Italian Expose Looks at the Pet Food Industry
Italian Journalist Sabrina Giannini shares with TruthaboutPetFood.com readers the English transcript from her expose on the pet food and pet drug industry in Italy. Even through translation, the expose is very telling.
Sabrina Giannini and I emailed back and forth several times; me providing her information on the pet food industry in the US in preparation for her expose of the pet food and pet drug industry in Italy. She has provided us with an English transcript of her very telling expose on the pet food industry and the pet drug industry in Italy. If you speak/understand Italian, you can view the video by clicking Here. If you’d like to read the full English transcript, Click Here. (Best would be to follow the conversation in the video with the transcript.)
Excerpts from the English transcript…
Something that I’ve not seen exposed here in the US, Ms. Giannini’s expose started off by looking into the pet pharmaceutical industry in Italy and the price gouging that often occurs in pet medicines. As example, an eye medication for veterinary use costs double as the equivalent medication for human use. Another drug – “Vet-Ketofen” costs 80 times more than the same painkiller for human use. Italian pharmacists are not allowed to provide consumers with the exact same drug in human medicine – fined “up to 9,000 euros for not prescribing the veterinary drug when it exists”. They are forced to sell often dramatically higher priced veterinary drugs.
This report shared that Italians have increased their spending on dogs and cats by 70% over the last 10 years – “the shift to industrial food has been the biggest factor in this increase.” “There’s a great idea behind it: turning slaughter waste into gold. It is not by chance that investment funds are focusing their millions on companies that produce cat and dog food, and on those that distribute it.”
And pet food consumers in Italy have the same challenges we have here…
“A tiny amount of clarity (referring to the tiny print on the label of ingredient listing) is overwhelmed by a wave of advertising that transforms what is often slaughter waste into a starred menu…at least in terms of price. The gourmet veal in Nestle Purina with veal costs 8.63 euros per kilo, but that little box mostly contains ill-define meat, water and cereals and only 4% veal.” “The law on labeling enables manufacturers to write ‘with chicken or salmon’ provided the product contains at least 4% of the flesh mentioned on the packaging. According to people who have looked into it this is the usual percentage. They are not obliged to specify what other meat it contains, whether it arrived at the factory fresh, dried or frozen, or whether it came from Italy or China. In many cases they use offal or discarded slaughter products, or other types of meat which are unfit for human consumption. But we can’t know about this either.”
Two quotes from an Italian veterinarian spoke volumes…
David Bettio – Veterinarian –
“The industrial process alters the raw materials and therefore the proteins and vitamins that then need adding. Why should I take a vitamin supplement when I eat fruit and vegetables every day?”
“And so when someone says: ‘Well, if I give my cat raw meat he doesn’t recognize it.’ We should reflect on this, it’s astonishing: a predator that doesn’t recognize what it usually eats, what they should normally eat. This is abnormal. This is really peculiar.”
Below is a conversation between Ms. Giannini and a few pet food consumers that we can all relate to…
SABRINA GIANNINI – Who advised you to use packaged food rather than a homemade diet?
CUSTOMER – The vet.
SABRINA GIANNINI – And didn’t he offer an alternative diet? The home one, which she eats?
CUSTOMER – Oh, no.
SABRINA GIANNINI – He didn’t offer a diet, a written one, for a dog.
CUSTOMER – No.
SABRINA GIANNINI – He didn’t’ say to you: “I’ll give you two options”?
CUSTOMER – No, he told me: “Look it’s convenient, you can manage it easily on your own.”
And below, Ms. Giannini has a conversation with several pet owners whose pets suffered with illness that was ultimately cured with real food (not commercial food)…
WOMAN – This is the how it was before, full of pustules.
SABRINA GIANNINI – Have you linked this with food?
WOMAN – Yes, that’s what made me change the dry food. But from one dry food to another.
SABRINA GIANNINI – Tell me how many times you’ve changed vet.
WOMAN – This is astonishing. Six or seven.
SABRINA GIANNINI – Six or seven vets before changing diet completely.
WOMAN – Yes Yes Yes.
SABRINA GIANNINI – And what did all those six or seven say?
WOMAN – Always the same thing.
SABRINA GIANNINI – Change the dry food.
WOMAN – Yes.
WOMAN – I switched from dry food A to dry food B, but normal. Then there was the switch to the medical one. In this case gastro-intestinal. The following year saw a sharp deterioration.
WOMAN OWNER OF SANDRA – After that they recommended a type of dry food perfect for her problem, that is, for kidney failure. We are talking about what they call “renal” food. But we didn’t see any improvement, or rather I actually had the sense that Sandra was getting worse. I asked the vet again, who told me that this was the only medicine that would help her and to continue.
WOMAN – He urgently advised me to switch to “renal” food. During those two years of “renal” food, the cat deteriorated badly.
DAVID BETTIO – VETERINARIAN – It seems to me that in approximately 80-82 cases, the change in diet that we always recommend – switching from an industrial diet to a natural diet – results in a cure in about 65 cases out of those 80.
SABRINA GIANNINI – How long did it take for her to improve?
WOMAN – A month.
