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The Pet Food Test Results

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  1. Dog_Obsessed

    Wow. This is seriously scary. Even Wellness, which I always thought of to be safe and healthy, has harmful bacteria and mycotoxins in it.

    1. Mandy B

      Me too. I fed Wellness for 7 years. And after this report, I will NEVER feed Wellness again.

      1. Brooke

        What did I miss here? Was there just a problem with Wellness Cat food or did it include their dog food as well?

    2. Lonnie

      Yeah be careful. I can’t believe what is allowed to be sold and our government is allowing it. I had my dog die last Monday and I’ve had a hard week but never did realize it was dog food that could of caused her problems that led to a seizure and dying. I fed my dog with what I thought was good quality food. I fed her the Rachael Ray Nutrish Beef & Brown Rice. and she had some Chicken Version of Nutrish at the end . We as consumers shouldn’t have to research what we feed our dogs. Our pet food should be safe but I have read a lot of horror stories online about RR Nutrish and it needs to be taken off the market . Do Not feed your dog Nutrish.

  2. Lori S.

    This is fascinating and very valuable. Thank you for this.

  3. Lindsey Wolko

    Susan, What an important achievement! Thank you for looking out for our pets. Please let me know if there is anything Center for Pet Safety can do to help.

    Sincerely,
    Lindsey Wolko,
    Founder, Center for Pet Safety.

    1. Lonnie

      I’m not sure if you heard bad things about Rachael Ray Nutrish Dry Dog Food but it needs to be added to list of bad dog foods and owners to stay away from . I lost my dog recently and never thought it was the food until i researched about it.

  4. Peg

    HAPPY NEW YEAR TO SUSÅN and her family!!!!!

    I am so thrilled to see this.
    Many thanks and eternal gratitude to you Susan for all your hard work.

    Off to have some hot chocolate with my latest reading…….

  5. Jeanette Owen

    My cat ate a lot of Meow Mix & Fancy Feast – now I know why she only lasted till barely 14. Died of kidney disease. She was part Siamese – she should have lasted longer. She did eat dry & wet food. It was a crying shame!

  6. Lisa

    Pretty amazing to me that Fancy Feast was the least offensive over everything! But not surprising at all about the prescription foods. Holy moly!!! ugh!

  7. Mike L

    Wow

    Just … wow

    I wonder if any news agency will pick this up.

    I wonder if ..well, pretty much the very same things that most of you/us are wondering. It will be interesting to see what comes of this report.

    Well done and thank you!

  8. Annie

    Thank you Susan. Letter sent to my rep.

  9. Amy

    What a great achievement for concerned pet owners. Also, very sad that the foods that many people can only afford to feed their pets are poisoning them. Will be writing state and federal offices. Thank you for all your hard work.

    Amy Smith
    Pet Food Advocates

  10. Kathryn Smith

    Finally!! maybe people will start paying attention now — if you don’t buy your pets food the same way you purchase your own then maybe you need to rethink your own diet!
    read labels! learn what all those strange words mean – and admit that you wouldn’t want to eat recycled spoiled food, 4D meats, or otherwise ‘USDA INSPECTED’ [ but REJECTED!!] product — meat, veggies, fruits, grains – or any other ‘raw’ ingredient —
    Susan — Thank you so much for all you have put into this — you are APPRECIATED!

  11. Casey

    What about the FDA – should we send letters to them and demand that they do their jobs? This is proof that some foods are unsafe – what are they doing about it? The same thing that they’re doing about the study that revealed all the mislabeling – NOTHING.

  12. Janie

    Hi Susan-

    This is scary. It’s amazing how our government neglects this issue. The USA is supposed to be so advanced and developed. We have so many resources. I don’t get it.

    I was wondering if I may re-post material from this article on my website essentiallydogs.com
    I always properly site my sources.

    Thanks
    Janie

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      You can repost on a website the infographic and/or the short pdf (printable Test Results). And you can quote from any of it. And you can email any of it to other pet owners. But the full report I want to remain here and on the Association website. Thank you!

      1. Amelia Johnson

        Thank you Susan for your efforts on behalf of our pets. I will be sharing this information as you have suggested.

      2. Janie

        Thank you so much!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Hilary

    Thank you so much Susan . My Pets all Thank you too. Its so hard to be a smart buyer when many times you turn around the manufacturers have not again been honest. The only way a lot of times is by your diligence or sadly when a pet dies . You are so appreciated I have reposted web page and emailed many people the link . Thank you

  14. Betsy Greer

    Thank you so much, Susan! We’ve eagerly awaited your findings! I sincerely appreciate all of your hard work in undertaking and executing this very important project.

    You’re one remarkable lady!

  15. Susan Thixton Author

    And my thanks to all of you! This project would not have happened without all of you. “We” did this – all of us.

  16. Jess

    Thank you Susan for all of your hard work, it has paid off to finally know the truth about these foods! Do you have plans to test more in the future?

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      If in the future pet owners want to test another round, yes we will.

      1. Paula

        I would definitely appreciate another round of tests, especially with the higher end foods. We spend a lot of money on products we assume are safe because of the price tag and their marketing. With so many of the smaller independent companies being purchased by the big companies, testing their products now that they are part of the big boys would be very beneficial. Thank you for this report!!

  17. Michele

    Thank you, Susan, for all the work you do to get the information out to pet owners.
    The pet food industry must change its greedy, careless production of food for our animals.
    Each CEO and Board of offending companies should be force-fed the food they want us to feed our pets!

  18. Bonnie Wagner-Westbrook

    THANK YOU SUSAN for this huge exposure of the big money ghouls who are taking advantage of uniformed pet guardians! Now there are NO EXCUSES for them to remain unregulated. I’m sharing with everyone I know! And for those who have become sickened or died from eating the garbage these manufacturers market so cleverly, my heart is broken for each and every one of you and for your guardians who promised to love you and provide the very best care for you. RIP, loved ones…

  19. Catherine

    Personally, I would like to see the tests repeated quarterly. I wonder what time of the year does to the results? I cannot tell from the report when the foods were purchased, only where.
    What would it cost to do the same foods and tests quarterly? I would like to see this as ongoing research. I would be willing to chip in either quarterly or annually, whichever model suits the testers.

  20. Lori Campbell

    I am shocked that Blue dog food is on the list at all. I am just sick about this. I love my furbaby and thought I was buying the very best for him. Thank you for this information. I will pass this on. I am Completely disapointed.

  21. Vicki W

    Interesting—I am almost happily surprised about Fancy Feast since that is what I have fed my cats for years!!! I would “assume” that the classics fall in line with the grilled options. Still, I doubt any pet food is actually safe! My cats will turn up their noses to even fancy feast if it smells “funny”, so I think often they can tell if it is a bad can f food or not.

  22. Brooke P.

    Hi Susan-

    I feed my dogs Wellness (not the one tested), but it makes me wonder if there is a problem with some of their other varieties…how are we to know?

    I noticed that many of the tested foods are of the lesser expensive” variety. I would love to see a report now of some of the higher quality canned and dry dog foods to see how they stack up.

    I was also curious as to whether this report (or segments) were shared with the specific dog/cat manufacturers of the items tested?

    Thank you Susan for all your hard work!

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      The bad news is – we don’t know if there are concerns with other varieties from the companies tested OR if brands we didn’t test have similar concerns. All we know is the results from the foods we tested.

      Our budget only allowed for so much. I too would like to see this type of testing done several times a year – but that takes a lot of money. This testing should be a regular effort by authorities – but it isn’t. So it is left up to us – either to test it ourselves, or raise a big stink with authorities to do this (our tax dollars are paying them quite a bit). I think the answer is both.

      No – the results were not sent to any manufacturer – yet. I wanted consumers to have the information first. Consumers paid for this – they deserved the results first.

      1. Mandy B

        I am curious to hear what the manufacturers rebuttal will be.

        1. Ann

          http://www.petfoodinstitute.org/?page=Stmtpetfoodtesting

          I don’t know what individual manufacturers have to say. But this is a statement from the Pet Food Institute. Keep in mind an excellent comment made by B. Dawson regarding websites in general and how to look for subtext. Often the words (comments, phrases) used aren’t absolute and final, but are designed to nudge the reader towards a conclusion. This might be for legal reasons, or because it’s impossible to prove any absolute. Also remember that intention (such as a manufacturer’s goal, idea, theory, preference) can be a far cry from reality (action, facts, a record or history of).

