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Burton Patrick of Pet Supplies Plus Pittsburgh Talks Details Dog Food Recall

Burton Patrick the owner of Pet Supplies ‘Plus” in Pittsburgh has made a detailed statement about the current Pet Food recall. The following is information provided by Mr. Burton Patrick.

Food recalls for both human and pet foods appear to be increasing. On the whole there doesn’t appear to any more problems now than in earlier years. The problems, however, may be bigger because of the advent of large processing plants that produce larger quantities of food that when tainted makes a much bigger problem. Additionally, the Internet speeds communications and creates immediate responses, recognizing problems much earlier today than in years past.

In this particular recall of many different pet food brand names (90 give or take) manufactured by Menu Foods, Inc. of Ontario, Canada, it has become apparent that many of our largest pet food marketing companies do not control their own manufacturing nor necessarily in our own country. In the current situation one plant of a number owned by Menu Foods is involved and that is in the plant in Emporia, Kansas.

A manufacturing (or should I say marketing) company stakes its reputation on the ability of the manufacturing companies that they hire to produce a quality product. This is the tangled web we weave in this consumer-driven society that demands high quality with a cheap price tag. Sounds good but as in this case it can backfire. We can demand all we want, but the cheaper we demand the price the more mistakes will be made. A fact of life is if you always pay too little most of the time you will get too little in return.

The current situation is only 72 hours old, and the exact cause of this has yet to be discovered. Menu Foods, Inc. claims it is the wheat gluten, but they have not pinpointed what appears to be a toxin causing acute kidney failure in the mixture. Wheat gluten is a by-product of wheat processing and it is fairly expensive. Some would call it a filler, but that is not correct. The purpose of it in pet food is to give the food in the can shape.

Wheat gluten is made by rinsing away the carbohydrate portion of wheat which leaves a high protein product called wheat gluten. It is used in human food as a meat-replacer. It is sticky and can be used as a gravy thickener and for holding cookies and bread together as well. Gluten also occurs in barley and some other grains. At this point we don’t know if the recall is broad enough, but most companies think it is.

Virtually all of the companies like Science Diet, Proctor and Gamble’s flagship brands (Iams and Eukanuba), and Nutro along with many other brands have expanded the recall to prevent potential problems, even though some of the recalled products may not be implicated. This is good business by all involved. It is in everybody’s best interest to limit exposure, and I am confident they will do their best.

At the time that I’m writing this news release a small number of dogs and cats are reported to have died from kidney failure, but I expect that will grow. Cats seem to be more affected than dogs at this time, but the disparity of numbers may be that cats are fed more wet food on a per capita basis than dogs. Autopsies and a lot of veterinarian work needs to happen before we can determine how many animals have been affected. In the meantime, Menu Foods along with many other institutions in government and otherwise will be frantically trying to verify the exact cause. They currently believe the culprit to be wheat gluten that is used to hold together the chunks and slices of food in the pouches and cans. We will know more about that in a few days. The question that will be asked by the authorities will be, “Who else used this product?” As of yet the company that is believed to be the source of the toxin has not been named for many good reasons. The main one is we don’t know what we are looking for yet.

Until we know the precise problem with the food, watch your pet for signs of kidney disease; vomiting, increased water consumption, frequent or infrequent urination and lethargy are common symptoms. If you see these signs, and they are unusual for your pet, take your pet to a veterinarian for immediate bloodwork. Procuring a urine sample before your trip to the vet would be helpful, but this is not always possible. One diagnostic tool is the urine’s specific gravity. If you don’t see any symptoms your pet may not show any abnormal bloodwork even though he/she ingested some of the food. Kidneys have to loose a lot of function before it shows up in bloodwork.

Should your pet be at high risk for kidney failure, the blood work will probably show a high BUN (blood urea nitrogen level) and possibly high creatine levels. You cannot let this go for more than a few hours after symptoms are noticed. Severe uremic poisoning (old-fashioned name for kidney disease) is toxic and deadly.

Kidney failure affects most processes in the body. Calcium metabolism, heart problems (as a result of muscle wasting), and toxic effects on the brain and nervous system are just a couple of the devastating results caused by kidney failure. Because of the rapidity at which this has stricken the affected pets, this problem is, in all likelihood, an acute form of kidney failure (brought on suddenly due to some toxin). The problems are not irreparable. A cessation of feeding the offending food should begin the healing process.

This all sounds terrible, and it is, but you need keep your cool. What is done now is over the dam so to speak. Yelling, screaming and being very excitable won’t solve anything. We don’t yet know the whole story. Until we have determined the exact cause and extent of the problem and if you are concerned beyond the recall, your immediate reaction should be to find foods without wheat gluten. In the meantime stay cool and don’t go over the edge with worry. That won’t help you or the pet.

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