Menu Foods CEO Dodges Cat and Dog Food Recall Blame

EDITORIAL

Paul Henderson

On June 29, Menu Foods CEO Paul Henderson clearly tried to deflect any blame related to the pet food recalls at the company’s Annual Meeting. We’re not buying it.

Henderson first gives a brief synopsis of the “M.A.R.C. (Melamine and Related Compounds) recall” — a term that the Pet Food Institute and Pet Food Commission created to remove reference to pet food recalls. (You got to love acronyms. Doesn’t sound so bad to the pet owners when you use fancy terms, right?)

If we sound ticked off in our responses, it’s because we just might be. Henderson says:

I want to be very clear here that we were not making demands on our suppliers to produce low price gluten. Let me stress this point. We were more than willing to pay the going rate for what we thought was a product that met all of our specifications.

So, you’re telling us that there were no red flags when your company was paying so far below market prices for wheat gluten. Even Sundlof believed that you should have suspected that something was wrong when the prices were so low. Ever looked up the definition of gullible in the dictionary? Or did you just think you won the wheat gluten lottery?

Basically, you turned a blind eye and didn’t ask why prices were so low. Tsk… Tsk… Bad Menu Foods. Have you ever heard the saying that you get what you pay for? Well, in this case, our pets paid for it.

We’ve spent over 35 years in this industry and, in those three and a half decades, we have never seen anything like this – certainly we’ve never had to issue any food safety recall before this unfortunate incident.

Of course your company had no previous food safety recalls because there were no food inspections done at your company and pet food safety was never really examined before all of these recalls. So, don’t pat yourself on the back for your so-called perfect record. You just never got caught — until now.

It’s important to understand that everyone involved in the industry – suppliers, competitors, regulatory authorities – never suspected melamine. It just hasn’t ever happened before and none of the industry standard tests – which we all used – could have detected it. To our knowledge, no pet food or human food manufacturer had ever tested wheat gluten for melamine, prior to this incident.

Actually, pet food melamine spiking in China goes back at least 15 years and spiking of baking ingredients in the US happened as early as 1975. So, Henderson, it seems like it’s been happening for awhile now. It’s a travesty that industry standards did not include the detection of compounds like melamine.

And it wasn’t only our industry that was blindsided by the fraudulent acts of Chinese suppliers. According to other food safety reports, the contaminated plant proteins found their way into the respective feed systems of the pork, fish farming, and poultry industries, resulting in wide quarantines.

The pork and poultry industries received “contaminated plant proteins” when pet food companies including Menu Foods gave them contaminated pet food scraps. And the melamine continues to spread through not only our pet food but human food too.

The rest of the transcript (and our retort) after the jump.

Menu Foods, other industry participants, the US Food and Drug Administration and many others worked feverishly to determine the nature and source of the problems that began to be identified in early March. Menu cooperated fully with the government investigators and threw an array of its own technical and management resources to discover what was going on. Recognize that for several weeks, there was conflicting information about whether a problem even existed . . . let alone what the source of that problem might be.

Nevertheless, even in the face of inconclusive data, we acted.

How many dead pets does it take to make results conclusive? There were reports that the company was receiving complaints about the cuts and gravy style pet food as early as December. You told the FDA that you received your first kidney failure complaint on February 20 and tests began 7 days later on February 27 (this test was actually part of your routine quarterly feeding trials and not a specific test done in response to the complaints). The first animal in the clinical trial died on March 2 and the mortality rate is quoted at 1 in 6. That’s the same odds as playing Russian roulette with a revolver. Who knew eating pet food would give you the same odds of survival?

You acted on inconclusive data? You waited for animals in your feeding trials to die before your company did anything. If you acted on inconclusive data, you would have acted when you received the first complaint.

It took Menu Foods 14 days from when the first animal dies in your testing trials to finally recall pet food. That’s two full weeks after your own lab’s cats and dogs died from eating Menu Foods products. Talk about feverishly fast. It’s not reasonable to believe that there was “conflicting information” about problems in your pet food. Nothing is inconclusive about the connection between Menu Foods products and dead pets in your own labs.

We demonstrated our responsibility to our customers, the pet food industry and pet owners, by acting with diligence and speed.

