Thursday, April 05, 2007
On the toxic pet food story....
Our correspondent Joe Johns and his team are breaking some news on the pet food scandal:

Most of us had been assuming that somewhere along the supply-chain the wheat gluten that goes into pet food was accidentally contaminated by the chemical melamine. Testing is still underway, but toxicologists suspect that the crystals containing melamine and found in animals' kidneys is making them ill or killing them.

The phrase to focus on here is "accidentally contaminated." The FDA now tells us it's investigating whether or not the contamination was intentional -- and profit-motivated.

Here's why:

The FDA says it's possible that melamine can be used to raise protein levels in wheat gluten. Higher protein levels make the wheat gluten more valuable. So, based on his conversation with the FDA, here's what Joe is looking at tonight: Was this all about money?

All the companies -- including the Chinese company that the FDA says distributed the tainted gluten, the Xuzhou Anying Biologic Development Co. -- have denied adding melamine to the wheat gluten in the pet food.

Here's another thing:

The FDA has now received more than 12,000 complaints about contaminated pet food. That's more than the total number of complaints the FDA had received over the past two years.
Posted By David Doss, "360" Executive Producer: 7:39 PM ET
  50 Comments
Thank you to Joe Johns and CNN for investigating the contamination of pet food. That the addition of melamine to pet food may have been deliberate and for profit is appalling.

We have two dogs, beloved family members of course, and have consulted with our vet for recipes to make homemade meals for them rather than risk purchasing pet food. Recipes also abound online.

So much for the theory that table scraps are unhealthy for pets!
Posted By Anonymous Sandra Duez, Jamestown, NC : 7:38 AM ET
"Never attribute to malice that which
can satisfactorily be explained by incompetence."
-- N. Bonaparte
Posted By Anonymous Steve H, Statesboro GA : 8:12 AM ET
I think this is just sickening. Are our food supplies safe? Something has to be done, our pets are so important to us.
Posted By Anonymous Jess, Paris, KY : 8:20 AM ET
Using untested imported ingredients from unregulated foreign suppliers is clearly an attempt to increase profits by a few cents with little or no regard for public safety. Therefore, regardless of excuses, it was deliberate act of reckless negligence in the pursuit of profit. Unfortunately, in an America that worships corporate profits above all else, this type of behavior seems to be acceptable and any resulting damages are simply "unfortunate".
Posted By Anonymous DEF Jacksonville, FL : 8:32 AM ET
The fact that the wheat gluten came from China would also explain the profit angle. Isn't America one of the top producers of Wheat? Isn't that what we ship to third world countries for humanitarian efforts?
I guess Free Trade is not really Free at all!

And WHY are the store shelves still packed with these products?!?
Posted By Anonymous Renae - Appleton, WI : 8:38 AM ET
So for the conspiracy seekers among us, this question... if done on purpose, did the evil "they" intend to croak off our cats... or us? And is our food inspection good enough to have caught this if it went into the human food chain?

I suspect the answers are "dunno" and "heck, no, it would have slipped on by."

Next question... are the government and/or the food companies ready to pay for forensic toxicology level food testing. I think we all know the answer to that one.

Look for Wacko Bin Looney and his merry band to get after the food supply next. After all, if the Chinese can run their interference testing for them, it's an easy entry into killing Americans at home.
Posted By Anonymous Scott Schrader, Mounds View, MN : 8:41 AM ET
I agree whole heartily..we are making our own recipes for our wonderful boston terrrier that we feel could have been a victim. She has had several of those foods that have been recalled and we switched her because they seemed not to agree with her. We thought she was a picky eater. She has been to the vet very ill at times. Now we are questioning..could it have been the food?
Posted By Anonymous Brenda , Hampstead, NC : 8:51 AM ET
Think about it. In the country where the contaminated wheat gluten came from, they EAT cats and dogs. They don't respect these animals as pets the way we do. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if it were done intentionally.
Posted By Anonymous Jim, Morrow, OH : 8:57 AM ET
Thank you for continuing to follow this story. With "Voluntary Compliance" and virtually no FDA oversight, it was inevitable that greed would trump safety.

