Keep Our Pets Safe Cybermarch and latest Recall News

We at CatSynth are hanging a brown ribbon today as part of the nationwide march to Keep Our Pets Safe. Marches and other events are being planned in several cities throughout the US (though not in the bay area), but everyone is encouraged to participate online by displaying the brown ribbon to support pets and and the families who have lost pets due to the pet-food recall.

We also heard from artsy catsy about the “My Pet Counts” postcard blitz. Mail postcards today (April 28) to the FDA, the White House, your representatives and senators, and others who have actually been involved addressing this issue. Among those listed is Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, who held hearings on the pet-food contaminations and the FDA response. He has also launched a public internet campaign asking “FDA to improve the safety of our pet food supply now!”

It was a bit odd to see Anderson Cooper of CNN specifically listed as a postcard addressee. I don't watch television at home. Apparently he did some early reporting on the pet-food contamination and did a segment in China. I haven't been able to find that video.

Speaking of China, they have admitted the presence of melamine and invited the FDA to help investigate, though the still have not admitted the link to the illnesses and deaths of any pets.

According to Pet Connection, more than 5,500 pet-food products, house brands and name brands alike, are now on the FDA's recall list. So far, Luna's favorite food remains safe – it contains corn gluten, but we are assured it is produced int the US (again, why would we important any corn products into the US?). Nonethless, it's still scary. What happens if it is later found to be contaminated as well? Switching to home-made food is not advised unless one really knows what he or she is doing. So while I'm happy to make treats for Luna from Meow Chow recipes and elswhere, I still rely on safe pet food for her continued healthy diet. We hope all our feline friends stay safe.

Pet Connection reports from its voluntary database that over 14,000 affected pets, of which 4500 have died.

Latest on the Pet Food Recall

Well, there's more disturbing news on the pet food recall.

First, from MedicineNet:

The massive recall of pet foods expanded again Thursday with the recall of products containing rice protein concentrate imported from China.

Blue Buffalo, of Wilton, Conn., said it was recalling all of its Spa Select Kitten dry food labeled “Best Used By Mar. 07 08 B.” … On Wednesday, Natural Balance Pet Foods, of Pacoima, Calif., recalled all its venison dog products and dry venison cat food after discovering they were contaminated with melamine…

So now it's not just wheat gluten, but rice protein as well, again from China. And also in dry food for kittens. But things get worse:

Meanwhile in South Africa, melamine has been found in Royal Canin pet food company's Vets Choice and Royal Canin dry dog and cat food sold exclusively in South Africa and Namibia. The source of the melamine appears to be from corn gluten imported from China, according to published reports.

Corn gluten is exceptionally scary for us because it's a major ingredient in Luna's food. So far, the contaminated corn gluten has not been found here in the United States, and I can't understand why as the largest corn producer in the world we would get any corn products from China. But it's enough of a scare that I have contacted the manufacturer or Luna's main dry food (which is not one of the main brands in the news) for additional information. I will share whatever information I find on this forum.

For more detailed information on individual brands, I recommend checking in with Pet Connection.

So we have three major food products from China. From the Associated Press:

“Melamine was found in all three of those ? it would certainly lend credibility to the theory that it may be intentional. That will be one of the theories we will pursue when we get into the plants in China,” Stephen Sundlof, the FDA's chief veterinarian, told reporters…FDA investigators were awaiting visas that would allow them to visit the Chinese plants where the vegetable protein ingredients were produced.

Good luck to the FDA getting any honest information on a visit to China if it ever happens. But there are questions about the FDA in this whole issue. On one hand, they are now floating the theory that melamine was introduced to purposely increase measured protein content. From David Goldstein at the Huffington Post:

One would expect the FDA to test this theory by directly measuring protein levels in melamine-contaminated samples to see if they otherwise fall below grade. One would also expect the FDA to release the names of all importers, distributors and manufacturers who are suspected of handling contaminated product. But then, one would expect a lot of things from the FDA that they have thus far failed to deliver.

Why are the FDA so slow to name names, particularly when it comes to the Chinese manufacturers and the US distributors that do business with them? Indeed, why don't we simply stop all Chinese imports of these ingredients?

