Three Year Anniversary
We have just passed our three year anniversary of sending the FDA a Citizen Petition. We asked – simply put – for FDA to enforce the law. Three years later, we have received no response. Here’s a reminder of what we asked FDA.
It is the worst horror of pet food, the deepest darkest secret of the pet food industry…diseased animals, drugged animals, euthanized animals including the possibility of euthanized dogs and cats…becoming pet food ingredients. And the use of these ingredients are a violation of federal food safety law.
But, the FDA openly tells pet food manufacturers – through Compliance Policies – they will not enforce federal law. The FDA publically informs pet food manufacturers the agency will take no action if illegal ingredients are used in pet foods.
So, appalled at the absurdity of this, three years ago pet food consumers walked the official line and filed a Citizen Petition with the FDA. That petition is copied below…
July 28, 2010
Division of Dockets Management
Food and Drug Administration
Department of Health and Human Services
5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061
Rockville, MD 20852
The undersigned submits this petition under Section 402 (a)(5) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to request the Commissioner of Food and Drugs to enforce existing law with pet foods and treats.
A. Action requested
Per Section 201 (f) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, “The term ‘food’ means (1) articles used for food or drink for man or other animals, (2) chewing gum, and (3) articles used for components of any such article.” Thus, pet food and treats are included in the definition of food within the Act.
Section 402, Adulterated food, states “A food shall be deemed to be adulterated – (a) Poisonous, insanitary, or deleterious ingredients.” “(a)(5) if it is, in whole or in part, the product of a diseased animal or of an animal which has died otherwise than by slaughter;”
Section 301 of the Act, states Prohibited Acts and Penalties: (a) “The introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce of any food, drug, device, or cosmetic that is adulterated or misbranded.” (c) “The receipt in interstate commerce of any food, drug, device, or cosmetic that is adulterated or misbranded, and the delivery or proffered delivery thereof for pay or otherwise.”
Presently, FDA compliance policy states “POLICY:
Pet food consisting of material from diseased animals or animals which have died otherwise than by slaughter, which is in violation of 402(a)(5) will not ordinarily be actionable, if it is not otherwise in violation of the law. It will be considered fit for animal consumption.”
FDA compliance policy acknowledges violations of the Act in pet food. This Citizen Petition requests the Commissioner to enforce the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act as it is written with respect to pet foods and treats.
Further, FDA allows pet foods that contain illegal ingredients sourced from diseased animals or animals that have died otherwise than by slaughter (labeled by FDA as “suitable for use in animal feed”) to be marketed/sold to unknowing pet owning consumers as ‘premium’, ‘choice’, and a long list of pleasing terms. Section 403 of the Act states “A food shall be deemed to be misbranded- (a) False or misleading label. If (1) its labeling is false or misleading in any particular, or (2) in the case of a food to which section 411 applies, its advertising is false or misleading in a material respect or its labeling is in violation of section 411(b)(2).” Pet foods and treats that include ingredients sourced from diseased animals or animals that have died other than by slaughter, unless labeled as such (which of course there is none) would be a violation of labeling laws.
Petitioner(s) as well requests Commissioner to enforce all Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act labeling laws for the safety and health of all pets.
B. Statement of grounds
The grounds of this request are Federal law; the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The Act clearly includes pet food/treats within the definition of food. The Act clearly deems a food to be adulterated and thus prohibited if it contains in whole or in part a diseased animal or an animal which has died other than by slaughter. FDA Compliance Policy states pet foods consisting of diseased animals or animals which have died other than by slaughter will not be actionable. This in itself is sufficient grounds to prove Federal laws are violated with some pet foods and treats.
Further, FDA report ‘Risk of Pentobarbital in Dog Food’ confirms some pet foods violate Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. FDA testing found pentobarbital in dog food purchased off store shelves. Pentobarbital is used to euthanize dogs, cats, horses, and rarely cows. FDA testing confirming a euthanizing drug in dog food would/should deem those products adulterated; a violation of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
Further, follow up FDA investigation determined that the common pet food ingredients “Meat and Bone Meal (MBM), Beef and Bone Meal (BBM), Animal Fat (AF), and Animal Digest (AD) are rendered or hydrolyzed from animal sources that could include euthanized animals.” Based on this FDA research, any pet food or treat that contains meat and bone meal, beef and bone meal, animal fat, and/or animal digest could be adulterated according to the Act.
