Tainted Pet Food Recall Widens

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," April 2, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: "Big Update" now in the pet food fiasco. The recalls are widening and so is the fear that tens of thousands of animals could die from tainted food — food that's been on store shelves long after the whole scare started.

Since Friday, three more pet food makers have recalled some of their products, and the animal owners are now at their wits' end. "Big Story" correspondent Douglas Kennedy has been following this closely.

Douglas, you almost need a program. What is going on?

DOUGLAS KENNEDY, BIG STORY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, this is unbelievable. All these animal owners want to do is what's best for their pets, but unfortunately that keeps changing. And also unfortunately, what to avoid keeps expanding.


KENNEDY (VOICE OVER): It's been three weeks since the start of the pet food recall and still, more pets are dying even as more items are being added to the already massive recall list. Del Monte Foods has announced they're pulling some of their dog and cat food treats because of possible contamination of wheat gluten, the pet food ingredient the Food and Drug Administration is now focusing on as the most recent cause of the pet poisoning. In fact, animal experts everywhere are warning pet owners to stay away from any product containing wheat gluten.

CINDY IOCOPELLA, ANIMAL WELFARE EXPERT: Your best bet is to check with the label, your pet food store. There's other alternatives. There's some more holistic approaches, there's the raw food diet.

KENNEDY: Sources at the FDA say shipment of wheat gluten processed in China has been found to contain melamine, a chemical used to make plastics.

STEPHEN SUNDLOF, CTR FOR VETERINARY MEDICINE: The association between melamine in the kidneys and urine of cats that dies and the melamine was in the food they consumed is undeniable. Additionally, melamine is an ingredient that should not be in pet food at any level.

KENNEDY: A recent focus on wheat gluten calls into question the findings of a New York state lab and Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine, which on March 23 announced the presence of Aminopterin, or rat poison, in the tainted pet food. The state lab says it's standing by its finding, while Cornell's backing away. "No other lab has been able to confirm the presence or Aminopterin," the veterinarian dean told FOX News in a phone interview.

Meanwhile, animal hospitals across the U.S. are preparing for more sick animals. Cindy Iocopella is from Bide-a-Wee Animal Shelter in New York. She says sometimes the pets that die quickly are the lucky ones. This could be drawn out for six months or a year.

IOCOPELLA: Yes, it's definitely possible. It depends on when the animal is diagnosed and how quick and aggressive the treatment is.


KENNEDY: Also today, the FDA announced it is blocking all imports of wheat gluten from that Chinese company. Meanwhile, anyone wishing to find the most up-to-date recall list can visit avma.org. The FDA is encouraging all pet owners to visit there often, obviously, John, because that list just keeps changing.

GIBSON: Did I get this straight? These animals could be dropping over sick or dead for a year?

KENNEDY: For a year. This is kidney disease. You could drop dead immediately or you can go through a long, painful process. So, it's just terrible for any pet that ate any of this food.

GIBSON: As of just recently, before the recall, these pets are going to...

KENNEDY: And now after the recall. I mean, you know, they just keep adding dog food and cat food to that list.

GIBSON: What is — all right, melamine — and today it's melamine.

KENNEDY: Plastic. What's that doing in the pet food? Who knows.

GIBSON: Yeah, right. Douglas Kennedy, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

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