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Their Deaths Mattered

Their Deaths Mattered

Trade Groups want Congress and FDA to just forget about the 2007 pet food disaster.  The pet food trade groups want to forget the laws…forget about all the dead pets…forget everything and keep things just as they are/were prior to the 2007 pet food recall.  This is – undoubtedly – the most unscrupulous effort by the pet food industry I have ever seen.

Several months ago, fellow pet food safety advocate Mollie Morrissette and I got news that some pet food industry trade groups were lobbying members of Congress to change the laws of the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act (FDAAA).  Emphasis:  change the laws that were founded on the deadliest pet food recall in history…change the laws that were developed by Congress to prevent another devastation.

Upon learning of the pet food trade groups actions, we immediately contacted FDA and several members of Congress for more information.  We were told the groups were arguing with FDA over two words – pet food ingredient ‘standard’ and pet food ingredient ‘definition’.  The pet food trade groups wanted the ‘standard’ wording removed from the law (FDAAA laws).  The groups even enlisted the support of AAFCO (via former AAFCO President Robert Waltz) to change the laws.

Congress told the groups – FDA can remove the word ‘standard’ administratively (from FDAAA).  FDA told the groups – Congress has to remove the word ‘standard’ legislatively (rewrite the laws).  We were lulled into a sense of comfort, when the FDA clarified they were not in a position to change the law (not going to do the dirty work of the pet food industry trade groups).

But the trade groups didn’t give up.  They have hired Washington professionals, knocked on doors all over Congress – trying to sell their sad story that industry will suffer if FDAAA isn’t changed, industry will suffer unless pet food/animal food regulations stay exactly as they are now – exactly as they were before the 2007 pet food recall.

Before I continue with this most insulting madness, let’s take a look back into history to understand why these two words are so very important….

In 2007 the United States suffered the largest pet food recall in history. Thousands of pets died within months and thousands more suffered permanent kidney damage. The cause…contaminants added to a pet food ingredient made in China. It was vegetable proteins (wheat gluten as example) purchased from Chinese suppliers that was laced with toxic melamine.

Congress – from listening to thousands and thousands of heartbroken families – realized that the regulations that currently governed pet food were vague (at best).  Pet food ingredients were defined – through the AAFCO process – however no ‘standard‘ of ingredient quality had ever been legally defined through regulations.  Example:  the wheat gluten imported from China that resulted in the 2007 pet food recall met the legal definition of the ingredient.  But there was no legal/regulatory quality standard of wheat gluten to specifically state it can not contain melamine or other toxic ingredients.

Based on what regulations were lacking in 2007 – Congress developed FDAAA.  Specific to pet food the law that was written stated…

SEC. 1002. NOTE: 21 USC 2102.  ENSURING THE SAFETY OF PET FOOD.
Ingredient Standards.–Not later than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (referred to in this title as the “Secretary”), in consultation with the Association of American Feed Control Officials and other relevant stakeholder groups, including veterinary medical associations, animal health organizations, and pet food manufacturers, shall by regulation establish–
            (1) ingredient standards and definitions with respect to pet food;
            (2) processing standards for pet food; and
            (3) updated standards for the labeling of pet food that include nutritional and ingredient information.

And that two year due date for this work to be completed –
was September 2009.

 

The laws of FDAAA required FDA in consultation with AAFCO and other relevant stakeholder groups to establish by regulation pet food ingredient “standards and definitions“, pet food “processing standards“, and “updated standards for the labeling of pet food” by September 2009.

Four and 1/2 years past the due date…this legal requirement of FDA has yet to be completed.

Guess who continues to cause the delay?

From an article published on an industry website:

“Despite a 35-year cooperative relationship, the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) recently learned that FDA feels specifically “the AAFCO process ultimately falls short” and “the majority of ingredients that are included in the AAFCO ‘official publication’ are neither approved food additives nor are they generally recognized as safe (GRAS).”

True.  The current AAFCO ingredient approval process does fall short of what the laws of FDAAA require (the laws developed by Congress after the 2007 pet food recall); the AAFCO process does not include ingredient quality standards.  But let’s not forget, FDA & AAFCO have continued to work together since the development of FDAAA.  The laws of FDAAA specifically stated FDA should work “in consultation with the Association of American Feed Control Officials” to develop pet food ingredient standards.  Yet in the past seven years, the process to approve and define pet food ingredients has remained exactly the same as it was prior to 2007.

