Timeline

Timeline

Jun 18, 2007
By dvm360.com staff

SUMMARY: It started March 16 when Canada-based Menu Foods recalled cuts-and-gravy-style food in cans and pouches that was implicated in renal failure and deaths of cats and dogs nationwide. Major labels like Eukanuba, Hill's, Iams, Nutro and Royal Canin have used Menu Foods or other suppliers of contaminated wheat gluten, corn gluten, and/or rice protein concentrate, and have followed Menu Foods' lead in recalling foods. Originally, New York authorities said they found the rodenticide aminopterin in the recalled foods, but the likely culprit contaminant is the industrial chemical melamine reacting with other ingredients in the food. The recall related to melamine has since spread to dry food. Currently, two Chinese suppliers are implicated in the melamine poisoning. FDA investigators have not determined whether the poisoning was deliberate, although they have established that melamine can be used to improve results on tests that show how much protein is in wheat gluten, corn gluten, rice protein concentrate, and more.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a searchable list of all recalled pet foods here.

Petconnection.com is keeping a database of self-reported illnesses and deaths possibly associated with the contaminated food. Petconnection.com is reminding veterinarians and pet owners to log their cases associated with the contaminated food with the FDA.

TIMELINE:

JUNE 18: Thanks to the pet food recall, alternative pet food is guaranteed high double-digit growth over the next two years, according to a newly released report from Packaged Facts. "Alternative pet food" in this case includes high-end natural and organic pet foods; fresh pet foods including raw/frozen, refrigerated, and homemade; and 100 percent U.S.-sourced, locally grown, and other smaller-batch pet foods. North American alternative pet foods are being positioned as safer and healthier than their traditional pet food counterparts, according to the report. (Press release)

JUNE 18: The FDA says it can't confirm a Texas laboratory's findings of acetaminophen in cat and dog food samples, but the FDA also admits it can't confirm that it's using the same food samples. Pet owner Don Earl of Port Townsend, Wa., hired Texas-based ExperTox to test samples of Pet Pride "Turkey and Giblets Dinner" and "Mixed Grill" food after his cat experienced kidney failure and died in January after eating those flavors. ExperTox found acetaminophen and cyanuric acid in the samples.  The FDA is in communication with ExperTox to get samples of the contaminated food, according to an ExperTox spokesperson. (ConsumerAffairs.com).

JUNE 15: A New Brunswick, Canada, law firm is waiting for Lt.-Gov. Hermenegilde Chiasson to sign a new law permitting class action lawsuits so they can go ahead with a suit against Menu Foods. (CBC News.com)

JUNE 14: Shares of Menu Foods Income Fund have continued to fall since they lost more than a quarter of their value after Menu Foods' involvement in the pet food recall. This latest drop was precipitated by a company announcement June 11 that Menu Foods lost a "significant customer" representing 11 percent of last year's sales. Reports suggest the customer was Procter and Gamble. (TheStar.com)

JUNE 6: Sergeant's Pet Care Products recalls feed for ornamental fish, and Zeigler Bros. recalls pelleted and crumbled shrimp feeds because they were found to contain melamine and related compounds. Denise Petty, aquaculture extension veterinarian at the University of Florida, says it's not known whether melamine-contaminated food will affect ornamental fish, but fish from hatcheries who were fed another brand of contaminated feed developed no kidney crystald. Sergeant's is investigating the manufacturing facility in Taiwan to find the source of the contamination. A Sergeant's representative says the levels of melamine are so low that an entire package of the fish food upended into a fish tank would leave the fish more harmed by over-feeding than by melamine contamiantion. (The North Country Gazette)

JUNE 6: A Texas lab finds acetaminophen in samples of two flavors of Pet Pride, along with melamine and cyanuric acid. The highest level of acetaminophen found in the dog food was too low to be dangerous, according to a Michigan State University pathologist working with the FDA on an investigation into the lab's findings. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

MAY 31: Ontario-based Menu Foods announces that the recall will end up costing the company at least $45 million. That doesn't include any drop in future sales or legal settlements not covered by insurance. Menu Foods' Q2 financial statement showed that its first-quarter profit has turned into a $17.5 million loss. Two customers amounting to 4.5 percent of Menu Foods' business have canceled contracts, and a third representing 11 percent has put on hold its contract for cuts-and-gravy-style dog and cat food. (Canada's CBC News)

