Will Pet Food Recall Expand?

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Knoxville (WVLT) - Veterinary reports indicate hundreds, if not thousands, of pets have died, apparently poisoned by tainted pet food.

And Friday, scientists announce that a chemical used to make plastics was discovered in government testing.

Menu Foods recalled 60 million containers of cat and dog food early this month after animals died of kidney failure.

The recall is still confined to the cuts and gravy style food, but a wider recall isn't out of the realm of possibility.

Federal officials say recalled pet foods contained a chemical used to make plastics, but government tests failed to confirm the presence of rat poison.

It's not immediately clear if the melanine was the culprit in the deaths of more than a dozen cats and dogs, and the illnesses of hundreds more.

The FDA says it found melanine in samples of Menu Foods pet food, as well as in wheat gluten used as an ingredient in the wet-style products.

Now, the FDA is working to rule out the possibility the contaminated wheat gluten could have made it into any other food.

"For other reasons, I generally recommend dry foods, but I know a lot of animals have taste preferences. And if it's not one of those specific brands of that specific UPC code, lot number, that sort of thing, there really isn't a big concern," says veterinarian Dr. Andrew Skelley.

FDA officials said the melamine-contaminated wheat gluten also was shipped to a company that manufactures dry pet food, but they would not name the company.

The FDA is now attempting to determine if that company used any of the wheat gluten.

Emory Animal Hospital Doctor Andrew Skelley says unless the recall changes in size or scope, stick with the brand your pet has become familiar with. "But I would have no reservations, even if it were one of my pets, to get the same brand of food, the same type of food that they were used to eating, just of a different lot number, one of the ones that's not recalled."

The FDA says it will alert the public quickly if the melamine is found in any foods other than the recalled pet food.

Veterinarians say they have not seen a trend of animals becoming ill after eating dry pet food.

However, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals plans to make the appeal for a wider recall, after it said it received complaints from pet owners who claim their animals suffered kidney failure after eating dry pet food.

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