More quotes of the industry article:

“The Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007 (FDAAA) requires FDA to establish pet food processing and ingredient “standards.” Initially, this caused FDA confusion over the legal differences in interpreting “definition” – the term used in the AAFCO OP – and FDAAA’s use of the word “standard,” a term of legal art found nowhere in the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (fFDCA). It now appears FDA is trying to harmonize the AAFCO process with the requirements in the fFDCA. FDA is working to complete a GRAS analysis for ingredients listed in the OP and are exploring the options to address the other ingredients in the OP that are not GRAS nor approved food additives.”

False.  Absolutely False.  FDA was not confused by the term ‘standard’.  And False – the word ‘standard’ is all over the federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act.  Most importantly the FD&C Act refers to “standard of quality” – which Congress realized was lacking in pet food regulations when they developed the Amendments Act to FD&C.  Quoting Section 401 of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act titled “Definitions and standards for food”

“Whenever in the judgment of the Secretary such action will promote honesty and fair dealing in the interest of consumers, he shall promulgate regulations fixing and establishing for any food, under its common or usual name so far as practicable, a reasonable definition and standard of identity, a reasonable standard of quality, or reasonable standards of fill of container.”

It is true that FDA is working on the requirements of FDAAA now – defining all the pet food ingredients and completing a generally recognized as safe analysis for all pet food ingredients.

The pet food trade groups hired Washington DC lobby big guns to help with their dirty work – Policy Directions Inc.  From the Policy Directions website:

“Policy Directions is a government relations firm with the ideal combination of experience and size. Washington is complicated; day-to-day activities can be frantic, but issues often move slowly. How do you get what you need from the federal government?  Our team works across party lines to achieve those results. Our emphasis on a team approach to client service assures your issues won’t get lost among competing priorities.”

Among the clients Policy Directions Inc. website lists includes Purina Pet Care, Proctor & Gamble, Pfizer, Merck, and National Renderers Association.

These trade groups and we assume with their Washington professional lobbyist, recently went around Congress hand delivering a ‘one page’ sheet of information to members.  That one sheet stated:

“Initially, this caused FDA confusion over legal interpretation of the words “definitions” and “standards,” which brought FDA’s long-time successful partnership with the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) ingredient approval process into question.”

Their pretty little one sheet dropped some big names of Washington too.

“Thirty-six members of the House of Representatives along with Sens. McConnell and Durbin individually wrote to FDA seeking a solution, clarifying that it was never the intent of Congress to interfere with the FDA/AAFCO ingredient review and approval process.”

I spoke with Senator McConnell’s office in Washington and was told Senator McConnell did NOT state to FDA “it was never the intent of Congress to interfere with the FDA/AAFCO ingredient review and approval process.”  Mollie Morrissette spoke with Senator Durbin’s office, she was told they have no record of writing to FDA at all about this issue.

And the one sheet stated the solution to industry’s problem is:

“If FDA is unable or unwilling to continue the cooperative relationship with AAFCO for ingredient approvals, a legislative fix will be required. AFIA and NGFA have tried for several years to find an administrative fix for FDA. While discussions have led to tentative agreements in the past, no solution has been implemented. Therefore, the animal/pet food industry is seeking congressional support to maintain the long-established ingredient approval process in place.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong.  The pet food industry trade groups want “congressional support” to keep things exactly as they are now (exactly as they were in 2007).  The only congressional support that is needed is to STOP the interference of trade groups with FDAAA.

With no regard to the thousands of pets that died and were sickened by a toxic imported ingredient, these pet food/animal feed industry trade groups have continued to go behind our backs trying to change the law…trying to remove the very word that can help prevent another disaster (ingredient ‘standard’).

Could it be that member companies of these pet food industry trade groups
don’t want to be held to ingredient quality standards?
Could it be these trade groups know they have significant influence over the AAFCO process
and losing AAFCO means they lose control of the pet food regulatory process?

 

We don’t know what their exact motives are – though we can safely assume they are not pet food consumer friendly.  We do know that without pet food ingredient quality standards – as required by FDAAA, all the pets that died in 2007 did so in vain.  With no pet food ingredient quality standard, no pet food processing standards, and no updated label nutritional information standards – we are doomed to repeat history.

As painful reminder, let me quote one pet food consumer that lost her beloved dog in 2007…

“In his final days, Merlin and I sat next to each other, he in a tank attached to oxygen and I on the bedroom floor next to him so that he wouldn’t feel alone.  I’m disabled and it was not easy, but I was determined that Merlin knew he hadn’t done anything to warrant his isolation.  In the end, I held him in my arms while the veterinarian administered a lethal dosage that would finally separate me from my dear friend.  It cost $6000 in vet bills, several friendships, and almost a marriage.  I cried for months.”

And there are thousands upon thousands more gut wrenching stories just like this.  We cannot allow the trade groups to stop the implementation of laws we all deserved 4 1/2 years ago. 