MAY 31: Two American manufacturers used melamine in ingredients for feed for livestock and fish and shrimp, according to the FDA. The agency issued a recall May 30 for feed that includes a binding agent from Tembec BTLSR of Toledo, Ohio, or Uniscope of Johnstown, Colo. Melamine should not have been used in the pet food, and the FDA is investigating why it was. The FDA says there's no risk to humans. The potential melamine exposure from this recall is 250 times lower than the safe dose. (CNNMoney.com)

MAY 30: A U.S. District Judge orders Menu Foods to stop contacting plaintiffs in class-action lawsuits unless a lawyer representing them is present. "It's one thing for two people to sit down at the table and voluntarily agree to settle their case," says Judge Noel Hillman. "It's another thing to harass people on weekends through automated phone calls." Lawyers from six firms representing plaintiffs suing Menu Foods had asked the judge to stop Menu Foods from "bullying" their clients. (USA Today)

MAY 30: About 75 class-action lawsuits have been filed against Menu Foods nationwide, according to an attorney with Seattle law firm Myers and Co. A panel of judges in Las Vegas, where Menu Foods has a U.S. headquarters, is expected to decide this week where the consolidated lawsuits will be heard. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

MAY 30: Canada's food inspection agency catches a shipment of corn gluten from China that tests positive for melamine and cyanuric acid. "Shipments are being tested both substances," says a representative. "Neither substance is believed to be particularly toxic by itself. Their potency appears to be increased when they are present together." (CBC News)

MAY 30: Surveys by the pet-food industry group Pet Food Institute find that 73 percent of consumers say they're "confident or very confident" in the safety of their pet food. The three surveys were conducted April 4, April 24, and May 18 to 21. An identical percentage said they'd continue buying their current brand of pet food. Respondents were asked: "In general, how confident are you that the pet food you purchase is safe to feed your pet?" and "As a result of the recent pet food recalls in the news, are you more or less likely to continue purchasing your primary brand of pet food in the future?" (Press release)

MAY 30: China is creating a system for the recall of unsafe food products. A draft of the plan will be ready by the end of the year, according to authorities. China's Food and Drug Administration is also planning to blacklist food producers that break the rules. (Reuters)

MAY 30: The head of China's Food and Drug Administration is sentenced to death. Zheng Xiaoyu was director of China's FDA from 1998 to 2005 and was detained in February in a government probe of the agency. (New York Times)

MAY 24: The Humane Society of Canada announces it has been five weeks with no response to letters sent to the Canadian prime minister, politicians, and law enforcement officials asking for information and criminal investigations relating to the pet food recall. Canadian dry and wet pet food brands have also been affected by the months-long spate of pet food recalls. "Here in Canada, for all intents and purposes, pet food companies are allowed to regulate themselves, with disastrous results," says the organization's Western regional director, Al Hickey. (Press release)

MAY 24: Diamond Pet Foods recalls some of its Nutra Nuggets Lamb Meal and Rice Formula dry dog food in 40-pound bags because of potential melamine cross-contamination during production. The food was sold in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. The potentially contaminated production codes are NLR0404A2SL and NLR0404B2SL with a "Best Before" Oct. 9, 2008, date. (Press release)

MAY 22: Tainted wheat flour that was labeled gluten to increase its value is the culprit contaminant from two Chinese suppliers in the massive pet food recall, according to the FDA. The finding is part of the FDA's continued criminal probe into how pet food scrap wound up in food animals intended for human consumption. (The Washington Post)

MAY 21: Menu Foods is working to eliminate Chinese ingredients in its current and future production of wet pet food. Other manufacturers and the FDA, however, are working to improve testing of imported Chinese ingredients, rather than eliminating them altogether. (ABC News)

MAY 20: The Los Angeles Times reports that human food manufacturers Mission Foods Corp. and Tyson Foods Inc. announced earlier this month they weren't going to use ingredients from China. However, the story goes on to explain that those directives will be nearly impossible to fulfill because of the ubiquity of Chinese ingredients in the marketplace. (The Los Angeles Times).