          The rebuttal to the Pet Food testing Results is crafted either by someone who is a very poor writer (confused by accurate grammar and simple logic). Or it is phrased for an intended effect. Here are the points made in the statement (and some are paraphrased:

          • The PFI’s opening statement is about their priority, responsibility and dedication. (And are we to associate the Pet Food Institute as being the Pet Food Industry?)
          • They “suggest” (but offer no examples of how) PF is one of the most highly regulated food products.
          • The PFI maintains a cooperative relationship with the FDA. (Oops! Does that include Compliance Policies, and a failure to act on CJTs?)
          • PF undergoes rigorous testing by companies and state regulators to ensure safety, quality & nutrition. (Is that mainly to prevent lawsuits or for the purposes of improvement? Would this be done on a routine, voluntary basis, or in response to accusations, suspicions and investigations?)
          • (Verbatim) The test results by themselves do not provide sufficient information to appropriately draw conclusions. (W’haat?! I think they left out the word “because,” … as in ….additional information is needed).
          • While the pet food test results released January 4 leave many unanswered questions, the findings reaffirm the long record of safety of pet food. (So an incomplete, contested PF Test results can still reaffirm the long record of safety of pet food).
          • Mycotoxins (Aflatoxins weren’t mentioned) were below the established limit (per serving, but the effect of the accumulation and combination of them wasn’t mentioned).
          • Nutrient profiles were consistent with AAFCO standards (except for the ones that were higher).
          • Variations “can be” validated through feeding protocols (does that mean they were and the results are in a scientific report, or that some dogs just did well on the prescription diet? Just saying.)
          • Therapeutic products are fed (does that mean they are permitted or recommended to be fed) under the direction and oversight of a veterinarian and may be (meaning they actually are?) designed to vary from the AAFCO nutrient profiles as part of the approach to addressing a particular health condition. (So is food permitted to be, or to support a medical treatment or therapy?).
          • The findings reported do not identify any bacterial species associated with foodborne illness or food spoilage. (Except that the findings did. Though it was admittedly a range of bacteria requiring further investigation to pin-point or eliminate specifics).
          • The most common foodborne pathogens were not detected in the test results, again validating the safety of the products tested. (If the test itself is described as a snapshot in time, per the samples studied, then lack of a particular pathogen like Samonella, doesn’t prove or disprove the general safety of all PF ).

          Wow. They must think we’re really not paying attention.

          1. Dianne

            Well stated Ann. You could give courses in BS detection. 🙂

          2. B Dawsno

            Ann-

            First, thank you for your kind comments in regard to another of my posts.

            Remember that this statement from the Pet Food Institute is a brief statement designed to provide sound bites for any media outlet who is covering this story. As such, they are hitting the highlights only.

            Their statement that pet food is one of the most highly regulated products is a prime example of my earlier comment. Highly regulated in what regard? If they are referring to bacterial testing, this may be accurate. There are frequent FDA alerts that pet foods have been withdrawn from the market due to salmonella contamination, proving that testing and enforcement are in affect. Companies who manufacture raw pet foods will attest to the fact that FDA is on them constantly testing for pathogens.

            If the statement is referring to adherence to AAFCO definitions for what constitutes an “adult” formula versus a “puppy” formula, again, they are providing an accurate assessment. Of course AAFCO is a voluntary organization and not all states have signed on, but most pet food companies meet AAFCO requirements to keep their manufacturing and distribution simple. Can the human food supply say that they have this kind of regulation? Nutritional information is given on the label true, but no one is dictating what an “adult” human should be eating beyond recommended RDAs.

            If the statement refers to the number of different committees and departments that are involved in regulation, again it might be accurate. There are a plethora of departments & organizations that have some regulatory capacity over pet food. This is actually one of my big complaints. There are too many fingers in the cookie jar so to speak. Not only does this make it more difficult and expensive for small companies who wish to make a food worthy of being fed, it allows for disreputable companies to plead confusion, receive a slap on the wrist and then go back to business as usual.

            The comment pertaining to supplemental/therapeutic feedings is accurate. Prescription diets are not available except through a DVM who should be monitoring the pet for dietary deficiencies due to the the highly modified formula. Since these diets make medicinal claims they are no longer “food” but “drugs”. The formulae, for the most part, have been researched to show benefit for specific dis-eases. Whether the holistic world agrees with this research and it’s conclusions is a different discussion.

            And therein lies the flap over this pet food testing project. The pet food industry is pushing back with a mix of valid comments and emotively charged words because they disagree with the conclusions. Their concern is that the industry will get hammered over a small testing project. It IS a small sample – I understand the funding limitations but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a small sample – and anomalies WERE found. That’s not uncommon in the food and drug industry. I receive sometimes 5+ FDA recalls a day because of salmonella, listeria, undeclared allergens, unlawful drugs in OTC weight loss products, saline solutions found to be unsterile.

            The big difference is that the pet food industry is still bruised from the melamine contamination and they are hyper sensitive to criticism over issues that may not be wide spread. As such, they want to see accuracy.

            There are those in the pet food industry whose attitudes are “duh, they’re just animals”. These bastards (can I say that on this blog?!) should take a long run off a short pier in my opinion. There are good people in the industry as well. I had reps bawl their eyes out in my shop as they told me that the food they made and believed in had killed pets. That they thought their company’s QC was the best available and that they had covered all bases. It was a tough period that forever changed the industry in ways the consumer will never see. It was also expensive. The overall quality of ingredients has gone up. Holistic brands struggled in the aftermath to maintain their supply of quality meat because the demand increased so much.

            Susan’s test should be used by the industry as a starting point to re-evaluate their procedures. Stuff goes wrong and in the complexities of manufacture – from procuring ingredients to warehousing product – it shouldn’t surprise anyone that it does.

  23. Peg

    I read through the entire report and not only am I upset at this from a pet health perspective, I am distressed about this from a human handling the food perspective.

    How many people get new pets and want their young children to learn responsibility in feeding and care of the new family member? I don’t know if I would allow my child the responsibility of feeding. What upsets me is the bacteria generated by spoilage and putrification/rotting! Cooking may kill some of the bacteria but NOT the toxins they produce!

    Can you imagine the little ones digging into the pretty colored kibble or heaven forbid eating it?
    And what about the employees of the plants producing this?
    This is really ugly and all in the name of money.
    It does really blow my mind that it’s okay to feed rotting and putrifying meats to our pets.
    They are alive just like we are!!

  24. B Dawson

    I’m curious about how you chose the particular foods tested. I suspect it was by best selling?

    It should be a no brainer that Meow Mix and O’Roy don’t have many redeeming qualities beyond price, so it would have been more informative to test the Premium and Super Premium foods, wouldn’t it? This is the category that is the fastest growing and has huge potential to defraud the public. Even after the Great Pet Food Recall, the industry has lots of secrets that only seem to come to light when infighting happens. Plus with Mars Pet Care (which is represented in your tests) now owning so many brands (I think its 41 now?), how easy would be for them to substitute ingredients between brands if they run short?

    It’s certainly good news that no pentobarbital was found in these foods, as the cheap products are at the highest risk. Perhaps pet food companies have at least evolved away from that protein source, although we can’t be sure.

    I’m looking forward to any responses from the companies whose foods you did test. Personally, I think we’ll be listing to crickets…..

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      We choose foods randomly – from the most popular brands. The major thing we focused on was to have an overview of pet food – choosing both wet and dry varieties, both cat and dog, and different price ranges. We wanted to test more, but didn’t have the funds.

      1. Lisa

        Its to bad the funding wasn’t there for Purina dog foods ( Dry). I have 6 dogs and have been using Purina Dog Chow. I put cooked meat on top of it. I do not believe in Raw Diets. Just my opinion and experience. I will cook and chop sweet potatoes and brown rice. But, they won’t eat this unless I put a little broth on it. Low sodium of course.

  25. Sue

    I live in Victoria, BC and our pet food laws have to be the same as the states, I would hope. It is alarming that all this “poison” is being allowed to move along and out the doors and into our pets. So many “holistic” healers are totally against any dog food mass produced. They believe in “home made”. One fellow by the name of Dr. Peter Dobias is against feeding kibble of any kind. Really makes you think, when all you read about is bacteria and mycotoxins and all this other stuff, calcium and sulphur content. All the additives that they “have to” put into the food, our pets are just a big pile of preservatives!
    I wish testing like this didn’t cost soooo much. I do believe that it should be done by the manufacturers on a regular basis! I feed my dogs Fromm beef kibble and really hope hope that their “family” made product is indeed safe on soooo many levels. Just because this is one of the most expensive kibbles out there, doesn’t mean it’s actually escapes this kind of testing.
    I thank you Susan for this work you do and urge you to keep going! Happy New Year to all of you. A safe and healthy one to all our fur babies!!!

    1. FrogDogz

      Sorry to tell you this, but there are NO laws governing pet food in Canada. Zero. Agriculture Canada and Canada Health are both perfectly happy letting the pet industry be self regulating. The only thing Canadian made foods have to adhere to is ‘truth in labeling’ – ie; if your food says it contains chicken and rice, it must contain chicken and rice. No rule about enough of either to sustain life, just that they have to be in there if you claim they are.

      Personally, I don’t touch brands that aren’t USDA inspected – in other words, brands that have been approved for sale into the USA, because this means that they have to confirm that they abide by the regulations set by AAFCO. This covers most the major Canadian made brands, like Orijen, Acana, Go and Now, but I would never sell, feed or trust any mom and pop Canadian made food that hasn’t gone through the rigorous approval process of being AAFCO certified. It’s a low bar to hit, but at least it’s better than NO bar.

