Menu Foods Does Not Disclose Results Of Pet Food Testing, No Response To Media

On Monday, Menu Foods released a statement on their website stating that UC Davis recently tested pet food samples and found no traces of acetaminophen.

Although Menu Foods did not publicly disclose their negative test results from UC Davis. Also, the company refused to answer questions from ConsumerAffairs.com when asked about the samples of cat food they tested.

Carol, a pet owner who had Special Kitty food tested by Expertox after her cats became extremely ill and Itchmo reader, said, “I don’t trust them and I think they’re hiding something.”

She added, “That company poisoned my animals and they have the gall to refer to my lab results as a ‘recycled claim.’ This company made money off my animals for years and now they’ve poisoned my pets. How dare they belittle them . . . it’s so insulting.”

ConsumerAffairs.com asked Menu Foods why the company still had samples of recalled Special Kitty Food and how it disposes of recalled products. But Menu Foods did not respond to their questions.

UPDATE:
Menu Foods does eventually respond to ConsumerAffairs.com in a written statement. The company said it will not disclose its test results and that they have already provided a summary of the lab’s findings on their website.

Menu Foods added in their statement, “The California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory at the University of California Davis (”UC Davis”) tested products with date and time codes in close proximity to those identified in the ExperTox (report) - ensuring the products tested by UC Davis were manufactured and filled from the same ingredient sources as those identified in the ExperTox report. Acetaminophen was non-detectable in all three samples.”

In response to a question of why the company still has recalled food in their possession, the company stated, “Menu Foods is a defendant in ongoing litigation related to the recall, and currently cannot dispose of recalled product. Prior to the March recall, Menu has never before been involved in a food safety recall and as such, has no experience in ‘doing’ anything with its recalled product. At such time as Menu Foods is permitted to dispose of the product recalled this spring, it will do so in accordance with FDA guidelines.”

Menu also said that they could not contact Carol in regards to the cat food she tested, the cat food the company tested, or any information related to her claim because of a federal court order. But Carol has not filed a claim or taken any legal action against the company.

Source: ConsumerAffairs.com

(Thanks menusux and Carol)

25 Responses to “Menu Foods Does Not Disclose Results Of Pet Food Testing, No Response To Media”

  1. momkat says:

    It’s beginning to sound like Menu Foods doesn’t care anymore…or maybe they never did. They should just fold up the operation and get out of the business of poisoning living things.

  2. Louie W. says:

    Menu Foods Stock closed at $.79 (Can) today. Quite a slide from a few years ago when the stock was over $14 per share.

    Where did Menu get that management team?

    Guess they didn’t realize that killing their customers was a really bad idea.

  3. Bill says:

    I don’t trust Menu Foods, either. However, I also don’t trust Expertox. There have been too many cases where their results have been either refuted by other labs or not backed up by other labs. Having worked in the industrial laboratory business for almost 20 years now I know how careless sample handling can result in contamination and how careless cleaning procedures can result in cross contamination of samples. Not saying that Expertox is guilty of either of these things but I don’t think I would use them for lab work any more than I would feed a food made by Menu.

  4. mikken says:

    Menu knows that the less they say, the better. They’ll tell you what they didn’t find, but what they did find (if they bothered to look) isn’t any of your business. They need to cover their backsides to protect their wallets as best they can…

    Do I trust UC Davis’s lab? Sure, why not? Well, unless vested interests make you the suspicious sort…

    But I’ve worked in a chemical lab too and I know about sample retention and storage. Bulk materials and finished product samples should should be taken and properly stored. But you can only store so much and with all the testing that went on earlier when the melamine hit the fan, am I to believe that these guys still have enough samples of finished product available for more testing? Or is it more likely that they tested something “similar” (product, date, lot number, etc.) that they still had on hand? Hmm.

    Fact is, if Menu wants the public to start trusting them again, they need to be completely transparent with what they know.

  5. Don Earl says:

    RE: “I also don’t trust Expertox. There have been too many cases where their results have been either refuted by other labs or not backed up by other labs.”

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion, no matter how poorly informed that opinion is.

    ExperTox is constantly attacked as being the only lab detecting acetaminophen, yet, how many labs are on the record, not “refuting” ExperTox results, but simply saying they couldn’t find anything?

    Neither UCD or the FDA has ever tested any of the known acetaminophen positive samples. Neither has ever discussed their protocols. The FDA flat refused to test any of the known acetaminophen positive sample and hired 10 attorneys at your expense to defeat the effort to cause them to do so.

