Thu, Mar 04, 2004 - Page 11 News List

Pedigree defends products amid rumors of dog deaths


The national distributor of US dog food-maker Pedigree declared yesterday that its products are safe, refuting rumors that Pedigree food caused dozens of dogs to die from kidney failure.

"The rumor is bizarre and unfounded because the Pedigree we import is made in Thailand and is sold in 10 Asian countries. There is only rumor in Taiwan that dogs have died after eating it," said Chen Hsing-wen (陳興雯), spokeswoman for Effem Foods Taiwan (美商艾汾).

"Our attorney is collecting evidence and we do not rule out taking legal action against those who spread the rumor," she said by phone.

"We are very concerned about the health of pet dogs, so we want to spend NT$1 million [US$29,000] to find a scientific explanation for the dogs' illness and death," she said.

Rumors that more than 100 dogs fell ill and about 30 others had died from kidney failure after eating Pedigree began circulating on the Internet early this year, local newspapers reported.

Some vets were quoted as saying the number of dogs developing or dying from kidney failure had doubled or tripled since January. They were perplexed because normally only older dogs suffer from kidney failure.

Effem Foods Taiwan is awaiting test results of food samples from the Council of Agriculture, due out in one or two weeks.

The Taiwan Veterinary Medical Association said that hundreds of dogs have fallen ill and died in recent months, but it does not know the cause of their deaths.

"I was having lunch with some friends today, and one vet said that at his clinic, 10 dogs had died," association secretary-general Chen Poh-song said by phone. "The funny thing is, X-ray showed that nothing was wrong with the sick dogs, but an autopsy showed they had kidney or bladder stones."

Chen said a dog can develop kidney failure from several causes -- eating harmful plants, alfa toxins or trace minerals.

Pedigree is one of the leading dog food companies in the world. Taiwan imports NT$100 million worth of Pedigree -- including dry and canned food -- each year, accounting for one-third of the nation's total dog food imports.

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