FDA Protecting Pet Food, Not Protecting Pets
Two pet food brands had consumer complaints filed with FDA. One pet food had one single complaint, the pet fully recovered. The other had a reported 400 complaints including 140 pet deaths. Which one do you think the FDA investigated and forced to recall? FDA: using their power to intimidate a pet food or using their power to protect a pet food. FDA: not protecting pets.
Question. Of the following actual pet food complaints received by FDA, which one do you think the FDA investigated and tested? Only one was, so choose only one that you believe FDA investigated and tested. Also, with pet food complaint #1 below – two pets ate the same food, for only two days. One pet got sick, the other pet “did not experience any symptoms”. The sick pet fully recovered.
- Loss of appetite, disoriented, partial seizure
- Seizures, vomiting, unsteady gait
- Vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, fever, loss of appetite
- Hemorrhaging from rectum, pet death
- Seizures, gastrointestinal distress, pet death
So which one do you think the FDA investigated, tested the pet food, and a recall followed?
The answer is #1. Numbers 2 through 5 were not investigated, not tested, and no recall occurred.
Another Question. Which one of the adverse event pet food complaints do you think is a small manufacturer? Which four of the adverse event pet food complaints is from one of the largest pet food brands in the U.S.?
Adverse event number 1 was for Primal Pet Food – a small manufacturer. Adverse events numbers 2 through 5 were Purina Beneful Pet Food – one of the largest manufacturers of pet food in the U.S.
In March of 2015, I filed two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with FDA.
FOIA #1 asked for all consumer complaints received by FDA during the past year (3/18/2014 through 3/24/2015) regarding Beneful Dog Food. FDA provided that information promptly; less than one month later.
As you can see, the FDA provided me with 13 consumer complaints during a 2 year period; it appeared to be more than what I asked for. Emphasis ‘it appeared to be more’. At about the same time of my request the FDA told CBS News Denver (March 9, 2015) the agency had received “about 400 complaints about Beneful dog food over the past four years. In these adverse event reports, there are 480 reports of dogs getting sick, and just more than 140 deaths.”
Strange. The FDA stated to me that from 3/18/2013 – 3/24/2015 the agency received just 13 consumer complaints including 3 deaths regarding Beneful. But the agency told CBS News that from March 2011 through March 2015 the agency received 480 consumer complaints with more than 140 dogs deaths. Why would the FDA give two different inquiries 2 different answers?
The second thing I asked FDA for in FOIA #1 was the test results from the agency’s investigation of Beneful consumer complaints. In an email 3/19/15, questioning FDA regarding consumer complaints of Beneful, the agency told me “we have tested Beneful”. But, when you look at what the FDA provided me…
When you look closely at the ‘testing’ that FDA performed on Beneful, you’ll see the agency tested the food for Salmonella and it was in no way related to “480 consumer complaints with more than 140 dogs deaths” – this was FDA random testing of pet food.
As it turns out, the FDA has not lifted a finger to investigate hundreds of pet illness and more than 140 dog deaths related to Beneful Dog Food. Concerning complaints from consumers – seizures, vomiting, unsteady gait, lethargy, diarrhea, fever, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal distress and pet death (and this is just what the FDA released to me)…but the agency ONLY randomly tested the dog food for Salmonella.
Opposite of FDA’s approach with Beneful is…
FOIA #2 asked for the single consumer complaint received by FDA relating to Primal Pet Food. FDA did not provide this information promptly. It took the FDA a lengthy 14 months to provide this one document (received 5/31/16).
Two things. One: the complaint states “Thiamine deficiency” resulted in the pet consuming the pet food for ONLY 2 days. Two: the complaint states “There is another pet in the household which consumed same foods however did not experience any symptoms.”
The FDA used taxpayer monies to investigate a small manufacturer based on a complaint where 2 pets ate the identical food, one got sick and the other didn’t. But FDA somehow decided NOT to use taxpayer money to investigate a pet food with “480 consumer complaints with more than 140 dogs deaths”.
One of the largest manufacturers of pet food in the US – Purina, no investigation. A very small manufacturer – FDA performs a full investigation.
Blatant selective enforcement.
How? How do they sleep at night? How can the FDA continue to ‘do as they wish’ including ignoring enforcement of federal law, bullying small pet food manufacturers and allowing Big Pet Food to do as they please? How many more pets will die?
Is anyone in this country overseeing the incredibly faulty pet food regulatory system at the FDA? (No – no one is.)
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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