MAY 19: New Jersey State Assemblyman Neil Cohen proposes a state bill to allow pet owners to sue for emotional damages as a result of their pets getting sick or dying from eating contaminated food from the recall. There would be no limit to the dollar amount. (Associated Press)

MAY 18: The FDA says it's safe for humans to eat roughly 80,000 chickens and fish from 196 noncommercial fish farms who ate melamine-contaminated feed. This follows a previous announcement that hogs who ate the contaminated feed are OK for humans to eat. (FDA)

MAY 18: Evolve Pet Food recalls Evolve Kitten Food made March 12. Only 168 pounds of the 27,560 pounds of the recalled food is unaccounted for. This recall is a result of the FDA's ongoing investigation into possible cross-contamination between pet foods in manufacturing plants, according to a spokesperson. (Press release)

MAY 17: Chenango Valley Pet Foods expands its recall to cover not just food containing potentially contaminated rice protein concentrate, but any food that might have come into contact with rice protein concentrate during production. Included in the new recalled foods is a ferret food. An updated recall list is available at FDA.gov at the link above. (Press release)

MAY 16: PetsMart announces that its first-quarter profits rose, despite the pet food recall. CEO Phil Francis says the recall didn't affect earnings, but he did note that some owners changed what food they fed to pets. (CNN Money)

MAY 15: The FDA clears roughly 56,000 hogs for human consumption in California, North Carolina, Utah, South Carolina, New York, Kansas, and Illinois. Testing found that these hogs who ate feed with melamine and related compounds are safe for humans to eat. The melamine and compounds will have been flushed out of the hogs' kidneys before slaughter, according to the press release. (Press release)

MAY 14: Costco recalls Kirkland Signature Lamb and Rice canned dog food. The food is sold as part of the Kirkland Signature Premium Dog Food 2-Flavor Variety Pack with the specific code that reads "Best if used by Apr 15 09." The producer of the food, American Nutrition, says the rice protein concentrate may contain melamine. (The Seattle Times)

MAY 14: Menu Foods announces its insurer will be mailing claims forms to customers who've reported sick or dead pets as a result of eating food processed in Menu Foods' plants. Settlement is expected to cover "reasonable expenses incurred by pet owners that [Menu Foods] can identify as being caused by contamination of Menu Foods' products," according to the press release. Claims forms for Canada and the United States are on Menu Foods' Web site. (Press release)

MAY 11: Royal Canin USA recalls eight Sensible Choice and seven Kasco pet food products after testing positive for trace levels of a melamine derivative. Royal Canin USA's list of recalled food is here. Royal Canin USA and Royal Canin Canada had previously recalled other food last month (see below: APRIL 20). (Press release)

MAY 11: Hawaii lawyers file two multi-party lawsuits against Menu Foods related to the death of plaintiffs' pets in the pet food recall. (Honolulu Advertiser)

MAY 10: Petfood Industry trade magazine says pet food makers will put new safety measures in place in the future. They have created the Petfood Industry Advisory Board to organize the efforts. Industry executives had met April 16 to 19 at Petfood Forum in Chicago and May 8  in Utrecht, Netherlands. No specific changes or recommendations have been made yet. (Press release)

MAY 9: Chinese authorities say they'll begin inspecting fertilizers, pesticides, animal medicines, and livestock-feed additives. The government has also started its own investigation into the use of melamine scrap in wheat flour exported by the country. (CNN Money)

MAY 9: The FDA says wheat gluten and corn and rice protein concentrate may be off the hook in the pet food recall. The Chinese company supplying the tainted ingredient had labeled melamine-contaminated wheat as wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate, thus confusing investigators until now. The contaminated wheat flour also made it into fish fed to an unknown number of farmed fish, according to FDA investigators. (CNN)

MAY 8: USA Today reports that the Chinese company that sold contaminated wheat gluten to American pet food makers advertised to buy melamine scrap on Web sites. That scrap may have contained cyanuric acid, which can be produced during melamine production. A laboratory in Ontario, Canada, has found that the mixture of the two chemicals created crystals in cat urine similar to those found in cats ill from eating the tainted pet food. (USA Today).