    UC Davis is a bad joke, and as close as I can tell, has never in it’s history had any experience testing for acetaminophen in anything, let alone pet food. ExperTox on the other hand has been testing for acetaminophen in blood and urine for years, and has tested hundreds of pet food samples.

    What other labs have refuted the ExperTox findings?

    Try spending a few month on the phone talking to every lab you can find to see how many of them even have the capability to test food samples for acetaminophen. Acetaminophen isn’t supposed to be in food, so the protocols don’t exist unless you develop those protocols from scratch, from the ground up. That’s what ExperTox has done, using their experience in testing for acetaminophen in other mediums. At that, it’s my understanding it was almost a matter of luck their being able to identify solvents capable of extracting acetaminophen from pet food in the first place.

    So, who is “refuting” the ExperTox results? A corrupt FDA and a Southern California campus bum deep in the hip pockets of the pet food companies. Neither of which can demonstrate either valid protocols or even a chain of evidence to known acetaminophen positive lot numbers.

    Some months back a sample of pet food believed to be Canidae tested positive for acetaminophen at ExperTox. The company immediately denied the results and claimed to have sent samples to three different labs. A couple weeks later they announced one of the labs wasn’t able to find anything. No mention was ever made about the results from the other two labs.

    But, hey, if you send out enough samples, it improves your chances someone will be able to come up with a false negative for you. From there it’s just a matter of throwing out anything that doesn’t help you perpetuate your fraud on the American public. If you’ve been paying attention, this is a current issue on import sample testing. Funny thing is, there’s no push for disclosure of lab results on domestic products.

  6. Lynn says:

    I posted this on one of the other Itchmo blogs today:

    “Something I learned during the pet food recall when I sent food to two separate labs to be tested: there are certain FDA lab testing protocols that need to be followed in testing for a specific toxin. The theory is that if everyone uses the same method of testing, then everyone should be on the same page.

    In my experience, the two labs [one in LaJolla and one in Texas] were waiting on FDA “guidelines” to be published for the detection of some of the toxins. So I’m wondering if the reason why ExperTox’s findings for acetaminophen are being refuted is because POSSIBLY ExperTox’s test protocol is different than the one being used by others. Just a wild guess.”

    Too, Don Earl pointed out that if one lab has performed more analyses for a particular substance, then the likelihood is greater that with their larger population of results that they would find more test results that are positive for a substance.

  7. Cathy says:

    Don and Lynn, Thanks for your many hours of research.

  8. Don Earl says:

    RE: “I’m wondering if the reason why ExperTox’s findings for acetaminophen are being refuted is because POSSIBLY ExperTox’s test protocol is different than the one being used by others.”

    From what I understand, certain aspects of a protocol may be propriatary as far as independent labs are concerned. I gather it’s a trade secret type of deal where having identifying a method that works, they’re not real gungho about turning it over to the competition.

    In a situation like that earlier this year, where the FDA develops a protocol, then freely distributes it to any lab willing to run the tests, it’s a little different deal. The public picks up the tab on the R&D, so the labs don’t have to worry about recovering their research and development costs before they can offer the tests.

    If the FDA had done that for acetaminophen in pet food, independent labs wouldn’t have had to. That leaves the independent labs between a rock and a hard place. If they have to incur the risk of doing the R&D themselves, they also have to worry about recovering their costs in order to stay in business.

    To the best of my knowledge, there are only 3 labs offering tests for acetaminophen in pet food: ExperTox, UC Davis (kind of), and I believe Midwestern if memory serves me correctly.

    There are a few custom labs that can do testing, but you’ll have to pay for the R&D to develop the protocol first. It’s expensive. The big law firms could probably afford it without too much trouble, but it would be beyond with most individual pet owners could do. Shoot, at that I was contacted by one law firm wanting to find out where they could get testing done at a reasonable price.

    If anyone else is aware of a lab offering a test for acetaminophen in pet food, I hope they’ll take a minute to post it here. There may be others I’m not aware of, but anyone that has called around will quickly find they aren’t on every street corner.

