What does 10 years of pet food recalls tell us? A lot.
During the past ten years – January 1, 2009 to November, 4, 2018 – there have been 173 pet food recalls posted on the FDA website. This total – 173 recalls – is ONLY the number of recall press releases issued, it is not the total number of pet food’s recalled. As example – in 2013, Natura Pet Products issued a recall for all of the below pet food products, lot codes, and sizes of pet food.
|Innova Dry dog and cat food and biscuits/bars/treats||All Lot Codes, All UPC’s, All package sizes||All expiration dates prior to 6-10-2014|
|EVO dry dog, cat and ferret food and biscuits/bars/treats||All Lot Codes, All UPC’s, All package sizes||All expiration dates prior to 6-10-2014|
|California Natural dry dog and cat foods and biscuits/bars/treats||All Lot Codes, All UPC’s, All package sizes||All expiration dates prior to 6-10-2014|
|Healthwise dry dog and cat foods||All Lot Codes, All UPC’s, All package sizes||All expiration dates prior to 6-10-2014|
|Karma dry dog foods||All Lot Codes, All UPC’s, All package sizes||All expiration dates prior to 6-10-2014|
|Mother Nature biscuits/bars/treats||All Lot Codes, All UPC’s, All package sizes||All expiration dates prior to 6-10-2014|
This recall, even though there were multiple products being recalled, is only counted as 1 recall here.
Ten years of pet food recalls, broken down into pet food categories, becomes 59 Treat recalls, 48 Raw, 45 Kibble, 17 Can, 3 Dehydrated, and 1 recall from a Cooked sold frozen pet food.
Based on recall data over the past 10 years – Treats are the most at risk pet product to be recalled and Cooked Pet Food (sold frozen) is the least likely pet product to be recalled.
Breaking down each category of recalls into a cause, 10 years of recalls shows us this…
Treats. For all treat recalls over the past 10 years, 84% were recalled for Salmonella and/or Listeria and/or E.coli.
Raw. Almost exclusively, raw pet foods were recalled for Salmonella and/or Listeria and/or E.coli over the past ten years. Treats displayed above included 9 other causes of recalls besides pathogenic bacteria, Raw only 3 other causes. And yes, 1 raw pet food recall was because the sardines exceeded a size limit.
Kibble. The majority of Kibble recalls have been due to contamination of pathogenic bacteria, but kibble was also recalled for a significant number of other serious health risk causes. 29 Kibble recalls for Salmonella and/or Listeria and/or E.coli, 7 Kibble recalls for insufficient or excess of Vitamins and/or Minerals, 6 recalls for deadly aflatoxin, 2 for foreign objects in the pet food, and 1 recall for mold in Kibble.
Can. There was no pathogenic bacteria recalls in canned foods, but there are multiple other serious health risk causes of recalls. Canned Pet Food has experienced 17 recalls over the past ten years; 6 for insufficient or excess of Vitamins and/or Minerals, 5 canned pet foods recalled for deadly Pentobarbital, 3 canned pet foods recalled for elevated beef thyroid hormone, and 3 for foreign objects in the pet food.
Dehydrated pet foods – no graph needed – have experienced a total of 3 recalls over the past ten years. 100% of cause of these recalls was pathogenic bacteria.
And Cooked (sold frozen) pet foods experienced only 1 recall over the past ten years – cause pathogenic bacteria.
Looking at the cause of all pet food recalls over the past 10 years…
…128 or 74% of all recalls over the past ten years were for Salmonella and/or Listeria and/or E.coli.
By looking at the data for 10 years of recalls, it is clear the FDA considers Salmonella and/or Listeria and/or E.coli to be the greatest risk of pet food. But…the greatest risk ‘of’ pet food is very different than what the greatest risk ‘to’ our pets is.
Most experts, including the FDA, agree that the 74% of all recalls over the past ten years (for Salmonella and/or Listeria and/or E.coli) were NOT a significant risk to healthy pets. These 74% of all recalls were more of a risk to select pets and pet owners.
Dr. Karen Becker says No…“Healthy companion animals can handle significant bacterial loads from food. Your dog’s or cat’s body is designed by nature to deal with considerable amounts of both familiar and foreign bacteria – the type of bacteria he or she would encounter by eating wild prey. There are two reasons your dog or cat can handle a heavy bacterial load: stomach acid and bile. Your pet’s stomach is naturally so highly acidic there aren’t many organisms that can survive it. Dogs and cats also produce a tremendous amount of bile, which is both anti-parasitic and anti-pathogenic. If the stomach acid doesn’t kill a pathogen, chances are the bile will.”
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) tells us “Anyone can get sick from Salmonella, but some people are more likely than others to get salmonellosis. People who are more likely to get salmonellosis include:
- children 5 years of age and younger;
- adults aged 65 and older;
- people with weakened immune systems, such as people with HIV/AIDS, organ transplant patients, and people receiving chemotherapy.”
Looking at the same data again, but this time removing all Salmonella and/or Listeria and/or E.coli recalls…this time we will look at ONLY pet food recalls that are a significant risk to all pets.
The total of recalls for the past ten years excluding Salmonella and/or Listeria and/or E.coli recalls is only 45 recalls. That is an average of less than 5 recalls per year. Now the picture looks very different.
Less than 5 pet food recalls a year over 10 years is extremely concerning due to the cause of ALL of the remaining recalls put pets in significant harm. Looking at the above 45 recalls for cause, we see concerning recall issues that are much more of a health risk to pets…
Each one of these causes could (and did) kill pets. As example, for just one of the Illegal Antibiotics recalls – 1.97 million cases of Chicken Jerky in 3, 14 and 20 ounce packages (unknown how many products per case),and .43 million cases of Chicken Grillers in 3, 14 and 20 ounce packages (unknown how many products per case) were recalled. Thousands of pets died linked to these Chinese jerky treats.
Looking at the data in a very simple manner, 10 years of recalls tells consumers…
- If pet owner or pet is immune compromised, the safest pet food is Cooked (sold frozen).
- If pet owner or pet is NOT immune compromised, the safest pet foods are Cooked (sold frozen), Dehydrated, and Raw.
More about the last 10 years of recalls to come.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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