MAY 4: The FDA is checking human and pet food makers to be sure contaminated protein concentrates are being cleared from the United States food supply. Investigators expect to check hundreds of facilities, but officials don't rule out that the visits could reach 1,000. (CNN)

MAY 3: The general manager of one of two Chinese companies implicated in the recall of contaminated pet food is detained by Chinese authorities. Mao Lijun is head of Xuzhou Anying Biological Technology Development Company. The ongoing investigation by the FDA has found all contaminated pet food ingredients so far have come from that company and Binzhou Futian Bio-Technology. (The New York Times)

MAY 3: Menu Foods recalls more production dates of pet food because of cross-contamination. A representative says contaminated wheat gluten may have gotten into other pet food being produced at the same time. Menu Foods had received a report from a customer and study results, both of which indicate cross-contamination. Go to Menu Foods Web site for the company's latest recalls. (Press release)

MAY 3: A quick amendment to ongoing FDA legislation related to pet food passed the U.S. Senate 94-0. It calls for better labeling and production standards, and a system to monitor pet food contamination and illness in humans and animals. The FDA still won't have the right to order mandatory recalls of contaminated pet food, a provision that was included in the original version of the bill. Sponsor Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says the Senate will consider that new power for the FDA in the future. (Senate records, AP)

MAY 2: FDA investigators in China say a company there accused of selling contaminated wheat gluten may have intentionally ducked inspection of the gluten by labeling it as "nonfood" on its way out of the country. The investigators also say they still know don't know if two Chinese companies in question are the sole manufacturers of contaminated pet food ingredients. (International Herald Tribune).

MAY 2: FDA officials say that 2.5 million to 3 million people have eaten meat from chickens who themselves have eaten pet food contaminated with melamine. Hundreds of farms nationwide may have fed the food to poultry, but the FDA says a recall won't happen, as it still believes the risk of illness in humans from eating the poultry is "very low." In other news, David Acheson, MD, has been appointed as the FDA's assistant commissioner for food protection.  (CNN)

MAY 2: Sierra Pet Products LLC recalls all canned cat and dog food and dog treats sold under its "Harmony Farms" brand. A representative--echoing other pet food makers in the past week--says its manufacturer American Nutrition Inc. had included rice protein concentrate in the foods. (Press release)

MAY 1: A manager of a feed supplier in China says melamine is routinely added to pet food in that country, according to AP. Wang Jianhui, manager of the Kaiyuan Protein Feed Company, says the chemical doesn't hurt people or animals in small amounts. Scientists, however, have not determined if melamine is toxic in combination with other chemicals being added to feed. (AP on CNN)

MAY 1: FDA officials say poultry at some 40 farms in Indiana was fed contaminated wheat gluten from China, according to CNN. The farms are voluntarily holding the poultry back from the human food supply, and the FDA says it's offering to compensate farmers for euthanizing food animals that have eaten contaminated feed. (CNN)

APRIL 30: FDA officials search Menu Foods' Emporia, Kan., pet-food plant, one of two factories that supplied contaminated pet food to retailers. A Menu Foods representative also says U.S. Attorneys in Kansas and Missouri are investigating misdemeanor charges against the company under the federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act. Sale of contaminated foods is a crime. ChemNutra, whose Las Vegas offices were searched last week, says it's been told it may be held accountable even if it didn't know its pet-food ingredients were contaminated. (CNN)

APRIL 30: The FDA says it's not issuing a recall of meat from hogs that were fed pet food contaminated with melamine. States where hogs ate the contaminated food are still prohibited from putting the meat into the human food supply. However, if any of it got onto people's plates already, the FDA says it should pose no problem. (Press release)

APRIL 27: Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Pet Foods and Blue Buffalo recall more varieties of cat and dog food after American Nutrition Inc. informs them it used rice protein concentrate in the foods' production. Representatives from both companies say they didn't know rice protein concentrate had been used. A Blue Buffalo representative calls it "product tampering." Going forward, Natural Balance will demand daily production records from its co-manufacturers as well as written certification that no rice protein concentrate has been used. Natural Balance recalled foods include Chicken Formula Canned Dog Food 13 oz., Lamb Formula Canned Dog Food 13 oz., Beef Formula Canned Dog Food 13 oz., and Ocean Fish Formula Canned Cat Food 3 oz. and 6 oz. Blue Buffalo's recalled food includes all Blue Brand canned dog food, all Spa Select brand canned cat food, and all Blue Health Bar Treats. (Press release)

APRIL 27: Chinese authorities acknowledge that exported ingredients tied to recalled pet foods contained a prohibited chemical. However, the authorities say a direct link hasn't been found between that chemical and the illnesses and deaths of cats and dogs in the United States and elsewhere. The Chinese police sealed the offices of Binzhou Futian Bio-Technology, whose U.S.-exported rice protein concentrate has been part of the food recall. (USA Today)