  9. Carol says:

    It looks like consumeraffairs.com received a written statement that Lisa has included in the article now—it seems they will not contact me about anything due to a court order—I am not part of ANY lawsuit however so that really stinks if you ask me but—it seems to include the food’s actual lab results—-it’s too bad they couldn’t include that info as why they won’t talk to me (or any pet owner) in their release on their website—-after 10 months of hell in my home due to their food I feel I DO deserve this info. I did not want or expect acetaminophen to show in my food-I did expect it to show melamine and cyanuric acid and even maybe aminopterin, so I would love to get a negative test that shows ZERO level of acetaminophen -not non-detected! Because I have been open and honest through this whole nightmare—I expected the same in return. There was however two full months that Menu Foods could have responded back to me about my ill cats as my first email was sent at 5:17 am on March 17. And too many phone calls to even mention. I have formed this “do not trust the pet food industry” since March thanks to the handling of this crisis—not just the tainting!

  10. Sharon says:

    I can’t believe Menu Foods is still in business. With their stock at .79 a share hopefully it won’t be for long. Im surprised the shareholders haven’t filed a class action lawsuit against the management team. Just keep at them people. As long as they are under the spotlight they can’t make a miraculous comeback. Just remember, it’s all about the money.

  11. Carol says:

    ps—and I forgot to add -the only “recycled claim” here is that their stinking lousy QC and delay killed and sickened thousands of beloved pets and ruined many happy households!–in my humble opinion

  12. 5CatMom says:

    Apparently, Menu is willing to disclose test results to Wegmans. In September, Wegman’s Vice President of Consumer Affairs, Mary Ellen Burris writes:

    “It’s been six months since our pet food supplier, Menu Foods, recalled Wegmans wet cat food and Bruiser wet dog food. We are finally ready to restore these products to the shelf. We wouldn’t do that if we didn’t have confidence that the new supply is perfectly safe.

    However, they [Menu] are testing raw materials for melamine and a host of other substances, and then a battery of tests on finished food. We are requiring evidence of those test results.”

    http://www.wegmans.com/meb/con.....entid=3927

    What exactly is “evidence” of test results? Does Menu simply tell them the food is safe, or does Wegmans receive a copy of the lab report? Do they receive “proof” of safety for each lot they purchase from Menu? Exactly WHAT scientific proof does Wegmans receive?

    1-800-WEGMANS(934-6267), ext. 4760

    Wegmans Food Markets
    1500 Brooks Avenue
    PO Box 30844
    Rochester, NY 14603-0844

    http://www.wegmans.com/guest/i.....p#comments

  13. Penny says:

    What about other companies (Wal-Mart, Wellness, Natura, etc.) who continue to work with Menu Foods?

    Do they also get “proof” that Menu’s food is safe? How can they be sure? Are they standing over the production line, or something?

    If I were a company still doing business with Menu, I’d be very concerned about the recent “Lick Your Chops” story.

    IMHO, this looks like a “silent” recall - can’t find mention of the products on any recall list.

  14. Chuck U. Farley says:

    Reading all of this makes me glad I decided to never buy another Menu Foods product again, despite all the people who’ve told me something like, “They’ve learned their lesson and are testing everything now.”

    Even the Nutro rep who comes to my store tries to tell me it’s OK to trust products made by Menu again. She pulled out this “talking points” sheet the company gave all their reps and said, “See? Nutro has completely stopped the use of Chinese ingredients and wheat gluten from any source.” This is a lady I’ve known for a couple years now and she knows I used to feed my cats Nutro but switched when the recall happened. We just about got into an argument right there in the store when I told her I’m not ever again buying anything made by Menu, I don’t care if they cure cancer, build the perfect mousetrap and work the miracle of the loaves and fishes all in the same day…they’re not getting my business again. She waved her talking points sheet in my face and said, “We aren’t using Menu anymore! See?” I (politely as I could) pointed out that her sheet doesn’t say they aren’t using Menu anymore, it just says Nutro is being acquired by the Mars corporation and is changing which plants where SOME of their products are made. She got real quiet then.

    If Nutro publicly states in a clear no-nonsense fashion that they DO NOT use Menu Foods to manufacture ANY of their products, they DO NOT use ANY imported ingredients and they DO NOT have ANY of their products made outside of the US then I will buy their food again. But they haven’t.

    I’m not holding my breath waiting for that to happen.

  15. Lynn says:

    RE 5CatMom’s comment on December 13th, 2007 at 9:10 am

    “What exactly is “evidence” of test results?” [Wegmans expects test results from Menu Foods.]

    I’m not convinced that anyone except a few biochemists truly knows which tests should be performed or how to perform them for accurate results.

    I am SO cynical after the pet food recall. The first objective of MF and Wegmans is profit. Period. That said, I believe that Wegmans is willing to rely on a simple document from MF stating that the food tested is safe. I dont’ know about you, but I don’t trust MF as far as I can throw them. Once a liar, always a liar. And shame on Wegmans for being naive.

