The latest Pet Food privilege announced by the FDA is regarding prescription cat and dog food. All pet food consumers and veterinarians should take note of this recent FDA Compliance Policy.
For decades the FDA has strictly enforced their idea that drugs are the only cure or treatment for illness – refusing to allow any food to make health or wellness claims. A claim such as ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ is forbidden.
But in the FDA’s infinite collusion with Big Industry, the agency allows pet food the same privilege of a drug (to claim it can cure or treat disease) without any of the requirements of a drug. Pet food is allowed to claim it can cure or treat disease without having to prove the effectiveness or even the safety of the pet food.
Below are the ingredients of a prescription dog food – Purina Veterinary Diets NF Kidney Function Canine Formula Dry/Kibble. This dog food, sold through a veterinarian, is allowed to make the claim of treating kidney disease in dogs.
Ingredients (bold added for emphasis): “Whole grain corn, brewers rice, dried egg product, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), sugar, dried whey, sodium caseinate, animal digest, calcium carbonate, vegetable oil, potassium chloride, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, fish oil, salt, potassium citrate, choline chloride, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, Vitamin E supplement, niacin, manganese sulfate, Vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, copper sulfate, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin B-12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, garlic oil, folic acid, Vitamin D-3 supplement, calcium iodate, biotin, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), sodium selenite.”
The FDA believes that “Whole grain corn“ – certain to be GMO corn, certain to contain glyphosate (recently classified as a “possible carcinogen” by the World Health Organization) – can cure or treat kidney disease.
The FDA believes that “Animal Fat & Animal Digest” – products of the rendering industry, allowed through their legal definition to be sourced from diseased or non-slaughtered/dead animals – which is a violation of federal law (the same laws FDA is supposed to enforce), these same ingredients FDA testing determined are “from animal sources that could include euthanized animals” (and include the lethal drug used to euthanize the animal) – can cure or treat kidney disease.
Never to be held accountable, the FDA admits in their Compliance Policy Guidance document that “Animal health may suffer when dog and cat food diets intended to treat or prevent disease, but which are not approved as new animal drugs, are fed to pets. These products have not been evaluated by FDA for safety, efficacy, or nutritional adequacy.” In other words, FDA states pet foods that are allowed to claim they treat or cure disease have not been tested to assure consumers the product can actually treat or cure any disease and – the worst – the agency states they might not be safe.
In an interesting (and serious) twist, the FDA places the responsibility of safety of these prescription pet foods on veterinarians. The new Compliance Policy Guidance states (bold added):
“Because these products have not been evaluated for safety and efficacy, veterinary oversight is especially important to provide periodic assessment of how the animal is reacting to the diet and to discontinue the product’s use when warranted.”
The FDA is telling veterinarians THEY are responsible for this ‘food drug’ because it has not been tested for safety and effectiveness.
Below are the ingredients of another prescription pet food – Purina ProPlan Veterinary Diets UR Urinary ST/OX Feline Formula Can. This cat food, sold through a veterinarian, is allowed to make claims of treating kidney disease in cats.
Ingredients (bold added for emphasis): Meat by-products, water sufficient for processing, liver, chicken, poultry by-products, rice, calcium gluconate, oat fiber, guar gum, sodium bisulfate, potassium chloride, caramel color, carrageenan, salt, taurine, Vitamin E supplement, calcium phosphate, zinc sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, Vitamin A supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, copper sulfate, niacin, Vitamin B-12 supplement, riboflavin supplement, calcium pantothenate, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), Vitamin D-3 supplement, folic acid, potassium iodide, biotin.
The FDA puts veterinarians in a position to learn the legal definition of “Meat by-products” allows it to be sourced from animal intestines or diseased animal parts rejected for use in human food.
The FDA puts veterinarians in a position to learn the legal definition of “Poultry by-products” allows it to be sourced from ground whole poultry – including feathers, feet and intestines – and including ground alive spent laying hens (hens no longer producing eggs).
The FDA puts veterinarians in a position to learn the research on “Caramel Color” which is linked to cancer.
And the FDA puts veterinarians in a position to learn that “Animal studies have repeatedly shown that food-grade ‘Carrageenan‘ causes gastrointestinal inflammation and higher rates of intestinal lesions, ulcerations, and even malignant tumors.”
And should a veterinarian not invest the time to learn the risks of many ingredients used in prescription pet foods – because the FDA dumped responsibility of the safety and efficacy of these pet foods into the lap of veterinarians, it appears the the FDA just set them up for consumer lawsuits (should the prescription pet food cause additional illness to the pet).
Every practicing veterinarian should carefully read the FDA Compliance Policy regarding prescription pet foods.
One more thing…
Are prescription pet foods really different than other pet foods? Below is a comparison of the first 13 ingredients of Purina ProPlan Veterinary Diets UR Urinary ST/OX Feline Formula Can and the first 12 ingredients of Purina Friskies Classic Page Country Style Dinner Can…
Nicely done FDA. The new Compliance Policy provides your friends in Big Pet Food another easy way to profit; selling Rx pet foods that include illegal/waste ingredients while putting the sole responsibility of the safety and effectiveness of the Rx food on the shoulders of practicing veterinarians.
And because…if FDA can be so ridiculous, I can call them out on their insanity…
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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