Woman Buys $1,000 In Tainted Pet Food At Walmart

Walmart’s recall system is broken, but you already knew that. A South Carolina woman noticed that her local Walmart wasn’t removing tainted pet food that can and has caused kidney failure and death in pets. Her solution was to buy it, just to get it off the shelves. From the AP:

A woman said she was so worried about reports of tainted pet food she spent more than $1,000 buying all the product she could find at her local Wal-Mart. Margaret Trask said she filled a shopping cart full of canned pet food made by Canadian company Menu Foods at the Beaufort Wal-Mart after hearing about the recall Friday.

She returned Wednesday morning to buy more food and came back that night to buy even more, but Trask said store officials asked her to leave. She said store employees were taking some of the food off the shelves.

Reader Rick, who sent in the article, says:

This is something I thought about during the height of the whole Nazi t-shirt thing. How quickly would Wal-Mart remove something from their shelves if it was hazardous? Evidently just as slow as they were with the t-shirts.

—MEGHANN MARCO

Woman buys over $1K in tainted pet food [Yahoo!]
(Photo: Clean Wal-Mart)

PREVIOUSLY: Recalled Pet Food Still On Walmart Shelves

Comments

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  1. Lewis says:

    Not really sure why this is in Yahoo!’s “Odd News” section – what this woman did was truly selfless. Guess that’s odd.

  2. Rajio says:

    “store officials asked her to leave”…..more details please?

  3. Youthier says:

    Okay, she’s a little crazy but Wal-Mart officials asking her to leave? Maybe they should have removed the food right away and eased her fears. I’m curious whether she complained about the food being stocked first and was ignored.

  4. karmaghost says:

    With Wal-Mart, YMMV. There are two Superstores in the area, one on both ends of town. One Wal-Mart is a joke in terms of stocked shelves, FE staff, and selection. You’ll never see a manager in that place. The other store, on the other hand, you’d think it was a “real” grocery store; good staff, managers walking the floor constantly, well-stocked and -staffed, etc.

    I haven’t checked either for the food in question, but while I’m no fan of Wally Land, there are stores on both ends of the spectrum.

  5. IC18 says:

    She should probably try to ask Menu Foods or walmart for a reimburstment for doing their jobs.

  6. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    I’m assuming she will be able to return all that food, as part of the recall.

  7. RST1123 says:

    Death to all pets? So long as we can make 54 cents.

  8. Nicholai says:

    I can’t beleave they asked her to leave, they should have refunded her money and taken the food off the shelves. I mean, how difficult can it be to get rid of the food? What that woman did was selfless.

  9. FunPaul says:

    It’s a small price to pay for low low prices.

  10. The Bigger Unit says:

    They asked her to leave because they knew it was going to be poor public relations / publicity for their crappy store, and didn’t want her coming back in to heap more on (“I had to make THREE trips to get it all out of there!” or “Three trips before they finally took action themselves!” etc.).

  11. iMike says:

    Guess it wasn’t the neighbor dog’s incessant barking.

    WMT is evil AND stupid. Very dangerous combination.

  12. mopar_man says:

    She took out classified ads and everything to try to get the word out but Wal-Mart couldn’t take the stuff of their shelves? Words escape me on how to describe Wal-Mart.

  13. Mike_ says:

    It’s only a matter of time before Wal-Mart’s inability to remove recalled products from their shelves starts killing people. First t-shirts, now pet food. At some point, it’s going to be cough syrup or infant formula. Mark my words.

    “They didn’t get the memo” might work for Nazi memorabilia, but when your negligence starts killing your customers’ pets, you know you’d better get your f_cking act together. There’s simply no excuse for crap like this.

  14. joopiter says:

    @The Nature Boy: And yet they couldn’t figure out that they would get even more bad publicity for asking her to leave. A simple “Thank you for alerting us, we’ll get all available staff on this immediately” would have sufficed.

    I hope Wal-Mart gets sued by someone who bought food that was supposed to be recalled and off the shelves. As the Nazi Shirt Watch proved, even if there’s a sales restriction on something, you can still get the cashier to sell it to you. It’s simple, really. You get a recall notice, you take a group of employees that are arranging socks or cleaning up DVDs and you stick them in that aisle and tell them to remove the items. Do the same for any backroom stock. Lather, rinse, repeat. It’s not frakkin’ rocket science.

