and protein shakes.
Currently, in Canada, there was a voluntary pet certification program run by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association until 2007, the costs of which were paid for by those pet food companies which decided to participate. An industry trade association called the Pet Food Association of Canada also has voluntary standards for its members.
At a federal level, Industry Canada, under the auspices of the Competition Bureau is responsible for monitoring the labels on pet food, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency works to address any concerns that food might contain ingredients contaminated by mad cow disease (bovine spongiform encelopathy or BSE) and Health Canada examines any pet food making claims about health benefits for pets.
A search of Hansards for the provinces and territories along with websites operated by all federal parties and government agencies turns up no reference to the pet food safety issue; a search of Hansards for the House of Commons shows a single exchange.
In our opinion, law enforcement agents need to conduct a thorough investigation, and if there is evidence both sufficient and admissible that results in allegations of wrongdoing, then the matter needs to be brought to trial and anyone found guilty should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. In Canada animals are protected by the federal Criminal Code while in the United States the laws vary state to state with some federal involvement and in Mexico there is a fabric of federal and state laws. Published reports and embassy sources indicate that there are currently no laws to protect dogs and cats in China.
As cruelty to animals is covered under the Canadian Criminal Code, we have attached the relevant section. Please see attached. There are also a wide range of other laws, both civil and criminal, which may also apply.
Rather than setting up a brand new agency to inspect pet food, the animal charity says: "The US Center for Disease Control has a well deserved international reputation for excellence and with complex mechanisms already in place for a wide range of health issues. We are hopeful that in close cooperation with other governments that the Center for Disease Control with will play an even larger role in assisting with the establishment and monitoring of laws to regulate the pet food industry."
Six weeks after news of the pet food recall broke, the US Government is working to correct the problems. Six weeks after the pet food recall broke, and news of the crisis spreading into the human food supply, the silence from Canadian politicians and elected officials is deafening.
Given how slow politicians and civil servants are to act to pass laws and regulate the pet food industry, it is up to pet owners to demand more accountability about the security of the pet food supply.
The Encyclopaedia Britannica reports that since the 1950s, when large scale production of commercial pet food began, by 2005 in the United States alone, it has grown into a USD $ 14.3 billion a year business; and that pet food was first produced as a way to utilize food left over from human food production.
The former head of the Chinese Government's food and drug regulators is currently on trial for taking bribes and failing to stop a market in fake and dangerous medicines. Several years ago in Panama, more than 100 people died after taking fake drug ingredients made in a Chinese factory.
The US FDA reports that from January to April of 2007, their inspectors (who have the resources to check out just 1% of all incoming shipments) turned back 298 food shipments from China and during the same time period turned back only 56 food shipments from Canada.
July 12th, 2008
- Notification for Canadian residents who purchased or whose pets consumed pet food or treat products recalled on or after March 16, 2007. People interested in finding out if they are eligible to participate in the class action settlement should contact 1-800-392-7785 or visit www.petfoodsettlement.com.
- Menu Foods along with 29 other pet food companies that were sued for the deaths of dogs and cats a year ago have agreed to pay $24-million (U.S.) to pet owners in the United States and Canada.
May 13th, 2008
- Food and Drug Administration-sponsored meeting in Gaithersburg, MD on new requirements stipulated by legislation for pet food safety is seeking input from stakeholder groups on the development of ingredient, processing, and labeling standards for pet food.
April 14th, 2008
- Menu Foods has announced to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey that mediation has resulted in an agreement in principle between stakeholders for all major terms of settlement.
February 6th, 2008
- The US attorney's office filed 52 felony indictments in the case against Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co., of Jiangsu Province, China, and Suzhou Textiles, Silk, Light Industrial Products Arts & Crafts I/E Col. of Suzhou, China for bringing adulterated and misbranded food into interstate commerce. ChemNutra Inc. of Las Vegas, and it's owners Sally Quing Miller and Stephen S. Miller will charged with misdemeanor charges plus a felony count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
August 20th, 2007
- A published report indicates that the US FDA and authorities in Indiana are working to determine if Bestro chicken jerky strips were responsible for causing illness that resulted in the death of two dogs.
August 14th, 2007
Menu Foods indicated that a client which they refused to disclose will end their agreement to buy “loaf” products from the company as of 1st October 2007. The company which reportedly may be Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble which sold Menu Foods products under brands Eukanuba and Iams made up nearly 10.8% of Menu Foods volume sales last year. In June of this year, the same customer reportedly indicated they would no longer buy “cuts and gravy”, which in 2006 made up about 11% of Menu Foods volume sales.
August 7th, 2007
- The San Francisco based law firm of Audet & Partners filed what is perhaps the first class action lawsuit against Chinese based Binzhou Futian Biological Technology, Co., one of the two suppliers of contaminated feed which caused tens of thousands of pets to become ill or die.
