March 23, 2007 / 4:47 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-NY agency says rat poison found in pet food-AP

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NEW YORK, March 23 (Reuters) - Rat poison has been discovered in the pet food blamed for pet deaths in the United States, the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets said on Friday, according to the Associated Press.

Spokeswoman Jessica Chittenden said it was rodent poison and declined to identify it beyond that, the AP reported.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on its Web site that the reason behind the deaths of at least 14 animals was still unclear, but it was working with Ontario-based Menu Foods, which manufactures the pet food in question at its Kansas and New Jersey plants.

Menu Foods Income Fund MEW_u.TO said it would hold a press conference on Friday at 4 p.m. EDT to respond to today's developments. New York State officials have scheduled a press conference for 1 p.m. EDT.

An FDA spokesperson could not be reached for comment, and the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets did not return calls seeking confirmation and additional information.

Previously, it had been suspected that wheat gluten was the likely cause of contamination in the "cuts-and-gravy" style wet food sold under national brands such as Iams, Eukanuba, President's Choice and Nutro Max Gourmet Classics. (Additional reporting by Lisa Richwine in Washington, D.C.)

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