National Media Attention to Pet Food Salmonella Contaminations
Good Morning America warns pet owners about the risk of dry pet foods possible contamination of Salmonella. The GMA story cites a study recently released by Pediatrics Journal. While no theory of how the salmonella contamination happened or could be prevented, Food Safety Microbiologist Phyllis Entis has a theory about the recent Salmonella recalled pet foods/treats; a very interesting theory.
Good Morning America provided viewers with a story recently regarding three years of Salmonella (strain Schwarzengrund) infecting consumers linked to dry pet food. The study quoted by GMA (and numerous other news outlets today) was published by Pediatrics.org. The abstract of this Salmonella investigation refers to “manufacturer X dry dog food”. The study does not verbally state who ‘manufacturer X’ is, but there are some clear hints.
“The outbreak strain was isolated from opened bags of dry dog food produced at plant X, fecal specimens from dogs that ate manufacturer X dry dog food, and an environmental sample and unopened bags of dog and cat foods from plant X. More than 23,000 tons of pet foods were recalled. After additional outbreak-linked illnesses were identified during 2008, the company recalled 105 brands of dry pet food and permanently closed plant X.”
Mars Petcare recalled numerous brands of pet food during the time frame of the Salmonella investigation. In November 2008 Mars Petcare announced that numerous brands of dog and cat foods produced at their Allentown, PA facility were being recalled. http://www.petcare.mars.com/default.html
From the Center for Disease Control website “After additional outbreak-linked illnesses were identified in 2008, FDA conducted another investigation. In August 2008, FDA found the outbreak strain of S. Schwarzengrund in multiple brands of finished product at the plant, prompting another recall of products by Mars Petcare US. On September 12, the company announced a nationwide voluntary recall of all dry dog and cat food products produced at the Everson plant from February 18 to July 29, 2008, when production again was suspended at the plant. In addition, Mars Petcare US has taken steps to ensure that recalled products are no longer on store shelves. On October 1, the company announced that the Everson plant would be closed permanently. The FDA investigation is continuing.” http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5744a2.htm
There was also a recall of Pedigree Dog Food due to this same strain of Salmonella. http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1034410/pedigree_issues_national_pet_food_recall.html?cat=3 Yet the FDA Pet Food Recall page does not list Pedigree for any recalls. http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/newpetfoodrecalls/
Ok, so we would have to assume pet food ‘manufacturer X’ is Mars Petcare. But, just because the plant closed, the real reason for the Salmonella contamination was never determined (or at least was never announced to the public).
Spurred by an observant pet owner that contacted the blog EFoodAlert, food safety microbiologist Phyllis Entis, did some investigative work into the latest batch of Salmonella pet food recalls. Her investigation wondered if perhaps these various new recalls were linked to the Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP) recall that was initiated in early 2010 from Basic Food Flavors, Inc. http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/HVPCP/
The EFoodAlert blog states “Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) is used as a flavoring agent, and likely would be sprayed over the kibble at the last stage of manufacture – after the cooking steps. Any Salmonella that was present in the HVP would be transferred to the kibble.”
But, Ms. Entis was unable to make the link of new pet food Salmonella recalls to the recalled HVP. Why? Because no one would talk.
Phyllis Entis asked for answers on the possible HVP link to the recent Salmonella pet food recalls; she has received no answers from involved individuals. Ms.Entis requested information from Proctor & Gamble, Natural Balance, United Pet Group, and Merrick Pet Care; below is what she was told…
1. Procter & Gamble: “In conjunction with the FDA, we are still investigating and therefore cannot provide further information at this time,” replied Jason Taylor, of P&G Pet Care External Relations.
2. Natural Balance: “Please know that all information regarding the voluntary recall is available on our website,” wrote Kristi Choy, Customer Service Manager, Animal Nutrition.
3. United Pet Group: No reply.
4. Merrick Pet Care: No reply.
And the FDA isn’t answering Ms. Entis’s request for information either, she was told a Freedom of Information Act request would need to be filed for that information (the particular strain of Salmonella in recent recalls). http://efoodalert.blogspot.com/2010/08/fda-focus-on-pet-products-stimulates.html
As of this writing, the FDA mentions no pet food recalls containing HVPs. http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/HVPCP/
But…many pet foods, treats, and bones DO contain flavor enhancers such as HVPs. The recalled pet food by Mars Petcare during 2008 and 2009 all contained ‘Natural Flavors’ (assumed to be some type of Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein). The latest recall by Natural Balance, the pet food contains ‘Natural Flavors’. The latest recall by Iams and Eukanuba, the pet foods involved all contain ‘Natural Flavors’.
Is it possible that these latest Salmonella pet food recalls is due to FDA finally tracking down where Basic Food Flavors HVPs went? Is the FDA testing pet foods they know to contain the recalled HVP? The answer could lie in what type of Salmonella strain was found in these recent pet food/treat recalls. But remember, no one is talking about that.
I tried to discover the strain of Salmonella with no luck. A phone call to Iams/Eukanuba provided no answers. A P&G Customer Service Representative told me ‘we are not releasing that information’. ‘Bev VanZant’ with P&G Customer Service has emailed TruthaboutPetFood.com of late the recent press releases, she emailed me “We have requested the analysis from the FDA but have not received the data.” A phone call to Merrick Pet Food Customer Service told me someone would return my call with that information; at the end of the day (about six hours later), no phone call. Natural Balance Pet Food told me “it was an uncommon strain (of Salmonella) not found in pet foods before”; but they would not provide me with the specific strain.
Flavoring remains the biggest connection with kibble pet food recalls due to Salmonella. The recent story on Good Morning America implies flavoring was responsible for the Salmonella contaminated pet foods studied by Pediatrics Journal (assumed to be Mars Petcare products).
“Salmonella contamination usually begins in the factory where pet food is made. According to ABC News senior health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser, after the dog or cat food is processed, it is sent to a special room where the food pellets are coated with flavoring to make them taste good.” “Because this room is moist, it’s a perfect environment for salmonella to grow,” said Besser. “And that salmonella can live on those food pellets for months.” http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/dry-pet-food-linked-salmonella-children/story?id=11344300
Flavoring. Now for the bad news…almost every brand of kibble dog food and cat food contains ‘flavoring’.
If this recent batch of Salmonella pet food recalls is related to the Basic Food Flavors HVP recall of early 2010, more pet food will probably be recalled soon. If the FDA has a ‘list’ of pet food customers of Basic Food Flavors (that they are just getting around to testing), my guess would be we will soon discover some of the other companies on ‘the list’. Hopefully someone will be forthright with the pet owning public and provide the specific strain of Salmonella in these recent recalls so that we can know for certain (but don’t get your hopes up).
If there is no connection to the recent batch of Salmonella pet food recalls and the Basic Food Flavors recalled HVP of early 2010, there remains the connection of pet food flavoring. Will we ever learn why/how these foods were contaminated with Salmonella or how it can be prevented in these and other pet foods in the future? We should know these things, but…
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 2500 cat foods, dog foods, and pet treats. 30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee. www.PetsumerReport.com
Have you read Buyer Beware? Click Here
Cooking for pets made easy, Dinner PAWsible
Are you subscribed to Truth About Pet Food Newsletter? Click Here to subscribe
Follow Truth about Pet Food on Twitter
Find Healthy Pet Foods in Your Area Click Here