I lost one cat and have another in treatment for kidney failure. It's been a devastating time for my family, but if the FDA doesn't change, next time it could be my children.

I thank Senator Durbin for his efforts and hope others will join him.
Posted By Anonymous Karen Goodhart, Port Wentworth, GA : 8:59 AM ET
This is one of the most terrible things that has happened to my family. My cat almost died and thanks to the emergency room vet and her stay in the hosptial for 4 days she has lived. The cost of her stay cost me $2300.00. It is terrible when we all depend on the food to be safe for our dogs and cats and then find out that when we feed them, we are killing them. Something HAS to be done by the FDA in order for us to feel safe. What next...people's food supply?
Posted By Anonymous Ellen, Cooper City, Florida : 9:03 AM ET
"Money... is the root of all evil today"
--Pink Floyd
Posted By Anonymous Krystyna B., Chicago, IL : 9:04 AM ET
It astounds me that anyone would purposely poison pet food. Pets are a part of our lives and a part of our families. If this was done on purpose, then the companies or people responsible need to be held liable. The pet food companies should be forced to do better testing on the foods they are producing and should cut their ties with the Xuzhou Anying Biologic Development Co. immediately. There is no reason that this recall had to extend so far and for so long. For too long the FDA has been under-regulating pet foods and hopefully this will be their wake-up call.
Posted By Anonymous Kimberly Miller, Hiram, OH : 9:05 AM ET
Thanks for following up on this issue... People wonder, oh why the brouhaha, it's just animals. It's NOT just animals. It's indicative of the way things can easily get out of hand in ANY industry. Today it's our pet's food, tomorrow it could be our own.

The good people at 360, I wonder if you can follow up by doing a story on the alternative methods of feeding our pets. I feed my dog a raw prey model diet, and she's never been healthier, despite many warnings from other people who've had friends of cousins of neighbors of spouses' coworkers who had their dogs die from a chicken bone. I've done my research, and feel it's the best I can do for my dog given my limited finances. Many people who care enough about their animals feed species-appropriate diets, and will know enough to tell you that vets, unless they elect to do this on their own, just don't know squat about pet nutrition. And yet millions of petowners who trust in the Good White Lab Coat implicitly don't know that.
Posted By Anonymous Jacinta, Brooklyn, NY : 9:18 AM ET
I found on one website last night, where this contaminated wheat gluten was "food grade", not "feed grade". So it may very well be in processed foods containing wheat!
Posted By Anonymous Teresa M., Odessa, MO : 9:30 AM ET
Did the FDA investigate if the wheat materials affected coming from China purchased for dog and cat food were also purchased for human consumption by American food industries for example , cereals?
Posted By Anonymous David Cecchino, Fairfax, Virginia : 9:58 AM ET
David,
How sad that beloved pets have been lost because of contaminated wheat gluten in their food. For many of us our pets are four legged family members. There are some really good, healthy, and EASY dog and cat food recipes which I am choosing to make right now to avoid feeding my "babies" anything toxic. Maybe 360 could post some recipe sites. Dogs and cats LOVE the homemade food.
I comsume (human)veggie meat products which also contain wheat gluten. Is this poison also? Could you let us know?
Thanks for keeping us informed on the pet food issue. With proper training, man can be dog's best friend. Cats too. Oh hell, I can't control my fingers I just have to say it, isn't that the most Purr~fect combination? It's Grr~eat!
sorry.
Posted By Anonymous Betty Ann, Nacogdoches TX : 9:59 AM ET
My Yorkie has been in ICU since last Monday. I fed her the normal "Alpo Prime with Gravy" one night and it was down hill from there. I asked Purina why didn't they have testing in place when receiving products from their "new supplier". The answer? "We've taken steps to make sure this doesn't happen again." Why didn't they take earlier steps? This has been a nightmare and I'm very, very angry.
Posted By Anonymous Carol Moore, Quinlan Texas : 10:28 AM ET
Let's hope we all wake up to reality and finally notice that our food supply is getting more risky. Where does it end? Spinach, lettuce, fruits, vegetables, pet food and so on.
Profit-motivated? How sad and disheartening.
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 11:02 AM ET
Thanks for continuing to follow up with this. I am still very worried about the safety of both pet food and human foods. Are they postive it is the melamine in the wheat gluten or is there something else? So, this additive boosted the protein results and was considered food grade (fit for human consumption); yet, the exact point of origin does not seem to be confirmed. Did Xuzhou Anying produce this product? How can we be sure it was not sold to other distributors/suppliers?