      1. Dianne

        I thought I read an article on this site that indicated applying aafco standards to good food could result in overdoses of some vitamins and minerals.

  26. Mary

    Can you tell me who did your testing (name and address) so I can get my pet’s food tested? It is not on your list.

    Thank you!

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      The labs were contracted by INTI services. You can try a veterinary school lab – they can probably help you.

      1. Sandra Keitel

        Susan, I just lost my Bengal Cat to bad Purina cat food and I still have the empty cans that he ate before he got sick and died. Where can I take these cans and have them tested? So Purina can be Held Responsible for KILLING MY KITTY!!!

        1. Susan Thixton Author

          I would first report this to FDA – here is the link to do that: http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/ReportaProblem/ucm182403.htm
          You can also report this to your State Department of Agriculture – you can find who to contact here: http://www.aafco.org/Regulatory

          If your veterinarian can give you some clues as to what the cause of your cat’s death could be linked to in the food (such as mycotoxins) then you can contact Michigan State Vet School lab – they are very good at working with people to find what to test for. That is the biggest challenge – what to test for. If you have any questions – you can email me directly (or use the contact form on the website).

        2. Susan Thixton Author

          And I forgot to say – I am so, so sorry.

        3. Mary

          Sandra – I am very sorry for your loss. Many years ago I lost 2 of my cats to pet food poisoning. Can you please tell me which type (i.e. Purina Pro Plan Plus – or other type of Purina – and flavor(s) you were feeding – for the safety of my kitties who have been eating PPPP Chicken Entree flavor for some years now. I would greatly appreciate it.
          Thank you for your information and thanks to Susan for her work on keeping our family animal members safer!

  27. Robin

    Seeing that there is bacteria considered harmful to human health in these foods makes me shake my head. There is so much back lash on feeding pets fresh foods or raw diets due to the possible bacteria content. I have heard many experts at conferences and lectures talk about the possibility of people becoming sick from feeding their pets raw diets. I guarantee that they don’t even know the real truth behind kibble. It would be great if you could find someone in the veterinary industry to partner with so that this study can be taken more seriously by independent veterinary nutritionists.

  28. Erica

    Hi Susan,
    have you ever contacted a large tv syndicate such as 20/20 to see if they would be interested in covering a story about These test results and some of the other Truths you have discovered in your years of pet food research? Such as the ingredient, that is still used today in some dog foods that was responsible for killing your beloved pet?

    Thank you for all your hard work putting this together. Sadly I’m not shocked at the results . Kibble can be a silent killer and it’s important consumers are made aware of that fact.

    Erica~

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      I am working on contacting media now. Consumers got the results first, next will be media. Also sent results to FDA this morning asking for comment.

    2. Mandy B

      GREAT IDEA! 20/20 would love a story like that, but I’m not sure they would do it unless a lot more testing was done first.

  29. Valerie

    So the big question now is what do we feed our pets and feel safe feeding them? I’m very disappointed to find out that the manufacturer I use is on the list even though it is not the same formula I have used. Knowing that makes me feel skeptical that the food I use is healthy for my fur babies. Do we know any manufacturer that is 100% safe and healthy? Thank you for the work you’ve accomplished.

    1. Sage

      Valerie, if you have a cat, WERUVA makes human grade wet CAT food which is safe. They also private label the same basic cat foods for Petco under the label SOULISTIC. I’ve been feeding my cats both but mostly Soulistic since it was introduced a few years ago. Never a sick cat. Check the Weruva site http://www.weruva.com and also try SOULISTIC for CATS from Petco which now has it’s own website (same Natick MA address as Weruva) http://www.soulisticpet.com/cans.php. My cats like Good Karma Chicken and Sweet Salutations Chicken/Tuna. Dry food is not great for cats but I think ORIJEN http://www.orijen.ca/products/cat-food/ is hopefully one of the safest – at least until testing proves otherwise. In addition to Soulistic, my cats eat Orijen Cat and Kitten Chicken, and they eat a raw chicken formula that I make daily. ORIJEN makes dry food for DOGS also. Lastly, JUST FOOD FOR DOGS http://justfoodfordogs.com makes 100% USDA human grade Dog Food which they ship anywhere in the US and they also sell supplements to mix into a homemade recipe.

  30. Valerie Noyes

    Bless you Susan. Shared and sent to both state senators. My representative’s email only produces an error! No surprise there, I don’t even like him. I wish I was shocked by the results, but it is what I was expecting. Pet food has become a completely corrupt business and it sickens me. I can’t wait to hear the FDA’s response to you doing their job for them.

  31. Sandra Cole

    Susan- Thank you so much for getting these results to/for us, providing a sample e-mail to send to our representatives, AND ensuring finding to whom we should send these e-mails is a breeze.

    State & Federal representatives/senators have been sent MY opinion on the matter. Thanks again for ALL you do for consumers!! 🙂

    1. Dianne

      Interesting read. Thank you.

  32. Rachelle

    Susan,

    Thank you for looking out for Tipper and her fellow canines.
    Awesome work.

  33. Jerry Bozic

    Thank you so much Susan – you are a Godsend. This is so serious and the world needs to do something about it soon! Many of my friends, including my family, have lost our 4 legged loved ones due to the fact that these major food companies are allowing this poison to hit the shelves. And they continue to do so without regret. We trusted these companies with our pet’s best interest and lives, but they have failed us immensely! I do believe there must be restitution in some way manner or form, and will never stop fighting this fight until something happens. The vet bills alone much less the grief, pain and suffering we have had to go through needs to be addressed and compensated for. My family was dumbfounded and devastated to say the least. I miss my baby girl and think of her every single day. We keep her ashes in a box on our dresser in front of us so that we can see her and that she remains much a part of our every living day. Damn you Beneful, Purina! We trusted you at the cost of our loved ones lives. And YOU cut that life short…

  34. Betty

    This list was eye opening. But how do we know WHAT to feed our dogs or cats? Is there a list for the good goods?

    1. Peg

      Betty on Susan’s site is a list of Foods Susan would feed.
      There is the new 2015 list as well as some of the older lists years.
      I have made a small donation to obtain these lists and found them to be a valuable resource.
      Hope this helps you

    2. Sage

      Betty, if you look to a few comments preceding yours, I just replied to VALERIE about safe foods to try. If you have a cat they include SOULISTIC canned and pouches (only at Petco). Soulistic is made by WERUVA – one of the original human grade pet food manufacturers. ORIJEN Dry for cats and dogs although dry is not great to feed to cats exclusively. JUST FOOD FOR DOGS is 100% USDA human grade Dog food and they ship frozen in the US. Web sites are above under reply to Valerie. Dr. Lisa Pierson has an excellent site for cats with a raw/cooked food recipe and lots of information http://www.catinfo.org/?link=makingcatfood and Susan, here, has a book for home made Cat and Dog recipes on this site in addition to her List of Foods she would feed.

  35. Kate

    Thank you for all of your hard work in protecting cats and dogs. With a rise in the number of exotic pets like ferrets, has your organization thought about testing their foods?

    1. Terri janson

      I just got a Guinea pig and a lot of the products on shelves are made in China. NOT for my piggy.
      No way

  36. Beverley Sporck

    So, what are the safest dry and wet pet foods for dogs and cats?

  37. Kat

    Unable to find the list of safe foods. Did find where Pedigree may have problems. I just purchased a bag from Wal-Mart a couple weeks ago but the lot number and use by date are totally unreadable. I’ve contacted Wal-mart to see if they can give me the info before I even think about feeding it to my dogs. After reading the info here at at Susan’s site I’m wondering if maybe Purina Urinary Tract food (which I’ve been feeding my cats ever since they were born) may have had something to do with one of my cats becoming very ill around Thanksgiving. He had two rounds of subcutaneous fluids that I gave at home, 3 vet visits with no diagnosis of any kind after numerous tests.
    He is now back to normal but this report has got me rethinking all kinds of things even though none of my other cats got sick.
    There are so many recipes for homemade cat and dog foods it’s hard to know which ones are really balanced and healthy though I’m beginning to think that anything I feed them would be better than store bought food

    1. Terri janson

      You are correct. Google the Internet for recipes

    2. Sage

      KAT – Pedigree does NOT have great ingredients and has had a recent recall of Dry dog food from Walmart – I think Susan reported it. If price is a consideration, a better alternative is NATURE’s DOMAIN canned and Dry dog food from Costco. The ingredients are much better than Pedigree and even some premium brands. http://www.kirklandsignaturepetsupplies.com/natures-domain-brand. See left hand column at their site to view the foods and their ingredients also Mfg info http://diamondpetcompany.com/how-we-ensure-every-pet-is-getting-the-very-best/food-safety/
      ORIJEN http://www.orijen.ca/products/dog-food/ Dry for Dogs and Cats has fantastic ingredients, is much more expensive, but well worth the extra cost if you prefer dry although cats should ideally eat Wet or mostly wet – canned or homemade.
      SOULISTIC from Petco makes (only) Wet food for Cats from Human Grade ingredients. My cats have been eating it for many years – no diarrhea, no sick cats! http://www.soulisticpet.com/about-the-food.php It is actually made by WERUVA which was one of the first natural pet food companies http://www.weruva.com. My cats eat Soulistic daily along with a Raw Chicken recipe from Dr. Lisa Pierson http://www.catinfo.org/?link=makingcatfood and they sometimes eat a little Orijen chicken and turkey.
      JUST FOOD FOR DOGS http://justfoodfordogs.com makes 100% Human Grade dog food and ships it frozen in the U.S. You mentioned an interest in HOME MADE diets. They also sell SUPPLEMENTS with RECIPES to make food at home http://justfoodfordogs.com/products/do-it-yourself/ . HOME MADE is best as long as you source the freshest ingredients and follow a balanced recipe.