APRIL 27: Menu Foods' supplier of wheat gluten, which turned out to be contaminated with melamine, may not be the only one, according to Reuters. ChemNutra says Menu Foods used more wheat gluten per month than they provided. This comes after FDA investigators searched ChemNutra's Las Vegas headquarters. Menu Foods is suing ChemNutra for damages and costs associated with the recall. In other news, FDA officials have confirmed 16 pet deaths related to recalled food, but have received more than 15,000 reports of pet illnesses. (Reuters)

APRIL 26: Costco Wholesale Corp. recalls its Kirkland Signature Super Premium Lamb and Rice pet food. The now-suspect tice protein concentrate from Wilbur-Ellis was an ingredient. Costco will mail 230,000 letters to members who bought the canned food with the suspect sell-by dates between Aug. 21, 2008, and April 15, 2009. (USA Today)

APRIL 26: Chenango Valley Pet Foods, the owner of Doctors Foster & Smith brand pet food and others, voluntarily recalls one more brand. Lick Your Chops Lamb Meal, Rice & Egg Cat Food 4 lb. packages may contain melamine-contaminated rice protein concentrate from Wilbur-Ellis. (Press release)

APRIL 26: The FDA reports that a maximum of 345 d of a total 6,000 hogs that may have eaten contaminated food are believed to have entered the human food supply, according to CNN. (CNN)

APRIL 26: In response to a recall by American Nutrition Inc. of canned pet food, Diamond Pet Foods voluntarily recalls a limited number of its canned food produced by American Nutrition that may contain melamine-contaminated rice protein concentrate. The varieties include Diamond Lamb & Rice Formula for Dogs 13 oz. cans, Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul Kitten Formula 5.5 oz cans, and Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul Puppy Formula 13 oz. cans. Diamond Pet Foods says the foods were not formulated or labeled to contain rice protein concentrate, and the company says the FDA is investigating this "manufacturing deviation" by American Nutrition. (Press release)

APRIL 26: The FDA announces that swine fed contaminated pet food will not be allowed in the human food supply. Hogs that have been fed contaminated food are being held in state quarantine in California, North Carolina, New York, and South Carolina. In Kansas, Oklahoma, and Utah, producers are holding their own animals until further notice. Contaminants that have made it into pet food as well as salvaged pet food fed to hogs include melamine and melamine-related compounds like cyanuric acid, which is a potential source of concern for animal and human health. The FDA says studies have not shown that melamine is dangerous to humans at detected levels, but it has not been determined if it's dangerous in combination with other compounds. Meat from some slaughtered hogs is being held by the FDA until further notice, but investigators aren't sure if any other hog meat has made it into the food supply. (Press release)

APRIL 26: Another recipient of potentially contaminated rice protein concentrate from Wilbur-Ellis issues a voluntary recall. Drs. Foster & Smith are telling consumers not to feed pets Adult Lite Dry Dog and Adult Lite Dry cat foods bought during certain periods. The details are here. Preliminary tests to find melamine in the food are negative, according to the company. Final results will arrive within two weeks. (Press release)

APRIL 25: The Chinese government on Monday, April 23, gave FDA regulators permission to travel there to investigate contaminated pet food ingredients that came from Chinese suppliers. (International Herald Tribune)

APRIL 25: After tracking contaminated pet food to the feed bowls of hogs, the FDA quarantines four more hog farms in North Carolina, South Carolina, New York, and Utah. A hog farm in Ohio and a poultry farm in Missouri may be quarantined in the future. A hog farm in Ceres, Calif., has already been quarantined. Also, the FDA says it will be testing 100 percent of wheat gluten, rice protein concentrate, and corn gluten imported from China. More stringent testing of those imported ingredients in human food will be increased, although the FDA says there's no evidence the contaminated ingredients have made it to the human food supply. (AVMA)

APRIL 25: SmartPak Canine recalls a single production run of LiveSmart Weight Management Chicken and Brown Rice Dog Food after they discover rice protein concentrate in the food was from the contaminated lot from Wilbur-Ellis (see brief below for more information). This is the first time SmartPak had used Wilbur-Ellis as a supplier, and the company has contacted every affected pet owner by phone or e-mail, according to a company representative. One other pet-food companies that used contaminated rice protein concentrate is investigating whether the protein made it into any pet food. (Press release)