July 20th, 2007
- In what in our opinion, was a corrupt and self serving gesture, four months after the fact, the Communist Chinese government finally revoked the licences of the two companies — Xuzhou Anying Biotechnology Development in Jiangsu province and Bingzhou Futian Biotechnology in Shandong province — for “unlawfully added melamine in some of their protein products exported to the United States” [which caused tens of thousands of cherished family pets to fall ill or die]. The communist government portraying this action as "shutting them down" coincided with the second arrival of more US and European government officials. To the best of our knowledge these inspectors have still been unable to inspect anything, review records or talk to the managers and employees of these death dealing manufacturers. In our opinion this is unconcionable and dishonest for three reasons. First, is that on May 15th, 2007 the US FDA advised they learned that days before their inspectors arrived in China, bulldozers arrived in the middle of the night and demolished the manufacturing factories belonging to Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. In addition, when US FDA inspectors finally did arrive on site in China, the equipment at both this plant and the Bingzhou Futian Biology Technology Co. had been dismantled and their operations shut down. Second, it also means that since pets became ill or started dying nearly four months ago, the Communist Chinese government continued to allow both companies to keep their business licences to operate. And finally, it shows the utter contempt the Communist Chinese government has for other nations, believing itself to be above the basic standards required of other members of the international community with whom they have trade relations.
July 13th, 2007
- The one day Pet Food Ingredients Safety Summit proposed by ChemNutra and scheduled to take place tomorrow in Las Vegas has been cancelled. Organizers have failed to attract sufficient interest and sponsors from within the multibillion dollar pet food industry needed to get the summit off the ground. Las Vegas based ChemNutra, is one of the importers of contaminated feed that caused tens of thousands of pets to become ill or die.
July 11th, 2007
- In an interview with itchmo.com, a pet owner told about how Nutro pet food company refused to pay a $ 700 claim for veterinary bills, after her 13 year old Sheltie, “Sandyboy” died from kidney failure, which she says was because she feed him Nutro Max dog food. Nutro’s insurance company disagrees that “Sandyboy’s”death had anything to do with eating Nutro dog food and said in part: “… Our investigation has determined that our insured is not responsible for this very unfortunate incident. The basis for this decision is in light of the fact that while your pet may have consumed some of the recalled product, testing of your pet has revealed that your pet was not ill (or the illness is not related to the recalled pet food). “Accordingly, there is no property damage [i.e. they are referring to “Sandyboy”] as a result of the insured’s product. Based upon the above, this will advise that there is no legal liability on the part of Nutro Products, Inc. for the alleged damages ...”
July 10th, 2007
- The Chinese Government executed Zheng Xiaoyu, the former head of the State Food and Drug Administration to death for accepting $ USD 850,000 in bribes to help steer drug companies through various approval processes. A number of other high ranking officials have been charged for taking bribes that resulted in threats to public safety. One of these men, Cao Wenzhuang, has also been sentenced to death. Until 2005, he was in charge of drug registration approvals at the State Food and Drug Administration, was accused of accepting over $300,000 in bribes from two pharmaceutical companies and helping undermine the public’s confidence in an agency that is supposed to be safeguarding the nation’s health.
June 31st, 2007
- During a radio interview, a high ranking USDA official said that he doesn’t believe the number of pets who have fallen ill or died from eating contaminated food will ever be known. He did admit that once news of the contaminated pet food became public, that in just a ten week period, his agency received more than 18,000 calls – twice as many as the agency usually receives over a two year period for complaints about all kinds of products and services.
June 13th, 2007
- Without providing specific information on the tests they ran, the US FDA said after being alerted with private lab results from pet owners, that its own tests of five samples of one kind of cat food and two samples of dog food failed to turn up any traces of the pain killer acetaminophen.
June 11th, 2007
- Menu Foods announced that an unidentified “significant customer”, which represented 11% of their sales in 2006, will no longer buy cuts and gravy products from the company. The news caused Menu Foods stock to fall from $ 3.09 to $ 2.30 a unit. According to published reports, the company lost $17.5 million in the first quarter; and Menu Foods has said the pet food recall will cost the company at least $45 million — and that figure doesn’t include legal settlement not covered by insurance. The company now faces 90-class action lawsuits.
June 6th, 2007
- The US FDA reported that shrimp feed containing melamine from US company, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania based Ziegler Brothers (the company also has a franchise operation in Panama) has been exported to 13 countries including: Canada, Panama, Venezuela, Belize, Suriname, Costa Rica, Honduras, Ecuador, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Gambia and Lebanon. The feed was provided by US based company, Uniscope Inc. of Johnstown, Colorado which also used the product from Toledo, Ohio based Tembec in the manufacture of livestock, fish and shrimp feed. Tembec is a division of Montreal, Canada based company, Tembec Inc which is a woods product company.
- The US FDA confirmed it was investigating reports that five samples of dog and cat food not on any recall list were submitted to a private Texas testing lab which found various levels of the pain killer, acetaminophen in the samples -- including one sample from a yet as unnamed pet food manufacturer who was reportedly given the test results "well over a month ago." Although the private lab should have notified the US FDA, the government agency instead learned from website postings by concerned pet owners. Although the lab claims that the doses were small, in sufficient quantities and/or by eating contaminated food over a prolonged period of time could lead to a pet falling ill or even dying.
