Thai Unit of Mars Inc. Admits Pedigree Brand Dog Food Caused Kidney Disease
Kyodo News International, Tokyo Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Mar. 23--BANGKOK, Thailand - The makers of Pedigree Dry brand dog food apologized to customers Tuesday after acknowledging that cases of kidney disease in dogs in Taiwan, South Korea and Southeast Asia were most likely caused by its dry dog food produced in Thailand.
Effem Foods Thailand Co., a subsidiary of food and confectionary giant Mars Inc., said in a statement that the renal illness cases were most likely caused by toxins produced by mold found in raw material at its pet food manufacturing plant in the northern province of Nakhon Rachasima.
"A panel of animal health experts, including veterinary medicine specialists from the United States, Europe and Asia, conducted a thorough review of all available information before concluding that toxins were the most likely cause of the problem," the statement said.
"We sincerely apologize to our customers and express our regret for any distress or anxiety this problem may have caused," Effem Foods' general manager for Southeast Asia Calvin Schmidt said in the statement. He added that the company is "taking all necessary steps to prevent this from ever happening again." Taiwan veterinarians have reportedly said hundreds of dogs fed Pedigree Dry dog food, including young ones, had mysteriously developed kidney failure and died in recent months.
On the question of compensation for the deaths, the company's website merely said it would "listen to our customers and do our best to resolve any concerns they may have in a fair and equitable manner." The company has recalled all dry dog and cat food produced in Thailand, is also supplied to Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.
As a precaution, it has also recalled dry cat food in those markets although there have been no reports about increase in unusual cat illness in Asia.
In Japan, the recall is limited to the meat sasami cheese variety of Pedigree Dry dog food, nine varieties of Kalkan Brekkies dry cat food and two varieties of Kitekat.
According to the company, the mold was found in an auxiliary bulk storage system for rice and corn at the Pakchong factory.
It said an expert panel concluded that two toxins in the mold-contaminated food had led to the cases of renal disease among younger dogs, which is unusual, as well as older dogs, most of which involved the formation of unusual kidney stones. Symptoms included weight loss, weakness, vomiting and ulceration.
The company said it is still investigating why more dogs suffered renal problems in Taiwan than in other countries where the products were distributed.
It advised customers to stop feeding their pets products covered by the recall and offered a full refund for any unused product. New dry pet food products to be placed in the affected markets within a month will have red-and-white stickers on the packages to identify them as new supply, it said.
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