      1. B Dawson

        Sage, it sounds like you really do some research, however I have two comments:

        Weruva is canned in Thailand, just in case it matters to anyone.

        And I don’t quite see how you can call them “one of the first natural pet food companies”. I believe they started business in 2006, therefore there were many “natural” companies before them.

        My intent is only to provide some important additional details, not to disparage Weruva. Although in the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t sell their product in my store because of the Thailand thing.

        1. Sage

          re Thailand

          Hi B Dawson – I personally like Weruva products because they are made with safe, human grade ingredients and the ones that I feed have just chicken or chicken and tuna as protein sources. Some information about Thailand which exports many HUMAN foods to the US –

          From David Forman, co-founder of Weruva
          http://petshops.about.com/od/petfood/f/Pet-Foods-Made-In-Thailand.htm
          The USFDA recognizes the Thai FDA. The plant where Weruva is made is USFDA certified. Thailand provides a large portion of the fish consumed by
          HUMANS in the U.S. and PET foods produced in Thailand are subject to greater scrutiny than in the U.S.

          Weruva / Soulistic CHICKEN is ANTIBIOTIC FREE, HORMONE FREE and FREE RANGE and is DLD certified. Thailand’s DLD – Department of Livestock Development – is a government agency similar to the U.S. Department of
          Agriculture. The DLD is stricter than the USDA…food exportation is very
          important to Thailand’s economy…it’s in the country’s best interest to maintain the highest standards and an overall stellar world reputation.

          From WERUVA
          http://www.weruva.com/tid-bits-detail.php?Can-I-trust-Thailand-as-your-place-of-manufacture-and-why-don-t-you-make-your-products-in-the-US-2
          In choosing Thailand as a place of manufacture, we had an existing relationship – making human food with our manufacturing partner for decades…JANA Brands, a company founded by the father of a Weruva co-founder, has an exclusive contract on products for PEOPLE entering the US from THIS facility. Jana’s biggest customer, the SUBWAY SANDWICH chain, named Jana Brands Vendor of the Millennium, based on the quality of products produced for
          HUMANS in these facilities over the course of 30 years.

          TRACIE HOTCHNER also has information on her website
          http://www.radiopetlady.com/blog/any-doubts-about-weruvas-food-made-in-thailand/

          1. Jeanette Owen

            Doesn’t Soulistic have sodium bisulfite in it? Thought I read that could be a bad ingredient. That’s why I do not buy it. It’s always something…

          2. B Dawson

            My initial reply disappeared, so forgive me if this is a duplicate….

            People use varying parameters to make decisions. My point was only to provide additional factors for people to consider.

            I looked into Weruva during the 10 years I owned a holistic pet supply. Wervua seems to be a fine food and has never had a recall. I chose not to carry the product because I look at the whole picture – quality, sustainable business model, likelihood of going into big box stores and environmental issues. The fact that the food travels vast distances from manufacturer to consumer and was sold at Petco (Soulistic brand) were the deciding factors for me not to carry it.

            Some thoughts about the information you linked to:

            The bulk of the links you provided are from Weruva themselves. Websites are infomercials and what is presented on them should be read with that in mind. Manufacturers will never present unflattering information on a website and will use every buzz word that is currently in fashion.

            Reading websites is sort of like reading descriptions in a seed catalog. There is subtext. For instance from Weruva’s website: “Our formulas are produced in a human food facility using many of the ingredients and processes that are used in products made for people.” Do you see the wiggle room there? It is not a definitive statement. “Many ingredients and processes” means that SOME of the ingredients and processes are specifically for pet food and not humans. This wording may be due to legal requirements, but it does cause consumers to reach a certain conclusion. It also raises questions about what they mean by a “human food facility”. If they are using any ingredients or processes not allowed for human consumption, it means that while the facility may meet STANDARDS for human food manufacture – stainless steel surfaces, sanitation practices and so forth – they cannot actually PRODUCE human food in that facility. Again, a nit pick, but all the words are designed to have consumers reach a certain conclusion. Weruva seems to have very high standards and certainly is better quality than a majority of pet food and I applaud them for that.

            Some other examples of word games (these do NOT pertain to Weruva):
            “sourced in the US” can mean “bought from an importer who has offices in San Francisco”. Manufacturers will answer “yes, sourced in the US” even though they know what you really are asking is “was it grown in the US”. Pedigree’s commercials used to say “and the meat has been through the USDA inspection process”. What does that cause you to conclude? When I called Pedigree and asked if the meat had passed or failed the inspection, the phone rep couldn’t answer. A supervisor finally admitted it had failed inspection for human consumption. Remember, they weren’t lying in the ad – the meat had been through the inspection process.

            Yes, I’m cynical. I’ve been in the pet nutrition and health business since 1992 and I’ve seen way too much not to be jaded. There is no one best pet food and my goal has always been to get people to think about what they feed so that they can make the best choices for their fur person.

      2. Jeanette Owen

        I do not like Soulistic cat food, it has Sodium Bisulfite – I heard that could be a VERY bad ingredient/vitamin.

  38. Mary

    I don’t see any references to the materials and methods used for your “World’s Top Pet Foods Test.” Is any of the raw data available? What methods were used in the assays? What controls were used? Did all labs test all samples? Were the samples tested more than once? Were you able to reproduce the results? What is the name of the lab that you used? Do they have a website? Do you have plans to open this study to peer review and eventual publication?

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      Labs were contracted by INTI Services. I know Baylor University did one of the testing, and Alltech did the mycotoxin testing. I had nothing to do with that part – the scientists did all this. Yes, one of the scientists involved might publish a paper on the results – it is his call since he would have to do all the work.

      1. Laura

        I’m kind of confused. When the crowdfunding for the test was going on you said you didn’t want to test some foods for some things and other foods for other things, that you wanted everything to stand up to scientific scrutiny. I don’t think you pulled one over on us or anything, but I’m not sure why you haven’t asked the labs and scientists for the kind of information that the naysayers are demanding, because then that would shut them all up.

        1. Susan Thixton Author

          The scientists have been (might still be) out of the country – in Mongolia (this is where Dr. Tsengeg is from). When they return I will be providing the methodology.

          1. Laura

            Would that include the answers to the questions Mary asked? I just imagine that those are the same questions the critics are asking.

          2. Susan Thixton Author

            I’m not sure what questions Mary asked – the best I can say is that I have already sent Dr. Tsengeg an email explaining that we are being attacked and on his return could he provide us with the testing methodology.

    2. Ann

      I really like (:->) what another reader wrote. I’ll elaborate on the point he or she made. You submit to a routine physical exam. A snapshot in time. You go to the hospital lab. They draw blood. I don’t know if all do this. But my HMO indicates an acceptable range for each value tested. My results are plotted within the perimeters. Ends up I don’t have a life threatening condition and I know that if I did, certainly a second test would confirm it. But since not, I accept the results. Am happy to be able to move forward without anxiety. I don’t feel a need to questiion the methodology of the lab, the technicians’ credentials, why they tested what over something else, whether it was reviewed by peers, or even what the “deeper” motive might have been for doing the test in the first place. I accept the routine, and the science that’s already in place. Serving hundreds of other patients, daily. Because if they didn’t know what they were doing, the Lab wouldn’t be a functioning department within the hospital, and the doctors wouldn’t be depending upon their work. And worse, the patients would be in danger.

      I have one question for all the cynics. And I bet they could never answer it honestly. If the pet food testing had come out 100% without issues, would they still be asking these same questions?

  39. Michelle Curry

    Unless I missed them, neither of the two cat foods nor the dog food I use are on this list.

  40. cheryl craig

    What an interesting, and very disturbing, study. I wonder if there was a reason commercial raw foods weren’t included. It would be an interesting comparison and might open some eyes as well.

  41. Sam

    What are we supposed to feed our pets then?

    However, I didn’t see my cat’s food on the list. Maybe they didn’t test it or it passed?