Let’s go over your recall timeline. The Menu Foods recall is first announced on March 16 and on March 19, 6 more brands are added and one is removed from the Menu Foods recall list. On March 20, 2 more brands are added and Canadian brands are added to the Menu Foods recall list. On April 5, Menu Foods expands recall dates. On April 10, the recall is expanded due to the contamination of Canadian plant. On April 17, Menu Foods expands the recall again. On May 3, the recall is expanded again. And finally on May 22, Menu Foods adds two more brands that should have been included in the May 2nd recall. Your recall expanded over two months. Yes, true diligence and speed.

In fact, even before contaminated wheat gluten was identified as the possible source of the problems, we suspended its use out of an abundance of caution.

It’s very suspicious that Menu Foods suspended the wheat gluten supply while you claim that your firm didn’t know the source of the problem.

In fact – and I will emphasize this – Menu Foods’ first recall was more than two weeks before any other manufacturer initiated their recall.

And weeks and possibly months after pets were dying. Almost a month after Menu Foods said that they received the first complaint. Up to three months after reports say that complaints about the cuts and gravy style pet food were being made to your company.

We have implemented new procedures and processes that will help reinforce the confidence in Menu Foods shown by our customers over the years.

Please enlighten us on these new procedures and processes.

Let me talk briefly about our industry and regulatory relations going forward. This company – or any company for that matter – cannot realistically protect itself against every conceivable threat – whether accidental or deliberate.

Perhaps you can protect yourself against your company’s own greed. If it’s too cheap to be safe, it probably is.

I also want to thank the vast majority of our customers who recognized that we were not responsible for this situation and who have stuck with us
throughout this difficult time.

We politely request names and numbers of these customers who continue to put faith in Menu Foods. Now.
Here is the full transcript. (PDF file)

(Thanks Sandra)

75 Responses to “Menu Foods CEO Dodges Cat and Dog Food Recall Blame”

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  1. Mrs. P. says:

    Menusux, thanks for the link to the speech. Do you remember the link for the pictures of regular wheat gluten and melamine-contaminated wheat flour? I thought I saved it but I guess not. Thanks again.

  2. Jay says:

    For Mrs. P –

    Some other executives at Menu Foods, with email addresses:

    Robert W. Luba, Chairman of the Board of Trustees & Administration Board (rluba@menufoods.com)

    Mark A. Wiens, Chief Financial Officer, Executive Vice President, Secretary of Administrator (mwiens@menufoods.com)

    Randall C. Copeland, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing of Administrator (rcopeland@menufoods.com)

    William F. Grant, Executive Vice President - Corporate Purchasing & Logistics of Administrator (grant@menufoods.com)

    Christopher J. Mifflin, Executive Vice President - Operations of Administrator (cmifflin@menufoods.com)

    Richard G. Shields, Executive Vice President - Technical Services of Administrator (rshields@menufoods.com)

    Serge Darkazanli, President and Chief Executive Officer (sdarkazanli@menufoods.com

    Boycott Menu and all who have a business relationship with them, now and future. Wal-Mart (Special Kitty), Safeway (Priority), Kroger (house brand), and Wysong.

    ADD OTHERS!

  3. Captn' Carl says:

    Mrs. P. How’s this for a starter? This a list of all the products listed on the P&G Website. A great place to start a boycott of their products. As I said, this is a start. At least people who look at this list will know which products not to buy.

    Two thumbs up for a great idea in boycotting these maggots! Captn’ Carl

    Here is a list of the products to boycott. Since the only thing they seem to understand is money, lets all work together to deprive them of as much as possible!

    Proctor & Gamble, What’s next? Soylent Green?

    Air Fresheners
    Febreze Air Fresheners
    Antiperspirants & Deodorants
    Old Spice
    Secret
    Baby & Child Care
    Charmin
    Children’s Pepto
    Dreft
    Luvs
    Pampers
    Pampers Kandoo
    Puffs
    Batteries
    Duracell

    Body Wash & Soap
    Camay
    Ivory
    Noxzema
    Olay
    Old Spice
    Safeguard
    Zest
    Colognes
    Old Spice
    Commercial Products

    Cosmetics
    CoverGirl
    Max Factor
    Dish Washing
    Cascade
    Dawn
    Ivory
    Joy
    Feminine Care
    Always
    Tampax
    Hair Care
    Aussie
    Head & Shoulders
    Herbal Essences
    Infusium 23
    Pantene
    Hair Color
    Clairol

    Health Care
    Align
    Braun
    Fibersure
    Metamucil
    Pepto-Bismol
    Prilosec OTC