    And double-shame on any consumer who believes what any of those manufacturers or distributors say.

  16. Lynn says:

    Re Don Earl’s comments on December 13th, 2007 at 5:18 am:

    Like you, I did a lot of research into labs, though my aim was to have food tested BEFORE it was eaten. I wanted assurance that the kibble food was safe even though it wasn’t on the recall lists [which I had decided were meaningless]. I wanted the food tested for melamine, cyanuric acid, and aminopterin [acetaminophen wasn’t on the radar screen at the time].

    I spoke with close to a dozen labs before sending baggies of the food to be tested. I found out what equipment they had, etc., etc. Most of the labs would not do analysis for a lone consumer such as myself. Of the three that would, one was in Dallas/Ft. Worth [they subcontracted their work to ExperTox] and one was in La Jolla. The La Jolla lab was FDA-approved, which didn’t mean it was better. [My translation: they had done work for the FDA in the past so they understood their standards and had a working relationship with them.]

    I was hell bent on getting the food checked for aminopterin. The La Jolla lab was upfront and told me that they didn’t have the FDA standards yet and that they had to wait. To my knowledge they never did get the standards for aminopterin. They also had to wait to receive the standards from the FDA for the other toxins, but received those after a couple weeks. ExperTox, however, was able to send me results [sans the aminopterin] within 2-3 weeks.

    Both labs concluded that the samples I sent were negative for melamine and cyanuric acid. They said they would inform me about the aminopterin, but here we are, 7 months later, and I haven’t heard a thing. I’ve contacted them a few times, but I had decided months ago that the food samples I’d sent them back in May had probably disintegrated and weren’t worth testing once they did get a protocol.

    Incidentally, I happened to talk at length last spring to Dr. Michael Carlson at the University of Nebraska who gave me an overview about testing processes. The man was most generous of his time and I am grateful. He recommended MidWest Lab and in retrospect I am sorry I didn’t send them a sample to them as well.

    One thing I do recall is that the FDA’s criteria for measurement of a toxin was in some cases significantly more relaxed than one or more of the labs. This meant that the FDA “set their level” such that analysis would only detect a toxin if it was found in much higher concentrations. Some independent labs set the criteria lower which would detect the toxin much faster.

    Don Earl: I wonder if anyone bothered contacting the pharmaceuticals that make acetaminophen products. I’ll bet they have a whole encyclopedia of test standards that could be adapted.

  17. steven says:

    Looks as if Menu’s stock is will be in the triple digits again. The decimal point will just be in a different spot.

    .001

  18. Louie W. says:

    LOL. It can’t get there soon enough for me!

  19. Carol says:

    Chuck U. Farley says:

    Very funny! I just got your name!!! It did take me a while though……
    Laughter is the best medicine—

  20. Don Earl says:

    Lynn,

    It’s my understanding ExperTox keeps the samples they test for customers on hand, frozen, for six months. They also offer testing for aminopterin now, although I haven’t seen any report anyone has found it in pet food since the early report from the New York lab when it was first announced.

    The aminopterin is still a mystery to me. It was confirmed by two other labs, and a number of folks I’ve been in contact with describe terrible birth defects during the recall period, which happens to be one of the nastier side effects of aminopterin. Apparently, the stuff is very unstable and degrades quickly in light, which might make it hard to find even for a lab that has a protocol for it.

    I don’t doubt it was found in the food, but do I doubt we’ll ever get the truth on how it got there. One thing that has always bothered me is how two difficult to detect substances ended up in pet food at the same time.

    Acetaminophen is also difficult to detect in pet food as, from what I understand, it tends to bind to protein, which makes it hard to extract and quantify.

    On top of those two, there was also the melamine/cyanuric acid cocktail. Alone, the substances are for all practical purposes nontoxic. The two combine to form a third substance, which is also virtually nontoxic. But, if the recent UC Davis study has any merit, which I wouldn’t bet the farm on, the two fed together causes the reaction between the two that forms the third substance to take place in the kidneys.

    So, you have two substances which are difficult to detect, and one two part toxin that is harmless until it’s mixed. I don’t want to get into any dark conspiracy theories, but it’s hard not to wonder how all three took place in the same time frame, and that the time period ran as long as it did, at epidemic proportions, without any response whatsoever for 4 months, followed by a several months long media misdirection campaign. Whether by accident or design, it’s scary either way.