  15. homerjay says:

    Lady, PLEASE stop giving us your money in exchange for product! What do you think we are, some kind of store????

  16. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Perhaps she isn’t as selfless a person as we think. She could be buying up all the food to kill hundreds of cats and dogs.

  17. Trick says:

    Is this just really a Wal*Mart issue or is this just another reason to bag on Wal*Mart?

    Yes Wal*Mart sucks.

    Yes I took a picture of the Nazi shirt at the Santa Maria Wal*Mart weeks after it should have been removed.

    But has anyone else checked Target? Vons? Walgreens? PetsMart?

    There comes a time when bagg’n on Wal*Mart just gets old…

    What the lady did was really cool. She is a good person. And the fact that Wal*Mart will take back the food at anytime and refund her money doesn’t change a anything about what this very nice lady has done.

  18. spanky says:

    Here’s a little more detail.

    My favorite part is that they told her they wouldn’t let her buy the pet food because they knew what she was going to do with it.

    What the fuck is that supposed to mean?

  19. mkiff says:

    Any chance we can reopen the “Worst Company in America” voting?

  20. Hexum2600 says:

    That woman rocks… Sounds like something my mother would do. Now, truth be told, shes a bit of a cat lady…

  21. After hearing the news of the recall last Friday, Beaufort resident Margaret Trask went to Wal-Mart in Beaufort to buy more than $1,000 of any canned wet food made by the manufacturer with the intent to prevent possible injury of cats and dogs. Not all types of the food are being recalled.

    She said “… All these brands should be off the shelves until they know what’s going on”

    So she’s not taking just recalled food off the shelves, she’s taking all of it so nobody can buy any variety of food belonging to the affected brands. I’d kick her out, too.

  22. spanky says:

    @Trick: The problem with your argument here is that you are imagining a thus far hypothetical scenario in which other stores are continuing to sell dangerous recalled products, and are given a pass.

    Neither one of those things have happened, as far as I’m aware.

    You go check Target and Walgreens and all those places. If you find the recalled pet foot still for sale, I promise to be pissed off about it.

  23. mopar_man says:

    So she’s not taking just recalled food off the shelves, she’s taking all of it so nobody can buy any variety of food belonging to the affected brands. I’d kick her out, too.

    You would kick out a paying customer? You must shop at Wal-Mart.

  24. Buran says:

    @Mike_:

    Excuse me, but t-shirts don’t kill people. Nor is free speech illegal in the US. If Wal-Mart wants to sell such shirts, it’s perfectly legal and no one will get hurt.

    Selling hazardous materials containing chemicals illegal in the US is an entirely different manner.

  25. CatLady says:

    She ought to buy it from Wal-Mart and then return it to PetSmart. Last I heard, PetSmart was taking back those cans with or without a receipt. With Wal-Mart’s “low, low prices”, maybe she could turn a profit and help pay for her cat’s vet bills…

  26. J DTZR says:

    It NEVER gets old bagging on Wal-Mart.

    In a sick way, I actually hope that a massive quanity of tainted cough syrup or suchlike hits the shelves, and is recalled by the manufacturer, and Wal-Mart drags their feet and then people start to get sick, a few of them die, and then, after Wal-Mart settles the massive class-action suit, THEN they figure out how to take recalled products off their shelves.

    Wal-Mart is vile, period.

  27. bentcorner says:

    This will happen again. Wal-Mart has demonstrated a severe problem when it comes to product removal. They simply don’t have the mechanisms in place to remove product from the shelves. It’s ridiculous that even now in some parts of the country, the Nazi skull shirts are still found in Wal-Mart stores. I still get emails about it.

    This woman is a hero.

  28. ValkRaider says:

    That’ll teach them. Pay them lots of $$$ for a product they weren’t going to sell anyway.

    Way to hold them responsible.

    Wouldn’t a better solution have been to work directly with the management of THAT STORE to get the stuff pulled? You know, bringing in the recall information from the manufacturer and all that? And if not, maybe go to the press?