    ThermaCare
    Vicks
    Household Cleaners
    Bounty
    Febreze Air Fresheners
    Mr. Clean
    Mr. Clean AutoDry Carwash
    Swiffer

    Laundry & Fabric Care
    Bounce
    Cheer
    Downy
    Dreft
    Era
    Febreze Air Fresheners
    Gain
    Ivory
    Tide
    Oral Care
    Braun
    Crest
    Crest Glide
    Crest Whitestrips
    Fixodent
    Gleem
    Scope
    Oral-B
    Paper Products
    Bounty
    Charmin
    Puffs
    Pet Nutrition
    Eukanuba
    Iams
    Prescription Drugs
    Actonel
    Asacol
    Dantrium
    Dantrium IV
    Didronel
    Enablex
    Macrobid
    Macrodantin
    Prestige Fragrances
    BALDESSARINI
    BOSS
    BOSS SKIN
    bruno banani
    ESCADA
    Ghost
    Giorgio Beverly Hills
    HUGO
    LACOSTE
    NAOMI CAMPBELL
    PUMA
    Valentino
    Shaving
    Braun
    Gillette Fusion
    Gillette M3Power
    Gillette SatinCare
    Gillette Venus
    Skin Care
    Braun
    Gillette Complete Skincare
    Noxzema
    Olay
    Small Appliances
    Braun
    Snacks & Coffee
    Folgers
    Home Café
    Millstone
    Pringles

  4. menusux says:

    Mr. Henderson,

    Since tomorrow is a workday north of the border, thought you might like to review the following:

    http://www.menufoods.com/ir/do.....202007.pdf

    Your Remarks at the Menu General Meeting June 29, 2007

    Page 2

    “Wheat gluten has been in short supply, and, in 2006, feedback from our historic suppliers led us to conclude that we needed to add an additional supplier for this key ingredient.”

    Try the word CHEAP–Mr. Henderson–you weren’t in agreement with the prices reputable suppliers were quoting you, so you were on the prowl for the cheapest source you could get–no matter where it came from.

    Page 3

    “As it turns out, the gluten was contaminated with melamine.”

    Now try STUPID, Mr. Henderson–because the US FDA’s test indicated that the substance was wheat flour, not wheat gluten. You would have known that if proper testing would have been done on receipt of the ChemNutra product.

    “I want to be very clear here that we were not making demands on our suppliers to produce low price wheat gluten… We were more than willing to pay the going rate for what we thought was a product that met all our specifications.”

    Now say STUPID and CHEAP together, Mr. Henderson. Because if you were willing to pay what you call the “going rate”, you would never have needed to deal with ChemNutra for the would-be wheat gluten–you would have purchased it from your historic suppliers. None of us would have needed to know about melamine if you’d done that.

    Page 4

    “We demonstrated our responsibility to our customers, the pet food industry, and pet owners, by acting with dilligence and speed.

    Page 5

    “In fact-and I will emphasize this–Menu Foods’ first recall was more than two weeks before any other manufacturer initiated their recall.”

    Now look in the mirror and say LIAR, Mr. Henderson–because your testimony before US Congress on April 24, 2007 states where the first “Menu” recall began. It was begun by Iams and the link to this information is right on the Menu Foods website:

    http://tinyurl.com/2kxryo

    Wednesday, March 14, 2007

    “At 8:30 p.m., Iams told Menu Foods that it intended to recall cat food manufactured by Menu Foods in Emporia, Kansas from December 17, 2006 through March 14, 2007.”

    Your speedy and dilligent recall began March 16, 2007, and the last entry on the Menu Foods recall page was May 22, 2007.

    Menu Foods General Geeting June 29, 2007

    Page 6-(regarding suits against Menu Foods)

    “In the end, our goal is to acheive fair compensation within the framework of the law.”

    Now the two words are CHEAT and HARRASSMENT, Mr. Henderson, because a US District Court judge had to restain you from harassing those who submitted claims. Here’s your version from the Menu Foods website:

    http://www.menufoods.com/recall/US%20Residents.htm

    “On May 24, 2007, a United States federal court issued an order that, for the time being, prevents Menu Foods from having direct contact with individual U.S. pet owners.”

    Menu’s worked hard to try to cheat people out of full reimbursement for what they spent because Menu Foods bought contaminated wheat flour for wheat gluten. Menu has spoken loud and long about being taken by ChemNutra and its Chinese supplier, but apparently the shoe’s too small only when it’s being fit on Menu’s corporate foot–not those who paid you and your co-packers good money for your adulterated products.