I am also concerned about the amount of phenobarbital that might be present in the pet food. An excessive amount could result in renal failure.
Posted By Anonymous Arlene K., Wausau, WI : 11:07 AM ET
Thanks for keeping on this topic. It's effects are bound to ultimately be far reaching - as who really knows what's in our own food supply as well. I feed my dog home-cooked and have for several years, so I haven't been affected. But I gotta wonder, what's really in the packaged breads, baked goods like cookies, etc, canned goods etc... that I buy, some of which I may also give to my dog (canned veggies-not cookies) And if ISO 9000 certification means what I saw on the recent videotapes (a bunch of 'appearing to be' unlabeled sacks of who knows what laying around in the open), well, what good is it really?
Posted By Anonymous Ronda P, Los Angeles, CA : 11:11 AM ET
It is definitely important that this issue be followed up on so we know what products are contaminated. However, here is my question to all who blame companies for not doing "rigorous testing"...Are you ready to pay more for products that have been thoroughly tested?

Sure it sounds good, but when you are in the store and see two identical products, only one costs more (due to passing on of the testing expense - companies would go under if they tried to absorb it), which are you going to choose? My guess is, most will keep thier money and chance it.
Posted By Anonymous Sarah, San Francisco, CA : 11:28 AM ET
We lost our beloved cat to the tainted food and I can't forgive myself that I fed him poison.

God bless you and CNN for having the guts to tell the story on this. I have written to my Attorney General and others here in my state and NO ONE has bothered to return my messages. I guess, they all think - well, it's just a cat - you can always get another one.
Posted By Anonymous Patricia, Cottage Grove, MN : 11:33 AM ET
What if that contaminated wheat gluten had ended up in 'people' food? Would most of the U.S. be so nonchalant as they seem to be now? From what I understand, it was several weeks before Menu Foods issued any warnings or recalls. That in itself was unconscionable. My heart goes out to everyone who's had a pet suffer and/or die because of this. This would have never happened had the proper checks and balances been in place.
Posted By Anonymous Charlene, Mechanicsville, VA : 11:39 AM ET
I wholeheartedly agree with the poster about the "bottom line" here. Isn't that the goal of just everything and every business in this country?
Get the product wherever it is the cheapest...third world countries, whatever. Remember the saying "You get what you pay for" and eventually we all pay in one form or another, in lives or whatever.
It's not like we can't get wheat products or the myriad of other foodstuff here in our own country. The whole thing, the whole system, is just putrid.
Posted By Anonymous Karen Williams, Anaheim, CA : 11:40 AM ET
I do believe it was intentional. As well as other contaminents in human foods. All of a sudden we have so many problems with contaminated foods. I think USA should purchase all of these types of foods and medicins from right here in the good old USA. I have a dog and thank God was not affected by this recall but something has to bedone and of course it is all about money.
Posted By Anonymous norma belfri rockville centre, NY : 11:41 AM ET
This is what happens when we outsource stuff so far away that we have no quality control over it!
Posted By Anonymous Andy Steinberg, South Hadley, MA : 11:42 AM ET
This is exactly what happens when you accept the lowest bidder on a contract.

