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10 Years of Pet Food Recalls

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  1. Cannoliamo

    Thanks, Susan, for that detailed analysis, … very helpful.

    I have a related category of concern that precedes recall. One of my six cats has food allergies and I have been feeding him EXCLUSIVELY Nutro Chunk Loaf Chicken canned cat food for over 2 years with no problem. My most recent order of 10 cases was off-color (dark red instead of light brown) and he wouldn’t eat any of it. He has walked away from over 15 cans while cleaning the dish of the remaining light-brown (different lot number) food – same brand, same label, same SKU, different lot number.

    I contacted Nutro and was told they haven’t changed the formula and they run many tests on every lot before distribution. I tried to contact the state AAFCO rep, the FDA / CVM complaint line, a number of labs and veterinary schools, to no avail (most can’t provide any information or help and a number of labs wouldn’t even talk to me since they are under contract with Mars to provide testing and said the contract prohibited them from testing Mars brand foods for any other party).

    The point is, it appears there has to be a major contamination of pet food causing multiple animal deaths and illnesses before a reported concern receives ANY attention from the manufacture, distributor, retailer, state regulator or FDA related to the quality or possible spoilage / contamination of a specific lot of food. My cats nose is still 100% on identifying the “bad” lot of food and refusing to eat it, but there is no way to follow up with finding out if this food is spoiled, contaminated, improperly tested, not properly disinfected, etc.

    I hope in the future, astute owners and observers of pet eating can either access on line information or call somebody to report the observation without waiting for many other pets to suffer and/or die as a result of the cause for a specific recall. One cat or one dog consistently refusing to eat any of a specific lot should be enough to warrant attention and there should be (hopefully in the future) a nationwide number to call and procedures to investigate the quality of the food without waiting for a recall. (IMHO) I still have no idea what, if anything, is different with this lot of canned cat food that my cat refuses.

    Thanks for your help.

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      I couldn’t agree more with you. FDA needs to be more transparent with all consumer complaints – they need to be public information. I have requested from FDA those documents – when they are received they will be shared.

    2. Stephanie

      It’s interesting you wrote about Nutro Chunk Loaf Chicken canned cat food because I experienced something similar.

      Although I feed my cats different flavors and brands daily, Nutro Chunk was in the rotation for a few weeks every couple of months and my cats readily ate it. The last time I purchased it not one of my four cats would eat it.

      The expiry date wasn’t the issue, the food didn’t look or smell different to me, but I threw the food out anyway (did not want to donate potentially bad food) and haven’t bought it since.

  2. Josh

    The reason that the frozen cooked category appears to be the “least likely” to be recalled is because it’s a tiny category a sliver of a sliver of the overall pet food business. There’s just less exposure at this point.

  3. Lori S.

    I really appreciate the raw data you are providing here. There is a ton of good info. I feel, though, that the math in your conclusion is off. While there were fewer cooked-frozen foods recalled, there are also far fewer such foods. I would want to know what *proportion* of cooked-frozen foods were recalled compared to, say, the proportion of kibble or canned foods. If there is only one cooked-frozen food and it was recalled, then that is 100% of that type of food, for example, and it would not be a safe bet at all. The same goes for all of these comparisons.

    Also, I feel that you underestimate the danger of bacterial contamination. Immune compromising can come from mere age or temporary illness or many other things. In other words, you don’t always know you are immune compromised until you get sick from salmonella! And most of us have, or will have, elderly pets who can get sick from such things. But who knows what age presents the extra risk – it will vary for different pets. I would urge caution about the risks of bacterial contamination.

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