FDA commonly uses the term “suitable for use in Animal Feed”. Until the recent ban on BSE Specified Risk Material (SRM) in animal feed, even these risk and illegal materials were deemed ‘suitable for use in animal feed’ by FDA. Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act does not separate definition and regulation of suitable for use of human food and suitable for use in animal food. Definitions of food, adulterated food, and prohibited food within the Act covers all food, human and animal.
Petitioner(s) believes FDA does not have authority to override Federal law. Various FDA/CVM documents make statement to CVM being unaware of any adverse health effects due to animals consuming pet foods/treats containing disease animals or animals that have died other than by slaughter. Regardless of such statements by CVM, Federal law states these type of pet food ingredients are illegal. Petitioner(s) requests FDA to enforce all Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act laws with respect to pet foods and treats. Petitioner requests that all pet foods and treats containing FDA’s determined pentobarbital risk ingredients (meat and bone meal, beef and bone meal, animal fat, and animal digest) to be removed from store shelves until manufacturer can provide complete and concise evidence ingredients are within the guidelines of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Petitioner requests that any pet food/treat manufacturer sourcing ingredients from ‘dead stock’ renderers and/or USDA rejected meat or meat products or 4D animals (rendered or otherwise) be considered adulteration high risk; requiring frequent FDA inspection and burden of evidence of compliance from the manufacturer.
C. Environmental impact
Petitioner(s) has no knowledge of environmental impact by FDA enforcing Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. It is assumed however, that detailed environmental impact studies have previously shown no dramatic environmental impact when FDA enforces the Act. It is assumed that Congress would not have written and passed the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act – including the protection of pet food and treats – should a dangerous environmental impact be the outcome.
D. Economic impact
Petitioner(s) acknowledges the possibility of economic impact of industry. Petitioner(s) acknowledges the possibility of economic impact of pet owners.
The pet food ingredients meat and bone meal, beef and bone meal, animal fat, and/or animal digest (deemed by FDA testing to be most likely pet food ingredients to contain a euthanized animal) are used in many pet foods and treats in a variety of price categories. Various documents from related pet food industry businesses found on the FDA website discuss the economic impact to their industry when BSE Specified Risk Materials were banned from animal feed. Petitioner(s) would suspect that Rendering Industry, without the pet food/treat market as a sales outlet for ingredients sourced from diseased animals and animals that have died other than by slaughter, would suffer the greatest economic impact.
However, the economic impact to pet owners that unknowingly feed their dog or cat a food with ingredients sourced from diseased animals or animals that have died other than by slaughter must be considered as well. If meat or meat ingredients sourced from diseased animals or animals that have died other than by slaughter were considered nutritious and/or beneficial to the health of those that consume them, they would not be considered an adulterant by Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. While there is no scientific evidence to prove pet foods/treats that contain an ingredient sourced from diseased animals or animals that have died other than by slaughter would have an adverse effect on the health of the pets that consume them, the Petitioner(s) takes a common sense approach. Common sense tells us because this type of meat ingredient is illegal according to Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, Petitioner(s) believes these ingredients to be a risk to the health and longevity of pets. The long term health effects of a pet consuming such inferior and illegal ingredients could be quite costly in veterinarian care.
The undersigned list of concerned pet owners certifies, that, to the best knowledge and belief of the undersigned, this petition includes all information and views on which the petition relies, and that it includes representative data and information known to the petitioner which are unfavorable to the petition.
So, happy anniversary to all of us – a very sad anniversary it is. For three years we’ve been waiting for the FDA to enforce existing laws – laws developed to protect consumers and animals. Instead of protecting our pets, the agency has continued to provide industry with a way to make a profit from waste.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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