A Comparison: FDA Response to Pet Illness and Death linked to Kibble and Raw Pet Food
A comparison of how FDA has handled pet illness and death and human illness linked to kibble pet food and raw pet food.
First and foremost…this post is NOT in defense of raw pet food or in opposition to kibble pet food. The point of this post is to point out how FDA handles pet illness and death reports linked to a pet food and human illness linked to a pet food differently – depending on the company involved and/or the type/style of pet food involved. If FDA wishes to have the respect and trust of pet food consumers, they must handle all pet illness and death reports (linked to a pet food or treat) the same.
Raw Pet Food
Issued February 13, 2018, the FDA announced: “FDA Investigates Pattern of Contamination in Certain Raw Pet Foods Made by Arrow Reliance Inc., Including Darwin’s Natural Pet Products and ZooLogics Pet Food”. This FDA press announcement is provided in a Q&A type style – FDA providing the questions and answers. Under the section “What is the Problem and What is Being Done About It?” – we find a detailed explanation to recalls Darwin’s pet food has initiated since 2016, and why (Salmonella and Listeria).
“Since October 2016, Arrow Reliance/Darwin’s Natural has initiated four recalls and had six reported complaints (some referring to more than one animal) associated with their raw pet food products, including the death of one kitten from a severe systemic Salmonella infection. The Salmonella isolated from the kitten was analyzed using whole genome sequencing and found to be indistinguishable from the Salmonella isolated from a closed package from the same lot of Darwin’s Natural cat food that the kitten ate.”
FDA provides no information to the second part of their question…“What is Being Done About It?”
The remainder of the FDA press release discusses the risk of Salmonella and Listeria.
No argument, this is concerning information that pet food consumers should be made aware of.
Kibble Pet Food
Beginning in 2012, the FDA began to receive consumer complaints of pet illness and death linked to Beneful dog food. From the FDA internal report:
“During 2012, the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) received approximately three (3) consumer complaints per month associated with Nestle Purina Beneful® dry dog food for a total of 31 consumer complaints (46 dogs, 8 deaths). In January 2013 alone, CVM received a surge of 26 consumer complaints between 1/8/13 and 1/21/13 that occurred after an open source media report implicated Beneful® dry dog food as a potentially harmful dog food product.”
The complaints of sick and dying pets FDA received on Beneful continued through 2015 – which even led to a letter to FDA from Senators Richard Durbin and Diane Feinstein for investigation into the problem.
What did FDA do about the 31 consumer complaints received in 2012 – 46 dog illnesses and 8 dog deaths?
They did NOT issue a press release as they did with Darwin’s. The ONLY reason we (consumers) are aware that FDA did anything about the pet illness and deaths linked to Beneful is due to the agency receiving numerous Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for the information. It is FDA procedure to publicly post on the agency website information that is frequently requested in FOIAs. No press release, just a quiet mention found ONLY by those who are skilled at digging around the agency’s website.
With no alert to the public, FDA performed an investigation/inspection of 3 Purina Beneful manufacturing plants. Their inspection found numerous violations…
- “Six samples collected were above the allowable level for cyanuric acid and ammelide.”
- “Six samples collected contained ethoxyquin; however, the additive was not indicated on the product labeling.”
- FDA discovered “formula changes” and ingredient replacement.
- FDA determined “The firm does not have a written protocol for handling complaints.”
With Darwins – six reported consumer complaints, 1 pet death – FDA announces a full investigation to the public. With Purina – in 2012 alone: 46 dog illnesses, 8 dog deaths – FDA quietly investigates (no public notice), discovers adulteration, labeling violations, manufacturing protocol violations and simply sits down with Purina to chat (after the investigation was complete). “CVM decided to provide educational outreach to Nestle Purina Corporate Headquarters regarding the labeling violation for ethoxyquin…CVM had not yet pursued a Class 3 voluntary recall as planned.”
Raw Pet Food
Another recent FDA press release “FDA Investigates Outbreak of Salmonella Infections Linked to Raws for Paws Ground Turkey Food for Pets” that includes similar information as the Darwin’s pet food FDA press release. However this FDA information includes the concern “The Minnesota Department of Health reports that two children in a single household became sick from Salmonella Reading (S. Reading).”
No argument…this is concerning information that pet food consumers should be made aware of.
Kibble Pet Food
In 2012 Diamond Pet Food suffered a similar Salmonella recall including human illness of “49 individuals (47 individuals in 20 states and two individuals in Canada)” – the FDA remained silent. There was no public investigation, no public warning from FDA. Only a typical recall notice was provided to the public.
With Raws for Paws – two children illnesses – FDA announces a full investigation to the public. With Diamond pet food – 49 human illnesses – no public warning, no notice of investigation.
FDA…you need to understand something.
Whether a pet is sickened/killed by a raw pet food or a pet is sickened/killed by a kibble pet food – the outcome still devastates the family. A human or pet illness (and death) linked to a raw pet food is NOT more important than a human or pet illness (and death) linked to kibble pet food. They ALL are IMPORTANT. The FDA should NOT give special privileges to some, all investigations should be consistent.
In the past year – four brands of pet food were found to contain pentobarbital, four brands of pet food used euthanized animals as a pet ‘food’ ingredient. FDA has been investigating Evanger’s Pet Food for a full year, with no recent update. FDA refused to respond to questions from news station WJLA regarding the most recent Gravy Train pentobarbital findings. Yet FDA swiftly publishes press releases regarding Salmonella in raw pet food. Does the agency consider Salmonella more significant than euthanized animals in pet food?
FDA…they are both significant.
Pet food consumers don’t want their family sick. To you (FDA) – your focus/concern is the human family. But we (consumers) are concerned with the ENTIRE family – human and pet. FDA, enforce law – consistently – with ALL pet food companies. Take enforcement action – consistently – with ALL pet food companies.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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