June 5th, 2007
- US company, Omaha, Nebraska based Sergeants Pet Care Products recalled several production lots of Atlantis Gold Flake Fish Food (which is fed to ornamental/pet fish) because it contains melamine, in levels which the company believes will not harm pet fish.
June 4th, 2007
- Nearly three months after the initial pet food recall, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has finally gotten around to announcing it will require test documents for imports of all vegetable proteins from China. No word on how many shipments they actually inspect, verify independently with their own tests, or followup to ensure the test documents provided at the border are actually bona fide and not falsified.
May 31st, 2007
- The US FDA recalled cattle, sheep, goat, shrimp and fish feed made by Toledo, Ohio based Tembec BTSLR, which is a division of Montreal, Canada based company, Tembec Inc which is a woods product company The FDA said the company intentionally used melamine as a binding agent.
May 29th, 2007
- The Bejing No.1 Intermediate People's Court has convicted and sentenced to death Zheng Xiaoyu for taking bribes and gifts worth more than USD $ 832,000 to approved untested medicines when he was the director of the Chinese Government State Food and Drug Administration.
- During his tenure, the Chinese goverment approved fake milk formula that killed at least 13 infants and an antibiotic that killed at least 10 people.
- The Bejing No.1 Intermediate People's Court has convicted and sentenced to death Zheng Xiaoyu for taking bribes and gifts worth more than USD $ 832,000 to approved untested medicines when he was the director of the Chinese Government State Food and Drug Administration.
May 25th, 2007
- In light of the recent pet food recalls, the CFIA is reviewing its pet food responsibilities and programs to determine if room for improvement exists within the Canadian system.
- The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) advised it had seized one shipment of corn gluten imported from China that tested positive for the contaminants melamine and cyanuric acid.
- Chicago based law firm Blim & Edelson, one many law firms which has filed a class action suit on behalf of pet owners, said in an non-privileged communication in part: “… based on what we were told, we came to the conclusion that Menu Foods was not acting in good faith to compensate the people it damaged. Rather, it appears that the company was engaging in a cynical strategy, designed to settle some the strongest claims cheaply and induce pet owners to give up information it might be able to use to defend against others…”
May 24th, 2007
- On its website, Menu Foods says that because a US Federal Court has issued an order prohibiting them from having direct contact with individual US pet owners that until the court permits they cannot resume efforts to resolve claims with individual owners not involved in class action lawsuits against them. Although the ruling does not include Canadian pet owners, Menu Foods is taking the same position in dealing with them.
- Earlier this week Menu Foods said it will no longer use vegetable proteins from China “until they are deemed safe.” The company did not indicate whether it will use other ingredients from China. Royal Canin USA announced that it will no longer use vegetable proteins from that country.
- There is no word from any pet food company or regulatory agency about how they intend to deal with ingredients that originate in China but are either falsely labelled or that originate in China and are re-exported to another country before being shipped on to North America, Europe, Africa and other export markets.
May 23rd, 2007
- After two days of meetings between high ranking US and Chinese officials in Washington, D.C., no deals were reached on ensuring pet food safety. US Cabinet member, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said in part: “… They (China) want to focus on those responsible. We want to talk about systemic problems …” in relationship to food safeguards. He also said that ultimately the market place will enforce how consumers perceive Chinese made products and that sanctions will be “harsh and immediate.” In our opinion, not as harsh and immediate as the suffering enduring by families and their beloved pets.
- China Daily, the government’s state run newspaper, said in part: “…While calling on our own manufacturers and quality inspectors to place more emphasis on food safety, we urge beneficiaries of Chinese exports to maintain cool heads and possibly unfair allegations against Chinese exports. Our quality ‘watchdogs'’ contradictory statements regarding responsibility for the sensational pet food scandal was a shameful example of lack of professionalism. They first denied, then soon admitted, that the contaminated pet food originated in China. To restore and maintain consumer confidence, our quality watchdogs have an obligation to demonstrate that Chinese exports are safe…”
- In our opinion, hollow empty words that ring false and do nothing to comfort the families whose pets have fallen ill or died, and the millions more who fear for their pets’ safety.These statements focus solely on the Chinese Government’s efforts to maintain and expand unfettered access for its export markets – and show a marked lack of concern, and even contempt for the suffering they have caused. There are no animal protection laws in China. Indeed, it is hard to expect more from a government whose human, animal and environmental rights abuses are legendary.
May 18th, 2007
- US Federal researchers with the USDA and FDA confirmed that although they have not yet found any link that they are testing commercial bee feed for melamine and other contaminants because some of the feed is protein based using brewer's yeast and soy flour. Late last year, in the US alone, more than 25% of that country's 2.4 million honey bee colonies died. Free ranging bees also began dying off in large numbers, raising an alarm because one third of that nation's food supply is dependent upon bee pollination.
