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State Officials announced rat poison was found in the recalled pet food from last week and linked to the deaths of at least 16 cats and dogs.

At this time it is unclear just how many deaths could end up linked to the “cuts and gravy” style foods produced by Menu Foods that is sold under 95 brand names. Scientists are expected more deaths to be announced in the coming weeks.

Aminopterin, a cancer drug once used to induce abortions and still used to kill rats in other countries, is the substance identified in the recalled pet food, said the state Agriculture Commissioner.

The Federal Government prohibits the use of aminopetrin for killing rodents within the United States. Officials would not speculate how the poison got into the pet food.

The pet deaths led to a recall of over 60 million pouches and cans of cat and dog food the company sold throughout North America.

After Friday’s announcement, Menu Foods food advised retailers to remove all brands from their shelves, a company spokesman said, though the recall still applies only to the dog and cat foods identified on its Web site since March 16. Those cover cans and pouches of food packaged from Dec. 3 through March 6.

“The recall has not been expanded,” a Menu spokesman said Saturday.

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