Premium pet food company recalls dry foods
By Julie Schmit, USA TODAY
Natural Balance Pet Foods said Tuesday it found melamine in two of its pet food products, which the company has recalled.
Melamine is the chemical suspected of causing pet deaths and illnesses related to the Menu Foods recall, covering more than 60 million cans and pouches of wet dog and cat food from dozens of brands the past four weeks.
But Natural Balance doesn\'t use wheat gluten, the ingredient contaminated with melamine in the Menu recall. Instead, it suspects that melamine was in a rice protein concentrate, a new ingredient used in the dry foods, said Natural Balance president Joey Herrick. \"That was the only change in the product,\" he says.
The concentrate is now being tested, he added. Melamine was detected in samples of the food. The recalled foods are: Venison & Brown Rice Dry Dog Food and Venison & Green Pea Dry Cat Foods.
Whether other pet food makers got the same rice protein concentrate is unclear at this time. Herrick says the food was made for Natural Balance by Diamond Pet Foods.
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Diamond Pet Food makes no other food that includes rice protein concentrate, spokesman Jim Fallon says.
Herrick also said Diamond got the rice protein concentrate from an American company, which he wouldn\'t name. The melamine in the Menu Foods recall was in wheat gluten imported from China.
The company has recalled all dates of the two products, although Herrick says it has only received complaints for food made March 28.
Herrick says Natural Balance, a premium pet food maker based in California, started getting calls Thursday from consumers reporting that dogs were vomiting. By Friday, the company had received calls from seven households regarding 11 dogs, Herrick said. The company also says it has received reports of animals suffering kidney problems, which has also occurred in the Menu recall.
The consumer calls set off alarms because \"we don\'t get that,\" Herrick said.
The company has also received reports involving three or four cats, he said.
Natural sent out the food Friday to be tested for the usual things that would cause animals to vomit, such as pesticides and heavy metals, Herrick says.
No animals had yet died but that the company had reports that some were hospitalized, he said.
Melamine is not allowed in human or pet food. It is an industrial chemical used in plastics making in the USA and as a fertilizer in Asia, the Food and Drug Administration says. While melamine is not highly toxic, the FDA is investigating whether it, or something related to it, is responsible for pet deaths in the Menu recall.