- The USDA announced they were lifting the quarantine on 80,000 chickens which could be sent to slaughter for human consumption because their analysis found a very low risk to human health.
- Published reports indicate that Tyson Foods Inc. and Mission Foods Corp., two of the largest US food manufacturers have told their suppliers that none of their products should contain any ingredients of Chinese origin. He Jiguo, director of food nutrition and safety department at China agricultural university in Beijing says that at present, those who violate Chinese law are only subject to fines up several thousand dollars and a temporary stop order and that a small group of large manufacturers dominate the food production industry in China.
- The country's poorly enforced environmental laws and cheaper costs have been attractive worldwide to many countries seeking to increase their profit margins while lowering their costs. Each year, China exports more than USD $ 30 billion in food and drugs worldwide.
- In Europe, government food safety officials are checking all Chinese protein imports for melamine, and in Korea, C.J.Foods one of that country's largest food and feed manufacturers, recalled 42 tons of wheat gluten imported from China even though the products had not tested positive for melamine. European and U.S. poultry producers continue to oppose the Chinese Government's efforts to export poultry products to these parts of the world.
- Not surprisingly, in the wake of the contaminated pet food firestorm, foreign buyers are now requiring Chinese firms to conduct safety tests while others are carrying out independent tests of their own.
May 17th, 2007
At a news conference, the US FDA said that the fish being raised at Kona Blue farms in Hawaii and American Gold Seafoods in Washington State were cleared for human consumption. The questionable feed was also sold to 196 fish hatcheries. Since the contaminated feed has been discovered, some 46 shipments of protein concentrate have been detained and are being held until the companies can prove they are free from melamine.
16th May, 2007
- The Chinese Government said after conducting their own review of other export firms in that country they found no other contaminated feed and urged no further action by the US or other countries against Chinese firms. Calling the two firms involved, Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. and Bingzhou Futian Biology Technology Co.” special individual cases”, the Chinese authorities refuse to reveal how many of the managers and staff have been arrested.
- Las Vegas based ChemNutra, one of the importers of contaminated feed, announced it was organizing at Pet Food Ingredients Safety Summit to be held during the week of 14th July in Las Vegas.
- Barry Hundley, executive Director of South Africa’s Pet Food Institute confirmed that contaminated corn gluten was shipped by Binzou Futian Biology Technology Co. and found it way into Royal Canin pet food products in that country. Shortly after dogs began falling ill after eating the product, Royal Canin issued a recall and said it would no longer use any ingredients of Chinese origin in their foods, and the Government of South Africa halted all imports of Chinese glutens.
- Duane Ekedahl, president of the US Pet Food Institute advised that companies will soon begin working out the technical details of hiring government approved testers to certify the identity and safety of pet food ingredients shipped from overseas. He also said that in the US, pet food sales have dropped 4% since the recall and that in the US alone the pet food industry sells $ 15 billion worth of products each year.
- Kona fish farms in Hawaii advised they had cleared their first batch of fish from quarantine which would be slaughtered for human consumption following negative test results for melamine.
15th May, 2007
- At a news conference, the US FDA advised they learned that days before their inspectors arrived in China, bulldozers arrived in the middle of the night and demolished the manufacturing factory belonging to Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. In addition, when US FDA inspectors finally did arrive on site in China, the equipment at both this plant and the Bingzhou Futian Biology Technology Co. had been dismantled and their operations shut down. During their inspections, the Chinese authorities would not permit them to interview any managers or staff from the two companies involved in shipping the contaminated feed which has killed or caused thousands of pets to fall ill.
- The US FDA said that their team of inspectors had returned from China but would not provide a date when their report would be available. They also admitted that rather than testing all incoming shipments themselves, the FDA relies on documents and testing by non-government sources, which in our view, is a deadly error in judgement.
- The US FDA announced that it was lifting the quarantine on 56,000 hogs to they could be sent to slaughter for human consumption; and that about 80,000 chickens were still being held in quarantine, pending the results of tests to clear them for human consumption. More than 5,600 pet food products have now been recalled.
- At the ChemNutra Summit, the company said the purpose of the high level meeting was to: "... establish a process for collectively drafting new testing and importing standards for pet foods and discern the industry's interest in establishing a new trade association with a single mission: to ensure the safety of pet food ingredients and pet food...". In our opinion, the industry is simply trying to enhance its self-regulation before consumer pressure forces politicians to pass laws to regulate them.
14th May, 2007
- A group of about 2,000 consumers filed a class action suit in Hawaii against Canada based Menu Foods.
13th May, 2007
- A public poll showed that 82% of Americans want to know where their food comes from, however food producers and retailers argue that this would only increase costs and would not increase safety. In the words of Diana Ernst, a public policy fellow with the Pacific Research Institute says: “… Labels showing that a cow was “Born in Mexico, raised in Canada, and slaughtered in the U.S.” tell the consumer nothing about food safety…” The US FDA advises that they inspect only about 1% of all foods imported into the United States, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that Americans suffer from more than 78 million cases of food poisoning every year resulting in 5,000 deaths and 200,000 hospitalizations. Europe and most other industrialized nations require mandatory country of origin labels on food.
