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Recalled pet food taken off area store shelves

| March 23, 2007 12:00 AM

By GWEN ALBERS Western News Reporter

A massive pet food recall has resulted in at least three stores in Libby removing products from their shelves.

In addition, Libby veterinarian Dr. Doug Griffiths has received numerous telephone calls from pet owners seeking information. Griffiths, however, has not treated any cats or dogs for related illnesses that have led to the deaths of 16 animals across the nation.

"The pet-owning public is pretty concerned about this," Griffiths said. "I have not seen illnesses (in Libby) attributed to it."

The recall announced on March 16 is for 60 million cans and pouches of wet dog and cat food manufactured by Menu Foods of Ontario, Canada. The recall covers dog food sold throughout North America under 51 brands and cat food sold under 40 brands, including IAMS, Nutro and Eukanuba. The food was sold under both store and major brand labels at Wal-Mart, Kroger, Safeway and other large retailers.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration as of Wednesday had investigated the deaths of 16 cats and dogs related to the recall. Wheat gluten has been identified as a likely source of contamination. It's a protein source used to thicken the pet food gravy.

Griffiths, owner of Treasure Valley Veterinary Clinic, said he received 12 to 15 calls Monday and a few more by Tuesday morning.

"They were all informational calls. They wanted to know if any foods bought here were affected," he said.

One local pet owner thought his dog had gotten ill from the food. When tested, the dog was diagnosed with diabetes.

"That was the only suspicious (case)," Griffiths said.

Homesteader's Ranch and Feed Supply had to remove one case of the Nutro's Natural Choice Large Breed Adult Lamb and Rice canned food, said office manager Vicki George. A customer who purchases the food regularly was contacted and didn't have any of the contaminated food.

"We had a lot of people call Saturday and got a few calls on Monday," George said.

Pamida also removed some of the food, said Janie Williamson, operations team leader in Libby.

"We've complied with it," Williamson said. "We're waiting for posters to come in from our company so we can put them out where people can see them."

Empire Foods removed NutriPlan and Mighty Dog from its shelves, said manager Todd Lapka.

Rosauers in Libby and Stein's IGA in Troy did not have any of the pet food at their stores.

"What's confusing is some people listed Western Family," said store manager Scott Erickson. "We do carry Western Family, but only three particular flavors (were affected). They were never made available to us."

Some IAMS flavors were included in the recall. Rosauers discontinued those last year, Erickson said.

Stein's was in good shape.

"There's a representative coming to our store to check everything out," added Howard Nichols, assistant manager at Stein's.

A list of the recalled products along with product codes, descriptions and production dates is available from the Menu Foods Web site, www.menufoods.com/recall . The company also can be reached toll-free at 1-866-463-6738.