APRIL 23: The FDA launches a criminal investigation into the pet food recall now that it may have touched the human food supply, according to The Washington Post. Hogs at a small farm in Ceres, Calif., ate the tainted food and were bought by customers between April 3 and April 18. The FDA is trying to track down all the potential eaters of contaminated pigs. The question of possible intentional poisoning may lead to criminal charges, but the FDA has declined to say whether charges will be filed yet. (The Washington Post)

APRIL 20: An analyst upgrades stock of veterinary healthcare chain VCA Antech Inc. based on the uptick in diagnostics as a result of the pet-food recall. Associated Press quotes Morgan Keenan analyst Robert Mains as saying: "The Food and Drug Administration and veterinarians report an increase in both testing and illness related to the cat and dog recall. This, we believe, could translate into a boost in growth for VCA Antech's hospital and lab divisions." (Associated Press)

APRIL 20: Royal Canin USA and Royal Canin Canada recall some Sensible Choice Diet and veterinary-prescribed specialty diet products. USA brands are here. Canada brands are here. Royal Canin USA found a melamine derivative in rice protein concentrate in the recalled dry foods. Products with an expiration date of April 19, 2008, are made without China-sourced vegetable proteins and are safe, according to the company. Both the U.S. and Canadian branches of the company say they will no longer use Chinese suppliers for any of their vegetable proteins. (Press releases)

APRIL 20: Pet.connection.com's database of self-reported cases has a total 4,436 pets who've died after ingestion of contaminated pet food. (Petconnection.com)

APRIL 20: FDA investigators say the pet food contamination in the recall may have been intentional. Chinese companies--two of which have been identified--may have inserted melamine into rice protein, wheat gluten, and other products so that tests would show they had more value as protein products. Melamine contains nitrogen, which can boost the level of protein in products. Contaminated pet food may have been fed to hogs, but the FDA hasn't confirmed that the melamine has reached the human food supply. (ABC News)

APRIL 20: After discovering a bag marked "melamine" in a shipment from a Chinese company, animal feed provider Wilbur-Ellis recalls rice protein it had distributed to five pet food companies. Of the five, Natural Balance has already recalled affected pet foods, and The Blue Buffalo Company announced a recall after Wilbur-Ellis informed them of the potential contamination. The move was further prompted by reports that 11 dogs have gotten sick after eating food containing rice protein from Wilbur-Ellis. The Chinese exporter of the rice protein, Binzhou Futian Biology Technology Co. Ltd., has made no statement. The FDA had already halted all imports from another Chinese supplier that shipped contaminated wheat gluten. (CNN)

APRIL 18: Recalled food from Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance contains melamine in its rice protein, according to president Joey Herrick in a USA Today interview. The rice protein was imported from China. Another company that doesn't produce pet food, but uses the rice protein has found no melamine in its samples. (USA Today)

APRIL 18: Menu Foods has recalled one additional dog food product and two cat food products after tests found they contained the same contaminated wheat gluten as other recalled products. Menu Foods has updated its recall list above. (CNN)

APRIL 17: The Pet Food Institute, an arm of the pet-food industry, has established the National Pet Good Commission. Members include veterinarians, toxicologists, state and federal regulators, and nutritionists, who will share a mission to investigate the cause of the pet-food recall and to recommend steps for the industry and government to take to improve build on existing procedures and safeguards. Information and a list of commissioners can be found here. (Press release)

APRIL 17: Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Pet Foods is voluntarily recalling Venison & Brown Rice Dry Dog Food and Venison & Green Pea Dry Cat Food. Customers have complained of animals vomiting and experiencing kidney problems, according to Natural Balance's Web site. Although complaints have centered on a particular lot, Natural Balance is recalling all dates for those brands as a precautionary measure. (Press release)

APRIL 12: In South Africa, all brands and dates of Vet's Choice dog food are being recalled. Local veterinarians report getting faxes asking them to stop selling the food, which is available only from veterinarians. The recall is related to Royal Canin produces Vet's Choice, but the recall doesn't affect any U.S. Royal Canin product. The contaminant is likely not related to the U.S. recall. (News24.com, a South African TV news Web site)

