- The Washington Times - Monday, May 26, 2003

From combined dispatches

A U.S. company asked customers yesterday to return dog food that may have come from a Canadian cow that tested positive for mad cow disease, the Food and Drug Administration said.

Pet Pantry International of Carson City, Nev., said customers should search for two products: “Maintenance Diet” with a use-by date of Feb. 17, 2004, and “Beef with Barley” with a date of March 5, 2004.

If found, the food should be held for pickup. The company’s products are purchased by phone or e-mail, and delivered by franchises to consumers’ homes.

There is no known risk to dogs and no evidence that dogs could transmit the disease to humans, the FDA said. The voluntary return is a precaution to prevent discarded dog food from getting mixed with feed for cattle, goats or sheep.

Customers who purchased dog food since February should check their supplies and, if found, call the company at 800/381-7387. Pet Pantry is also using sales records to contact consumers.

The suspect food, in 50-pound bags, was produced in Canada by Champion Pet Food of Morinville, Alberta.

Meanwhile yesterday, Canadian officials destroyed about 180 more cattle and inspected 200 farms as investigators trace whether North America’s first occurrence of mad cow disease in a decade is confined to one Alberta animal that tested positive this month.

The new cull adds to the 192 cows killed last week. All those cows tested negative for the disease, Brian Evans, chief veterinarian at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, said at a press conference in Ottawa. The only way to test for the disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE, is to sample dead brain tissue.

“We will be taking out any animals that we cannot conclusively determine aren’t a risk,” Dr. Evans said. “That’s the threshold of public expectation and accountability.”

All the cows on the Wanham, Alberta, farm that was the last home of the beef cow that developed the disease have been destroyed, as have the cows on a quarantined farm in Saskatchewan, Dr. Evans said.

Seventeen farms — 12 in Alberta, three in British Columbia and two in Saskatchewan — have been isolated.

The announcement Tuesday of the discovery of mad cow disease caused the United States, Japan and 19 other countries to ban Canadian beef, shutting an industry that contributes $18.9 billion to the Canadian economy out of some of its main export markets.

Inspectors haven’t ruled out the possibility that the single case of BSE is a spontaneous outbreak, Dr. Evans said.

Investigators are going to 200 farms to make sure feed that may have been contaminated by the infected cow’s remains was properly labeled and used, Dr. Evans said. The infected cow’s carcass was ground up into chicken feed.

Scientists think mad cow disease is spread when cows eat feed made from infected animals. Humans who consume BSE-contaminated products may develop a fatal brain disorder known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which causes rapid dementia and impaired coordination of movement.

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