A letter/email to the Editor of Consumer Reports in response to ‘Tame your pet costs, Don’t pay a premium for premium pet food’.
Kevin McKean, Vice President and Editorial Director
P.O. Box 2109
Harlan, IA 51593-0298
Dear Mr. McKean,
Your August 2011 edition of Consumer Reports magazine is providing pet parents with misleading and incorrect information. If Consumer Reports truly is a publication wishing to provide accurate and beneficial information to consumers/petsumers, I urge you to read the following…
In your August 2011 Consumer Reports article titled ‘Tame Your Pet Costs’, specifically the ‘Don’t pay a premium for premium pet food’ section, your publication has provided pet food consumers with inaccurate and damaging information. You state there is no ‘real’ premium pet food and suggest to pet parents that Walmart’s Ol’ Roy Dog Food at $0.34 cents a pound is just as good as any higher priced pet food.
Please allow me to explain your misunderstanding of the pet food industry. Although all food, including dog and cat food, should be protected by federal food safety law (the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act), you should know that the FDA has provided the pet food industry with special provisions (known officially as Compliance Policies) to avoid prosecution should a pet food not abide by federal law.
FDA Compliance Policy CPG Sec. 675.400 allows pet food to contain diseased animals rejected for use in human food and/or euthanized animals to become pet food ingredients. (http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/ComplianceManuals/CompliancePolicyGuidanceManual/UCM074717)
FDA Compliance Policy CPG 690.500 allows 4D animals (dead, dying, disabled or diseased) to be processed as pet food ingredients. (http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/ComplianceManuals/CompliancePolicyGuidanceManual/ucm074712.htm)
FDA Compliance Policy CPG Sec. 675.100 allows rodent, roach, or bird excreta infested ingredients to be processed as pet food ingredients. (http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/ComplianceManuals/CompliancePolicyGuidanceManual/ucm074693.htm)
And last but not least, FDA Compliance Policy CPG Sec. 690.300 states “Pet food consisting of material from diseased animals or animals which have died otherwise than by slaughter, which is in violation of 402(a)(5) will not ordinarily be actionable, if it is not otherwise in violation of the law. It will be considered fit for animal consumption.” (http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/ComplianceManuals/CompliancePolicyGuidanceManual/ucm074710.htm)
Consumer Reports should be aware that (thank heavens) there are some pet food manufacturers that would never consider sourcing meat ingredients from diseased or euthanized animals; some pet food manufacturers source pet food ingredients from USDA Choice or Prime meats. However, what Consumer Reports should inform pet parents of is that AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) do NOT allow any reference to grade or quality of ingredients on pet food labels. In other words, an uninformed pet parent (and uninformed Consumer Reports researcher) can walk into a pet store and upon brief examination of hundreds (thousands) of pet food labels, all of them look similar. Regulations require them to look similar. An uninformed pet parent (and uninformed Consumer Reports researcher) could assume that because all the labels seems to say the same thing (healthy, choice, premium) why pay $50 or more for a bag of dog food or cat food when you can purchase Walmart’s Ol’ Roy at $0.34 cents a pound? But, as you now know, all of these pet foods are far from similar.
Many if not most pet parents consider their pets family; would you feed your family meat from a diseased animal? Would you feed your family meat from a euthanized animal; including the lethal drug used to kill the animal? I assume your response would be no. Then why/how can you suggest feeding the same to millions of pet parents.
Common sense does apply here. A food to sustain quality life, day in and day out that costs $0.34 cents a pound? In this day and age? Seriously?
Your publication and website states you provide “Expert Unbiased Product Ratings & Reviews”. Are you aware that Dr. Sarah Abood, the veterinarian Consumer Reports consulted for this pet food savings segment, is a paid advisor for Purina Pet Food? Does Consumer Reports believe a pet food manufacturer advisor would be unbiased?
Mr. McKean, the ball is in your court. If Consumer Reports truly is looking out for consumers, then you will promptly publish a follow up article properly informing pet parents of the real quality (and lack of quality) of pet foods. If Consumer Reports truly is an advocate for consumer/petsumers, then your Consumers Union will help pet parents end the horrendous FDA Compliance Policies and force pet food labels to provide clear, concise label information to petsumers. But, on the other hand, if Consumer Reports is a publication and organization that is solely interested in profits (selling magazine subscriptions), you’ll do nothing. We anxiously await your response.
Pet Food Safety Advocate
If you’d like to send Mr. McKean/Consumer Reports the above letter/email, feel free to copy and paste. Click Here for a link to the Contact Us information page of Consumer Reports. I selected Consumer Reports magazine under ‘Choose Product or Service’, then selected ‘Letter to the Editor’. After submitting, you will be prompted to a Q & A section, under the questions you’ll find a link that states ‘Finish Submitting Question’. Click on this link to send your email.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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