APRIL 12: Some retailers have not removed recalled pet foods from their shelves, according to the FDA. The FDA tells owners to continue checking the labels and dates of food they purchase against the current recall lists. The contaminated food at some stores was discovered during a 400-store check  nationwide. Most stores had removed all recalled food. (Various news sources)

APRIL 12: The AVMA is asking veterinarians to participate in an online survey about any animals they've treated who may have been affected by the contaminated foods. The survey is undertaken through an agreement with the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD) and the FDA. Visit the survey at www.aavld.org. Members of AAVLD can access the survey in the members-only area. Nonmembers can click on "News" then "AAVLD Pet Food Toxicity Survey." (Press release)

APRIL 11: Banfield, The Pet Hospital, has released data to the FDA on renal failure in cats in the weeks and months following the recall. During the past three weeks, the more than 615 Banfield, The Pet Hospital, locations have had five cats and one dog (0.003 percent) die as a result of eating recalled food, according to Banfield. The data also shows that in the past three months, renal failure in cats has increased 30 percent (3 cases per 10,000 cats). Banfield's chief medical officer, Will Novak, DVM, says Banfield has examined 1,605 pets in the past three weeks with a history of eating the recalled food, which is less than 1 percent of pets examined in the hospital. Novak says the data shows that few pets are dying and many of those who became ill are recovering well, thanks to owners bringing in affected pets fast and proper medical treatment. (Press release, CBS News)

APRIL 10: The chief financial officer of Menu Foods Income Fund is calling his sale of nearly half his shares in the company three weeks before the recall a "horrible coincidence." (CBS News)

APRIL 10: Menu Foods expands its recall to include brands produced in its Canadian plant. A single interplant transfer of contaminated wheat gluten went into pet food produced in December 2006 and January 2007. The new varieties--which include Royal Canin's Medi-Cal Dissolution Formula, exclusively sold by veterinarians in Canada--are included in recall information on Menu Foods' Web site. (Press release)

APRIL 5: In a pet-food contamination unrelated to wheat gluten, T.W. Enterprises recalls select brands of its dog and cat treats. The FDA found salmonella in a sample of the treats and encourages consumers to throw them out. (Press release)

APRIL 5: Sunshine Mills recalls a select portion of its dog biscuits after the FDA discovers that wheat gluten used in the biscuits was contaminated with melamine. Recall information is provided above in "Summary." (Press release)

APRIL 5: Menu Foods  recalls  20 varieties of cuts-and-gravy-style cat and dog food manufactured during specific dates. The recall is a response to a recall by one of Menu Foods' former suppliers, ChemNutra Inc., of all the wheat gluten it imported from Xuzhou Anying Biological Technology Development Co. in Wangdien, China. Menu Foods still maintains that its pet food outside the recalled date period is safe and healthy. Recalled varieties are on Menu Foods' updated recall list at its Web site. (Press release).

APRIL 5: Lots of people started searching for "pet food recall" on Google.com during the week of March 18 to 24, right as the Menu Foods' pet recall hit full force. The Internet search engine reported that searches for "pet food recall" with variations of "cat" or "dog" was the No. 1 fastest gainer during that week. (Google.com)

APRIL 4: A class-action lawsuit that has grown from one--Chicago's Dawn Majerczyk--into 200 plaintiffs alleges fraud. Menu Foods knew as early as December that cats were dying from pet food that was only recalled later, say attorneys. The plaintiffs are now are seeking compensation for emotional damages. The attorneys also want an injunction against Menu Foods to keep the company from destroying contaminated food that could be used as evidence. (CNN)     

APRIL 3: A notice from the FDA directs U.S. import inspectors to stop all wheat gluten imports from Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Company Ltd. The FDA says the company supplied wheat gluten to Menu Foods that contained melamine. The Chinese firm disputes the FDA findings. (CNN)

MARCH 31: Del Monte Pet products announces a recall of select product codes of its pet-treat products sold under the brands "Jerky Treats," "Gravy Train Beef Sticks" and "Pounce Meaty Morsels" as well as select dog snack and wet dog-food products sold under private label brands. The move came after the FDA informed Del Monte that wheat gluten used in the food contains melamine. Del Monte says it came from the same Chinese facility that supplied wheat gluten to other companies recalling their food. (Press release)

MARCH 31: Nestle Purina PetCare Company announces a recall of all varieties of its ALPO Prime Cuts in Gravy wet dog food, adding those products to a growing list of pet food tainted with wheat gluten containing melamine. Purina was supplied the wheat gluten from the same company that supplied Menu Foods. (Press release)