  42. Susan Thixton Author

    I cannot tell people what a ‘safe’ food is – to me, a safe pet food is human grade ingredients with nothing sourced from China. To me a safe pet food is one I make at home (which is what I do for my own pets). To get safer pet foods – we need regulators to enforce law. If you are concerned at these results – please, please contact your representatives in Washington DC and your state government. Enforcement is the only way to clean up pet food.

  43. Angela

    Thank you so much for being our advocate.

    My dog was just diagnosed with kidney disease so now her food is even more important if that is possible. Does the book Dinner Pawsible contain any recipes for dogs with kidney disease and if not, what would you do?

    1. Jeanette Owen

      If I were you, I’d feed raw. My neighbor’s 16 yr old cat had kidney disease & was peeing on chairs, couchs, rugs, even owner. He pick him on raw chicken & it all stopped!!! True story!!! He even could jump the wall a few times & went on to live to about 19.

    2. Janine

      You can get recipes for an animal that has kidney disease from these places (both are run by vet nutritionists). I got recipes for my cat from them; he doesn’t have kidney disease but I’m hoping home cooked might help prevent it:

      petdiets.com
      balanceit.com

  44. Alice

    Unfortunately, the article is very true and the fact that I already lost 2 cats to very harsh diseases such as cancer, diabetes…and the third one won’t last longer…it is very heart-breaking and I’d advise anyone who desires to have a cat, DO NOT feed it that poison!! It is absolute poison. I’m sure some other pet owners can testify to that. My oldest of the two remaining cats has been fed all her life raw beef tenderloin chopped by knife or mixed with boiled carrots (and alternative a vet once gave us when she was a baby didn’t want to eat “traditional” cat food) and thank God she looks amazing for her age and is safe! Sure, it is very inconvenient as you cannot leave her that meat and be away for a day….Anyhow, it is such a shame how they make us treat the animals and with such praise, that it is healthy! I don’t have the stomach and too much respect and love for my cats to put a picture and let those bastards see what they did to our beloved family members..as that’s what they are!! God bless them all and keep them safe from such harm!This goes out to all pet owners!!

  45. Wendy

    Wow really shocks me Feeding Blue to our Babies now really confused have you tested any Dog and Cat food that is healthy without any harmful ingredients in it , Thanks So. Much

  46. Dianna Bromaghim

    I switched to grain free Blue dog food thinking I was doing the best for my dog. What fresh foods are healthy and safe? Thank you in advance.

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      The biggest assurance you want from a manufacturer is if ingredients are sourced from USDA inspected and approved for human consumption. Next is country of origin of all ingredients. From there – you can choose what is the best your your pet(s).

      1. Sherry

        I feed Acana – single source protein pork and butternut squash. It has made a huge difference in my allergy ridden Bull Mastiff. He was on Rx food for over two years. It is made in Canada. I haven’t found a review on it yet. Is there one to find?

  47. Colleen yates

    Our Federal Government in Canada is cutting back on Government testing and regulations for human food, leaving it up to the corporations to regulate themselves, so there is absolutaly no chance they would give a crap about pet food, not going to waste my time sending this to any of our federal government representatives. Media is the only way to go about this in Canada. Susan or any Canadians reading this, I would suggest sending this to the CBC programme in Canada “Market Place” http://www.marketplace.com they have done stories in the past about contaminated dog treats from China and those bogus pet harnesses for cars. It at least has made some people aware of the problems, I know people that have stopped buying these products after watching this show. Thanks for having a place to go for the latest info. There is no easy solution, but people being more aware, is at least a step in the right direction.

  48. James

    Hi – I read this report & its quite informative. But I didnt see the brand I feed My dog & have tried & tried to find info on it as far as bad reviews etc & cant. – Its called Natural Life -Adult Lamaderm . It comes in dry kibble & wet canned food. Wish I could find some real factual info on this food. I have nt found bad reviews but that doesnt mean a lot. ty for your time. -James

    1. Peg

      Hi James,

      Six dog and six cat foods were tested for this project. The testing was extremely extensive and available funds only allowed for this group to be tested.

      What I generally do with a food I am interested in is call the manufacturer and ask them first and foremost if their entire list of ingredients is sourced in the USA. If anything comes from China then it’s not a food I want to use.

      James you can also do a search on
      dogfoodadvisor.com
      They might have some info on your food.
      Hope this helps you.

    2. Sandra Cole

      Hi James!

      Peg has given you some excellent advice. As soon as I saw your comment, I immediately went to dogfoodadvisor.com and ran a search for your brand Lamaderm.

      Here is their independent review on Lamaderm’s dry kibble:
      http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food-reviews/natural-life-dog-food-dry/

      And here’s their independent review on Lamaderm’s canned foods:
      http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food-reviews/natural-life-dog-food-canned/

      Again, this is only a start- I agree with Peg that you should give the manufacturer a call and inquire about their ingredient sourcing practices, etc. 🙂

      1. Peg

        Thanks Sandra for taking this even further for James!
        I was a bit bleary eyed last night.

        The most important thing I have found when trying to find a decent food is to call the manufacturer.
        The ones who are forthright or get back to you when they can’t answer you right away is someone I put some trust into.
        I also try to find the small independent companies.
        I really don’t want the people who make my laundry detergent making my cat food.

        We consumers did this all by ourselves and if we are the ones “regulating” the Pet Food Industry, so be it.

  49. Sandra Cole

    You’re so welcome! And I couldn’t agree with you any more, Peg! 🙂 Another excellent resource is Truth About Pet Food’s Quality & Origin pledges- which I’ve used in my research as well as manufacturer inquiries, dogfoodavdisor.com, etc.

    🙂

    Take care!

  50. Shanda

    Do you have a link to the complete study in lieu of the 9 page summary?

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      There is no 9 page summary – there is a 2 page summary and the full report which is over 50 pages. It is above and you can download it for easier reading.

  51. eigenstein

    Letter copied and sent to both Senators. Bravo, Susan!

  52. jill smith

    I can remember a while back,there was a short supply of Hills science diet here in australia,it was all stuck on the wharf and not allowed in the country because it had restricted ingredience in it,we have much stricter rules here than some other countries,thank goodness! this needs to be made public and save many more animals,vets need to be educated more about diet and not be led by these dog food companies and and given the side benifits they get for selling there product,hey and hell the same with the pharmacuical companies too,the pay offs for selling the vaccine you need to have EVERY YEAR!!! yeah well,its money in all there pockets hey!!

  53. Dianne

    Can I send a direct link to the full report to CBC Marketplace or only the link to this site? Since you were hacked I would like to send the report.

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      Yes – you can send them anything. These results are owned by pet food consumers. So yes, you can send them anywhere.

  54. Erica

    Should we send our e-mail to our elected officials for the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate? or both ?

    thanks again , I truly believe if we all work together on this , we will make an impact!

    Erica

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      If you can – both. Thank you!

  55. Rosa Julia

    Have you tested any of the products on your recommended list? I assume yes, since you recommended them.

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      No – because we didn’t have the funding to test very many foods. The foods that I would trust to feed my own pets (on The List) are made with human grade ingredients – held to human food regulatory standards. Very different than pet grade ingredients.

  56. Kate

    Hi Susan,
    Could you please explain the Risk Equivalent Quality Rating for mycotoxins? How is it calculated, and who decided how to calculate it?
    Thanks!

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      The best I can tell you is that is an industry standard rating system – it was developed by a laboratory and the rating system is used worldwide for testing of all animal feeds/foods.

  57. […] I also encourage you to select a kibble that does not contain fillers ( i.e. corn gluten meal), that you choose one that lists a specific meat source as the first ingredient (NOT a by-product meal and not just “fish” or “poultry” – it should be specific like salmon or lamb), that uses natural preservatives and no chemicals.  I personally recommend either Fromm or Orijen brands (grain-free recipes only) but encourage you to do your own research.  A very interesting study has also just been done to test popular kibble brands, including prescription kibbles, for bacterial content.  If you are interested, the study, with shocking results, can be found here. […]

  58. aimee

    Hi Ms. Thixton,

    When can we expect that the materials and method section will be published? Without these the relevance of the results isn’t clear. I’d be particularly interested in knowing how the bacteriology testing was done. It seems impossible that live bacteria would be culture from canned food unless the cans were damaged. There was mention that these bacteria were associated with improper refrigeration. Were the cans open and left unrefrigerated prior to culture? If these were cultured from the food what were the numbers cultured and how did you control for lab error or contamination.

    I’d also like to know why you didn’t correct for energy density? AAFCO requires a correction for diets above 4000 kcals/kg DM

    “Rations greater than 4.0 kcal/g should be corrected for energy density; rations less than 3.5 kcal/g should not be corrected for energy.”

