Wal-Mart, Publix Pull All Menu Foods Products After Rat Poison Detection

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Following the news that aminopterin was identified in cat food samples from Menu Foods, Wal-Mart here announced its decision to remove all Menu Foods products from its stores shelves.

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Following the news that aminopterin was identified in cat food samples from Menu Foods, Wal-Mart here announced its decision to remove all Menu Foods products from its stores shelves. “Here at Wal-Mart we simply do not take chances,” it said in a statement issued Friday. “They‘ll only return when we‘re convinced that all the issues have been resolved. Our customers expect nothing less.” Aminopterin, a derivative of folic acid, is used as rat poison in some countries but it‘s not approved for the use in the U.S. It can cause cancer and birth defects in humans and kidney damage in dogs and cats. “Out of an abundance of caution, Publix pulled all of our canned pet food, manufactured by Menu Foods, off our shelves,” said the retailer‘s spokeswoman, Maria Brous. “Our private-label dry pet food and wet cat food has not been pulled off the shelf, since it is manufactured by a different supplier.” Consumer complaints and the results of tasting trials prompted Menu Foods to recall all of the cuts-and-gravy-style pet food produced at its facility in Emporia, Kan., between Dec. 3, 2006 and March 6, 2007. The manufacturer of cat and dog food for more than a dozen retailers‘ private-label lines reported 14 animal deaths to the Washington-based Food and Drug Administration. Nine cats died during routine tasting trials conducted by Menu Foods. Consumers reported the deaths of one dog and four cats. At Cornell University‘s request, the New York State Food Laboratory tested Menu Foods pet food samples for poisons and toxins and identified aminopterin at a level of at least 40 parts per million. “We‘ve heard from over 200,000 consumers over the past seven days,” said Paul Henderson, president and chief executive officer of Menu Foods, during a press conference Friday. “They‘re scared and angry and they‘ve exhibited a level of care and concern that only us pet owners can understand. We‘re a strong, sustainable business and confident that our partners and customers will remain understanding and loyal, and for that we‘re grateful. We have a lot of work to do and we‘re eager to get back to it.” Menu Foods will compensate affected pet owners for expenses incurred as a result of their pets consuming tainted product. The timing of the production associated with the complaints and products in question coincided with the introduction of an ingredient from a new supplier, according to Menu Foods. Published reports identified the ingredient as wheat gluten, a source of protein. Menu Foods, which did not identify the supplier, stopped using this ingredient shortly after its discovery, and production since March 6 has been undertaken using ingredients from another source. -- Julie Gallagher