We cannot forget the pets that gave their lives for these changes.

With our loudest voice ever –
We must tell Washington to stop being influenced by these pet food industry trade groups! 

 

Your options to respond to this unscrupulous action of trade groups…

The #1 best thing you can do to help stop what the trade groups are doing is to scroll down to copy a more detailed letter to email your representatives in Washington directly.  Please add your own personal story too.  Our representatives in Congress need to hear directly from pet food consumers.  Don’t hesitate to call their offices too and share you opinion of what the pet food trade groups are doing.  Click Here to find your representatives.

Next – you can sign the petition below or go directly to the petition website here: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/their-deaths-mattered  I’m not a fan of petitions personally, but many like them and sometimes they are effective (if we get a massive amount of signatures).

 

 

Example letter/email to your representatives in Washington…

Dear _______,

Pet food/animal feed industry trade groups have been visiting members of Congress over the past seven years. They are trying to convince Congress that laws – established after the deadliest pet food recall in US history – aren’t necessary (FDAAA).  Specifically, these trade groups are trying to tell Congress pet food ingredient standards – required by FDAAA – are not necessary and are confusing to FDA; which is far from the truth.

Allow me to remind you why FDAAA was written. In 2007, thousands and thousands of pets died due to contaminated vegetable protein ingredients imported from China. At the time, Congress realized the seriousness of the recall – and realized the very same reckless contamination could happen to any food (human or animal) unless changes were made.  Pet food ingredients were defined – through the AAFCO process – however no ‘standard’ of ingredient quality had ever been legally defined through regulations.  Example:  the wheat gluten imported from China that resulted in the 2007 pet food recall met the legal definition of the ingredient.  But there was no legal/regulatory quality standard of wheat gluten to specifically state it can not contain melamine or other toxic ingredients.  In response – Congress developed the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act. Specific to pet food – these laws stated FDA (and associated parties) should establish “(1) ingredient standards and definitions with respect to pet food; (2) processing standards for pet food; and (3) updated standards for the labeling of pet food that include nutritional and ingredient information.” These pet food ingredient standards and definitions were required to be completed by September 2009.

This work has yet to be completed by FDA.  Pet food/animal feed trade groups continue to delay and stop FDA’s progress by encouraging members of Congress to tell FDA to keep things exactly as they are – and exactly as they were before the 2007 recall.

Quoting Section 401 of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act titled “Definitions and standards for food”…

“Whenever in the judgment of the Secretary such action will promote honesty and fair dealing in the interest of consumers, he shall promulgate regulations fixing and establishing for any food, under its common or usual name so far as practicable, a reasonable definition and standard of identity, a reasonable standard of quality, or reasonable standards of fill of container.”

Just as FDAAA required, pet food consumers deserve a reasonable definition of pet food ingredients and a reasonable standard of quality of those same ingredients.  We – pet food consumers – were promised by Congress this would be completed 4 1/2 years ago.  We are still waiting.

The pet food trade groups have told Congress that the current AAFCO ingredient approval process is in danger of not being renewed with FDA and manufacturers and ingredient suppliers businesses are at risk.  This is nonsense.  AAFCO and FDA have had almost seven years to develop improved pet food ingredient definitions and define ingredient standards.  It should not be the pet food consumer who pays the price for their delay.  Haven’t we already paid enough of a price already?  The lives of our pets.

I beg you to remember the devastation caused in 2007.  Please ignore the actions of pet food industry trade groups and their hired Washington guns.  Defend the rights of the pet food consumer – we deserve FDAAA.  Many of our pets paid the ultimate price for these regulations.

(Please add your own personal story of the 2007 recall too!)

 

I cannot emphasize enough how important this is.  If these trade groups successfully convince Congress to change the laws of FDAAA, we are certain to repeat history.  Please take the few moments to remember the pets of the 2007 recall and tell Washington pet food consumers deserve FDAAA – we deserve pet food ingredient definitions and ingredient standards.  We’ve waited long enough.

Please share – ask every pet food consumer you know to write their representatives in Washington.

 

 

Huge thanks to fellow pet food safety advocate Mollie Morrissette for all of her help and devotion to the cause!

 
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
TruthaboutPetFood.com
Association for Truth in Pet Food

What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
Is your dog or cat eating risk ingredients?  Chinese imports?  Petsumer Report tells the ‘rest of the story’ on over 2500 cat foods, dog foods,  and pet treats.  30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee. www.PetsumerReport.com

 

Listimagesmall

 

2014 List
Susan’s List of trusted pet foods.  Click Here

 

 

Have you read Buyer Beware?  Click Here

Cooking for pets made easy, Dinner PAWsible

Find Healthy Pet Foods in Your Area Click Here

20 comments

  1. The death of my Magic might be forgotten by them but I will never forget or buy their crap again. I signed the petition and Thank you, Susan, for staying on top of this and in their faces. Bless you!

