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FDA expands pet food recall

Story Highlights

• Recall is expanded to products containing rice protein with melamine
• Previous recalled food contained wheat gluten with melamine
• Menu Foods adds one of its Natural Life brand products to the recall
By Katy Byron
CNN
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(CNN) -- The nationwide pet food recall was expanded Wednesday to include products containing rice protein laced with melamine, a toxic agent, the Food and Drug Administration said.

Before this latest announcement, the FDA attributed pet illness and deaths to recalled pet food with wheat gluten found to contain melamine, a component of fertilizers and plastic utensils.

Also on Wednesday, Menu Foods, the company that recalled more than 60 million cans and pouches of wet cat and dog food on March 15, added one of its Natural Life brand products to its recall list. It added two product dates to eight of its already recalled pet foods.

The FDA has recorded 16 animal deaths related to the wheat gluten-pet food recall. However, other organizations have put the death toll in the thousands. (Details on the recall)

After consumer complaints to Natural Balance of Pacoima, California, reporting kidney failure in several cats and dogs after eating the company's venison products, the firm issued a nationwide recall of its venison and brown rice canned and bagged dog foods and treats, and venison and green pea dry cat food, the FDA said. (The FDA's list of recalled pet foodexternal link)

The FDA said test results show the Natural Balance products containing the rice protein concentrate ingredient were found also to contain melamine.

"The pet industry sees this as a disaster," said Daniel Bernstein, publicist for Natural Balance. "Our number one concern right now is taking care of pets and their owners. Everything else is secondary."

Multiple pet food companies announced recalls of more than 100 pet food products after Menu Foods and the FDA announced that a wheat gluten additive from China was found to be a danger to animals.

The FDA has since embargoed all shipments into the United States from the Chinese supplier of the suspect wheat gluten.

The U.S. Senate held hearings last week with FDA officials, veterinarians and pet food industry representatives to discuss prevention of future contamination of products.

The recalls have been conducted by Menu Foods, Hill's Pet Nutrition, P&G Pet Care, Nestle Purina PetCare, Del Monte Pet Products and Sunshine Mills.


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Miami, Florida, vet Michael Fusco checks Chloe, whose owner brought her in fearing she may have eaten tainted food, in March.

MELAMINE

  • White or colorless crystals used in the production of synthetic resins for plastic tableware and other products.
  • Melamine can cause mild irritation of the eyes, skin, nose and throat in humans.
  • Chemical linked to bladder cancer in male rats. Female rats suffered chronic inflammation of their kidneys.

    Sources: OSHA, CDC
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