Pet Food Recall

Several well-known brands of dog and cat food have been recalled because they are causing vomiting and kidney failure.

Menu Foods, the Ontario, Canada-based company that produced the pet food, said Saturday it was recalling dog food sold throughout North America under 48 brands and cat food sold under 40 brands including Iams, Nutro and Eukanuba. The food was distributed 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.


A complete list of the recalled products along with product codes, descriptions and production dates was available from the Menu Foods Web site, The company also designated two phone numbers that pet owners could 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 that the company had received an undisclosed number of owner complaints that dogs and cats were vomiting and suffering kidney failure after eating its products. He estimated that the recall would cost the company, which is mostly owned by the Menu Foods Income Fund, an estimated $26 million to $34 million.

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. Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman Julie Zawisza said it is still too early to determine what could have affected the food. Zawisza added that even if wheat gluten is the source “it doesn’t necessarily mean the wheat gluten per se. It could be another substance associated with the wheat gluten.”

You’d think these companies would have some sort of testing procedure in place to make sure food isn’t contaminated. That’s doubly true if they have switched to a new supplier.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    The Center for Veterinary Medicine, a department of the FDA, is responsible for establishing and enforcing standards for all animal feeds including those for household pets. Here’s the statement from their site:

    A safe animal feed supply helps ensure healthy animals and people. To that end, the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) monitors and establishes standards for feed contaminants, approves safe food additives, and manages the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) medicated feed and pet food programs.

    Offhand I’d guess that the number of inspectors is far below what’s required for the enormity of the task, most of the inspectors are probably concentrating on feeds for commercial livestock, and whatever compliance there is is de facto mostly voluntary.

  2. bob in fl says:

    I am thankful that I could not afford Iams for my cat when I had him & shied away from the generics. He already had urinary tract infection problems.

    Has anyone else noticed another aspect of this recall? From various news reports, it certainly sounds like the most & least expensive cat pet foods on the market may have the same formulas. So much for the “value” of the expensive brands.

  3. Dave Schuler says:

    I’m not sure if they have the same formula or different formulas made by the same source, bob in fl. But, while Ol’ Roy is a rock-bottom dog food the top brand made by Menu Foods is nowhere near the most expensive brand on the market. I could name a half-dozen ultra-premium brands with prices that would leave ’em far behind.

    And then there are the commercial foods based on the BARF (bones and raw food) regime. Those are expensive.

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    Interesting little sidelight on the dynamics of web traffic. My post on this story from yesterday (currently the first blog post listed when googling “dogfood recall”) is getting quite a little flurry of activity.

  5. James Joyner says:

    commercial foods based on the BARF (bones and raw food) regime. Those are expensive.

    Tell me about it. That’s what we’re feeding our dogs. We actually bought a meat grinder and were making it ourselves but the vet convinced us we were better off with the commercial stuff.

    My post on this story from yesterday (currently the first blog post listed when googling “dogfood recall”) is getting quite a little flurry of activity.

    Yep, it’s rather odd how that works. The combination of a relatively high PageRank, the use of permalinks, and some strange dynamics tend to make blog posts rank high in searches.

  6. Dave Schuler says:

    Your dogs have allergies? Auto-immune issues?

  7. James Joyner says:

    Your dogs have allergies? Auto-immune issues?

    We got a Cavalier King Charles puppy a little over a year ago and the breeder strongly recommends BARF because the breed has issues with artificial food. We already had an older dog, which has allergies. It just seemed the thing to do was to feed the older dog (a cocker-lab mix) well, too. She dog does seem to have gotten healthier–certainly, much thinner–on the new diet.

  8. Dave Schuler says:

    We move somewhat in performance dog circles and the folks there are pretty hard care. Consequently, they’ve been putting the hard press on us to go over to the BARF diet. I’d like to see a little more in the way of scientific evidence of efficacy before I make that commitment.

  9. Elderta says:

    I think you are getting more traffic because it seems more and more animals (especially cats) are dying from the foods. Menu Foods says it’s only 1 dog and 9 cats, but seriously, I’ve been reading posts from numerous sites today with people saying that their animals have died or had gotten sick in the last two months from renal failure. Many have attributed to the food. This is a sad story that is slowly going to snowball into a tragedy, I think.

  10. vreston says:

    Commercial pet foods are made from all the toxic junk that gets left behind from human food manufacturing processes. After our beloved boy cat had to endure a horrible operation and months of bladder problems, we did a ton of research to understan how he got there. He is a happy healthy 11 year old cat now, but what we learned then changed us for ever. Most of these brands are owned by major food companies for a reason – so nothing is wasted, and pet food is the last stop. I am shocked that it took so long for a crisis to to happen. If you care about your pet – PLEASE GO HERE, as an example, and educate yourself. . Even some of the “best” brands are guilty – for the sake of your beloved pets, please stay away from commercial pet foods. They do a ton of damage over time too, when we think we are taking care of our furry children. Please pass it along!

  11. Donna says:

    I have a feeling that a lot more dogs and cats are dying because of this. I can’t imagine it would be possible to track just 19-100 animal deaths from such a huge area. Either that or competition is trying to bring down Menu Foods. Kinda like when they found Salmonella on one grape from South America. North American grocers pulled all grapes from their shelves. I’m such a synic. Thankfully I purchase high end human grade food for my pets, just in case we have food shortages. No cooking or cleanup. I’m sure we’d get used to the taste.

  12. Kathy says:

    I appreciate the balanced article on this site. I just sent a scathing email to CBSNEWS.Com for their article about “dogs dying from bad dog food.” No mention of cats anywhere in the article, except in the list of bad foods at the end.

    I’m not a dog hater. I have one who sleeps in my bed every night. But I also have four cats and they deserve protection, too.

  13. Barbara says:

    My cat Shadow died on March 20. Both her and my other cat are inside cats and have eaten the one of the brands being recalled. If anyone knows what I can do, please let me know as my other cat is now showing symptoms.