    For example the Ceaser’s reports ~85 kcals/100 grams as fed. Which is 850kcal/kg. On a DM basis there are ~4649 kcals/kg DM To correct for DM 4649/3500 gives a correction factor of 1.33. Taking the AAFCO max Calcium of 2.5 % and applying the correction factor of 1.33=3.32% So a food with an energy density of 4649 kclas/kg DM can have a Calcium content of 3.32% and still be AAFCO compliant. You reported Ceasers Calcium content as 3.17% yet you bolded it in red as being above AAFCO. Why?

    Actually I’m surprised to see that you reporting on a % basis. The better way is to report on an energy basis. In the case of Ceaser’s product the Calcium content on an energy basis is 6.8 grams/1000kcals which is below AAFCO max of 7.14 grams/1000kcals.

    Finally you have referred several times to “Dr. Gary Pusillo, a board certified veterinary nutritionist” yet he is not listed as a veterinary nutritionist on the ACVN website. A veterinary nutritionist would know to put nutrients on an energy basis before compare them.

    1. Kate

      Apparently Dr. Pusillo is certified by the American College of Animal Nutrition, but I can find no information about that organization on the Internet.

    2. Kelley

      Hi Aimee.

      I think _ that if all the unanswered questions Susan Thixton has asked of AAFCO, the FDA and the PFI were listed she could write another book called “Missing Answers.” For example for what useful purposes do FDA Compliance Policies exist? Why is a minimum established for nutrient profiles but no maximum? Why is Protein, Fat, Fiber and Moisture listed as a percentage but not Carbohydrate? Why are there no safe handling instructions listed on the product? Why are ingredients fractured and pseudonyms used for definitions? Why is canned food allowed to be BPA lined? Why are companies permitted thresholds of mycotoxins and aflatoxins on a per serving basis when pets are continuously eating the same food over a lifetime? Why is high heat processing generally recognized as a bacteria deterrent yet product testing results (by the company or by regulatory authorities) are never published? Why is it when a PF consumer needs more information about the FDA doing a pet food company investigation no information can be accessed until the report is subject to the FOIA? Why has it taken the death of 1000+ dogs over the past 7 years for two chain retailers to admit CJTs “could” be a consumer concern? But the FDA is still in the process of researching? Why is it that a pet food consumer advocate must defend every nuance of testing methodology and subsequent results when the agencies responsible for regulation and consumer safety aren’t even required to post comparative results at all? Why is it the majority of the public won’t believe a pet food has made or could make a pet sick? And when a doorway has been opened to encourage further analysis, then nobody bothers to sieze the day?

      Here’s the deal.

      IF you can answer any of my questions then maybe there wouldn’t be a basis for a consumer funded pet food test in the first place. Better be grateful for poking around under the bush. And you know what else? If it can all be done any better, in a way that would lead you to greater certainty, then go ahead and raise those funds yourself, to do it in whatever way you wish. I don’t think there could ever be too much independently sourced information released about the PFI. What d’ya bet that’s ever gonna happen?

      1. Dianne

        Well done!

      2. Peg

        ” I don’t think there could ever be too much independently sourced information released about the PFI. What d’ya bet that’s ever gonna happen?”

        Kelly……you ROCK!!

      3. aimee

        Kelly,

        I don’t see the relevance of your questions to the topic at hand but I’ll take the time to answer a few. In regards to establishing nutrient profile maximums: I see this as saying that there is data available that supports safety when fed at this maximum level. The NRC tables report this as Safe Upper Limit. But for many nutrients there is simply no data so a safe upper limit or maximum can not yet be established.

        In regards to reporting carbohydrates on labels: AAFCO must first agree on what constitutes a carbohydrate for a reportable basis as carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are a diverse group as there are simple sugars and starches and resistant starches and insoluble fiber and soluble fibers and variations on the above. The second problem is testing. As I understand it there is no “test” to measure carbohydrate content. If there is a guaranteed min or max how would feed control officials test to see the product meets label claim?

        I could be misinterpreting your reply to me but you seem offended that I asked Ms. Thixton questions about the results she published. Ms Thixton should welcome questions, that is the whole point of publishing your findings, it is to invite critique!

        1. Susan Thixton Author

          Ahh Aimee – you just showed your hand. With your response to Kelley – you just told us that you attend AAFCO meetings. As the carbohydrate issue you mention is something that was discussed not too long ago at an AAFCO meeting. Only someone who attends these meetings would be privy to this information. So can we all assume you are posting comments on behalf of pet food? Big Pet Food? C’mon Aimee – come clean. Who are you working for?

        2. Dianne

          Now I am very confused. My box of breakfast cereal can tell me how many grams of carbohydrates are in serving. So by why you say about measuring, is my cereal manufacturer feeding me a line?

          I would be happy if my can of dog food tells me that the quantity of protein provided falls into a certain range. That is my interpretation of minimum and maximum on a can’s label. I think most consumers would see it that way.

          If the information can be provided on our food, there is no way that I will accept that it cannot be provided for pet food, unless, there is such a variation in ingredients and mixes from one batch to another that it would be too costly to produce new labels for each batch. If that is the case, then why would I want to buy that product in the first place.

          I just don’t buy that the information cannot be provided. The testing methods are already established for the human food chain. Maybe it is about time that their ingredient definitions match up with the definitions for human food. That is already done, so I don’t see the problem, unless they are trying to hide things from the consumer. Oh wait, I think we have already established that is the case.

  59. Kate

    Hi Susan,

    Is a more complete report going to come out, specifically one that gives details of the testing methods used? That will be very important to making the results meaningful and convincing. The way to refute the charge of “junk science” is to provide information on exactly how the study was carried out.

    For example, some methods of testing for bacteria can’t distinguish between dead and living bacteria. We need to know that the method used in this study was one that would only report living bacteria. Otherwise, the findings of bacteria are not meaningful. This is just an example of why providing details of the methods is needed in order for your study to have an impact.

    I hope this is helpful.

    Kate

  60. Kelley

    I don’t take replies personally. It’s only an opportunity to expand the discussion. I am not suggesting that testing details shouldn’t be provided. I am saying it’s good to be grateful for any testing at all. It should be embraced as a first step. Nobody said it shouldn’t be repeated, expanded, or cross examined by others, even the industry itself. My frustration is that consumers had to fund the effort. They did so in response to all those unanswered questions above, and that the relevance to this topic.

    Testing results (as you say, to be useful) should be available through professional regulatory authorities tasked with safety and enforcement. Meaning it “should” be a group that’s capable of running very consistent, repeatable and recurring testing. The reason I asked the questions is to demonstrate how frustrated consumers are by a lack of transparency. Just so AAFCO understands the real context of this discussion.

    Regarding nutrient profiles I am not questioning “safety or recommendation” ranges. I am looking for factual product labeling. For example I see a minimum % of fat content on a can. But I have a dog unable to eat fat. I would like to know how much fat is estimated to be in the can (or formula or recipe). I would like to see all components in the can in what proportion to one another. I can figure out minimum carbohydrate by using a calculator and the process of deduction. But wouldn’t it make more sense for the manufacturer to figure this out, also relevant starches, sugars, etc. and list it? It might be approximate but that’s okay too. Human food has all kinds of ingredient information on a label. Can’t AAFCO make recommendations even though they can’t enforce them? One problem with ingredient definitions (and AAFCO does at least discuss “definitions” correct) should be to identify them in plain English, with no fracturing. Ingredients should be interpreted as starch and sugar and fiber (for example, beet pulp is kind of nebulous meaning is it categorized as a vegetable, fiber or sugar?). Anyway consumers need this information because some dogs are diabetic, some need to lose weight, some should limit fiber, and on it goes.

    There are actually multiple reasons for publishing the testing results. However critics (and not necessarily you) are stuck (and I am not so sure how constructively speaking) on its potential for fallacy or weaknesses. Some think the results or the language used (like the words “qualifying pathogen”) are used to unduly influence the reader’s suspicions (at minimum) and to sensationalize or exaggerate attention (at maximum). But I ask for what purpose would a $16,000 useless report serve? Are consumers guessing the PFI will run scared? Or owners are looking for their worst nightmares to be confirmed? Or that problems (like FDA Compliance Policies) should be excused because the government knows what it is doing? Why is improving the safety and quality of pet food even being contested. Do critics honestly believe livestock grade feed (a maintenance diet intended for animals with a shorterm lifespan) equals a nutritionally enhanced extended lifelong diet for household and working pets? Or is it an unspoken agreement that whatever they’re currently eating, is just good enough?

    To believe no problems exist with pet food discounts all the hundreds of owners who witness their pet(s) sicknesses from eating particular (brands, bags, batches) of pet food. Most owners can attest to illnesses based on diet and not external causes. They feed the food which equals an issue. They stop feeding the food and it disappears. Such cases shouldn’t be invalidated only because proof wasn’t established in a court of law. They should be put together with corroborated cases, substantiated by Vets (without them fearing recrimination) to be investigated and recorded to prevent more of the same, and to warn pet owners. Truthfully losing a pet for any reason is highly emotional and owners can overreact. But when that kind of consumer takes advantage of the system looking for a product refund, then a money back guarantee by the manufactuer is the end of that story.

