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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 March 2007, 13:31 GMT
US lawsuit over 'pet food death'
Cats in basket
US dog and cat owners have been urged to check their products
A US woman who claims her cat died after eating tainted pet food is suing the manufacturer, Menu Foods.

On Friday, Canada-based Menu Foods said it was recalling 60m cans and pouches of dog and cat food after several animals died during taste testing.

But Chicago resident Dawn Majerczyk claims the company knew that there was a problem earlier and failed to act.

Her nine-year-old cat Phoenix suffered kidney failure last week after, she says, eating just one of the pouches.

Taste test deaths

The ginger cat was taken to the vet on Friday but had to be put to sleep on Saturday, just four days after Ms Majerczyk says he ate the serving of Special Kitty Select Cuts.

The cat had reportedly lost 6lb (2.7kg) in the four days and was unable to walk and almost blind by the time he was put down.

By Friday, he couldn't walk - he couldn't even meow or lift his head up
Dawn Majerczyk
"By Friday, he couldn't walk," his owner said. "He couldn't even meow or lift his head up."

Ms Majerczyk filed her lawsuit against Menu Foods in a Chicago federal court on Tuesday. She says that she wants to be compensated for the veterinary bills and the trauma suffered by her children.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that 14 animals - one dog and 13 cats - have been killed by the food.

Menu Foods said it was alerted to a problem with the food during routine taste tests carried out at the company.

The food was fed to 40 animals - 25 cats and 15 dogs - and nine of the cats subsequently died.

More predicted to die

As a result the company issued a product recall for 40 brands of cat food and 51 brands of dog food.

The recall list includes well-known brands like Iams, Eukanuba, PetCare and Science Diet.

A further four cats and one dog owned by customers have also died, according to the FDA.

Dr Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine, said he expected more pets to die as an investigation into what could have contaminated the food continued.

Dr Sundlof said the inquiry is currently focussing on wheat gluten used as a gravy thickener, though he said that may change.

The gluten is not used in dry pet foods.

The recall has triggered panic across the US with pet owners frantically contacting information lines and vets to find out if their pet is in danger.

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