Australia is Fighting Back Against Big Pet Feed
There is a battle going on in Australia – a battle against feed grade pet food manufacturers. Congrats to Australia and your brave leaders in this fight!
One of the leaders in this Australian battle is veterinarian Tom Lonsdale. Dr. Lonsdale asked government authorities to look into the numerous concerns of commercial pet food including the close (very close) ties of big pet food manufacturers and veterinary schools. When ignored (two years of ignored), he sent members of the Australian government the following message (in part):
Members of the NSW Board of Veterinary Surgeons are likely aware of the allegations of scientific and consumer fraud perpetrated upon an unsuspecting Australian public by an alliance of pet food companies and veterinarians …
Any right-thinking person knows that the slow poisoning of the nation’s pets by junk food manufacturers, aided by veterinarians, is against the interests of pets, pet owners and the wider community…
Dr. Lonsdale’s complaint to Australian government made its way to the country’s veterinary association – Australia Veterinary Association (AVA) – and promptly he was expelled from the AVA. As reminder, there are also close (very close) ties between veterinary associations and Big Pet Feed. Science Diet, Iams, Royal Canin, Purina and more commonly ‘support’ veterinary associations as sponsors. Was the AVA protecting its ‘sponsors’ by expelling Dr. Lonsdale from membership?
Dr. Lonsdale continues his fight – now through Freedom of Information Act, Dr. Lonsdale is requesting that Australian universities make public their ‘contracts’ with Big Pet Feed manufacturers. The universities are refusing to disclose their contracts with pet food companies, so Dr. Lonsdale has taken up a Change.org petition in hopes to sway their minds. His letter to Australian government (in part) states “the University suggests that the public is best served by being kept ignorant and in the dark and that the University is bound by confidentiality agreements with its junk pet-food partners.”
News of Big Pet Feed’s ties with Australian veterinary schools has been openly addressed and is making the rounds on the Internet. The website Honisoit.com – student newspaper for the University of Sydney – published a scathing November 1, 2015 report titled ‘Vet Schools in Bed with Pet Food Companies’.
“Serious questions are being raised about a cosy relationship between many pet food manufacturers and many of Australia’s leading veterinary schools. Of concern the article states that although the university has a disclosure requirement for faculty with ‘a public declaration of relevant interests’ – a veterinarian employee of Hill’s Science Diet presents “the nutrition portion of the third year Small Animal Medicine” subject.”
In another post (from September, 2015) by Australian veterinarian Richard Malik – Veterinary Internist (Specialist), University of Sydney – took a stab at Big Pet Feed stating ‘convenience pet foods are making our pets fat’.
Dr. Malik shares that “our profession has been misdirected by the exceptionally clever marketing of multinational pet food manufacturers.” He shares that while ‘premium dry food’ is complete and balanced (providing a pet the nutrient requirements it needs), dry foods don’t have the physical qualities to remove calculus (tartar) from teeth and many have excess carbohydrates. He too goes after the ‘arrangement’ between Australian universities, veterinary associations and pet food manufacturers.
Congrats to these brave individuals in Australia. Transparency is key. If there is nothing to hide in the contracts between pet food manufacturers and veterinary schools – make the documents public. These contracts are no place for non-disclosure agreements. Consumer advocate Rodney Habib and veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker are in Australia right now speaking, we can hope they bring back more news of this battle.
Your efforts in Australia will be repeated here. Plans to ask each veterinary school in the U.S. for the contracts they have with pet food manufacturers is in motion. Our consumer association – ATPF will ask. And we will file our own Freedom of Information Act requests if need be.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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