    But I mean, she removed maybe 500 cans of the food off of the shelf in one store.. There are more than 60 MILLION cans in the recall sold through 98 different brands nationwide. And out of all of the millions of animals who have eaten that food, there are 15 who have died (as of today).

    That is about .00000025 deaths per can. So her 500 cans *possibly* prevented 0.000125 deaths. A little like tilting at windmills.

    Not trying to be mean as I have pets too, just that I think she was going about it all wrong especially considering what is a minimal benefit…

    As a side note:

    They have found out it was rat poison in the food, and suspect it was rat poison contaminated wheat imported from China – as we don’t use that rat poison here in the states. Just another symptom of off-shoring our entire economy… People need to wake up to the fact that almost EVERYTHING we buy comes from other countries… And that can have bigger impacts than economical…

  29. Trai_Dep says:

    @Trick: Both Petsmart and my local indie pet store had not only cleared the tainted batches from their shelves when the news hit, they cleared their shelves of every freaken variety/flavor that had a bad batch, just to be safe. Acres of clear shelves and lost buying (puppy-killing, kitten-murdering) opportunities.

    Just for kicks, I asked them what their return policies were on the affected pet food. They looked at me like I was a space alien for asking. “BRING THEM TO US!”, they said. As though I were an addled child for thinking they’d do anything different.

    Petsmart is NOT a small company. It lacks the much-vaunted, JIT, state-of-the-art ordering/stocking/SKU mgmt system that Wal-Mart boasts of constantly.

    What they DO have is a beating heart in their corporate souls.

    Wal-Mart is evil. Some of us knew it. This proves it.

  30. jrdnjstn says:

    I work in retail. If there is ever a recall, we are sent the information about it and what products are included in the recall. These are then quickly taken off the shelf (I do not work for Wal-mart). Wal-mart has no excuse for not taking the recalled food off the shelf. Tells you how much Wal-mart respects their customers!

  31. spanky says:

    @ValkRaider: The thing about reported death and illness is that it’s always the tip of the iceberg. Even in human cases, it’s estimated that only 1-10% of adverse reactions are reported. In cases of pets, it’s probably a lot lower than that.

    To get a slightly better picture of the situation, in the company’s routine taste tests, nine cats died. I can’t find any information on how many cats were involved in this testing, but I will go out on a limb and say that it was considerably less than the 36 million it would have to be to cause 9 deaths at a fatality rate of .00000025.

  32. JRuiz47 says:

    @Exasperatrix:

    You forgot to bold made by the manufacturer.

  33. r81984 says:

    Walmart has the ability and procedures in place to handle recalls, the only reason they did not pull it off the shelves is they were not told to by upper management.

    They could get fired if they pulled the wrong product off the shelves or if any food off the shelves without approval.

    When an item is not pulled off the shevles that means the upper management in Walmart would not issue the recall in their stores.

    All they do is email all the store’s managers with a picture of the product and its UPC code or serial number. Sometimes they also provide a separate recall flyer to be hung in the old items place. Then the store either trashes the items, boxes them up to be returned to the supplier by UPS or FedEx, or sends them back to the distribution center on their own delivery trucks.

    Walmart managers are just lazy, inefficient, and very slow when it comes to doing their jobs or caring about their customers.

  34. r81984 says:

    @r81984:

    Also, if Walmart did issues the recall in its stores and most stores pulled the product off their shelves right away, it could have been the general manager of this specific store has been sick for 3 days and the ass. managers do not have access to his email.

    This is the only senario that I can see why they did not pull a deadly food product off their shelves.

  35. catnapped says:

    You people are being way too hard on Wal-Mart.

    Don’t you understand the hardship this will cause Lee Scott (CEO)? He’ll probably have to sell a corporate jet to make up for this loss of profits!

  36. Paul says:

    As Rick rightly points out, this case is really interesting because of the earlier Nazi Shirt incident, which has been covered here extensively.

    Walmart knew it had issues with how it conducts recalls, given that the Totenkopf shirts were still on shelves months later. With tshirts, the damage is relatively minor. But what happens when a poisonous food product is subject to recall? We’re finding out now… Can you imagine if it was poisoned Metamucil?!