Given the facts, it is now reasonable to assume either massive, industry-wide negligence, or intentional contamination, and that all Chinese produced high-protein food additives are now suspect.

China is becoming the Pakistan of food quality, and the danger is spreading to the human food supply (for those who are unmoved by the suffering of our companion animals). You have to wonder if there is politcal pressure not to go after China for this, as they are such an important partner for the big business interests in the U.S.

To date, 4,346 deceased pets reported by Pet Connection. We at CatSynth do not want to see this number continue to grow…

Latest on the Pet Food Recall

The pet-food recall story continues to unfold. It has been almost a month since the original recall by Menu Foods. We've seen rat poisen and later melamine from Chinese wheat gluten as the potential root cause, and more and more brands being recalled.

OK, I just have to interject here, why are we getting pet food ingredients from China? It's one thing to import plastic trinkets, and even electronics (we've certainly done business with China at my work). But food products is another thing entirely. China is not known for their strong quality control, or aversion to cutting corners in production. That's not something to fool around when it comes to food for either humans or animals. Plus, pet food ingredients from a country that considers our pets (e.g., cats and dogs) to be dinner??

A great source of information has been Pet Connection, which includes the latest updates on recalled brands. I also like this summary from CNN, both for its being concise and the sweet but sad photo of a cat who recently became ill. Among the scarier developments were the recent recalls of one brand of dry cat food (Hill's Perscription Diet), and cat treats from Del Monte, including Pounce. All the recent recalls are products that contained wheat gluten from China. Luna's brand of dry cat food remains off the list, thankfully, and long ago we tried Pounce and Luna decided it was better as a toy than a cat treat (great for kicking around the floor). Neither her food nor her treats contain wheat gluten of any sort. But we're continuing to follow this, and encourage all our friends to as well…

Perhaps the saddest development is that the “16 or so cats and dogs that have died from poisoning” appears to be a gross underestimate.

PetConnection readers can report sick or deceased pets, and as of this writing they have 3240 deceased pets, of which 1729 are cats and 1511 are dogs. When you include both sick and deceased pets, the number they have is 9378.

Counting “sick and deceased pets” sounds really clinical in a lot of ways, kinda like casualty reports from the Iraq war, including the official undercounting. Putting a more personal face on the tragedy is a column by Christie Keith (who also contributes to PetConnection), the story “is bigger and more tragic” than many of the early official government and company reports suggest. It certainly is for those who have lost a precious member of their family.

There is going to be a nationwide (USA) day of rememberances and marches on April 28.

Rat poison found in recalled pet food

There's a bit of a shadow over our WCB fun this weekend, as the pet food recall story continues to unfold. From today's Toronto Star:

Rat poison has been found in pet food that sparked a massive recall and sent a scare through tens of thousands of pet owners across North America, but scientists said Friday they still don't know how it got there.

The pet food is produced by Mississauga, Ont.-based Menu Foods and is blamed for the deaths of at least 16 cats and dogs.

Four-month-old Tosa, pictured above, is being treated for kidney problems. Her vet “suspects may have been caused by pet foods.” She seems like a sweet baby, we hope she gets better.

We also hope all our feline friends, including those who participate in WCB, remain safe and healthy.

Alert! Mass recall of dog and cat food after pets suffer.

This is one of those scary stories animal lovers dread:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Pet owners were worried Saturday that the pet food in their cupboards could be deadly after millions of containers of dog and cat food sold at major retailers across North America were recalled.

Menu Foods — a major manufacturer of dog and cat food sold under Wal-Mart, Safeway, Kroger and other store brands — recalled 60 million containers of wet pet food Friday after reports of kidney failure and deaths.

An unknown number of cats and dogs suffered kidney failure and about 10 died after eating the affected pet food, the company said in announcing the North American recall.

Product testing has not revealed a link explaining the reported cases of illness and death, the company said.

“At this juncture, we're not 100 percent sure what's happened,” said Paul Henderson, the company's president and chief executive officer.

You can read a full article, including affected brands, here.

Luna's brand did appear on the list! But according to both Menu Foods and the brand, the recall only affects wet food in cans and pouches, not dry food (aka “crunchies”). So I think she's OK. But we're going to stay on top of this in case the affected types of food and lots increases (remember the E. Coli outbreak for human vegetables last fall).