WOMAN – After 15 to 20 days the illness had completely disappeared.
WOMAN – So. When we changed diet I noticed improvements in the space of perhaps a couple of months.
WOMAN OWNER OF SANDRA – Sandra has now been fine for two years. We discontinued the medicines and we stopped the industrial food. We use raw food and sometimes also homecooked. That’s all.
DAVID BETTIO – VETERINARIAN – It would be interesting for someone to go to the trouble and expense to really investigate, to see how patients that follow a homemade diet of a certain type do over 10 years. That would be an interesting study.
Pet owners in Europe have the same concerns we have here with mycotoxins…
ANNIE LESZKOWICZ – PROFESSOR OF CHEMICAL ENGINEERING UNIVERSITY OF TOULOUSE – We were contacted by various breeders who reported the symptoms suffered by their cats and dogs: vomiting and diarrhoea, liver problems, and retarded growth, loss of weight, but also teratogenic effects… Deaths and deformities in kittens, in particular.
SABRINA GIANNINI – Did you immediately suspect that mycotoxins were present?
ANNIE LESZKOWICZ – PROFESSOR OF CHEMICAL ENGINEERING UNIVERSITY OF TOULOUSE – Indeed, the problems emerged following the introduction of cereals in dry food, before then there weren’t any. When analysing cereals we look for heavy metals and mycotoxins. Here we have the source, the sources of mycotoxins. Cereals in general, corn in particular, here is flax…
SABRINA GIANNINI – And here there is a match between the mycotoxins found in dry food and in the animals’ organs.
ANNIE LESZKOWICZ – PROFESSOR OF CHEMICAL ENGINEERING UNIVERSITY OF TOULOUSE – Yes, here you can see… the liver, the kidneys, the brain and the intestines.
SABRINA GIANNINI – How many products have you checked and tested over the past few years?
ANNIE LESZKOWICZ – PROFESSOR OF CHEMICAL ENGINEERING UNIVERSITY OF TOULOUSE – I don’t know, between 50 and 100 …
SABRINA GIANNINI – And in how many of these have you found worrying levels of mycotoxins?
ANNIE LESZKOWICZ – PROFESSOR OF CHEMICAL ENGINEERING UNIVERSITY OF TOULOUSE – Well, let’s say at least a quarter of these products contained objectively problematic levels. We analysed the food, but also the organs and the blood of the kittens and their contaminated mothers. When the following year the problems resurfaced with the same brands … we did further analyses and uncovered the entire chain of contamination: from the mother to the puppies and the dry food.
ANNIE LESZKOWICZ – PROFESSOR OF CHEMICAL ENGINEERING UNIVERSITY OF TOULOUSE – The various mycotoxins can cause cancer. Aflatoxin affects the liver, ochratoxin the kidneys, and fumonisin the digestive tract… Dogs are the animal that is most sensitive to ochratoxin, which can cause kidney cancer.
SABRINA GIANNINI – So would you call this an unregulated industry?
ANNIE LESZKOWICZ – PROFESSOR OF CHEMICAL ENGINEERING UNIVERSITY OF TOULOUSE – So it is! There are not even “recommendations” specific to dogs and cats. There’s no regulations, that’s for sure! This is really the point. The companies, Royal Canin and the others, are free to base things on “recommendations” calibrated for other animals: pigs, horses or cattle. The problem is that these levels are too high for a dog or a cat…
SABRINA GIANNINI – VOICE OVER – Also because they would be fed with our cereals that are discarded when they exceed the danger limit for mycotoxins. However, discarded doesn’t mean off the market or dumped in landfills. There is an industry that recycles them, which isn’t obliged to respect any limits so it can buy them at sale prices and put them in wet and dry food…
And interestingly, I learned from my email conversations with Ms. Giannini that Purina has pulled Beneful from store shelves in Italy. Here is the excerpt of her questioning Purina on this…
QUESTION – Why did you withdraw Beneful, which was available in Italy until last year?
PURINA MALE REPRESENTATIVE – We took it off the market, but not because it didn’t work, it was purely linked to commercial reasons.
SABRINA GIANNINI – VOICE OVER – Nestlé’s Beneful dry food for dogs is no longer on Italian supermarket shelves. Meanwhile in the United States the Food and Drug Administration are monitoring this product after numerous reports from dog owners who connect it to the death or poisoning of their pet … A 5 million-dollar class action for compensation has been taken out against Nestlé. It is still an open question. The complaint speculates about the responsibility of mycotoxins and of another preservative, propylene glycol, an additive also allowed in human foods and cosmetics at low doses … also in Europe.
My thanks again to Sabrina Giannini for providing us the English transcript of her expose. Good job Sabrina!!!
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
Is your dog or cat eating risk ingredients? Chinese imports? Petsumer Report tells the ‘rest of the story’ on over 3000 cat foods, dog foods, and pet treats. 30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee. www.PetsumerReport.com
The 2016 List
Susan’s List of trusted pet foods. Click Here
Have you read Buyer Beware? Click Here
Cooking for pets made easy, Dinner PAWsible
Find Healthy Pet Foods in Your Area Click Here