Mar. 23rd, 2007

lurkitty: (WTF?)
Imagine what would happen if a multinational food manufacturer suspected that its products might be causing deaths due to kidney failure. Would they leave the product on the shelf while they conducted tests? Or would they initiate a recall?

What would they do when lab animals started dying during the tests? Initiate an immediate recall?

This situation is real, but the victims, whose number we may never know but are estimated to reach thousands, are our pets. In a report at anna at DailyKos, and CBS fill us in on the full story of how Menu Foods first became aware of a problem with its wet pet food over a month ago.

I can personally attest to the accuracy of the timing because a friend of mine lost her cat to kidney disease over a month ago. When she took her cat to the vet, he asked what food she had had been feeding her. It was IAMs. The vet told her then that he had heard of reports of problems with IAMs food, and that it was killing cats.

Menu Foods response to the reports of problems was to initiate a test program on cats. Here is a pet food company. A company that purportedly cares about animals. They were conducting tests on cats. Nine cats died during the test. With these test results, Menu Foods waited two weeks before calling for a recall of the affected products. Menu Foods has isolated the problem to its wheat gluten*, but refuses to name the supplier.

The FDA has stepped in and begun testing pet foods for toxins. It is important to watch the recall site because new brands are still being added.

This company is getting away with this behavior because the products it is making are for animals. Animals we care about and treat as family. They have already shown by their actions they have no regard for the lives of the animals for whom they make the food; they killed nine cats with alacrity simply to test the product, a product that they already knew was killing cats!

Despite its actions, Menu Foods remains a top supplier of pet foods. The company's stock has been down graded by most analysts but not all this week, according to the International Herald Tribune. least one analyst, Aleem Israel of Sprott Securities in Toronto, is confident that the company's market dominance will be its salvation and has upgraded the fund to "buy."

"We do not expect major fallout from customer defections," Israel wrote in a note to investors Wednesday. "Menu remains the largest wet pet-food manufacturer in North America, and its track record of safety and quality assurance has been strong."
Tell that to the owners of the dead cats and dogs that could have been saved by an earlier recall!

There is no greater argument for reform of the pet food industry. This company is one reason that I have no patience with people who condemn all trial lawyers and say that punitive damages should be outlawed. A class action lawsuit has begun in Seattle, as well as dozens of other lawsuits. A company that has so little regard for the population it serves that it does not care that the company's products are poisoning the customers should not be doing business.

*For those wondering about Scruffy and his friends, I switched them to a gluten-free food about 6 months ago when I suspected he had an allergy to wheat. What great timing!

ETA: It has now been revealed that the deaths were due to rat poison. Reading this Seattle Times article, I was flabbergasted at this quote:
The company's chief executive and president said Menu Foods delayed announcing the recall until it could confirm that the animals had eaten its product before dying. Two earlier complaints from consumers whose cats had died involved animals that lived outside or had access to a garage, which left open the possibility they had been poisoned by something other than contaminated food, he said.

This does not explain why the company sat on its own test results for two weeks before recalling its products. It is very hard to believe that it only had two complaints when a vet in Oregon was telling an owner about the problem over a month ago. Something is not right here.


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