    Here’s the real deal.

    The PFI (and those politically supporting them) understand that the PFI equally suspects their own. It’s a billion dollar hyper-competitive business which is not just about a pet owner making an accusation. It’s about the competition making false accusations against one another to skew market share. Witness Purina vs. Blue Buffalo and that’s only what’s publicized. The problem is the PFI can’t figure out how to differentiate between consumer and insider damages. That’s exactly WHY it is so imperative for an impartial regulatory authority to randomly sample, monitor, and publish ongoing testing results! It’s their job, NOT the consumer’s. Eventually the industry would become self-regulating, forcing out bad businesses that can’t rank high enough by way of truly scientific and objective results. D’uhhh.

    The last points are these. Some critics (and perhaps not you personally) find every excuse to challenge the outcome of the testing. This includes the methodology of examination, the measurement of mycotoxins and aflatoxins, whether or not bacteria (or pathogens) is virulent (meaning living) or not, whether the sample was contaminated, or the staff was adequately trained, without ever even asking for an Industry rebuttal. It means the competency (or simple common sense) of those responsible for the testing is completely in question. But the target isn’t. Ask yourself whether or not any reputable institution or scientist would present (or be bothered with) compromised findings without figuring out first that the effort would be monumentally scrutinized in the first place. To assume otherwise, denies the entire process, and turns it into a simply curious and entertaining synopsis. It might as well be assumed that a professionals accepted a $16,000 donation with no regard to personal reputation OR liability. Why would they accept an assignment unless they understood the appropriate scientific pathway for making either positive or negative discoveries, both relevant AND dependable. Certainly what would be their personal gain in either outcome?

    Finally, it has been an uphill battle for Susan Thixton to make ANY progress regarding pet food consumer advocacy. By agencies and authorities and the industry she’s been thwarted at every turn. After all this time you have to ask why. The answer is far more than about money. It is about the advertising investment that companies don’t want to tinker with, meaning re-educating the consumer. When the cost of a product is doubled or tripled in price (due to improvements) then an explanation (or justification) is required. To say that the product is truly safer and quality enhanced compared to their “regular” food begs the question – why produce livestock grade feed for pets, that’s chemically and synthetically treated, containing imported ingredients and waste components at all?? Then think about what happens to all of that clever marketing strategy they’ve used to deceive the public, for decades. That’s the real skeleton in the closet. Everyone who really cares about the issue knows it.

    As far as they’re concerned (unfortunately) it’s just a little too late ….to change it all up.

  61. B Dawson

    Spoiler alert: what follows will not be very popular with a lot y’all!

    I must take exception to this comment made by Kelley in response to an exchange she has been having:

    “Some critics….. find every excuse to challenge the outcome of the testing. This includes the methodology of examination, the measurement of mycotoxins and aflatoxins, whether or not bacteria (or pathogens) is virulent (meaning living) or not,….”

    As a biologist/chemist who spent a good part of my younger days in labs it is never wrong to ask for methodology. Until you know what parameters were used, what specific instrumentation was used and when it was calibrated, you cannot judge the quality of the results. This doesn’t disparage the lab or the test. It seeks to interpret the results with greater accuracy. These tests were done blindly by the labs which is good, but the tests were set up and funded by consumers to test the hypothesis that the quality of pet food was suspect. If those consumers accuse PFI non-transparent, shouldn’t they make sure they are?

    I admit to only skimming the results and reviewing the graphics so far, but at first blush I see only minor anomalies here, no massive transgressions which, I suspect, far too many were hoping for. As someone who has advocated and fed raw diets since 1992, bacteria loads don’t upset me. I have spent too many years telling people “Dogs lick each others’ butts, will drink out of toilets and raid cat boxes. Why should we be worried about a little bacteria in their food?”. Only the immuno-compromised pet should have issues with a little bacteria in food and those pet parents should be feeding carefully controlled diets.

    Does the pet food industry need a make over. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. But let’s pick our targets carefully. Becoming shrill over every little glitch only gives the industry ammunition to roll its’ eyes and claim consumer over reaction. Adding up all those little glitches and forming them into a cohesive argument is beneficial.

    I closed my holistic pet store after 10 years because I got fed up with the industry on one side and consumers on the other. I caught too many reps in half truths and market spin, including those who sold expensive food. I watched small quality companies sell out to the big boys because they couldn’t sustain the manufacturing and regulatory costs associated with the business. On the consumer side, the second a pet threw up, customers were back in my store blaming the food. Never mind that they switched formulas too quickly, never mind that they used toxic cleaning products in their home, that they vaxed for everything or that they allowed their cat to roam and eat doG knows what. It was always the food. Yes there IS anecdotal evidence that some animals get sick and then recover when the food is withdrawn. This is NOT sufficient evidence to say the food is contaminated. It means that a particular animal didn’t tolerate a particular food. Until a contaminant can be found and linked to the illness you can’t definitively say otherwise.

    The manufacture of pet food is a complex process. Anyone who thinks the majority of companies are dropping fresh chickens and whole apples into hoppers that then spit out kibble is not using commonsense. Period. Ingredients are bought by the ton as fractions or as by-products from other industries – brewers rice for instance – and are listed on the label using legal definitions of those products. These fractions are most often visually unidentifiable and that’s were troubles start. Without thorough testing by manufacturers and supply chain documentation contamination can occur. The Great Pet Food Recall sensitized consumers to how bad pet food can be, yet consumers continue to feed cheap low quality foods that are full of these problem ingredients. The cheaper the food, the less likely any testing occurred and the more likely you are to find mycotoxin from mouldy grain. If people would stop buying crap foods, the industry would respond because they need to sell product. Our wallets have enormous power to sway the market, but it comes at a price. If the changes that many are advocating come about, the price of feeding your furry friends is going to go up.

    According to Susan’s AAFCO report today, FDA may be standing up to the industry for a change. As much as it pains me as a herbalist to say this, maybe things are going to improve. And its due in no small part to years of effort by the TAPF team. Want to help more? Each of us needs to express our appreciation to the FDA rep – in writing so that their supervisor has something to wave in the face of AAFCO members who disagree. Susan, when the AAFCO meeting is over, can you provide contact details?

    Here’s full disclosure that I don’t work for the industry:
    Ms. B Dawson
    Noah’s Apothecary
    Commonsense Herbal & Nutritional Advice since 1992

  62. Kelley

    B. Dawson presents a very good reply. From being a retailer I learned more through your details provided than from many other references. You are thinking deeply and evenly about this topic. Which is important and appreciated. Thank you.

    I’ve thinking how do I summarize my follow up. It’s not a matter of being confrontational, but only to expand the discussion and discovery. So I pose this question. Could it be that the info-graphics provided appear to overly simplify the results, and therefore to suggest the intention of biasing the audience? Knowing the credibility of the website owner I will absolutely vouch for the credibility involved in this total effort! The infographics provided are to present a snapshot of relevance, but more than enough detail has been made available for everyone’s independent examination. I know how much sweat and tears were shed along the way, not with the intention of throwing a stake through the heart of the PFI, but about the necessity of the quest for truth. Cliché as it might be. Only the truth is being sought. Only the truth matters. And anyone is welcomed to present it.

    I thought the narrative provided to accompany the results was remarkably impartial actually. It just happened that some of the findings were so surprising that they seemed to stand out, and were relatively more “shocking” than was expected. But nowhere in that narrative was it ever concluded that one food over another was preferable or not. That one product should be purchased, or shouldn’t be. Nobody said don’t by “X-Brand” as a result. It was simply (and this is the key) a COMPARATIVE representation, from one snapshot in time, dealing with a specific lot of samples. Another date, another batch, another bag or can could be entirely different.

    That reality is definitely the fascination involved, and hopefully, the incentive to see whether or not results can be reproduced, or disproved, if indeed a range of findings does exist. How in the world can there be any harm or liability in simply gathering as much information about PF products as possible? Certainly one would think, if deficiencies do exist, then the responsible parties would embrace the opportunity to the correct them, and improve the process of determining future ones.

    To be quite open I think far worse results were actually expected from the testing. Admittedly, and honestly, no salmonella or DNA species identification was found. But monumental effort went into making sure the discovery process was particularly scientifically correct, for the exact reason that the worse the findings might have been, then the more intense the scrutiny would be. Especially by the PFI. If the test could be easily invalidated then there never would have been any point to the undertaking in the first place. And the investment would have been lost. The funds were finalized in April 2014. Results only started coming in, in late September and finally into November. While guidance was given about for what would be useful and relavant to test for, and then how to test for it, the scientists never favored any imagined or particular TAPF hypothesis.
    Regardless of the results they had no stake in any outcome one way or another. They were quite busy with other businesses and priorities during the entire process.

    I wondered indeed what would happen if none of the results were remarkable. But I think Susan absolutely accepted that possibility (risk) yet embraced the responsibility for reporting no matter what. I KNOW for a fact that she would have. To do otherwise would’ve been dishonest and a disservice to everyone’s investment in time, energy, money and interest!