  2. Courtney Barton

    Please don’t cave on this issue…

    • I’ll never cave. I’ve been on the phone (so has Mollie Morrissette) for most of the past week talking to members of Congress about this. But Congress needs to hear from pet food consumers or I’m afraid they might change the law. FDA has held firm on this (thank you FDA) – but the lobby groups are putting a great deal of pressure on Congress. We must do the same. Match their efforts.

      • Cave? This site is so successful, that PFI co-opted the name for a propaganda site. A bolder statement on the concern of the industry about TAPF cannot be had. It’s very flattering, really…

        I might suggest, “NeverCaveIn” as a URL that would re-direct to TAPF…

  3. I wish the petition was anywhere BUT move on.org.

    I’ll write my representatives, but I can not sign a petition on a radical left wing George Soros owned site.

    Thank you.

    • We used MoveOn because it made it easy for people to sign – right here on the webpage. I don’t like petitions at all – but we need to be heard in Washington or all those pets in 2007 died in vain.

    • Madeleine Fisher Kern

      If you care enough about the health of your pet, politics should be the last thing to prohibit you from signing this.

    • Seems you care more about your politics than your pet(s). BTW (and not that it matters to me), George Soros does not “own” moveon.org.

    • I agree this should not be about politics. What folks need to remember is that move on.org was created as a petition urging everyone to *forget* and “move on” from talking about a politician’s factual behaviors that many considered morally reprehensible. This is the exact OPPOSITE of our goal to remember lost pets and hold our politicians accountable to us. I’m sure this was a matter of convenience as Susan said, but it is sadly ironic and will keep many from signing.

    • I too will not use moveon.org. But I did email the letter to my reps in congress.

    • I understand the concerns about where this petition is located. I wonder at some of the replies. Would some be so tolerant and quick to condemn those who object if the petition were placed on a strongly conservative site? I wonder…. Note that those who objected to signing the petition because of where it’s located did not say they did not care about their pets or the issues involved. In fact they said they would be contacting their reps. outside of the petition (which admittedly takes a lot more time to do than signing a pre-made petition!) I signed the petition although I loath the site, and promptly got email from them on unrelated topics. I unsubscribed as quickly as I could and got ANOTHER email asking me “not to go”. AARGHHH!! This is indeed offensive and I would strongly suggest that in future petitions go to sites known for petitions regarding animals — like change.org. While I don’t agree with every petition they have on that site either, we are all united here by our love for animals and that should be the focus.

      • I’ve gotten the same emails from all the other petition sites. Even ones asking me why I’m leaving after I unsubscribe. Thank you for signing. I’ve tried the other petition sites in the past and this is the first time I’ve not had problems with people being unable to sign (sending me emails they can’t sign). So for me – who doesn’t like petitions in the first place – this site has worked very well.

  4. Until he extends the circle of compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace. ..Albert Schweitzer

    Big Pharma, pretend it is your pets or your children getting poisoned and suffering and dying. Perhaps that thought would make you realize that all sentient beings feel the same, are fully capable of experiencing pain and fear as we are. It is their world too! They deserve to be treated wtih the same consideration we accord to ourselves. Stop the politics and the money making schemes!!! Shame on you..

  5. Susan-
    I know how hard it is to fight the good fight without it taking a toll on you…. Please take good care of yourself because we all need you!

    I have suggestion for getting the word out to a bigger audience. Write an article as a guest contributor at Food Safety News. http://www.foodsafetynews.com/contact-us/#.UxNIt_bohFQ. This site has a huge following and reports on pet food recalls. This article is ready to run “as is” in my opinion.
    God Bless you for all you do!

  6. Peter&Patti Nieffer

    May the lives of these compassionate loyal friends never be forgotten. Let’s work to be assured they were not lost in vain.

  7. Thank you Susan for all your hard work! I too signed the petition.

  8. Thank you for your defense of our pets, such a inspiring work. I agree the law is fundamental to keep the pets safe.
    The next steep: CORPORATIVE-FREE FOOD to cut the supply (of money) to Purina et al. It is hard work but victories are never easy. For instance, California Naturals and Innova were trusted “indi” brands until Proctor and Gamble bought them and of course THE PROBLEMS AND RECALLS FOLLOWED SOON AFTER. As soon as an organic or independent brand is acquired by a Corporation we have to drop it.

  9. Thank you for your work.

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