MARCH 31: Reports of pet deaths so far suggest cats were more susceptible to melamine poisoning than dogs were, say officials with the Food and Drug Administration and the Americal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. (Press release)

MARCH 30: Hill's Pet Nutrition announces a recall of Prescription Diet m/d Feline dry food. During a two-month period in early 2007, wheat gluten for this product was provided by a company that also supplied wheat gluten to Menu Foods. FDA tests of wheat gluten samples from this period show the presence of melamine. The FDA is working to verify that the wheat gluten didn't get into food for human consumption.

MARCH 30: The FDA announces that melamine is found in the recalled food. Melamine is used in plastic, cleaning products, stain-resistant laminates, flame-retardant foam, and soundproofing. In extremely high doses, it can have a diuretic effects on dogs and cause crystals in the urine, says an ASPCA representative. The connection between renal failure in cats and melamine has not yet been established, but Cornell University researchers have found urine crystals in affected feline patients. (Press release)

MARCH 29: California law firms Wexler Toriseva Wallace LLP and Kershaw Cutter & Ratinoff LLP file a class-action lawsuit on behalf of owners of pets affected by the contaminated food. (Press release)

MARCH 28: California law firm Berding & Weil LLP has filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of owners of pets who became ill or sick because of the recalled foods. The lawsuit asks for reimbursement for veterinary bills, medicines, special foods, and other costs that owners have or will continue to incur. (Press release)

MARCH 27: The ASPCA says that its toxicologists are still seeking the culprit contaminant in the recalled foods and that they urge Menu Foods and authorities to keep searching for the cause of renal failure in pets who've eaten the food. Clinical signs reported in cats affected by the contaminated foods are not fully consistent with the ingestion of the rat poison containing aminopterin. Steven Hansen, veterinary toxicologist and SVP of the ASPCA, says, "Renal damage can occur at high doses. However, to be consistent with the effects of aminopterin, we should also be seeing a significant number of affected pets showing the accompanying signs of severe intestinal damage as well as bone marrow suppression. This is the missing connection that we want to alert veterinarians around the country to."

MARCH 26: Veterinary Information Network says its roughly 18,000 practicing veterinarian members have reported 471 cases of renal failure with links to the recalled pet food. Of roughly 300 reported outcomes, 100 pets (mostly cats) have died, 50 animals have survived and more than 100 are still in treatment. (LBreport.com)

MARCH 24: Even though only food packaged Dec. 3 to March 6 is implicated, Menu Foods asks retail outlets to remove all the named foods regardless of production date. (Press release)

MARCH 23: Nutro Products CEO Dave Kravis announces a recall of all the company's cuts-and-gravy-style foods to avoid consumer confusion with dates. This is in response to Menu Foods' recall of all of its cuts-and-gravy-style food. (Press release)

MARCH 22: Banfield, The Pet Hospital, offers a 25 percent discount off recommended medical treatment plans to those affected by Menu Foods' recall. (Press release)

MARCH 22: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) urges an investigation into Iams Foods. (Press release)

MARCH 20: The AVMA counsels pet owners not to panic. If they think a pet has been affected by the recalled food, AVMA representatives suggest three steps: (1) Retain food samples for analysis (freeze or put in airtight bag if possible), (2) Document product name, type of product and manufacturing information, and (3) Document the dates the food was eaten, the time of onset of clinical signs, and a detailed dietary history. (Press release)

MARCH 20: A Madison, Wis., pet owner files a class-action lawsuit against Menu Foods. Jacqueline Johnson's cat survived after renal failure, but now requires daily subcutaneous fluid injections. Her attorney says more than 95 people have joined the suit. (ABCNews.com)

MARCH 20: A Chicago woman sues Menu Foods, alleging the company knew the food could be contaminated two weeks before the recall. Dawn Majerczyk, 43, put her pet to sleep after kidney failure that may have resulted from one of the contaminated brands. The Food and Drug Administration says Menu Foods knew the food was suspect after two cats died in a routine company taste test of its products. (CNN)

MARCH 19: Pennsylvania's Department of Agriculture begins random inspections of pet-food inventories at more than 100 of facilities in the state that sell the recalled food. (Press release)

MARCH 16: Recall announced.

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