Chinese Distributor Pulls Suspect Dog Food

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A Chinese distributor has pulled a popular dog food brand from its pipeline following reports that about 10 dogs got sick after eating the product, two had died, and a third was gravely ill, the Associated Press reported Monday.

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Shanghai Yidi Pet Co. said it stopped selling Optima brand dog food last week and notified its customers not to feed it to their pets. The sickened dogs were believed to be suffering from aflatoxin poisoning. Aflatoxin is a naturally occurring chemical in a fungus sometimes found on corn and other grains that can cause liver damage. The company said it was unclear how the dog food might have been contaminated, but indicated that it might have spoiled in storage before reaching shops, AP said.

While Optima is the name of an American dog food brand, it was unclear if the food sold in China came from the United States. In the United States, Optima products are made by Nashville, Tenn.-based Doane Pet Care Co., which was bought in 2006 by Mars Inc., makers of Pedigree brand pet foods. Mars' Web site does not list any international operations, and it was unclear if Doane was the manufacturer of the brand sold in China.

Calls for more information to the American and the Chinese companies went unanswered before business hours Monday, the wire service reported.

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