    Evidence of bacteria existing in food, first of all, just happens to be presented as “A” finding, period. No one has attached a recommendation to stop buying a food because of its presence! The kind of bacteria is a curiosity. It also needs to be further defined into a relevant category of type.

    What we’re all learning together are the greater implications of mycotoxins and aflatoxins present in PF, especially about the relevant cumulative & simultaneous effects of them, and the impact upon certain kinds of suspectible pets. Is it not useful to gain insight as to why (and perhaps how) some food negatively affects (only) some pets? I think this (potential) cause for pet illnesses has previously been more of a mystery. So the testing is a good first step for further investigation. For the PFI to be truly transparent, they “should” be interested in what was found in this sampling, and either offer counter or additional fact finding, or offer a hand towards future collaboration.

    But I do agree, that for some of the reasons you propose (irrational, overly reactive owners) the PFI shies away from direct consumer involvement. By contrast, our Consumer PF Advocate is knowledgeable, experienced and well versed as to what does and doesn’t constitute proper industry activity. No one would disagree how complicated the business and manufacturing PF is, but the main consumer requirement is FULL disclosure. If a company is going to make a lower price point product, admit it, through accurate, factual and clearly stated labeling. Don’t stick a fancy grilled filet of chicken thigh on the outside but instead fill the bag with something else. Consumers should be respected for their ability to make choices. That’s all they want to do.

    In response to consumer complaints that’s where an impartial agency SHOULD be tasked with collecting data, investigating, recording, and making available various reports for consumers to make decisions. Again, I already acknowledged the competitiveness of the industry. And the danger of malicious insiders skewing consumer fears. That’s why objective, regulatory testing is so imperative. When it can be demonstrated that there are no issues with a PF, then consumer complaints must be handled in the proper perspective. We all know that production mistakes can and do happen on any assembly line. Therefore steps have to be in place to deal with them. But doing so, without insulting a pet owner’s intelligence and their concern as being ovelry or ierrationally emotional.

    The he power of the entire effort, depends on whether all parties can be incented to work together!! Wouldn’t and shouldn’t that be in everyone’s best interess?

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  64. Anthony Coleman

    This is extremely scary how do we protect our love ones from these poisons

  65. […] My most favorite dogfood is The Honest Kitchen. All Natural Dog Food – Dehydrated Pet Food | The Honest Kitchen they have a couple formulas that are puppy appropriate. The only problem I had with the honest kitchen when my pups were tiny is that they peed soo much more while eating it! It's not a problem if you use pee pads. If you want kibble my first choice would be either Fromm or Canine Caviar. If you are needing something available in box stores like Pet Smart or Petco, then Wellness. I am kind of afraid of kibble anymore to be honest, especially after the testing started from The Truth About Pet Food, and the report on the toxins found in kibbles. I have a feeling that no matter how good the brand, there are going to be some level of toxins that show up. I am hoping they do more testing on more brands in the future. The Pet Food Test Results | Truth about Pet Food […]

  66. alicia brummund

    Hi we started feeding our dogs Acana and Orijen food i was wondering your opinion that these brands thank you

    1. Jeanette Owen

      That’s what I feed my dogs & cats Orijen & Acana – they love it & I put cooked chicken or meat on top & mix it in. I think it’s good – high protein what animals are suppose to eat – not carbs. Good choice!

  67. C. Perkins

    Susan, I appreciate your efforts and have shared your website and book with family and friends. I write today because I have a question … A friend of mine had her two small dogs die within a week of each other. Although, one was a 16 year old poodle, the other was an 8 year old yorkie. I find it too much of a coincidence that both would die in the same week. The situation involves both being fed a new treat,( I’m trying to find out the brand) both developing diarrhea and being treated for it by their veterinarian. During this, the friend went away on a business trip for a week and boarded the older poodle at the vet and the yorkie with a relative. The poodle passed away at the vet earlier in the week. Then, upon her return at the end of the week she went to pickup the yorkie and it went limp and died upon her arrival at the door. The vet said the yorkie died of a blood clot/ heart attack. I believe he performed a type of procedure on the corpse in the office and told her his opinion of what caused the yorkies death. My question- could the treat have caused their death even if one died of a blood clot to the heart? She also said the older dog had been acting strange lately and not like himself, maybe even had a mild seizure. Did she have unbelievable bad luck or is there a possible connection? If there is a possible connection, how could we go about finding out? This just happened the week of March 2. Thanks for anyone’s opinion and suggestions. I have three of my own and it’s very unnerving to think about losing a pet needlessly.

    1. Peg

      C.Perkins, I lost both a human friend and one of my cats to blood clots. It is a sudden and devastating way to die and in the case of my cat, the vet said there was some pain prior to death. My cat and my friend’s cause of death were confirmed by necropsy and autopsy respectively.

      Your friend’s vet is the best one to make the cause of death determination. If a food treat is suspected, perhaps the vet can arrange to have that treat tested. Vet schools might be able to help with testing.

      I have referred my vets to Susan’s site and the test results and my vets have sent this info on to their friends and associates. Per my vets, the pet food test results are a great starting point on how to help the pet owner search out better foods.

      C. Perkins, please extend my condolences to you friend on her loss.

    2. Ann

      “Thanks for anyone’s opinion and suggestions. I have three of my own and it’s very unnerving to think about losing a pet needlessly.”
      ____________

      Sympathy and condolences for your friend and you who is his or her supporter. Nobody should lose two pets at the same time! And there is little way to mitigate the sadness. That being said maybe a few thoughts can offer your friend minor consolation.

      Unfortunately Chinese Jerky Treats (CJTs) are notorious for causing sudden problems in pets. They are still being sold so a lot of people just don’t know the danger. If that can be ruled out, then any commercial PF or Treat can also have an individual serious problem. A pet could be eating the same thing for a long time, and all of a sudden react very badly. My opinion is that it can be from a production / supply mistake (like over contamination of toxic materials such as mycotoxins, pesticides, chemicals, additives, etc.). The problem could be limited to a “batch” or it could be from warehousing and transport. Therefore it’s difficult to prove that all the food of that formula is bad. People can only stay away from manufacturers / co-packers with poor reputations for quality control and supplies.

      It’s hard to say about a Poodle at 16 years, and the genetics behind the Yorkie. I have a very old Poodle, and am around the older Poodles of our Fancier’s group. Some can be fragile when it comes to diet (mine is on pure raw right now) or stress, but many have died suddenly from heart attacks, and they have eaten kibble. Aging creates episodes of senility which can account for the random strangeness, disorientation. Poodles are prone to seizures and can manifest (also due to diet) randomly. (Mine had a serious seizure gene in the line, but I successfully guarded against it through whole food diet). Personally, I wouldn’t want my pets to suffer through a long, drawn out cancer or non-recoverable chronic disease, and would consider a quick passing a blessing. At my dog’s very old age, I expect anything can happen suddenly. So boarding at a very reputable and caring Vet is a responsible thing to do, instead of placing a friend with treatment and decision burdens.

      Regarding the Yorkie I would check back with the Breeder to see if there are any similar histories. Asking how others have passed away, at what age, from what conditions. A good, reputable, caring Breeder will appreciate clients checking back in to report issues and age of death, so they can track their lines.

      For peace of mind going forward, pets should be eating an abundance of whole human grade quality foods, and if commercial, then choose a very reputable manufacturer.

    3. sandra

      Ann,
      I haven’t read every letter but I believe I have your answer. Look at Truthaboutpetfood.com. Four cats of mine and my friends’ died recently. Also I was visiting my granddaughter and she changed her dog’s food to a senior variety the day I arrived. Within 5 minutes of eating just a few bites, she refused the rest and began vomiting. That continued all day until we took her to the vet clinic at the Colorado State Vet School. She had severe liver damage and nearly died. Check out this website and some of the side links. I am no longer feeding anything with corn or grains in it.

  68. Cle

    Please, PLEASE do a pet food test results on Blue Buffalo CAT CAN FOOD. I’m SCARED NOW! 🙁

    1. Pacific Sun

      It’s good you noticed this article and the PF Testing Results. They are posted to help everyone understand quality issues and risks. Please know that it took about $16,000 every bit raised by PF Consumers and TAPF Followers to test only 12 brands (6 cat and 6 dog) of food. I believe there are testing facility options for people who want to test PF individually and it is quite expensive. The effort you’re reading about was done to catch the attention of anyone who feels complacent about commercial PF, and hopefully to motivate consumers into supporting the work of our PF Safety and Quality advocate, Susan Thixton.

  69. Tammy

    Thank you Susan, for all your hard work, and courage, and thoughtfulness in this project.

    Great Info. for all pet owners.

  70. Shane

    Was the methodology for the study ever produced?

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      The testing methods are held by the scientists who oversaw the project – it is their decision to make it public or not. For consumers, who paid for the testing, it wasn’t needed.

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