Purina joins pet food recall

The pet food giant recalled all of its ALPO Prime Cuts in Gravy wet dog food after discovering that it too was supplied with a potentially lethal additive by an unnamed Chinese company.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Nestle Purina PetCare Company is voluntarily recalling all sizes and varieties of its ALPO Prime Cuts in Gravy wet dog food, adding those products to a growing list of pet food tainted with wheat gluten containing the toxic agent melamine, Purina said.

As of Friday, at least 14 pets had died and hundreds have become sick from other contaminated varieties of food, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The melamine, a chemical used to make fertilizers and plastic utensils, is a pet food additive that was imported from China. The company's name has not been released to the public.

"The company is taking this voluntary action after learning today that wheat gluten containing melamine, a substance not approved for use in food, was provided to Purina by the same company that also supplied Menu Foods," according to Purina.

"The contamination occurred in a limited production quantity at only one of Purina's 17 pet food manufacturing facilities," Purina said, without naming the plant. The company is based in St. Louis.

Purina, which merged with a Nestle subsidiary in 2001, said the recall it announced Friday affects only dog food with specific date codes. No Purina brand dry pet foods are affected by the recall, including ALPO Prime Cuts dry.

"Consumers should immediately stop feeding their dogs ALPO Prime Cuts products with the date codes listed below and consult with a veterinarian if they have any health concerns with their pet," the company said in a statement on its Web site, which also has other detailed information.

The recall covers 13.2-ounce and 22-ounce ALPO Prime Cuts cans and 6-, 8-, 12- and 24-can ALPO Prime Cuts Variety Packs with four-digit code dates of 7037 through 7053, followed by the plant code 1159, Purina said. Those codes follow a "Best Before Feb. 2009" date.

"Purina is confident that the contaminated wheat gluten has been isolated to this limited production quantity of ALPO Prime Cuts canned products," Purina said.

On Friday, the recalls extended into the dry pet food market after Hill's Pet Nutrition announced a voluntary recall of Prescription Diet m/d Feline dry food as a precaution.

Dr. Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, and Dr. Donald Smith, a veterinarian from Cornell University, said an independent lab identified melamine in the urine and kidneys of a dead cat and several sick ones after eating the wet pet food recalled earlier this month.

"The association between melamine in the kidneys and urine in the cats that died and what was in the food they consumed is undeniable," Smith said at a news conference.

A pet owner from Wisconsin filed a class action lawsuit against Menu Foods (Charts) seeking unspecified damages after her cat became seriously ill from its food. Menu Foods would not comment on the lawsuit.

A list of the 42 cat food and 53 dog food products involved in the Menu Foods recall is online at www.menufoods.com/recall.  Top of page