11th May, 2007
- The Humane Society of Canada learned that we have joined a long list of others whose website www.humanesociety.com has been banned by the Chinese Government and cannot be seen by its own people using the internet in that country.
- Vancouver, Canada based manufacturer, Skretting Canada, which used contaminated Chinese wheat flour in the manufacture of fish feed, said that about 120 facilities – comprised of multiple locations of 41 operators – received shipments of contaminated feed.
10th May, 2007
- In an internal memorandum, the FDA issued the following safety precautions to their own staff who are engaged in testing that says in part: “… melamine and additional related contaminants have been found in concentrations of up to 20% in analyzed samples [of pet food]. The MSDS [Material Data Safety Sheet] for pure melamine is attached as Attachment B and includes warnings “to avoid breathing dust, avoid contact with eyes, skin and clothing.” Chronic exposure may cause cancer or reproductive damage. The following personal protective equipment is recommended to prevent such exposure:
- a minimum of half face, face-sealing respirator (P100) with HEPA filter cartridge (wipe or rinse the respirator facepiece w/o filter cartridge before reuse)
- face sealing goggles (vented goggles will be protective) wipe or rinse before reuse
- disposable suit (remove and bag prior to entering vehicle)
- either disposable shoe covers or wipe/brush shoes prior to entering vehicle
- disposable gloves
- Pregnant women should not perform this assignment …”
- Westaqua President, Kelly Mills, said in an interview with the Vancouver Sun in part: “… We are not a fish meal producer. We are a trading company. We supply people who do manufacture the feed. We bought this product from a U.S. trading company that is a trusted source for us, and which we have done a lot of business with…” That company he said, bought the feed from Las Vegas-based ChemNutra, the original importer.
- The USDA and the US FDA reported that as many as 198 fish farms in the United States may have received contaminated feed. Several US states have also banned catfish from China because of the presence of a potentially hazardous antibiotic called fluoroquinolone banned FDA. They also reported that although the Chinese Government finally issued visas for FDA inspectors, that by the time they reached the factories operated by Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. and Bingzhou Futian Biology Technology Co., they had been shut down and the companies are out of business. As recently as 26th April, the Chinese Government was denying any involvement by the two Chinese companies in the wake of the contaminated pet food that killed or caused thousands of pets to fall ill.
- Nearly two months after the first pet food recall was announced on 16th March, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) finally gets its act together and mentions the pet food recall and fish food problems on its government website. However, the website repeatedly admits that it was the US Government (rather than Canadian vigilance, competence and hard work) which alerted them to the problems.
- A published report indicates that South Africa’s Pet Food Industry Association was advising manufacturers not to purchase Chinese products for their pet foods.
- At a news conference, after pets, hogs and chickens, the US FDA now reports that melamine contaminants have also entered fish feed manufactured in Canada, and the feed was subsequently sold to US and Canadian fish farms. Further that while the labelling described the product as wheat gluten it was in fact wheat flour. The contaminated ingredient was co-brokered through Las Vegas based ChemNutra, the same company that supplied contaminated ingredient that entered pet foods manufactured by Canadian based Menu Foods which has said that it faces at least 50 lawsuits, some of them class action suits representing thousands of people, and in turn Menu Foods has sued ChemNutra.
- CNN interviewed the manager of one of the Chinese companies involved in the contaminated pet food scandal, who has been held by Chinese Authorities since 25th April. He denied any wrong doing and claimed he didn’t even know what melamine is. That same day, the Chinese government announced that it had found the two companies involved, Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. and Binzou Futian Biology Technology Co. guilty of intentionally exporting contaminated pet food ingredients, but failed to give any information about what consequences or penalties would follow.
- Vancouver based Skretting Co., the largest manufacturer of fish food in Canada, issued a recall after the US FDA announced it had found that farmed fish had been fed meal contaminated with melamine, the same contaminated found in pet food that has caused thousands of pets to become ill or die. Government officials claim that the risk to people eating the fish is so low that it probably does not pose any human health risks. The product is distributed under the Bio-Oregon label out of Longview, Washington State
- At a joint news conference, the USDA and the FDA said that following an assessment they concluded there was a very low risk to people from eaten pork and poultry products derived from animals and birds feed contaminated scrap pet food. The risk assessment was carried out by scientists from the USDA, FDA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). On that same day, the USDA announced that the 20 million chickens being held in quarantine could be sent to slaughter because there was no evidence of melamine contaminated feed on the farms where they were being held. An undetermined number of chickens and hogs on farms where the contaminated feed was identified will remain in quarantine.
- The Washington, D.C. based Environmental Working Group called on the US FDA to back up its claims that melamine is not a danger to public safety by disclosing its scientific research and analysis. In the past, the group says that their previous investigations found that the FDA issued similar assurances about the safety of the human food supply for the contaminants mercury and benzene without the science or the risk assessments to back them up.
