Alpo Dog Food Re­moved From Store Shelves

The Washington Post Sunday - - National News - By Jerry Markon

The re­call of con­tam­i­nated pet food ex­panded as stores re­moved from their shelves a lim­ited num­ber of cans of Alpo dog food, the latest high-profile brand to be caught up in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of what has sick­ened or killed an un­known num­ber of cats and dogs.

Nes­tle Pu­rina PetCare Co., which man­u­fac­tures the 71-year-old brand, an­nounced Fri­day that it was vol­un­tar­ily re­call­ing all sizes and va­ri­eties of Alpo Prime Cuts in Gravy wet dog food that are marked with spe­cific date codes. The com­pany acted af­ter learn­ing that wheat gluten con­tain­ing melamine — a toxin sus­pected of caus­ing the pet ill­nesses — had con­tam­i­nated cans at one of Pu­rina’s 17 pet-food man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

Com­pany of­fi­cials em­pha­sized that the con­tam­i­nant af­fected a “lim­ited pro­duc­tion quan­tity” and that Alpo prod­ucts are safe. “We’re very con­fi­dent that we’ve iso­lated this prob­lem,” said Keith Schopp, a spokesman for Nes­tle Pu­rina. “This is just one canned variety of Alpo, and it’s one of many va­ri­eties of Alpo canned prod­ucts. No dry prod­ucts are in­volved. No cat prod­ucts are in­volved.”

Wash­ing­ton area an­i­mal hos­pi­tals said the an­nounce­ment added to anx­i­ety over the re­calls that have trans­fixed pet own­ers na­tion­wide the past two weeks. The Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion has re­ceived more than 8,000 calls about ill pets, al­though it hasn’t con­firmed more than 14 or 15 deaths. Pet own­ers and ve­teri­nar­i­ans in the United States and Canada are re­port­ing higher num­bers.

“This raises it to an­other level,” said Ca­role Fos­ter, a vet­eri­nar­ian at Metropoli­tan Emer­gency An­i­mal Clinic in Rockville. “Pu­rina is prob­a­bly the best-known dis­trib­u­tor of an­i­mal foods in the coun­try.’’

Two weeks ago, Menu Foods re­called 60 mil­lion cans and pouches of “cuts and gravy”-style moist dog and cat food pro­duced at its plant in Em­po­ria, Kan., be­tween Dec. 3 and March 6. It has since af­fected such na­tional brands as Proc­ter & Gam­ble’s Iams and Eukanuba, Nes­tle SA’s Pu­rina Mighty Dog and oth­ers, in­clud­ing some sold at Wal-Mart and Safe­way.

On Fri­day, the FDA’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion ex­panded to a dry pet food maker, as Hill’s Pet Nu­tri­tion vol­un­tar­ily re­called one variety of its dry cat food: Pre­scrip­tion Diet m/d Fe­line.

Fed­eral of­fi­cials ini­tially sus­pected a chem­i­cal used in rat poi­son as the cul­prit but said Fri­day that melamine had been found in pet food sam­ples, in im­ported wheat gluten and in the urine and tis­sue of ill pets. Melamine is used in fer­til­izer in Asia and in plas­tic prod­ucts but is not reg­is­tered as a fer­til­izer in the United States.

The re­called 13.2-ounce and 22ounce Alpo Prime Cuts cans and 6-, 8-, 12- and 24-can Alpo Prime Cuts Variety Packs have four-digit code dates of 7037 through 7053, fol­lowed by the plant code 1159, Nes­tle Pu­rina said. The com­pany said the code in­for­ma­tion should be checked on the bot­tom of the can and the top or side of the multi-pack car­tons.

Petco stores in the Wash­ing­ton area and else­where pulled all the af­fected Alpo prod­ucts from their shelves “with­out re­gard to the pro­duc­tion dates that Pu­rina is ad­vis­ing,” spokesman Kevin Whalen said. “Look­ing at pro­duc­tion codes and that type of thing — we have found that to be con­fus­ing for con­sumers.”

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