  21. Carol says:

    I think one important part of testing is to know the MDL as ExperTox for acetaminophen is 0.1 ppm I believe—-another I contacted said 1-2 ppm is their MDL so that is substantially higher—so could this be as simple as ExperTox can detect at a much lower level? Regardless of how much is needed to cause illness, I think all of us would like to see the amount detected as Zero!

  22. Don Earl says:

    RE: “could this be as simple as ExperTox can detect at a much lower level?”

    The answer is probably yes and no on that one. There are a number of issues involved. First, they likely aren’t using the same protocols. Second, they’re limited to what can be done in a production lab. The machines only hold about a gram of food, so out of a 5.5 ounce can, or 155 grams, less than 1% of the sample is being tested. ExperTox mixes the whole sample first to reduce the potential for chemical hot spots, so the portion they actually test is more representative of the whole than if they just opened a can and dipped out a little bit.

    Where the detection level really plays a part is acetaminophen tends to bind to the protein in the food. That makes it difficult to extract significant quanties from the food. So, let’s say there is 10 mg of acetaminophen in a can of food, which comes to a bit over 60 ppm, and which would be enough to build up to lethal levels in a pet constantly exposed to it over a period of days or weeks. If a lab is only able to extract 1% of the acetaminophen, or .6 ppm, the result is a false negative if the minimum detection level is at 1 ppm.

    Like anything else, if you don’t look for something, you aren’t likely to find it.

  23. Lynn says:

    I and two others [Nadine and Bernie] on another blog figured out which toxic substances were involved, based on knowledge of NPN’s. Months later the “powers that be” came to the same conclusion.

    But I’ve never let go of the idea that in some cases aminopterin was involved. If you go back to the days when they were sure it was aminopterin that was the cause, you’ll note that the Univ. of Guelph originally found it as well as the NY lab and then later said they had not.

    At that point I learned:
    ~ Not all equipment is the same, nor is it always calibrated correctly.
    ~ Not all testing protocols are the same.
    ~ If the scientist conducting the test finds that a toxin is in the sample, and if the amount of toxin found in the sample is less than the minimum criteria stated in the protocol, then the result is considered “negative” for the toxin. That doesn’t mean that the substance isn’t there - it just isn’t there in sufficient quanty to meet the protocol’s standard of measurement criteria. I’m sure this confused a lot of people.

    Yes, Don Earl, Teri at AccuTrace [who subcontracted the samples to EperTox] mentioned that they freeze the sample for a while. But this is 7 months ago.

    Carol’s right - I am sure we would all want the level of toxins to be zero. Particularly since we don’t know whether a miniscule level of toxin will have a synergistic reaction with another chemical.

  24. Katie says:

    If I remember correctly, Expertox is CAP accredited. I don’t know if U Cal is? but would assume so. CAP sends out samples quarterly(as unknowns). It is a way for the labs to check their accuracy and remain accredited. I wonder what the CAP ratings are for these labs and how many errors they’ve had.

    I don’t know if CAP has a check sample for acetominophen.

    The thing that I find concerning is the mention of FDA guidelines or protoccol….. that means FDA is controling laboratory abilities for detection and amounts. Which sounds like it is dependent upon what big business wants, it might not be what good science wants.

    As for menu foods - “samples within close proximity” does not clarify lot#,production run#,lot #’s of raw ingredients,etc.

    Most companies keep samples frozen for quite a while. However the sample quality would be dependent upon how it is packaged,control temps. of freezer, etc. Knowing how Menu Foods handles the public and how money is everything - they don’t make me feel very trustful of them. I don’t trust them. It would just be nice to see a pfc come forward and be honest -

    Don, “if you don’t look for something,you aren’t likely to find it”; and I feel the PFC don’t want to find it or have us find it. And, you are exactly right; there are no labs out there saying Expertox is a bad lab or uses bad science.

    Katie

  25. Anonymous says:

    Don Earl wrote:
    “So, you have two substances which are difficult to detect, and one two part toxin that is harmless until it’s mixed. I don’t want to get into any dark conspiracy theories, but it’s hard not to wonder how all three took place in the same time frame…”

    Two or three of the toxins could have been in the water used to process. We know melamine was in the grain. It could also have been in the organ meat, if not muscle meat (still waiting to hear how those tests are going).

    Aminopterin could have been in rendered lab animals or, well, yeah, lets not go there.

    Factory workers in one plant (cleaning pork brain matter using air compressors) started displaying neurological symptoms in Dec. of 06′. No doubt just a coincidence there as well.


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