The recall of lines of cat and dog food in the USA,
Canada and Mexico is causing great concern amongst pet owners and veterinarians as a they try to
establish what the scale of the problem is and what the risk is. The problem
came to light following the reports of sickness and deaths of a number of dogs
and cats. The FDA has reported deaths of 14 dogs and cats, although the total
number may never be known. The problem is in foods produced by a Menu Foods
which is based in Mississauga, Ontario. Menu Foods first discovered their problem when nine
cats used in standard taste tests died after eating the food. A further four
animals died after eating food purchased at stores by their owners. The deaths
appear to be caused by kidney failure, and affected animals show initial signs
of thirst. Vomiting by affected animals has also been reported. Early
indications suggest that the source of the contamination could be a shipment of
wheat gluten received from a new supplier to Menu Foods. Wheat gluten is used as
a thickener for the gravy in canned food, but is not usually used in the
production of dry food. One possibility is that the wheat gluten could have been
contaminated with mycotoxins, such as aflatoxin, as a results of mold affecting
the gluten or the wheat that it came from. At present, this is just speculation
as the toxic agent in the food has not yet been identified.

A detailed study of the findings of a previous outbreak of aflatoxin poisoning in dogs in the USA has just been published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical
The study is on an outbreak of poisoning in 2005 that lead to the deaths of more
than 100 dogs mainly in the southern and eastern states of the USA. The main postmortem findings from the affected dogs were signs of liver
disease. The article gives valuable information on many aspects of aflatoxin
poisoning in dogs, including the diagnosis, pointing out that variability of
symptoms is a complicating feature, and its treatment. Useful procedures on how
veterinarians should approach suspected cases of food poisoning, and their role
in alerting pet food manufacturers is also discussed.

One of the interesting features
of the recent case of pet food poisoning is the recall of  so many pet food
lines sold under different company labels, that are made by the one
manufacturer. The Menu Foods recall list includes 40 names of product lines of
cat food and 50 of dog food. In addition some of the larger pet food companies
have also recalled some of their lines that are not on the Menu Foods list, as a
precaution. The pet food market is very competitive and food scares can be
extremely serious as consumers are often very quick to react while they assess
the risk to their pet. Reports in some papers tall of consumers and
veterinarians complaining about the lack of information on the outbreak. In the USA
the pet food market is worth $11 billion, and the pet food industry is very
aware of that many consumers regard the pet as a member of the family and would
be just as concerned about food poisoning of their pet as they would any other
member of their family. Already, there have been reports of pet owners switching
to ‘natural foods’ which do not include large proportions of cereals in what
appear to be meat based foods.

To find out more search the CAB Abstracts Database on pet food safety and on mycotoxin poisoning.


  1. kathleen on 21st March 2007 at 5:17 pm

    The recall has inspired some pet owners to try their hand at creating their own pet food. Dr. Kidd of recommends home cooking and providing your pet human-grade food. If you chose this route, the basic formula is one third meat, one third grain and one third vegetable to create a healthy balanced diet for your pet. These is more great tips on

  2. PBurns on 5th April 2007 at 2:48 am

    To read about the uneasy relationship between pet food, PETA and wheat gluten, see >>

  3. Mr. H on 21st May 2008 at 8:58 pm

    It is tragic for those who try so hard and put their trust in others. Many people are really seeing the value of natural diets for themselves, it only makes sense that it’s best for animals as well.

  4. Jolie Makes Homemade Dog Food on 27th May 2008 at 3:43 pm

    “Many people are really seeing the value of natural diets for themselves, it only makes sense that it’s best for animals as well.”
    i agree. It’s always better for us to know what we are eating. Although making our own food doesn’t always guarantee that, at least we are sure we will never poison ourselves or our pets. There are many homemade dog food recipes and cat food recipes in the Internet. All we need to do is search for it and have the patience to make it.

  5. James(Nutro Dog Food) on 24th June 2008 at 2:28 pm

    For many pet owners a well-balanced nutritional diet for the pet is as important as a balance nutritional diet for their families. Using only holistic ingredients in their products, Nutro dog food offers the protein needed for a dog while staying away from additives and artificial ingredients that have no positive effect on the animal’s health.

  6. food poisoning on 22nd July 2008 at 8:09 pm

    Food Poisoning Lawyer from NJ : Eric H Wienberg

  7. Omar on 1st October 2008 at 7:27 pm

    Wish I had the time to make my own dog food. With all the recalls I am so afraid of what she might be getting otherwise.

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