If it was food grade and China is the top producer of wheat in the world then EVERYONE could be ingesting melamine EVERYDAY, the only difference is cats and dogs are more susceptible to the chemical changes that it makes in a small body. The question is what are we or our pets ingesting that we DON'T know about?
Posted By Anonymous Em, Toronto, Ontario, Canada : 11:48 AM ET
I was wondering when someone would make this assertion. I believe that the answer is 'yes'. I have 3 Siamese cats, am disabled and have virtually no resources. My girls are my entire universe. I am quite frankly, scared to death that I will unwittingly kill them. The FDA seems to be doing a fine job, but it's investigation needs to be broadened.
Posted By Anonymous Rod C. Venger Colorado Springs, Colorado : 11:53 AM ET
If they would make the pet food in the states and not source it out to other countries, we could regulate what goes in the product. We don't know what is happening to our food that is shipped in from overseas! The United States
used to be self reliant but not anymore and I do believe that will be our downfall in the end!
Posted By Anonymous Sharon, St Clair MO : 11:54 AM ET
I am now reading that the tainted wheat gluton that caused the massive pet food recall is being found in processing plants that prepare food that is consumed by people. But no one is saying where because the FDA needs to do more "testing". So they need to wait for someone to die or get very sick? This makes no sense to me. Why are we getting our wheat gluton from China anyway? I know, cheaper. Guess the old saying holds true, you get what you pay for. But, what better way for a terrorist attack than to comtaminate our food products? I say we have a right to know where our food is coming from. We know if a shirt is made in India or a toy is made in China. This is way more important.
Something to think about
Posted By Anonymous Gwen, Kent City. MI : 11:54 AM ET
Being owned by two dogs and two cats I find this story very disturbing. Several years ago one of my cats got sick due to the food I had fed him, it was from a reputable company, or so I thought. Luckily I got Gizmo tho the vet in time to save his life. Since then I check pet food packages and try to avoid store brands since half the time I don't know what's in them. Now I look for foods that have only "real" food in them and no byproducts and so far no sick pets.

Thank you CNN for doing such a great job in putting time and energy to cover this story. Keep up thye great work.
Posted By Anonymous Marcia, Warren Mi : 11:56 AM ET
My dog was diagnosed with kidney failure. I was feeding him a can of Hills science diet once a week as a treat. He was a 9 year old airdale in perfect health. He wouldnt eat or drink in his last days. After spending $3000 trying to help him, I had to have him put down.
Posted By Anonymous John R, Phoenix Az : 12:00 PM ET
Ok if the foods are killing and making the pets sick, which foods are the ones doing it?
Posted By Anonymous Kaylee,Kissimmee,Fl : 12:16 PM ET
Regarding the pet food recall. Have other countries experenced the same problem?????
Posted By Anonymous Barbara Castorina Altoona, Pennsylvania 16602 : 12:26 PM ET
The contaminated Sunshine dog biscuits mentioned to the public for the first time yesterday afternoon, April 5, 2007, were removed from the store shelves in Alabama several days ago.
If the manufacturer and suppliers knew about the contamination, why was the general public not informed right away? A store clerk told me that nobody could have checked out with Sunshine dog biscuits for the past several days - their cash registers were set up to reject the sale as a recall item. What about the unused supplies of dog food/biscuits consumers had stored in their pantries and continued to feed to their pets?
This is a scandal and boils down to one thing - M O N E Y !!!! Big Business wanted the bad dog food batch sold before disclosing this information.
Posted By Anonymous Renate Eacret, Lillian, Alabama : 12:26 PM ET
It's quite possible that the majority of the FDA complainants are "profit-motivated" as well....
Posted By Anonymous Edna Waller, Hampton, VA : 12:27 PM ET
Many countries have had problems with their food supply. China is no exception, and Chinese citizens as well as Americans have been victims of this as well (for example the 57 people sickened in Zhejiang in late March). We do NOT need racist or self-righteous comments about the Chinese lacking moral values as seen in an earlier comment.
Posted By Anonymous David, Dallas, TX : 12:58 PM ET
If anyone would purposefully do this to an animal is it a stretch
to assume that people will follow? I like to think not.
Posted By Anonymous Kathy Kormos, Colorado Springs, Colorado : 12:59 PM ET
I applaud those who prepare their own pets' food. I wish I had the time and inclination, but I've searched for the highest quality food on the market and serve Merrick to my dog and Wellness to my cat. Both are unaffected by the recall, and I've always felt good about serving it to them. Sometimes it's worth that extra $10 a bag.
Posted By Anonymous Tina, New York, NY : 1:06 PM ET
Why do we have to import wheat glutin, anyway? Can't we buy it from American farmers? Or from Canada? I guess it's the same reason Walmart buys cheap goods from China, the labor is so cheap.

