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PETA: Prosecutors should level charges in pet food scandal

Mar 25, 2007 | Plain Dealer

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is urging prosecutors to investigate and bring criminal charges against the pet food companies responsible for selling food contaminated with rat poison.

"People are looking on helplessly as their cats and dogs suffer and die, when these tragedies might have been avoided had a recall been issued after the first reports of sick animals," vice president Bruce Friedrich said Friday in a news release.

The group has called on the Food and Drug Administration to find out when Menu Foods and Iams first suspected their products were tainted.

The FDA wants Ohioans to call its Cincinnati office to report any sickened pets that have eaten the food. The number is 513-679-2700, Ext. 124.

People began reporting sick pets in late February.

The recall of "cuts and gravy"-style dog and cat food made from Dec. 3 through March 6 was issued March 16.

The poison damages a pet's kidneys. Symptoms include loss of appetite, vomiting, weakness, disorientation, frequent urination and changes in water consumption. Some pets will get very sick quickly. Others could take weeks to show signs.

Menu Foods will take responsibility if its products caused a pet's sickness or death. Pet owners should keep copies of their veterinary records, bills and pet food receipts. Menu Foods has hired an outside company to handle concerns and will contact those who have called the Menu Foods call center.

The Ontario, Canada-based company is also asking pet owners to save any remaining pet food and the cans and pouches. Open cans or pouches should be placed in two plastic bags and kept in the freezer to preserve for testing.

Scientists said on Friday that the tainted food contained aminopterin, a chemical used to kill rats and formerly used to treat cancer. The investigation continues as to how the poison got into the food that was produced at plants in Kansas and New Jersey.

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