- While they complete their risk assessment, the USDA announced that working in cooperation with the US Environmental Protection Agency and the FDA they have stopped 20 million chickens from going to slaughter in several states because the birds were been fed contaminated pet food mixed in with their regular feed. Each year, about 9 billion chickens a year are slaughtered for human consumption.
- The same day, the FDA also issued a statement saying that one of the principal Chinese firms at the centre of the pet food controversy, Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co., did not originally producer the contaminated wheat gluten, but instead may have purchased it from up to 25 different suppliers.
- At a news conference held by the FDA, the agency reported that of the 17,000 calls they had received that 8,500 of the owners said their pets had died from eating contaminated food. Officials said that they could not confirm those deaths, but admitted the numbers would increase as they worked to clear the backlog of calls they have received from concerned pet owners. The latest recall by Canadian based Menu Foods of 3 million containers of food, brings the total number to more than 63 million containers of food recalled.
- Following public hearings, in a unanimous vote of 94-0 the US Senate passed the Pet and Human Food Safety Amendment to the US FDA’s funding bill. A copy of the bill can be found here and is nearly identical to the stand alone food safety bill, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin had introduced earlier in the day. The bill would impose uniform standards for processing and ingredients standards for pet food and tighten regulations on imported food as well as increasing labelling responsibilities for pet food companies. The amendment would also create a single scientific system for states to determine which food should be recalled instead of allowing states to continue handling it using a range of measures now in existence. The mechanism is designed to create a version for pets that now tracks food contamination and outbreaks of illness and death in people. Pet food companies would be fined if they do not report problems within two days. For the moment, the amendment does not give the FDA the power to actually issue recalls, simply recommend them.
- After being continually stonewalled for weeks by the Chinese Government, FDA regulators inspecting plants in China still admit that they do not what major firms in that country are the major manufacturers of vegetable proteins implicated in the pet food recalls. The FDA investigation has revealed, however, one of the principal firms implicated in the crisis, Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development had shipped more than 700 tons of wheat gluten labelled as “non-food” products earlier this year through a third party, a Chinese textile company – thereby avoiding regulations the Chinese Government claims are in place to inspect outgoing food exports. Another supplier of contaminated protein named by the FDA is the Chinese firm Binzhou Futian Biology Technology which says that it supplies soy, corn and other proteins and has strong sales in the Asia, the United States and Europe.
- The US FDA and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) said that an investigation of 38 Indiana chicken farms found that contaminated feed imported from China was fed to the birds in February of this year and that all of have been sent to slaughter for human consumption. In a conference call this afternoon, the USDA admitted that as many as 3 million chickens contaminated with melamine from a single Indiana feed mill have already been slaughtered, distributed and eaten in the human food supply; and that an additional 100,000 broiler chickens were being voluntarily quarantined by farmers.
- While both the US FDA and the USDA indicate that the chances of people become ill from eating already contaminated pork or chicken are “very low” in the next breath admit they will require voluntarily or mandatory quarantine of all such animals and will not allow knowingly contaminated animals to go to slaughter for human consumption. Instead they will offer farmers compensation to kill and they dispose of such animals and birds ensuring they do not enter the human food supply.
- A poll of 1,000 Americans carried out by GfK Custom Research North America after the pet food recall began, found that 60% of pet owners sometimes buy premium pet food brands and 40% do so on a regular basis. Of the 1 in 6 whose brands were recalled, the survey found that nearly half said they did not plan to return to their old brand, even after the crisis passed.
- Dr. David Acheson was appointed as the FDA Assistant Commissioner for Food Protection, a new position created by US Government.
- The US FDA confirmed that rice protein and wheat gluten imported from China were contaminated with both melamine and cyanuric acid a combination they described as a “potential source of concern in relation to human and animal health.” The FDA also said that so far it has received 17,000 complaints, including the deaths of 1,950 cats and 2,200 dogs. Researchers at Canada’s University of Guelph found mixing the two chemicals together in a test tube with cat urine resulted in the formation of crystals within a matter of hours. They theorize that in turn the crystals would in turn contribute to kidney failure in cats.
- The US FDA in an effort to contain contaminated products, announced that it was detaining shipments from China for a wide range of protein products used in human and animal food including wheat and rice glutens, rice protein and concentrates, corn gluten meal and byproducts, soy and soy gluten concentrates and mung bean protein.
- The US FDA said that some 345 of the 6,000 hogs that may have eaten contaminated pet food are believed to have entered the human food supply. In California state officials are working to contact those who purchased 60 whole hogs and in New York a breeder’s herd of between 125 to 140 animals are under quarantine awaiting the outcome of tests. In South Carolina, urine tests carried out on some of the 800 hogs now under quarantine showed low levels of the contaminant melamine, and none of the animals have been sent to slaughter. In North Carolina, a farm with 1,400 hogs is under quarantine, and before that 54 hogs were shipped to a slaughterhouse where they have been quarantined. In Utah, some 3,308 hogs sent for slaughter have been placed on hold and meat from 100 other hogs may have already entered the food supply. In Kansas, another 150 hogs are under quarantine, while the meat from 195 hogs may already have entered the food supply. In Oklahoma, a hog operation purchased contaminated feed, however, none of the animals have been slaughtered. In Ohio, a hog farm has been cleared. Each year across the United States about 106 million hogs are sent to slaughter.
