I am working on my notes from each meeting to share – will post them soon. In the meantime I wanted to publicly thank the many folks that came on behalf of pet food consumers to this AAFCO meeting and share a startling truth of how the industry really feels.
This was our team! From left to right: Nina Wolf, Dr. Cathy Alinovi, Mollie Morrissette, Roxanne Stone, Susan Thixton, Dr. Karen Becker, Dr. Judy Morgan, Dr. Jean Hofve, and Rodney Habib. Not in the photo is our photographer – B.C. Henschen of Platinum Paws.
While you might not see it in my writing, in person I like to laugh – and consider myself somewhat funny. Well, I can tell you my potential career as a stand up comedian is down the tubes now after meeting Karen Becker. She was spot on with her questions to AAFCO and FDA – holding them to the fire. She was beyond professional, she was poised and on top of everything they said. And after the meetings she was a real person…and a real funny person at that! Dr. Karen Becker has a new profession waiting if she wants it – as a stand up comedian. I’ll be in the front row if she does! It was a thrill to hang out with her and I cannot say enough thank you’s to her for being there! Thank you Karen! (but I am sort of down over my comedic future ending.)
Rodney Habib I’ve had the pleasure of meeting last year. Rodney oozes integrity. He is kind, determined, and extremely educated. He’s all heart. It is wonderful to just be in his presence. And he’s got the best smile on the planet! Rodney called FDA and AAFCO out on the carpet without fear. Rodney – thank you so much!
Dr. Judy Morgan I met for the first time this meeting. She was so real and compassion filled when speaking to AAFCO and FDA. Her voice cracked – almost in tears – when she told the Enforcement Committee she can’t trust any commercial pet food to be made with what the label states. She addressed that so many pets are being surrendered to shelters because of allergies an owner can’t afford to treat – and it’s all linked to the food. She was awesome. Thank you Judy!
Nina Wolf I’ve known for a long time, but we had never met face to face. It was immediate kindred spirits. Nina was as well fearless during the meeting. She addressed the concerns of consumers and independent pet food stores to AAFCO and FDA without hesitation. Thank you Nina!
B.C Henschen was a AAFCO first timer as well. He’s a big teddy bear that really cares about the food he’s selling in his store. And he too was fearless in discussions with officials – sharing the challenges consumers face. Thank you B.C. – and thank you for being the unofficial photographer of the pet food safety army!
To Dr. Cathy Alinovi, Dr. Jean Hofve and Mollie Morrissette – thanks to each one of you for fighting the fight too. All of you are fearless and I’m proud to call you friend. I’m proud to call all of the above friends now – we have connected passions. We want animals – all animals – to have the opportunity for safe, quality food.
Some of the pet foods in attendance of this meeting were Honest Kitchen, Bravo, Answers, Primal, and Darwins. It was wonderful to see many small manufacturers attend. Time did not allow for me to spend much time with the pet food companies – but again, I thank them for being there.
Going in reverse order of how the meetings went in Denver, I want to start with sharing information about the Ingredient Definitions Committee (the last meeting on our schedule). As I go through more of my notes, more meeting details will be posted.
In this meeting, something happened that epitomizes how industry really feels about the health of animals and humans in relation to food. The discussion was on a new proposed ingredient titled “Human Food Processing By-Products” (this ingredient is specific to livestock feed, not pet food however it could legally be used in a pet food). On a pre-meeting conference call we learned that this ingredient is grocery store waste – examples given were expired yogurt and rotting lettuce. These expired, rotting foods are collected behind every grocery in a large dumpster. Yes, a dumpster – as in where garbage goes. Sitting there – in the weather – waiting for the rendering company truck to pick this waste up and cook it…including cooking the plastic packaging these rotting foods are contained in (such as all of those yogurt cups).
An industry representative told the crowd it would be “unconscionable to landfill these nutrients” – insisting that expired rotting foods (including their plastic packing) is nutrition. Numerous others also insisted this garbage was nutrition.
And then Dr. Cathy bravely addressed the elephant in the room. She asked the committee…”3 week old nasty moldy bread – is that edible? I don’t think plasticized yogurt is nutrition and I don’t think cows do either.” She told them children are drinking the milk from cows eating plastic and she brought forward to their attention the true cost of feeding animals waste (which is the cost of human and animal health). And guess how they responded? They laughed and booed her.
It was loud and offensive (abusive), but Dr. Cathy did not back down. Dr. Cathy told the room there is a true risk to children’s health from drinking the milk of a cow who consumes plastic – phthalates (click here to read about phthalates) – and they laughed at her and booed her continually.
Significant: They laughed and booed at the risk to children drinking milk from plastic eating cows. If they laughed at booed at the risk to children – we all know how they feel about pets.
Their laughs and boos epitomize how they really feel about food. Their behavior (abusive behavior) was the true feelings of industry. Laughing at quality nutrition. It was shocking. In an effort to deflect attention away from Dr. Cathy’s very valid point – a representative of the animal feed industry trade association told the audience ‘they’ – meaning consumer advocates – “don’t care” that the industry is trying to “feed a hungry world”. He was trying to flip the focus of the consequences of recycling garbage into animal food to an image of starving children. Trying to make us look like the bad guys for not caring about starving children.
It didn’t work. At least not as far as we are concerned. The ingredient was tabled (meaning it will be discussed at the next meeting) – not because of the risk, but because the definition was not clear or concise enough for authorities. So we’ll be at bat again for this ingredient in January.
What happened at this meeting – what they did to Dr. Cathy – proves that industry and regulatory folks don’t understand, don’t care to understand – the consequences of the ingredients they approve. They work and argue and fester with specific wording of a definition – and think nothing of the consequences of approving a lead filled zinc ingredient (from last year) or think nothing of the consequences of pets eating rotting meat. Industry doesn’t see beyond their wallets. Regulatory officials are overworked and underfunded and don’t see beyond the basic legalities they are required to fulfill.
This is the mindset we are fighting. People that refuse to understand the consequences. But this time and from now on – we have grown our army. We were strong and uniform in our message to authorities, and we’re gonna get stronger.
I am working on my notes from each meeting to share – will post them soon.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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The 2015 List
Susan’s List of trusted pet foods. Click Here
Have you read Buyer Beware? Click Here
Cooking for pets made easy, Dinner PAWsible
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