UNION, N.J. – 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, the Ontario-based company that produced the pet food, said Saturday it was recalling dog food sold under 48 brands and cat food sold under 40 brands including Iams, Nutro and Eukanuba. The food was distributed throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico by major retailers such as Wal-Mart, Kroger and Safeway.
An unknown number of cats and dogs had suffered kidney failure and about 10 died after eating the affected pet food, the company said.
Meanwhile, two other companies – Nestle Purina PetCare Co. and Hill’s Pet Nutrition Inc. – announced Saturday night that as a precaution they were voluntarily recalling some products made by Menu Foods.
Many stores that sold the affected brands frantically pulled packages off shelves.
At a Petsmart store in Union, Silviene Grzybowski became worried when the four types of Iams products she buys for her cat, Smokey, had vanished from shelves. The cat was very sick and had not been eating for days, she said.
Ron Finegold, of Boynton Beach, Fla., said he noticed about a week or so ago that his family’s 3-year-old cat – who was regularly fed a variety of Iams cat food – had stopped eating and did not appear well. He quickly took the animal to the veterinarian, who determined she was in renal failure.
He said he heard about the recall on the radio Friday night. He checked his trash and found out he had given the cat some of the affected food.
“That’s when I realized (the illness) had to be related,” Finegold said. “She won’t be eating that stuff anymore.”
A complete list of the recalled products, along with product codes, descriptions and production dates is available from the Menu Foods Web site, www.menufoods.com/recall. The company also designated two phone numbers that pet owners can call for information – (866) 463-6738 and (866) 895-2708 – but callers kept the lines busy for much of Saturday.
Menu Foods chief executive and President Paul Henderson told the Associated Press on Friday that the company was still trying to figure out what happened.
He said the company had received an undisclosed number of owner complaints that dogs and cats were vomiting and suffering kidney failure after eating its products.
Sarah Tuite, a company spokeswoman, has said the recalled products were made using wheat gluten purchased from a new supplier, which has since been dropped for another source. Wheat gluten is a source of protein.