    While this is a sad incident, I think it is a real opportunity for Consumerist to make a stink about Walmart knowing there were two problems (first, poisoned cat food; two, a poor system for recalling products) and not taking prompt action.

  37. raybury says:

    Wal-mart is surely not blameless in this; indeed, shelves with empty slots and recall notices would probably have settled the customer’s concerns. But as reported, she would seem to be a little, um, off:

    Not all the food Trask bought was included in the recall.

    How much is “not all”? We read earlier that WM has put a hold on the affected UPCs to prevent their sale. If someone is buying scads of pet food, I would be unsurprised if the cashier had somehow scanned one non-recall item and did a quantity for x number of what she thought was the same thing. That is, she may have only succeeded in buying any quantity of the recalled food because she was buying so much pet food, and because of a poor but common cashiering practice.

    Trask also took out classified ads in at least two local newspapers, listing all off the recall pet food brands.

    So people who skip over the recall story on the front page are going to see this classified ad? Again, the lady is a little off.

    As to how effective stores are at handling stock, I would say WM has the technical ability better than most, but probably not the staffing or motivation in some cases. (Don’t get me wrong; this is a case where they should be motivated!) Whenever I find a clearance item at Target but can’t find my size or the quantity I need, I often find it in the non-clearance area from which someone failed to remove it.

  38. Mike_ says:

    @Buran:

    Uh, excuse me, but you completely missed the point.

    Wal-Mart (supposedly) didn’t want to sell Nazi t-shirts. We discovered, however, that no matter how embarrassed they were by their mistake, they lacked the ability to remove the recalled product from their shelves. I have speculated in previous Wal-Mart threads that this sort ineptitude could eventually prove deadly.

    If the Nazi T-Shirt Scandal is any indication, this poisoned pet food will remain on Wal-Mart’s shelves for many months. Those shirts were merely [highly] offensive. This pet food is killing shoppers’ beloved companions. Eventually, someone’s kid is going to die because a Wal-Mart manager ignored the email that told him he was supposed to pull tainted baby food off his store’s shelves. It’s only a matter of time.

  39. The Bigger Unit says:

    @joopiter: Hey, I’m not defending it…if they couldn’t figure out to remove poisoned pet food from their shelves, they certainly wouldn’t know how to handle a PR crisis when it arrived.

  40. theinsanefurry says:

    Um… Wasn’t Wal-mart’s house brand of peanut butter Great-Value? Maybe we should start checking to see if it was all removed as well…..

    The Cordova TN store that I submitted a while back did finally remove the nazi shirts though.

  41. GlassBottleLoveAffair says:

    For once, Wally-Worlds off the hook(so far) on this. The lady was just some nut case who thought, “ZOMG, what about the puppies and kitties?!?!?!” There is no way 1 Wal-Mart had over 1k worth of the recalled product on there shelves.(okie, maybe I’m wrong here, but doubtful) And what about all the other grocery stores in the area? Did you go clean them out of all there store-label stuff cuz a portion of it was recalled? I wonder if this same lady would spend a 1000 bucks to help support an animal shelter, or even buy a 1000 dollars worth of human food to give to the poor? Oh and love the fear-mongering headline followed by the(obvious) retraction that not all of it was recalled product.

  42. swalve says:

    Catlady, I think you have the answer.

    Classified ad? I can’t think of a less effective way of informing people of something like this. Call the TV news people! They’re nuts for things like this. Stand in the aisle and warn people.

    I await reports of what the scam is.

  43. Sudonum says:

    http://bbcamerican.blogspot.com/2007/03/land-sakes-mercy-i
    Check out this blog for some of the “internal” workings of a recall at Wally World.

  44. Buran says:

    @Mike_: Then don’t shop there. Enough said.

  45. investor007 says:

    where is this store so we can send them 100,000 letters of complaint

  46. TheTruth530 says:

    i can garantee you all of that petfood was un-affected product if it was on the salesfloor, and she was able to purchase it, if she tried the register would say “Sale Not Allowed” and there is no way to override the sales restriction. there was a sales restriction in place on ALL UPC’s of contaminated pet food issued from home office. which stayed in effect until all product is checked for date and Plant codes found on the product. after the recall of affected product is complete then the sales restriction is lifted only then would she be able to purchase the product in the first place.