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The Wall Street Journal reports that “Cornell University scientists said a toxin used to kill rats appears to have contaminated pet food blamed for the deaths of at least 14 cats and dogs. But it remains unclear how the toxin got into the pet food, and the uncertainty continued to hang over” Menu Foods, the Canadian pet-food supplier that manufactured the poisoned wet dog and cat food under a variety of labels.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not ruled out the possibility of sabotage.

In the meantime, MSNBC reports that natural and organic pet foods are likely to be the recipient of consumer interest “as the fallout settles” from the poisoned pet food recall. It is a trend that already seems to be developing: “Annual sales in the organic and natural pet foods market have swelled to an estimated $400 million in the United States, outpacing the growth rate of the non-organic pet food market 3-to-1.”

That leaves plenty of room for growth, however, since natural and organic pet foods represent “just a fraction of the total $14.5 billion U.S. pet-food market.”

Last week, MNB posted excerpts from an email sent out by Wegmans to its customers about the tainted pet food manufactured by Menu Foods that is believed to be responsible for multiple pet illnesses and deaths.

MNB received a similar email, sent to PetSmart’s emailing list by its chairman/CEO, Philip L. Francis, and thought it worth reprinting excerpts here because of its relevance and specificity:

“As you have probably heard, Menu Foods, a national manufacturer of pet foods, issued a voluntary recall of canned and pouched wet dog and cat food manufactured in two of its facilities between December 2006 and March 2007. Again, this is a recall of a specific type of wet pet food made by Menu Foods. Other wet pet foods and all dry pet food and treats are not impacted by this recall.

“Menu Foods initiated the recall after receiving reports that some of its foods may be the cause of reported illnesses and kidney failure in dogs and cats. Menu Foods distributes these products to supermarkets, mass merchandisers and pet specialty stores, including PetSmart, under a variety of brand names.

“…we have pulled all recalled products from our store shelves and have a process in place to help ensure they're not restocked or distributed in any way. The brands and products currently on our shelves are considered safe.

“If you have purchased any of the recalled items, you should discontinue use immediately. We recommend you contact your vet if you have any concerns that your pet may have been affected. Symptoms may include:

1. Vomiting (this is usually the first sign)
2. Refusal to eat
3. Fatigue
4. Abnormal increase in water consumption
5. Abnormal increase in urination

“If you have food that is a part of the recall, you can bring it back to PetSmart for a complete refund. Or, we'll exchange your items with any dry food or alternative canned or foiled pouched wet foods that we have in stock.

“At PetSmart, we're very concerned pet parents too, and we will do everything
in our power to help.”
KC's View:
One of the things that the Internet allows PetSmart to do – and that the retailer does very well – is offer links to various other internal and external sites that can offer additional insight an information, such as a full and comprehensive listing of the foods and brand names involved. (The retailer also provides phone numbers for all the brands involved, for those who need to make direct contact.)

Transparency is the name of the game in cases like these. In fact, transparency is always the name of the game, like it or not.

We do have one question, though. When did “pet owners” become “pet parents”?

Just curious. ‘Cause we have a yellow lab and a new cockatiel, and we’re very clear about the relationships. They’re pets. And we’re ownership.