Well, at least FDA provided some answers regarding a ‘study’ that just didn’t make sense.

When the FDA released “Get the Facts! Raw Pet Food Diets can be Dangerous to You and Your Pet”, much of the FDA ‘facts’ didn’t make sense.  Why would the FDA attack a particular pet food type (raw pet food)?  How could the FDA make the statement they found only one kibble pet food positive for Salmonella when during the time frame of their testing one of the largest pet food Salmonella recalls in history occurred?  If Salmonella was found in 15 raw pet foods and Listeria monocytogenes was found in 32 raw pet foods, where were the recalls?  This ‘study’ just didn’t make sense.  So, I sent them the following questions….

FDA just announced a study on raw pet food in which they stated they found “15” raw pet foods to be contaminated with Salmonella and “32” pet foods contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.  Can FDA provide the links to the recall notices of each of these raw pet foods?  If there was no recall for these 47 contaminated pet foods, can FDA please provide a full explanation why these foods were not recalled?  The study doesn’t make sense if such dangerous contaminants were found and no recalls resulted.  Can someone explain?

And the FDA responded with the following…

Hi Susan,
To clarify, all except one of the findings for Salmonella or Listeria was in commercially available raw pet food. There were 38 out of 196 raw products that tested positive for Salmonella, Listeria, or both (9 were positive for both).
This was a surveillance study designed to evaluate the potential for contamination. It was not designed for compliance (enforcement).The purpose of including commercial raw diets in the study was to establish the potential for contamination of these commercially available products with Salmonella or Listeria as more traditional pet food products so that we could make the case for including them in future compliance sampling programs. commercially.
Because the purpose of the study was to establish the potential for contamination of these commercially available products with Salmonella or Listeria, the scientists were blinded to the product names. Therefore, we do not have a list of what products were tested, and no enforcement action was taken. In the interim, we thought it was important to warn pet owners more generally about our findings and the potential risks associated with commercially available raw diets.

So, the reason there was no recall for 38 raw pet foods that were contaminated with Salmonella or Listeria or both was this FDA study was strictly a “surveillance” project.  To “evaluate the potential for contamination”.  Their ‘study’ was not to take any action – even the scientists did not know the names of the pet foods they tested.

The following questions were sent as follow-up to FDA on November 14, 2013.  No response has been received as of this posting.

You stated that FDA “were blinded to the product names”.  I think I read on the FDA website that FDA purchased the products and sent samples to the participating labs.  Is that correct?  If so, was the raw pet food removed from its original packaging?  And then shipped to the participating labs? Were the products thawed (to remove from packaging so scientists would be blinded to product names) and then refrozen?  How did FDA protect the pet food identity from scientists while also preventing contamination from outside sources and during shipment?
Is this type of surveillance study common with FDA?  Can you provide examples of other surveillance studies – especially if there are others in animal food?
Can the FDA provide the numbers of how many pet foods – for compliance (enforcement), not for surveillance – have been tested for Salmonella or Listeria during a similar time frame as this study?  Including the compliance testing performed by participating labs?  Example of what I’m looking for is if 196 pet foods were tested for surveillance – how many pet foods in a similar time frame were tested for compliance?  Raw, kibble, fresh, semi-moist, can – what ever products were tested for compliance (enforcement) by FDA and FDA partner/participating labs for bacterial contamination.  Of those tested for bacteria, how many were positive?  And what types of foods (raw, kibble, fresh, semi-moist, can) were positive?

If the FDA has a limited budget…why go to the expense to surveillance test pet food?  Why not save precious testing funds and test all products for ‘compliance’ – which at the same time gets these products off store shelves?

If the FDA has a percentage of their budget they must spend on surveillance, then perhaps they can study the health conditions (number of visits to a veterinarian other than routine) of dogs and cats fed raw pet food, whole food cooked pet food, kibble pet food and can or semi-moist pet food.  This type of surveillance would benefit pet food consumers much, much more.

Raw pet food – regardless of any FDA study – is not going away.  Neither is lightly cooked, or whole food (no supplement) or home prepared.  These are not ‘trend’ pet foods.  They have dramatically grown in popularity for one reason – healthier pets.  I wish the FDA would step into the real future of pet food – do a little surveillance on why whole food pet foods, little to no supplement pet foods, lightly processed pet foods, and USDA inspected and approved ingredient pet foods are so popular (answer:  healthy pets).  Please FDA – support pet/animal health – not the profits of Big Pet Food.


Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Association for Truth in Pet Food
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible

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