    If there are corporations in Hades, Mr. Henderson, I am certain there’s one with a sign on it reading “Menu Foods” waiting for you eventually–you’ll be able to get away with all of this down there.

  5. Mrs. P. says:

    Thank you Jay and Cap’n Carl! I didn’t expect that kind of info. What a lot of work! I really believe a boycott is the way to go. These people only think about their stock dividends, quarterly profits, etc. We (the common folk) buy or don’t buy their products, so I think we have a bit of power here. And to the politicos: we voted you in (the large corporations didn’t). We’ll vote your useless a**es out!

  6. Ruth says:

    Isn’t it interesting that Mark A. Wiens,CFO, gets away with selling his Menu Foods shares 3 weeks before the recalls yet Martha Stewart goes to jail. Oh……it was just a coincidence. Spin,spin, spin…….the lies.

  7. thomas says:

    I am not buying from any United States company that has a factory in China. I am not voting for anyone in any election that has lobbied for Farm Groups, agribusinesses , drug companys etc. I will not vote for any elected official that has supported or voted for any laws that take away our constitutional rights.

    Perhaps we need to totally boycott any product containing high frutcose corn syrup or corn syrup. It is ADM that has such a strong China connection, that was willing to help finance Watergate, that tried to get corn ethanol started back in the Nixon - Johnson era. They have been involved in promoting GMO’s and Ge’s. Lets hurt all the companys that moved to China by not buying their products or bs. Lets really show Bushie and his cronies we are fed up.

  8. Mrs. P. says:

    I would like to find a list of companies with factories in China. I know Nestle built one. Who else? These are probably the companies that protested China’s attempt to stiffen workers’ rights laws. The International Herald Tribune mentioned US-based multinational companies saying that protecting the Chinese worker would make business too expensive.

  9. Elaine says:

    Mrs. P,

    Awhile back Petconnection had a thread about Tyson and Mission Foods “quietly” informing their plants to quit using ingredients from China. It was an attempt to convince the consumer that they were shaping up!

    BUT—–some research by us troublesome bloggers found that Tyson and Mission BOTH have China connections! Tyson was entering the chicken business in China, and our USDA had written a rule to accomodate them!

    USDA’s rule said that U.S. could import chicken from China, as long as the chicken was owned by a U.S. company! How convenient is THAT?

    I think there was also mention that Cargill had a China plant.

    This was right after the 20,000,000 melachickens entered our food chain, I think, in case you want to research the archives.

  10. HomeGrown says:

    Hey everyone,

    MSNBC is taking a poll on what they should write about in an upcoming article. Please go here and vote for Government Accountability. Let’s get a little more light on this subject and spread the message to others out there that are unaware!

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18826755/

  11. menusux says:

    China linked to recalled snack food
    ‘Booty’ producer links salmonella with seasonings

    Newsday July 3, 2007

    “The Sea Cliff company that produces Veggie Booty, which has been linked to the salmonella poisoning of more than 50 people nationwide, said yesterday that seasonings imported from China had likely contaminated its recalled snack food.

    “Also yesterday, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture said salmonella had been found on a sample of the snack food and possibly in a vegetable seasoning it imports from China.

    “U.S. State Department officials who have been dealing with the recent cases of contamination could not be reached for comment. But one source said U.S. officials have been specifically discussing the Veggie Booty problem with Chinese officials.

    “The acknowledgments of links between the salmonella epidemic and the snack food, which is aimed at youngsters, came in a news release issued by the company, Robert’s American Gourmet.

    “In it, company president Robert Ehrlich said the company had been informed yesterday by the Minnesota Department of Health that a sample of Veggie Booty tested positive for the rare strain salmonella Wandsworth. Officials in Minnesota could not be reached immediately to confirm the account.

    “The federal Food and Drug Administration last week issued a recall of Veggie Booty, and the company on Monday recalled its Super Veggie Tings, a snack aimed at adults that contains the same seasoning. No illnesses have been linked to Veggie Tings.

    “In the news release, Ehrlich said the company’s own independent testing of samples of the seasoning indicates “that it is the likely cause [of the salmonella poisoning]. Sources of origin on all components of the seasoning have been determined to be primarily from China.”

    “Sources familiar with the investigation say an additive had been suspected because the cooking of the cereal products that make up most of the Veggie Booty should have killed any bacterial contamination.

