ARGH! If Menu Foods is confusing the mass media outlets, I guess it’s okay if I’m beginning to get confused about their press releases, too? Why don’t they just dispense with any further confusion on ANYONE’S part by just doing what they should until the mystery of how aminopterin (rat poison) got into their foods is solved: just CLOSE THE TWO PLANTS where the tainted food was manufactured and have ANY pet food manufactured there during that time (whether on the recall list or not) be pulled until some sort of answer is found? Oh wait, silly me, $$$. Doh!

I’m including today’s Menu Foods full press release, along with the opening statement from their press conference last Friday.

Here’s today’s press release, supposedly clarifying their press release from two days ago:

March 26, 2007

Clarification From Menu Foods: No Expanded Recall

TORONTO, ONTARIO–(CCNMatthews – March 26, 2007) –

NOT FOR RELEASE OVER US NEWSWIRE SERVICES

Media outlets have reported conflicting and incorrect information, including that Menu Foods has expanded its recall to include all products produced.

To clarify, late last week, the US Food and Drug Administration (the “FDA”) and various media outlets reported that some retailers still had recalled product on their shelves. In response, Menu Foods issued instructions for retailers to remove from their shelves all cuts and gravy products of the flavours listed on the recall list, regardless of the dates produced. For many retailers, this had already been completed as their standard operating procedure.

This step did not expand the recall but provided the remaining retailers with an efficient means of withdrawing the recalled product. The full recall list is available at www.menufoods.com.

In addition, Menu Foods reiterated that there is no evidence of any problems in any products manufactured at either its Streetsville, Ontario, facility or its North Sioux City, South Dakota, facility. Furthermore, there is no evidence of problems in any of the products not on the recall list produced at Emporia, Kansas, or Pennsauken, New Jersey.

Menu Foods has also posted the opening statement made at their press conference from last Friday:

Opening statement
By Paul K. Henderson
President and CEO, Menu Foods Income Fund
23 March, 2007

Ladies and gentlemen:
Thank you for assembling on such short notice. I have some brief opening comments. And then we will take questions. The news conference will conclude at 4:30 sharp.
My name is Paul Henderson, and I am the President and CEO of Menu Foods. With me today is Dr. Richard Shields, Executive Vice President of Menu Foods. Rick is head of Menu’s technical services that includes research & development, regulatory and quality assurance. Rick is a PHD in Animal Nutrition.
We are happy and relieved that the experts from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Cornell University have discovered the root of the issue that has harmed North American cats and dogs. This important discovery caps an unprecedented search by top experts. Dedicated and knowledgeable researchers at universities, independent laboratories, and our own veterinary consultants worked tirelessly to defend and protect our cats and dogs. Over the past seven days, we have spoken with almost two hundred thousand consumers. They were scared; some like myself, are angry; they demonstrated a level of care and concern that only those of us who are pet-owners can understand. Our hearts go out to the many thousands of pet-owners across Canada and the U.S. for their losses and their worry. We are grateful to them for their patience as we hunted for the root of the problem.
I can anticipate some of your questions, so let me address them briefly.

Q. How did this substance get into our products?
A. At this stage, we do not know. Our immediate next steps will be to begin testing of all suspect raw materials with the goal of quickly identifying the means through which this substance entered our supply chain.

Q. Which specific products made by our company contain this substance?
A. Again, we do not know with certainty. This morning, the researchers advised us of their discovery as they investigated the recalled product. At this time we have no reason to suspect that this matter goes beyond the recalled product.

Q. What should pet-owners do?
A. Until we have these answers, we have the following advice for consumers:
* We want to reinforce our view that all consumers should immediately stop using the recalled product.
* If your pet is showing any signs of illness after consuming any recalled pet food, see a veterinarian immediately

Q. What about the future of Menu Foods?
A. We have a strong, sustainable business, and we’re confident about the future. Our customers and partners have been understanding, supportive and loyal. And for that, we are grateful.

As I have explained, we have a lot of work to do. And we are eager to get back to it. But we will take questions for about 20 minutes.

I also ran across an interesting article at globeandmail.com, which does a good job chronicling the rise and fall history of Menu Foods before this latest catastrophe.

Just a reminder, too, about Petrapport, Inc.’s recall of Berkley & Jensen pig ear dog treats due to salmonella.

And here’s my initial Menu Foods recall post with links, or you can click the Pet food recall info/posts page at the top of this blog.

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