The following is Senator Durbin’s response to a concerned pet owner in Illinois regarding the FDA. This is far better than what I received from my Representatives in Congress (which was nothing).
After a recent article explaining the lack of FDA tracking of pet food related illnesses, a concerned pet owner in Illinois sent his Senator an email explaining the frustration with FDA. The following is Senator Durbin’s response….
Thank you for contacting me regarding the regulation and safety of pet food. I appreciate hearing from you.
Under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is tasked with regulating the pet food industry. The FDA’s response to the contamination of several private-label pet foods over the past years has raised serious questions about our pet food safety and inspection system.
The Food and Drug Administration Revitalization Act, which became law in September 2007, contained an amendment I offered to improve several facets of our food safety system as it applies to pets and humans.
Specifically, my amendment:
• requires the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to update standards for the labeling of pet food to include ingredients and nutritional information;
• directs the Department of Health and Human Services to establish an early warning system that will monitor any outbreaks of illnesses associated with pet food;
• promotes cooperation between state and federal agencies tasked with regulating food safety;
• creates a registry where cases of adulterated food will be reported;
• imposes civil penalties on importers or manufacturers that fail to report adulterated food to the FDA in a timely manner; and
• mandates an annual report to Congress documenting the FDA’s oversight of imported food products.
These provisions improve the FDA’s ability to regulate the pet food industry and help to ensure that pet owners have the information they need to make informed buying decisions.
In light of your letter, I have reached out to the FDA to clarify statements to the VIN news network and to ensure that they are complying with federal law.
We must work to improve oversight of the pet food industry, so that pet owners can feel confident about the safety of the food they find in veterinary offices and on supermarket and pet store shelves.
Thank you again for contacting me to express your concerns. Please feel free to keep in touch.
Richard J. Durbin
United States Senator
Thank you to the pet owner that wrote Senator Durbin and thank you to Senator Durbin for responding.
It seems Senator Durbin got the FDA’s attention. Spokesperson Laura Alvey has just provided updated information. “Asked to respond to Costco’s dismissal that its brand of pet food, manufactured by Diamond, might have sickened animals, Laura Alvey, spokeswoman for the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine, noted that unlike with human food “there is no surveillance network for FDA to rely on to confirm cases of illness or death.” “When there is an outbreak of illness from human food, FDA receives assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state departments of health to trace the illness and determine the cause,” she explained.”
This latest FDA statement is either incorrect – or a tax dollar supported FDA project announced last year was simply a ruse. Quoting the 2011 FDA press release touting their PETNet system…
“The Partnership for Food Protection and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced the launch of the Pet Event Tracking Network (PETNet). PETNet is a secure, web based information exchange system that will allow FDA and Federal and State Agencies to share initial information about pet-food related incidents, such as illness associated with the consumption of pet food or pet food product defects. PETNet’s voluntary information exchange, surveillance and alert system is designed to provide a real-time mechanism for sharing information about emerging pet food related illnesses and product defects between FDA, other Federal agencies, and the States.”
Why did FDA develop PETNet if it would not result in confirmation of pet illness or death due to a pet food? Were FDA plans to just monitor reports of pet illness and death linked to a pet food or treat and stop there? Just sit back and do nothing about dozens, hundreds, perhaps thousands of reports of pet illness and death? Let’s hope not.
Quoting from Senator Durbin’s response…“We must work to improve oversight of the pet food industry, so that pet owners can feel confident about the safety of the food they find in veterinary offices and on supermarket and pet store shelves.” I can tell you Senator, as awareness of the regulations and lack of enforcement of said regulations that govern the pet food industry grows, consumer confidence in the safety of pet food drops dramatically. Each day, when we place commercial pet food into the bowl for our cat or dog – we pray the food is safe and healthy – we pray the food won’t harm or kill our pet. Feeding our dogs and cats shouldn’t need to include a prayer.
Senator Durbin and all other Representatives in Congress, please take a close look at FDA Compliance Policies that govern animal/pet foods. Please consider hosting a public meeting with FDA and pet owners. Please take the opportunity to hear first hand from pet owners who have spent thousands of dollars trying to save their pets life, their efforts to try to get FDA and State authorities to investigate a pet food or treat, and their experience with the pet food/pet treat manufacturer. Allow us the opportunity to tell FDA administration and law makers what is Not being done to assure the safety of pet food. Please don’t let another 2007 happen.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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