Guest panelists for a Purina media event held in St. Louis, MO last month included a high ranking official from FDA and the soon to be President of AAFCO. HUGE conflict of interest.
Purina Pet Food invited media to their St. Louis, MO headquarters on September 12 and 13 (I was not invited) for “Behind the Bowl Symposium”. Per PetFoodIndustry.com “Purina invited several that are not pet focused, including Shape, Eating Well, Family Circle, Parents and Martha Stewart Living. Remaining guests hailed from pet-centric portals for consumers like Petcha and PetHub, or from trade publications reaching pet retailers (Pet Product News, Pet Business, Pet Age) and even grocers (Supermarket News, Progressive Grocer). Purina’s plan for the event apparently involved reaching multiple audiences.”
In other words, this was a Purina marketing event – held solely to promote Purina pet foods.
Over the two day event, media guests attended multiple ‘sessions’. Of significance to pet food consumers is the session titled “The Role of Regulation in Pet Food” in which Pet Product News described as this…
The Role of Regulation in Pet Food panel included representatives from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), Pet Food Institute (PFI) and U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). The panel discussed the importance of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), how to handle recalls, including the value of being upfront when they happen, and gaining pet consumers’ trust.
Who from FDA and AAFCO attended (and was probably paid to attend) the Purina marketing event?
Purina went straight to the top to impress media guests. Speaking about ‘pet food safety’ at the Purina Behind the Bowl media event was none other than the current Director of Surveillance and Compliance of FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine Dr. Dan McChesney and Mr. Stan Cook current employee of Missouri Department of Agriculture, soon to become the next AAFCO President.
This is a HUGE conflict of interest for these two government employees to attend and speak at a Purina marketing event.
Were they paid to speak by Purina or was their attendance at tax payer expense? If they were paid, how much? Did Purina fly them first class? Did Purina put them up in a suite at a Five Star St. Louis hotel? Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests have been sent to discover this information (and will be shared when provided).
What message was Purina trying to send to the media attendees by having FDA and Missouri Department of Agriculture speak? Was Purina trying to tell media attendees that their products are so safe even FDA and Missouri Department of Agriculture/AAFCO will vouch for them?
Opinion: Dr. Dan McChesney and Mr. Stan Cook should lose their jobs over this. Regulatory officials have NO BUSINESS speaking at a pet food marketing event. This is absolutely wrong and more than likely a violation of law (will be investigated). When FOIA documents are received, complaints will be filed with the Inspector General over FDA and the Attorney General of Missouri.
Purina claimed the event was to be transparent to the public. One thing is now VERY transparent…we certainly know who Purina’s friends are; Dr. Dan McChesney of FDA and Stan Cook of Missouri Department of Agriculture/AAFCO.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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