It's so upsetting; do we have to get everything from China now?
Posted By Anonymous Linda, Boulder, Colorado : 1:55 PM ET
All about the money, right? Whatever they made, they'll have to give back. Where did it get them? They got alot of people so mad that they probably won't buy pet food any more, from anyone. My Zip died on 2/21/07, and Oscar will die earlier than he should. I was feeding them Special Kitty. If I had only known. Again I ask, as I've been asking since 2/21, WHY??
Posted By Anonymous The Gilbert Family, Oviedo FL : 1:55 PM ET
Why do we need to get this product from China? Why can't these companies get this product from our own farmers?
Posted By Anonymous Sherrie, State College, PA : 2:14 PM ET
Not to be paranoid but what if this is just a trial run by terroists to experiement on our pets, before they launch the next step which is us. When 911 happened they seemed to delight in using our planes against us so if they can get us to eat tainted food that they have poisoned, just think how much pride they would take in that.
Posted By Anonymous TS Springfield, SD : 2:45 PM ET
It's a SHAME we Americans feed our spoiled (just like us USA human beings) dogs and cats food fit for a king in nations where human beings are starving to death and suffering severe malnutrition. Why don't you all take the extra $$ you pay for stupid, spoiled little Fifi and Cuddles to eat "gourmet wet pet food" and donate the $$ to aid organizations to help feed starving human beings in the 3rd world?~?!? Your little "precious ones" will do just fine on table scraps and leftovers!! Also, you should put poor little "Fifi and Cuddles" out of the house for a couple of nights in *nature's world*--might be a good way to BURN THE PHAT/FAT of your little spoiled pet!
Posted By Anonymous Sam, Houston, TX : 3:09 PM ET
"Gourmet Wet Pet Food"?!? Isn't that an oxymoron!>? hehehe
Posted By Anonymous Mark, Sacramento, CA : 3:12 PM ET
My cat had Kidney failure last fall. Could the contaminated food happened last Sept. or Oct.?
Posted By Anonymous Karen P., Englewood, OH : 3:15 PM ET
My cat is getting fat eating migrating songbirds. I'm not happy about this, but at least he isn't being poisoned.
Posted By Anonymous Steve, Statesboro GA : 3:28 PM ET
Kaylee asked:
Ok if the foods are killing and making the pets sick, which foods are the ones doing it?

go to menufoods.com and click on rcall information.
Posted By Anonymous Marcia, Warren Mi : 3:37 PM ET
I am so sorry to anyone who has had their pet pass away and to the pet owners who have had to pay $100's or $1000's to keep their pet alive... I am very sorry to the pet owner's who love their animals dearly but could not justify spending that much money to keep their animal alive... Anyone that states "it's only a dog or cat" obviously has never had a beloved pet... This is a very scary situation, especially since everytime we turn around, something else is being taken off the market...It is also very scary wondering if the next thing will be a "people" food... Another thought is, I remember a time not too long ago, when it was reported that retired folks on very low fixed incomes were having to resort to eating dog or cat food due to the high cost of drugs and food... I hope none of these folks have been hospitalized or even died due to this... CNN, thank you for your efforts in investigating this...
Posted By Anonymous Sherry Sarasota, Fl : 3:46 PM ET
DON'T LET THIS STORY DIE!!!! As it is, it's not getting the attention it SOOOOO deserves. Let's find the problem, make our "kids" food at home where we can be safe about it and hand the pet food industry it's walking papers. I'm furious at this.
Posted By Anonymous Erinmarie, Brandon, FL : 3:49 PM ET
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