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Pet Food Recalls — What To Do

Posted on Apr 2, 2007 in Legislation, National Issues

Over the weekend, three more pet food makers announced recalls of pet food products, joining MenuFoods -- which recalled over 60 Million cans/pouches of pet food within the past two weeks. Hill's Pet Nutrition, Nestlé Purina PetCare, and Del Monte Pet Products are included in the tainted products being pulled from the shelf along with MenuFoods. What's the problem? Some say that it's wheat gluten contaminated with melamine. Melamine is a chemical used to make plastic, as well as a fertilizer. Wheat gluten is used in pet food as a cheap protein (it's also used in human food), and there has been pet food discovered to have wheat gluten from China containing melamine, which is said to be toxic enough to cause kidney failure in animals. However, the State of New York has issued a report (click here to read it), stating that its state laboratory has found rat poison in samples of MenuFood's recalled pet food. The FDA's chief veterinarian, Stephen Sundlof, says the FDA hasn't been able to confirm this. New York agriculture commissioner Patrick Hooker says New York's right, the FDA's wrong. What to do?
  1. Check the Food & Drug Administration site for the latest information on what products have been recalled. They have a special page devoted to PetFoodRecalls, with a list of all the products as well as the latest FDA press releases on the subject. Another good source of info is a Seattle blogger's ongoing collection of information at Itchmo.Com.
  2. Segregate any of this product that you may have in your pantry; don't give it to the pets, but don't throw it out in case you need it for evidence.
  3. If your pet is exhibiting any signs of abnormal behavior, and you may have fed him or her some contaminated food, be on the safe side and visit the vet. Look for extreme thirst, lethargy, and vomiting -- signs of kidney failure. If you see any of these symptoms, go to the vet NOW.
  4. Until this crisis has passed, I would suggest feeding your dog human-quality food. There are several sites with recipes. Yes, I mean make it yourself.
  5. If your pet has been poisoned by contaminated food, keep track of all your expenses (paper trails are very important in lawsuits) and consider the possibility of joining in a class action against the pet food manufacturers involved. Many are considering this possibility now.
  6. Get ready for the bad legal news. There are problems with suing for the loss of a pet: pets are considered property in most states, and their human's emotional losses are not recognized in most courts -- yet.
The beauty of the law is its ability to grow and change to meet the needs of the people: perhaps this tragedy will help to address the reality of today's culture. For many, their pets are a part of their family. Their dogs and cats are children to them, and their untimely deaths, devastating. My condolences to anyone who has lost a pet in this contaminated food crisis. As a dog lover, I sympathize with your loss. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at info@bloomlegal.com. Sources: New York State Dept. of Agriculture; AP/MSNBC.COM; USATODAY.COM; CBS.COM.

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