    “The seasoning is combination of various dried vegetables, including spinach, kale, carrots, cabbage and broccoli, according to the sources.”

    When will everyone get smart and just say NO to China?

  12. Katie says:

    This was the warning on fake protein concentrates that I spoke of earlier. Someone on PetConnection or here at Itchmo originally found this. I remember we talked back than about how could a company say they hadn’t been warned to be on the lookout -

    http://tinyurl.com/2cevuj

    Katie

  13. E. Hamilton says:

    Any purchase of pet food from a company that is a member of the the PFI is aiding and supporting the poisoners.
    Every dime paid to a member of PFI means that they have your permission to continue the lies and the poison.
    NO pet food company can be trusted.

  14. Elaine says:

    E.,
    Thanks for reminding me to look up PFI members. I have been researching Kumpi for my dogs, and Crosswinds Petfood, Inc, which makes the Kumpi is not a member. I want to stay with the dry kibble as it works best for me.

  15. thomas says:

    Transnationale lists companys with factories in china . they are at transnationale.org. I have trouble getting whole web addresses to post so will give it in sections http://www.transnationale.org after you put that in go to companys in china.

    I read yesterday that Goodyear has a factory in china ,some of there off brand tires are being made in china.

    They still have not named where the plant is that manufactures Veggie Booty . I wonder why? They refer to it as the contractor, I wonder if there is a chance of cross contaimination to other companys products that are made there as happened with the pet food products?

  16. thomas says:

    Transnationale lists companys with factories in china . It is transnationale.org

    I wonder what plant manufactures Veggie Booty . The FDA has not mentioned the name nor has Roberts. I wonder about cross containimation to other products? They refer to them as the contractor.
    http://www.transnationale.org

    Also I read yesterday that Goodyear tire has a plant in China and is having some of their off brands manufactured ther.

  17. Ruth says:

    I read this in today’s paper grocery ad:
    Kroger: Tyson: New! Chicken raised without antibiotics, 100% all natural
    No artificial ingredients, No hormones

    TOO BAD it didn’t say no MELAMINE.

    HAPPY 4th of JULY!!

  18. Mrs. P. says:

    Thomas,
    Thank you for that transnationale link. That will be very useful to me. Happy 4th!

  19. Katie says:

    Thomas,

    I was wondering the same thing…wonder who the manuf. is and thinking cross contamination.

    Happy 4th of July, everyone.

    Katie

  20. thomas says:

    Happy 4th to all. You are all a tremendous people , with great ability to find the truth.

  21. Kevin says:

    Menu Foods needed Bill Clinton (slick willy) to try to convince the public of their innocents.

  22. thomas says:

    I found a web site http://www.power_of_attorney.c.....ey_all.asp
    that claims there was a law suit giled against Roberts American Gourmet by a woman who gained weight from eating their product. This web site lists the parent company in 2001 as Keystone Foods . A privately owned company , that is a supplier for major fast food . The company has businesses in China.
    After going on the web site I went OMG.

  23. Elaine says:

    thomas says:

    July 4th, 2007 at 5:50 pm
    Happy 4th to all. You are all a tremendous people , with great ability to find the truth.

    I have to echo thomas’ sentiment. I am encouraged daily to keep working on this, blogging and adding my 2 cents on the issues I am educated on, because others are doing the same!

    We all come from different areas of the country with different political views, and an amazing conglomeration of life experiences! I feel this is a very good thing, we are making a difference, and we are all committed to keeping on AND ensuring the safety of our food supply.

    I think most of us realize what a complete mess our country is in because we can see how the transnational food conglomerates have control of our congress, and I am sure it is the same with oil, energy, you name it, the control is there.

    It isn’t about Republicans and Democrats, and who is president, they are all on the take and only care about their bottom line, plus they like to be in power and pulling the strings.

    Would be wonderful if a third party would emerge, founded on liberty, ethical behavior, etc. etc. you name it! We need to throw the bums out!

  24. HomeGrown says:

    I don’t know if anyone posted this yet, but those Robert’s Veggie Booty and Veggie Tings snacks that were recalled were because of the seasoning used. And where were the ingredients in the seasonings from? Go here for the answer.

    http://www.robscape.com/pressrelease7307.pdf

  25. Pilot says:

    I know a lot of this has some facts but come on people let’s get it right the company is inspected by AIB (American Institute of Baking) so before we place names or labels on someone or something lets make sure our information is correct. Let’s not let our anger make statements that are not true

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