- News reports state the US FDA executed a search warrant at the offices of ChemNutra in Las Vegas as part of an investigation into the firm which was one of those which reportedly imported the contaminated ingredients from China that made their way into pet foods. Reportedly, Menu Foods has filed a lawsuit against ChemNutra.
- The FDA announced that contaminated so called “salvage pet food” has been sold by ten pet food manufacturers and fed to hogs in California, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and possible Ohio. Contaminated pet food was also sold to one chicken farm in Missouri. While the FDA investigates whether or not contaminated pork has now entered the human food supply, all of the hogs at the affected factory farms have been quarantined. The FDA admits that it could potentially affect thousands of hogs.
- The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) which reviews the effectiveness of the delivery of US government agencies issued a report that described food safety as a “high risk area because of the need to transform this system to reduce risks to public health as well as the economy.” Urging more government interagency cooperation, the GAO proposed that the US Congress “enact comprehensive, uniform and risk based food safety legislation; analyze alternative organizational food safety structures; and consider legislation giving agencies authority to order food recalls.”
- Weeks after continuing to deny US FDA regulators from entering China, government officials finally relented to international pressure and issued visas to allow FDA inspectors to visit the Chinese plants. Two days later, the Chinese Government banned melamine from food but continues to reject that it caused any pet deaths, and still refuses to confirm that despite documented evidence that any Chinese firms ever exported contaminated feed overseas.
- Researchers and US FDA officials have confirmed that Diamond Pet Foods Inc. of Meta, Montana knowingly sold melamine contaminated “salvage pet food” on April 3 and 13 to the 1,500 animal factory farm American Hog Farm in Ceres, California. While so far all of the pigs which have been tested appear healthy and US government officials are investigating whether the 126 hogs which have already been slaughtered and sold for human consumption contain three by products of melamine broken down by a hog’s body – namely cyanuric acid, amilorine and amiloride.
- In response to the pet food security crisis, Canadian Federal Minister of Agriculture Chuck Stahl had been quoted as saying that while the Canadian Government is willing to review whether pet food should be regulated that it doesn’t mean that it necessarily will or should be regulated saying that “regulation in the United States didn’t prevent the recent deaths of pets from tainted food.”
The Humane Society of Canada wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper calling for the creation of a taskforce with four primary objectives to investigate the pet food industry following allegations that tens of thousands of pets have become ill or have died as a result of pet food companies, including Canadian based pet food manufacturer, Menu Foods, of Mississauga, Ontario. This letter was also sent to the leaders of the official federal parties as well as all provincial and territory premiers.
The Humane Society of Canada has also written to Acting RCMP Commissioner Beverly Busson making a formal request that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police work in cooperation with other law enforcement agencies to conduct an investigation to determine if criminal animal cruelty charges should be brought before the court: "... However, we cannot emphasize enough that this is a highly time sensitive matter. Under the Criminal Code of Canada, charges must be laid within six months..." Letters were also sent to the FBI and Interpol.
In the wake of published reports that the Chief Financial Officer of Menu Foods sold about 45% of his shares several weeks before the pet food recall was announced, The Humane Society of Canada has also written to Mr. David Wilson, Chair of the Ontario Securities Commission making a formal request that in cooperation with other securities regulators that they conduct an investigation to determine if charges should be brought with respect to insider trading by shareholders in Menu Foods and other pet food companies. Letters were also sent to the US, European & Mexican Securities Commissions.
- US Senate hearings are held to investigate the ongoing pet food recall and government regulations over the pet food industry. Topics covered are the investigation timeline, source of contamination, and the FDA's regulatory and inspection responsibilities.
- The Toronto Globe and Mail reports that Menu Foods CFO Mark Wiens sold 45% of his Menu Foods stock for $102,900 on Feb. 26 and Feb. 27. Wiens was quoted as saying, "It's a horrible coincidence, yes..."
- Menu Foods announces the recall of 36 additional canned cat food products.
- According to CNN, the FDA is exploring the theory of of intentional contamination of wheat gluten for profit.
- Sunshine Mills announces the voluntary recall of dog biscuits for melamine contamination.
- Menu Foods announces the expansion of its recalled pet food list.
- The manufacturer Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Company Ltd., (China) of the tainted wheat gluten and the US Distributer, ChemNutra Inc. (Las Vegas) of the product are revealed.
- Del Monte voluntarily recalls Pounce Meaty Morsels Moist Chicken Flavour Cat Treats.
- Hills voluntarily recalls Science Diet Prescription Diet M/D dry food.
