Twelve years ago today, the deadliest pet food recall in history began.
It officially began on March 16, 2007 – the first recalls. But the pet deaths began months earlier. Per a personal account shared with us, pets began to die in December 2006. Before it was over, more than 150 different pet foods were recalled – thousands of pets died, thousands more suffered permanent kidney damage.
On March 16, 2007 it began with these recalls:
3/16/07 – Hill’s Pet Nutrition – can – melamine.
3/16/07 – P&G Pet Care – can/pouch – melamine.
3/16/07 – Purina Petcare – pouch – melamine.
3/16/07 – Menu Foods – can – melamine.
3/17/07 – Hill’s Pet Nutrition – can – melamine.
With each recall, hundreds to thousands of cats and dogs were suffering permanent kidney damage and dying from consuming the contaminated pet foods.
And then more recalls, one after another after another…
3/24/07 – Menu Foods – can – melamine.
3/30/07 – Hill’s Pet Nutrition – dry – melamine.
3/30/07 – Purina Petcare – can – melamine.
3/31/07 – DelMonte Pet Products – treats – melamine.
4/03/07 – ChemNutra (ingredient supplier) – ingredient – melamine.
4/05/07 – Menu Foods – can – melamine.
4/05/07 – Sunshine Mills – treats – melamine.
4/06/07 – DelMonte Pet Products – treats – melamine.
4/10/07 – Menu Foods – can/pouch – melamine.
4/17/07 – Natural Balance – dry/treats – melamine.
4/17/07 – Menu Foods – can – melamine.
4/18/07 – Wilbur Ellis (ingredient supplier – ingredient – melamine.
4/19/07 – Blue Buffalo – dry – melamine.
4/19/07 – Royal Canin – dry – melamine.
4/20/07 – SmartPak – dry – melamine.
4/25/07 – Wilbur Ellis (ingredient supplier) – ingredient – melamine.
4/26/07 – Diamond Pet Food – can – melamine.
4/26/07 – American Nutrition – can/treats – melamine.
4/26/07 – Chenango Valley Pet Foods – dry – melamine.
4/26/07 – Blue Buffalo – can/treats – melamine.
4/27/07 – Blue Buffalo – can – melamine.
4/27/07 – Sierra Pet Products – can – melamine.
4/27/07 – Natural Balance – can – melamine.
5/02/07 – Menu Foods (added products) – can – melamine.
5/03/07 – SmartPak Canine – dry – melamine.
5/04/07 – Cereal ByProducts Company (supplier to pet food industry) – ingredient – melamine.
5/11/07 – Royal Canin – dry – melamine.
5/23/07 – Diamond Pet Foods – dry – melamine.
Canned, dry, treats and even a ferret food were recalled; all were toxic to the hundreds of thousands of pets consuming them. The FDA received more than 300,000 phone calls from pet owners.
Notice in the above recalls, pet food ingredients were recalled too. ChemNutra – the largest supplier involved – “recalled all wheat gluten it had imported from one of its three Chinese wheat gluten suppliers.” The owners of ChemNutra were fined only $35,000.00 for their actions of selling adulterated pet food ingredients.
The FDA was scolded by the Office of Inspector General for the agency’s failure to properly notify pet owners, promptly trace the melamine contaminated ingredients, and promptly assure that contaminated products were off store shelves. The Inspector General report stated FDA “did not always adhere to its procedures” in their investigation of this pet food disaster.
Congress took swift action in 2007 to implement laws that were to prevent another deadly pet food disaster. Added to the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act was Section 1002 (a) Ensuring the Safety of Pet Food. These new laws required the FDA to establish:
ingredient standards and definitions with respect to pet food;
The above was significantly important for the future safety of pet food. With the 2007 recall, melamine was added to various pet food vegetable protein ingredients (example wheat gluten). The melamine dramatically increased the protein content (per analysis) of the ingredient. It was still wheat gluten, but wheat gluten with a toxic additive. Congress of 2007 realized pet food ingredients needed “standards” of quality – such as wheat gluten must be 99% wheat gluten with less than 1% impurities. Standards of quality would save lives.
Another section of the Ensuring the Safety of Pet Food laws were
processing standards for pet food;
Congress in 2007 recognized that none of the hundreds of pet foods recalled bothered to test ingredients prior to manufacturing. To prevent another deadly disaster, this law was written for FDA to establish safety standards of manufacturing.
And lastly, Congress recognized in 2007 that pet food labels did not provide pet owners with adequate information including this requirement in law:
updated standards for the labeling of pet food that include nutritional and ingredient information.
The Ensuring the Safety of Pet Food laws gave millions of pet owners hope. But…
Congress required FDA to implement the above significant pet food safety laws by September 2009. Year after year, FDA ignored the deadline. 2010, no Ensuring the Safety of Pet Food. 2011, 2012, 2013 – implementation of vital laws ignored. 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 passed with no FDA action.
And then in 2018, Senator Rand Paul submitted an addendum to an unrelated bill (Animal Drug User Fees) that completely wiped off the legal records Ensuring the Safety of Pet Food.
While the FDA and Congress has shown they have forgotten about all the pets that died in 2007, we must not. Thousands of pets died in 2007, thousands more survived but with permanent kidney damage.
Is pet food safer today than it was in 2007? No – it is not. The excess Vitamin D recalls that began in November 2018 and continued into 2019 are evidence that ingredient standards are needed, along with proper manufacturing standards of ingredient testing.
Remember the pets that died in 2007, and all the pets that have died since due to a lax regulatory system – by sending an email or letter to your Representatives in Congress.
Today is the 12th anniversary of the beginning of the deadliest pet food recall in history – March 16, 2007. In 2007 Congress promised pet owners the future of pet food would be safer writing Section 1002 (a) of the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act – Ensuring the Safety of Pet Food. FDA ignored the deadline of September 2009 year after year. Then in 2018 the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions voted to completely delete these significant pet food safety laws in an addendum submitted by Senator Rand Paul to S. 2434 Animal Drug and Animal Generic Drug User Fee Amendments of 2018.
In just the time frame since Congress deleted Ensuring the Safety of Pet Food Section 1002 (a) countless pets have been poisoned and died by excess Vitamin D in multiple pet food brands – not one manufacturer bothered to test their products for safety in advance of distribution to pet owners. In recent years we’ve seen numerous recalls for a euthanasia drug found in pet foods, FDA admitting to industry “pentobarbital in pet food is more of a problem than we thought.” And sadly pet food is currently linked to thousands of dogs suffering and dying from diet-related heart disease.
This must stop. Please take immediate action to reintroduce into law Ensuring the Safety of Pet Food giving pet owners pet food ingredient standards and improved definitions, improved pet food manufacturing standards, and updated labels – just as we were promised in 2007. Require FDA to complete the task within 6 months. We have waited long enough for safe pet food.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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