Saturday, April 21, 2007

We are all inter-connected

This food recall incident showed how interconnected we all are, didn't it?

Rice grown in China (presumably) and further processed by removing the starch, gives rice protein. Somehow, this was tainted with melamine, either intentionally or otherwise, and sold to US pet food contract manufacturers. And the US factories used these ingredients to make the cat food and sold them via agents all over the world. And of course some packs landed on the shores of Singapore and caused more than a little panic to me and other pet owners.

Thus far, at least I understand from NB via e-mail that the latest pack of NB Venison & Green Pea (expiry date Nov 07) I had fed the kxbc gang is probably not tainted as it was probably produced way before the tainted rice protein made its way into the manufacturing process. NB has been responding to my mails even though I am sure they must have their hands full right now. It's good they recalled their products so quickly (they received calls from concerned pet owners on 12 Apr and started recalling on 16 Apr based on their reply to me) even though it was a big gamble for their reputation.

On the other hand, as of now, our AVA still has not responded to my 2 e-mails to 2 different AVA e-mail addresses ( and I had sent on 18 and 19 Apr regarding this incident. And to think that I have even left my HP number in my mail so that they can clarify with me if necessary. And neither have they issued any press statement (just checked their website) about this in either their website or The Straits Times. No wonder my vet was so puzzled why I had brought XX and CC for the blood test on Thur evening. Totally hopeless organisation. I wonder if they read their mails at all. If they don't, perhaps they should not list their e-mail addresses in their contact list. To make a note for myself in the future: Do not work for govt service. I don't want to end up like them.

Back to the topic:
RC has also begun to recall some of their products but luckily, Indoor 27 is not on the list. KK, XX and YY are now solely on RC after the NB scare.

SD has also issued a statement that all their SD dry cat food and z/d prescription diet are also not affected. Rice protein is used in the manufacturing of z/d but it is not sourced from China. BB is eating SD Hairball Control and itchy CC is trying out z/d on a 2-month trial period.

NB has also in their 2nd mail to me, mentioned that besides lamb and venison which are to be sourced from New Zealand, all other ingredients were supposed to be sourced from the US. But their supplier sourced the tainted China ingredient instead. I reproduce below NB's reply to me (edited somewhat to remove boring press releases and my name :) ).

[quote]Dear kxbc,

Yes this is worldwide [recall of affected NB products].

Please find the following update regarding this recall. Further, please know that NO other Natural Balance products are affected. [April 17, 2007 press release here]

All of our ingredients are intended to be from the US except the Lamb and Venison (New Zealand). We purchase our raw ingredients from US suppliers who are contracted and paid to provide us with domestic products. We are investigating to find out how this chinese rice protein concentrate made its way into our supply, as our suppliers know we only want US domestic ingredients. We are also looking into changes in our purchasing methods to safeguard against any future errant shipments. We were let down by our supplier, which in turn caused us to let down our customers.

As to the testing procedures, our products are tested at various points from ingredients to completed diets. Because melamine has not in the past been a concern in the US ingredients, it has not been a regular part of the testing procedure. Due to this recall, and the fact that one of our suppliers has let us down, melamine testing is being incorporated into the regular testing.

Once we began looking into the illness reported last week, all of our foods were sent off for additional testing. This testing was performed at UC Davis. All of our products, recalled products aside, have been proven safe and with no contaminants.

Again, thank you for your email. I hope this eases your mind somewhat. This has been a horrible event for pet owners, the pet industry, and for us at Natural Balance.

SIncerely,Cherie Meyers

> >Subject: RE: Natural Balance Venison & Green Pea Dry Cat Food recall
> >Date: Wed, 18 Apr 2007 15:49:21 +0800
> >Thread-Topic: Natural Balance Venison & Green Pea Dry Cat Food recall
> >Priority: Urgent
> >From: "kxbc"
> >To:


I would like to understand if your food recall for the contaminated food affects only the US or is it a worldwide recall?

My local agent in Singapore mentioned that the Natural Balance Venison & Green Pea dry food formula sold in Singapore is not affected but I am not sure of his statement. I assume all Natural Balance to be either produced in the US using the same contaminated ingredient or in different factories around the world but still using the same contaminated ingredient due to bulk sourcing arrangements by Natural Balance HQ.

Appreciate if you can kindly clarify via e-mail or a press release urgently. Thank you.

Regards, kxbc
Singapore [unquote]

They bothered to reply to my mail even though they are swarmed with work and PR disaster recovery. And what did we get from our AVA? Nothing. Zilch. Zero. Gon-not. I wonder why they got a pay increase lately.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Journey to the vet

Office to home: Hardly any conversation as both of us were lost in our own thoughts. I just wanted to get home quick to scoop the both of them to the vet asap. I had butterflies in my stomach, similar to times when I had to send them in for surgery. I think Mrs kxbc had similar feelings.

Home to vet: Reached home, got them into the carriers and off we go. And silence on the way there again. CC and XX were a little anxious, especially XX as she was just at the vet on Sunday for her annual vaccination and checkup.
At the vet: The Dr was not aware of any food contamination issue as there was no word from AVA. I explained the whole thing all over to him again. Blood drawn from the both of them to test for acute renal kidney failure. A negative test result will be good but that does not mean they do not have chronic kidney failure. Only a test on their urine sample can confirm if they do have chronic kidney failure.

