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Pet food linked to illnesses and deaths of animals in the U.S. has been pulled from shelves at Army and Air Force Exchange Service and Defense Commissary Agency stores across Europe.

Commissaries and AAFES stores in Europe were directed to remove certain cat and dog food products listed in a recall by Menu Foods Inc., based on a Food and Drug Administration warning issued Saturday.

A federal investigation is focusing on wheat gluten as the likely source of contamination that sparked a recall last Friday of 60 million cans and pouches of the suspect food, said Stephen F. Sundlof, the Food and Drug Administration’s top veterinarian.

About two dozen varieties of pet food sold at AAFES and five varieties sold at commissaries in Europe have been pulled from shelves, and the stores will take the products back for a full refund.

Recalled items sold at exchanges and commissaries in Europe are limited to certain wet food products from Iams and Nestle Purina, which makes Mighty Dog.

The recall also affects many more brands that aren’t carried by commissaries and exchanges in Europe. All were produced by Menu Foods between Dec. 3, 2006, and March 6, 2007. The various foods have been linked to the deaths of 10 animals nationwide, mostly from kidney failure.

A press release issued Tuesday by AAFES instructs consumers to stop using the affected products immediately and to consult a veterinarian if their pet shows signs of illness. Symptoms include loss of appetite, lethargy, depression, vomiting, diarrhea, sudden changes in water consumption, or changes in the frequency or amount of urination.

So far, “We haven’t had anyone with any concerns,” said Kaylene Elliott, a receptionist at the military veterinary clinic in Vogelweh, Germany. The Vogelweh clinic is the only military vet clinic that serves the Kaiserslautern Military Community, the largest military community outside the continental U.S.

Elliott added that the facility also hasn’t seen any animals come in with suspected food-related illnesses.

View a full list of pet foods being recalled by AAFES and DeCA.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

How to read product codesThe affected products were made at a plant in Emporia, Kan., between Dec. 3, 2006, and March 6. They are marked with date codes 6339 through 7073 followed by the plant code 4197.

To read can product codes, look at the bottom of the can. The first four numbers of the second line of numbers are the date code, and the following four numbers indicate the plant code.

If the second line begins with four numbers from 6339 to 7073 followed by the plant code 4197, then the can is being recalled.

On foil pouches, the code numbers are located on the back, in the lower left corner. The date and plant codes appear in the third group of numbers, beginning an 11-digit sequence.

Both www.iams.com and www.eukanuba.com have illustrated details of how to check their products.

— Chris Fowler, Stars and Stripes

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