When pet food is bad food
April 9, 2007 9:15 PM   Subscribe

What can of information do I need to provide to menufoods as proof that my cat may have died from tainted products?

I've been feeding my pets the wet pouch food about once a week, until the news came out about the recall. At the time of the recall, I had already given my cats all the wet food and thrown out the pouches...who keeps pouches of old food around when you think everything is ok?
Just recently, my 5 year old cat went to the vet after falling over in a pool of his own vomit. It was then that I found out that he was suffering from kidney failure. I became concerned and called menufoods, but the woman was unable to tell me what to expect and what kind of information to gather. I have some receipts but they say that I have only purchased "pouches" and the cost, which is unique to the product in question. They do not state what the product brand was. I'm unsure if this is going to be enough to prove that my cat has fallen ill because of this and if they will consider covering even a small portion of the 1200.00 vet bill.
posted by Holy foxy moxie batman! to Pets & Animals (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
er, that's what kind of information...I have wet food on the brain I think
posted by Holy foxy moxie batman! at 9:17 PM on April 9, 2007


My wife is a Veterinary Technician in an emergency hospital. They have had several patients affected by this, and I will alert her to this question in the morning (Eastern US time). From what I understand from her, Menu Foods has been very responsive in reimbursing people for their vet bills.

(I'd have emailed if you had one in your profile, email me if you'd like to speak to her directly)
posted by Rock Steady at 9:27 PM on April 9, 2007

I'm really sorry to hear about your cat. What a crappy situation. I have a feeling you should keep whatever you think might help, and I would assume that there will be some sort of class action suit when all is said and done with this. Mayb more for those who had pets that dies, and less for those who had sick pets and vet bills. You might have your vet write a note that they feel the cause of death was inline with the symptoms that were being caused by the food problem.
posted by Chuck Cheeze at 9:31 PM on April 9, 2007

Oh this is awful! I'm so sorry!
For now, what I would do is write out a list of order of events, dates and times and any other info you can provide. Where you bought the food, when, etc. Anything related to this whatsoever, write it down in one big chronology. Not only will it be cathartic, but you will have a record of events that you will constantly be referring to. It will help make things go smoother and better your case. I would include every conversation, everything you can think of, even when you posted this AskMe. You will end up needing at least some of this info and having it in order, in one place will really make things easier for you.

I'm really sorry you've lost your pet. I hope this all works itself out quickly and painlessly.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:36 PM on April 9, 2007

If the price is unique to that brand of food, perhaps you could have the store from which you purchased the food (assuming the store name is on the receipt) sign a statement affirming this.
posted by amtho at 9:37 PM on April 9, 2007

Menu Food spokesman Sam Bornstein advises pet owners who suspect their animal is ill to get to a vet immediately and to keep the bills. They should also keep the packaging from the pet food eaten to demonstrate their pets ate the food on the recall list, he said. (source)

There's a ton of information if you just use Google News... look here.
posted by rolypolyman at 9:44 PM on April 9, 2007

Rolypolyman, thanks for the link. I have read tons of information on what is advised for pet owners to do. The question is what I should do not having saved the packaging or receipts because the food was fed to my cat pre recall. I don't know anyone that has had direct contact with Menufoods. How little will it take to prove that this is what caused the sickness in my indoor only animal is the real question.
posted by Holy foxy moxie batman! at 10:06 PM on April 9, 2007

That's awful. I'm sorry about your cat.

Did you use a grocery store / pet store discount card at all? If so, you might be able to get the store management to provide confirmation. And contact your vet. If the symptoms are similar to others he's seen in sick animals, that's more circumstantial confirmation.

But from what I've seen, it looks as if Menu Foods isn't going to argue if you've got proof of an animal that's died from related symptoms (vet bills) and proof of buying any kind of pouch food, given that they appear to have cornered the North American market from top to bottom. More's the pity.

Good luck.
posted by holgate at 10:30 PM on April 9, 2007

I am so, so sorry to hear about your cat.

Like everyone else, I've heard Menufoods is planning to be responsive to claims for vet bills related to the tainted foods. However, I've found that calling the 1-800 number to be somewhat useless - apparently after the recall they hired out a call center to provide information, and the call center reps aren't authorized to discuss reimbursement. This recent post from Consumerist might help you contact the company directly.
posted by lalex at 11:14 PM on April 9, 2007

If you used a card that's a record to a degree. See if the cost is particular to that food. Also, where did you buy the food? A small place? Maybe they remember you. Maybe they remember that you always buy this food. Maybe your mom knows you always buy this kind of food.

A sworn statement from a friend or witness, plus the fact that everyone knows this food was tainted and your cat died of poisoning.... I think that could be enough, but my only experience with the law is judge Judy :-)
posted by xammerboy at 7:09 AM on April 10, 2007

Ask the vet to write a statement indicating that s/he found the cause of death to be consistant with the effects of the contaminant behind the recall, and the animal otherwise appeared to be healthy. (Assuming that this is the case).
posted by -harlequin- at 10:04 AM on April 10, 2007

If the price is unique to that brand of food, perhaps you could have the store from which you purchased the food (assuming the store name is on the receipt) sign a statement affirming this.

I would assume that the store could verify your receipt(s) with information in the store database. I'm wondering if their side of the transaction also captures the SKU's (which should indicate brand, quantity, etc. of your purchases)? I suspect it might, as such would feed into their inventory system -- letting them know what products are selling when and in what quantities. Check with the store to see if they have more detailed accounting/information that can be synched with your receipt(s).
posted by ericb at 12:02 PM on April 10, 2007

BTW -- the FDA has a comprehensive website -- Pet Food Recall.
posted by ericb at 12:06 PM on April 10, 2007

Many individuals and law firms have started to file class action lawsuits against Menu Foods. Expect an avalanche of such. You may want to consider joining one as a class member, but be astute as to which suits and firms are likely to get certified for the action.
posted by ericb at 12:12 PM on April 10, 2007

From Ms. Steady:

First, let me say that I am so sorry about your cat. I am sure you are hearing that from a lot of people, but having worked in veterinary medicine for 10+ years, I know how difficult this is. We have unfortunately been dealing with this tragedy at my emergency hospital on a daily basis ever since the first press release. The first thing you need to do is get a copy of your cat's entire medical record. If you had bloodwork done in the past it may help to solidify your case if you can prove that he did have normal renal function at one point. The other thing the record may tell is what type of food you told the vet you routinely use. I know when we are performing physical exams on patients, we always ask what type of food owners feed their pets. So, again this may help your case. As you might imagine, the pet food industry is taking quite the hit (as they should) for this and since we are talking about multi-million dollar food companies...they are concerned about PR. So, that means that you may have good luck with getting reimbursement. I know that doesn't help how you feel about the situation. Lastly, we (our hospital) were given a phone number specifically for financial reimbursement for veterinary bills. That number is 1-800-882-1591. Make sure that you don't waver and don't take no for an answer. You may want to approach your vet about writing a formal letter (on hospital stationery...yes, that matters) to say the exact cause of death/illness. Again, I am so sorry. Hope this helps.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:54 PM on April 10, 2007

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