Very discouraging news from Blue Buffalo Pet Food; they say No to joining our Pet Food safety program. Instead, Blue Buffalo is choosing to side with the FDA.
The following letter was forwarded to me from a pet owner that asked Blue Buffalo to participate in our Pet Food Recall First Alert program…
“Dear Devoted Pet Parent,
Bill Bishop has asked me to respond to your recent e-mail inquiry regarding the Truth About Pet Foods recall alert program.
After the experience with the melamine recall 2 ½ years ago, BLUE has invested substantial resources and thousands of hours with industry professionals devising and implementing improvements to our system of quality controls and protocols to, first, see that nothing like that happens again with BLUE pet foods, and, second, make sure that we are prepared to act immediately and effectively to protect our consumers and their family members if we should need to withdraw some of our products for any reason.
We have set up a Product Action and Recall crisis team that includes representatives of all departments of our Company and our manufacturers. The protocols are designed for this team to respond immediately and effectively to any quality issue involving our products. The team is guided by detailed protocols to identify the problem and respond appropriately. As you can imagine, an appropriate response in one situation may be wholly inadequate in another. It is therefore critical to this process that the action plan reflect the severity of the risk.
In addressing the need for any product withdrawal, our protocols require immediate notification to, and close cooperation with the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”). It then becomes public information. I cannot speak to the conduct of other manufacturers that you refer to, but our protocols do not permit a recall without involving the FDA. It is then for our team and the FDA to come up with an effective recall and notice plan.
We have heard from several other consumers concerning the Truth About Pet Foods recall alert program. While we recognize that the program is well intended, we think that there are several shortcomings to it. First, it will certainly address the needs of those who choose to register with us, but we believe that these will represent a very small segment of BLUE consumers. And those who do register are likely to be among the most informed, web savvy consumers, ones who are very likely not to miss more broad scale notice methods on the web, such as web press releases and the FDA pet recall site. I think it is fair to say that the vast majority of consumers would not be helped by this program. In fact, in a given circumstance, it might be an inappropriate use of limited resources under emergency conditions to attempt personal notice to a select few, when broader measures would certainly reach those few and reach many, many more. Second, there is good reason to expect that other, equally well meaning private web sites or groups will come up with their own ideas about how notice to consumers should be handled. This has the potential of leaving manufacturers and consumers to choose among conflicting private programs. Which program does the consumer rely on? Which program does the manufacturer commit to? As you can see, this could well have unintended, and undesired results of less effective notice to some consumers.
In the end, BLUE has decided that its current program of protocols for immediate response, fashioning both the withdrawal and the notice to consumers under FDA’s guidance, is the most suitable approach to getting timely information to all BLUE consumers in any situation we may face. We therefore will not be participating in the Truth About Pet Foods program. We share you concerns, and those of Truth About Pet Food, that all BLUE consumers have the best information as quickly as possible. We believe we have the system in place to address those concerns.
We have built BLUE on our consumers’ faith in the quality of our products and the integrity of our Company. We are committed every day to earning that faith. This means a promise to give our consumers products that they can rely on as the safest, most wholesome pet foods available. We believe our actions show that we have stood by that promise in the past, and we will continue to do so.
Please feel free to call me at the number below and I will gladly answer any further questions you have.”
Very truly yours,
Richard E. MacLean
VP of Business Affairs
Blue Buffalo Company, Ltd.
While it is my opinion, I believe that Blue Buffalo’s decision to side with the FDA instead of pet owners is a huge mistake on their part. The recent silent recalls, encouraged by the FDA, is proof enough things as they are – are not working. The list of evidence that the FDA does not have the best interest of our pets in mind is staggering. The Office of Inspector General even determined the FDA mishandled the 2007 pet food recall by not following procedure.
To Blue Buffalo and to all other Pet Food Companies that hesitate on joining us…Pet Owners are by no means asking any company to ignore FDA regulations. Quite the opposite is true. Pet Owners would cheer the day the FDA ever decided to actually enforce regulations governing pet food (the leading issue is the FDA policy that allows diseased, euthanized animals to be processed into pet food despite Federal Law that prohibits such behavior).
I readily admit that the Pet Food Recall First Alert program is a beginning that will more than likely be a work in progress for years to come. However, I believe your dismissal of our attempt to improve conditions of pet food is clearly a political move to favor yourself with the FDA. I find that very unfortunate. With no doubt I knew many Pet Food Companies would be slow or hesitant to join, however I never expected a reason like this.