- Menu Foods clears for sale recalled food products manufactured ouside the original reported dates.
- The FDA announces that melamine, a chemical used in plastics, fertilizers, and industrial foam, has been found in tainted pet foods.
- Menu Foods clarifies PR of March 24th, stating no new foods have been added to the list.
- New York State Department of Agriculture and Cornell University scientists found aminopterin, a rat poison, in tainted food samples.
- Tainted wheat gluten identified as the source of pet food contamination.
- There are published reports suggesting that the Menu Foods was aware there could have been a problem as far back as December 2006; and further allegations that during the week of the 23rd to the 27th of February of this year, tests in one of the Canadian owned Menu Food's U.S. based labs killed 9 out of 25 cats tested.
- Menu Foods announces the first recall after deaths of 16 tested animals.
Menu Foods starts testing reported tainting food on cats and dogs.
The published reports indicate that on the 26th and 27th February of this year, more than two weeks before the public recall, Menu Foods Chief Financial Officer sold 14,000 units for CAD $ 102,900. As of 10th April 2007, those shares would be worth CAD $ 62,440. The Chief Financial Officer has described this as a "horrible coincidence"
Date Menu Foods notifies FDA of having received first reports of sick and dead cats. (Anecdotal data puts first reports back as far as December, 2006.)
- It is not yet clear whether the contaminated feed was given to smaller fish in hatcheries, or has already been fed to larger fish which have been killed and entered the food supply.
9th May, 2007
The Canadian Government CFIA goes on to say: “… that there is no implication for human health …” The CFIA defends its actions(or rather its lack of action) in the pet food crisis by saying it has limited resources and that they “cannot test for every possible contaminant in a product” – so in other words, they do nothing.
Finally, nearly two months after the first pet food recall, CFIA announces that are on the lookout for holding and testing all wheat, rice, soy and corn gluten and protein concentrates of Chinese origin. However, no word on how this works for countries which re-export these products from China with labels indicating a different country of origin.
- Two months after doing nothing, in a statement which will be of little comfort to families with pets, they state: “… In light of the recent pet food recalls, the CFIA is reviewing its pet food responsibilities and programs to determine if room for improvement exists in the Canadian system…”
- And now, two months after the pet food recall broke, and news of the crisis spreading into the human food supply, the arrogance and inaction on the part of Canadian politicians and elected officials is both criminal and breath taking.
- Like Canadian politicians and civil servants, the CFIA website offers no comfort, no directions, and no solutions on what families whose pets have been killed or fallen ill should do about it.
- Having due regard for their lack of action and border inspections and offering no proof they actually enforce the law, on its website the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) states that they prohibit the use of pet food in livestock feed and that there is no evidence that livestock fed such feed in the United States have been imported into Canada.
8th May, 2007
- A St. Louis based broker, Diversified Ingredients, Inc. co-brokered the deal to import nearly 353,000 pounds of Chinese wheat gluten that went directly to a Vancouver, Canada company called Westaqua, which has refused to discuss the matter. On the company’s website www.westaqua.com, the firm describes itself in part as: “… the lowest cost, highest service provider of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Pet Food Raw Ingredients …” The site advises that it is a leading supplier to feed manufacturers for salmon, trout and yellowtail fish farms; and for dairy cattle, chicken, turkey, hog and other farm animals; and that they also cater to the pet food industry by supplying ingredients to the manufacturers of dry cat and dog foods.
- Readers will recall that as recently as 26th April, the Chinese Government was still denying any involvement by the two Chinese companies in the wake of the contaminated pet food that killed or caused thousands of pets to fall ill.
7th May, 2007
May 4th , 2007
- This news proves how quickly a food safety concern can grow -- it warrants greater care and further proves why we need an audit of our nation's food safety system.
3rd May, 2007
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April 27th , 2007
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April 24th 2007
- Their report found that at present the federal oversight of food safety was fragmented with 15 different government agencies administering at least 30 different laws. For example while the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for only meat, poultry and processed egg products which represents about 20% of the human food supply – that agency receives the highest proportion of government funding – while the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which is responsible for the other 80% of the food supply receives only about 24% of government funding.
- For example, cheese pizzas fall under the FDA, while pepperoni pizzas fall under the USDA
April 23rd 2007
April 20th 2007
The US Center for Disease Control’s website advises that with regards to cyanuric acid which is used in pool chlorination:”… When ingested (by humans) in large amounts, the substance may have effects on the kidneys, resulting in tissue lesions …” Diamond Pet Foods made the dog and cat foods recalled by Natural Balance after melamine contamination was found in an ingredient, rice protein concentrate.
- Richard Breitmeyer, the California state government veterinarian said it was “not uncommon” for pet food makers to sell scrap material (salvage pet food) to (farm) feedlots.
April 17th , 2007
- It’s hard to imagine a more criminally irresponsible statement from someone put in charge of Canada’s food security. That’s like saying we shouldn’t bother testing for any poisoned food because we might not find all of it.
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