Analysis of Menu Foods Pet Food Recall

Iam's Chunks in Gravy
UPDATE 2: (Monday 3pm Pacific) Director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine estimates that this recall affects 1% of all US pet food supply. Divide the 1% sold over three months and our estimate sounds plausible.

UPDATE: Many news outlets are reporting that the suspect food was sold until March 6th. We’ve read enough reports (including GK’s) to believe that the food was being sold days afterwards since the recall was not announced until the 16th. The March 6th date seems to be the last manufacturing date. GK, Our thought are with you and your cat.

The manufacturer Menu Foods of Ontario, Canada, suspects a new supplier they used as a possible cause. It’s alarming to us to the recall was not announced until 10 days after they switched away from this supplier on March 6th because of the suspected problem — bolded in the quote from the Press Release (PDF) below.

Shortly after receipt of the first complaint, the Fund initiated a substantial battery of technical tests, conducted by both internal and external specialists, but has failed to identify any issues with the products in question. The Fund has, however, discovered that timing of the production associated with these complaints, coincides with the introduction of an ingredient from a new supplier. The Fund stopped using this ingredient shortly after this discovery and production since then has been undertaken using ingredients from another source.

Okay, so let me get this straight. After switching to a new supplier, Menu Foods got complaints, started testing and switched the suspect supplier on March 6th, but didn’t recall the products until 10 days later?

Why did they wait this long? They also released the news on Friday afternoon when Internet and media traffic was winding down, limiting the reach of their warning. We’re curious as to how this turns out in the pet community. The next number we’re interested in is the average settlement amount per pet where the pet ingested harmful food. The company is estimating that the recall will cost $26 to $34 million.

To calculate the impact of this recall, we put our heads together here at itchmo and tried to size up the magnitude of this recall. We’re estimating that roughly 1/2 million pets were affected from this recall of 60 million cans or pouches of pet food (our math is after the jump). Out of 90 million cats and 74 million dogs (source), that’s an impact of 0.3% of all pets or about 179,000 households.

To put that into perspective, the entire city of Atlanta has 179,000 households (equivalent to about 4/5th of Seattle). This is huge.

Check our math. Let us know if you think our math can be verified or corrected.

It’s also interesting to note, that the Menu Foods Web site has been reduced to the homepage and the recall page. As you can follow from this link, there is far more information if you dig a little. Hey, Menu Foods, it makes you seem like you’re hiding from your customers. Now we know why their site was down on Friday night as the news broke.

Our math:

Pets Served:
60 million cans or pouches of food (assuming 1 container per day consumed)
(divided by) eaten over 90 days
(multiplied by) 80% consumption rate (This is an educated guess)
= 533,333 pets served. (or 0.325% of all pets)

Households Affected:
63% of all household have a pet
(multiplied by) 80% are cats or dogs
(multiplied by) 110 million households in the US
= 55 million households
and 0.325% of 55 million is 178,861 households.

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