Waited around 20 min for the test results at the waiting room. No conversation as well. Both of us were just too anxious for the results, especially that of CC. He is the most likely to contract kidney failure, if at all, as he has been wholly on NB since Dec 06.

A cute "jia you jian gou", aka the bull terrier (I think), was at the vet too. Nosy little thing which was sniffing out all corners of the clinic.

The vet came out bearing CC's results.


Both of us heaved a sigh of relief. We were noticeably feeling better now as we smiled to each other again. We started talking. We were quite sure that if CC is negative, XX should be too.

Another 10 min and the vet was out with XX's result.


We felt much better now. We will monitor them for chronic kidney failure symptons eg drinking excessively, loss of weight and appetite etc. I will need to read up on this topic this weekend.

The bill came. $241!! Wah piang eh! But it was money well spent. It lifted a heavy load off our minds. I asked Mrs kxbc what would we have done if we know that we could not afford the bill. "We'll have to wait and save cash and at the same time monitor their health. But if we know we can't afford it, we probably would not have the 5 of them. Too many for finances already." I'm glad we still do not have problem supporting the 5 of them today.

Back home: The other 3 welcomed them back home. After their dinner, it was as if nothing had ever happened in the last 2 hours. It's good to have them safe and sound at home.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Update on NB Contamination

The Wife is frantic about CC who eats NB Venison & Green Pea solely, as he has had diarrhoea/soft stools for the past few days and diarrhoea is one of the symptons of kidney failure. XX has had soft stools too but her latest "release" this morning seems normal and she is still active. But whatever the case, we are bringing them in to the vet for a blood test this evening. I am worried too but I need to keep a clear head to deal with this incident.

Although the other 3 also consumes NB Venison & Green Pea as part of their diet which also includes RC and SD, they are behaving normally and are active. Depending on the diagnosis of CC and XX, we will decide whether there is a need to test KK, BB and YY as well.

Through speaking with the pet shop (and the agent indirectly) and our regular vet, it seems that no one knows of this food contamination issue as AVA has not released any press statement. I have dropped AVA a mail earlier and hopefully we will have some news soon.

Just to let you understand that the NB incident is a contamination of rice protein concentrate and is not related to last month's Menu Foods food recall which was a contamination of wheat gluten used to thicken the gravy in wet food. So if your pet shop tells you that AVA has already issued a statement saying that the food imported into Singapore is okay, tell them it relates to the Menu Foods recall. There is no word from the AVA yet on the NB incident. And from NB's website, NB uses only 2 contract manufacturers for the manufacturing of their food and so the chance that contaminated food are shipped to Singapore are high.

The contaminant for both incidents is similar: melamine. And melamine is used in fertilizers in Asia. I am not sure which food product to trust now. We know how the world is becoming more globalised and with strong competition, every company needs to source for cheaper sources of ingredients to stay competitive. And cheaper ingredients are probably found in Asia where labour costs are generally lower. If you had not realised already, most things are made in China nowadays. Like the US armed forces beret issue which happened a couple of years back. And also the souveniers you had purchased while holidaying in Europe. Turn the souvenier and you would probably see a "Made in China" label. I am not saying all food produce in China is no good but we do have news about Chinese manufacturers taking short cuts in their manufacturing processes eg milk powder incident.

Please tell your friends who have pets to stop feeding the contaminated NB products now before it's too late.

I am keeping my fingers crossed about today's vet visit.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Press Release from Natural Balance

This is the latest press release from Natural Balance ( To cut a long story short, don't feed NB Venison & Green Pea dry food formula, regardless of production date, for the time being.

I have just called Aquapet if I can get a refund since I had just purchased it last week and opened it only yesterday. I had thrown away the packaging though. $50+ can buy a lot of cat food and SD z/d is so expensive ($40 for 1.8kg) as a replacement.

Do you know what the NB agent told Aquapet? That the contaminated food only affects US market and does not affect the food sold in Singapore. I am not sure if the agent is stupid or if he is just stupid. If all the food are produced in the same plant using the same contaminated ingredients, which I am sure is since the bag specifically states "Made in USA", does it matter where the food are finally shipped to and consumed?

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Alert! Alert!

If you are feeding your babies Natural Balance Venison & Green Peas dry kibbles, please take note that Natural Balance had issued a statement that they had received complaints about their Venison & Green Peas dry kibbles for cats, causing vomitting and kidney problems and they are advising all pet owners to discontinue feeding.

I do not know when this statement was issued and am not sure whether it ties in to the last scare about pet food just a couple of weeks earlier.

And I had just opened a new pack just this morning!!!

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

An itch I cannot get rid of

Chang Chang did not itch further after the extreme experiment. So maybe I can conclude that he is not allergic to chicken but some other ingredient used in the manufacturing of kibbles.

Moglee suggested yeast and true enough, Royal Canin lists yeast as an ingredient but not NB Venison & Peas. Chang Chang is however still licking though we feed him NB exclusively. We suspect that he may have eaten a few kibbles of RC here and there while we are not looking. We will however still persevere with NB and see if there is going to be any improvement in the next couple of months.

The idea to give him Nutro Supplement has also been thrown out as yeast is also listed as an ingredient. In the meantime, we are still searching pet shops for a good and easy to apply supplement.

I think somehow, we have to live with the fact that he is going to itch and be hairless for some time. Poor boy.

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