The FDA is typically guarded, but of late it seems the agency is letting their guard down and allowing pet food consumers to see what actually is allowed into pet food. FDA used to hide their secrets, but not now. Within the past month, FDA has openly admitted the agency does not enforce law with pet food – not once, but twice.
In a March 2016 meeting with FDA, the agency openly stated they will continue to allow pet food to violate federal law. “We’re going to allow animals that have died other than by slaughter that are further processed; we will allow those ingredients in pet food.”
In early March, I sent FDA questions asking the agency to define what ‘animals that have died other than by slaughter’ means. In several back and forth conversations, finally the FDA responded with this (received today 4/11/16 – bold added for emphasis)…
The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) requires that all animal foods, like human foods, be safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled. Processed pet food, including pet food consisting of material from diseased animals or animals which have died otherwise than by slaughter, goes through a kill step, such as heat processing, which is designed to kill harmful bacteria.
In addition, canned pet foods must be processed in conformance with the low acid canned food (LACF) regulations to ensure the pet food is free of viable microorganisms. Before processing, these commodities may be considered in violation of 402(a)(5), however, when properly processed in accordance with these regulations, CVM considers canned pet foods, otherwise not in violation of the statute or regulations, to be safe and suitable for consumption by pets regardless of the origin of animal tissues used. CVM considers the retorting temperatures involved in the canning process adequate to destroy pathogenic organisms. LACF regulations define the process as adequate under the conditions of manufacture for a given product to achieve commercial sterility, either by 1) the application of heat which renders the food free of microorganisms capable of reproducing in the food under normal nonrefrigerated conditions of storage and distribution and free of viable microorganisms (including spores) of public health significance, or by 2) the control of water activity and the application of heat which renders the food free of microorganisms capable of reproducing in the food under normal nonrefrigerated conditions of storage and distribution.
The Center will consider regulatory action based on low acid canned food violations alone where the report indicates a probable hazard to pets. CVM will also consider regulatory action against canned pet food on the basis of use of decomposed animal tissues or use of tissues containing violative drug residues.
FDA did not answer my question, it was the typical blah, blah, blah regulatory jargon – EXCEPT for this statement:
“Processed pet food, including pet food consisting of material from diseased animals or animals which have died otherwise than by slaughter, goes through a kill step, such as heat processing, which is designed to kill harmful bacteria.”
The above statement is the second admission by FDA that some pet foods violate federal law within one months time. Years ago when I first began questioning the agency, FDA was very guarded and never admitted the agency did not enforce law with pet food. Today, they openly admit it. They have changed their attitude.
FDA’s attitude now is to – attempt – to validate their lack of enforcement by stating illegal material (diseased or non-slaughtered animal material) is safe because it has gone through a kill step to destroy microorganisms. Does killing microorganisms make this material legal? Absolutely not. Does killing microorganisms make this material safe for pets to consume and safe for consumers to bring into their homes? Absolutely not.
Another statement from their response “CVM will also consider regulatory action against canned pet food on the basis of use of decomposed animal tissues…”
The agency will “consider“ regulatory action against a canned pet food (and only a canned pet food) use of decomposing animal tissues? Consider? It makes me wonder what the circumstances would be for FDA to take action on decomposing animal tissues in canned pet food? Are 3 day old decomposing animal carcasses acceptable but 5 day old decomposing animal carcasses are not? I will ask the FDA, but I’m confident they won’t tell.
From the FDA website: “FDA is charged with the enforcement of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act). Under the Act, a part of FDA’s responsibility is to ensure that human and animal foods are safe and properly labeled.”
To be clear – FDA has NO authority to pick and choose which laws they will enforce. But somehow they do. Somehow the FDA gets away with picking and choosing which laws of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act they will enforce. Human Grade Pet Food – yep, enforce every detail of the FD&C Act. Raw Pet Food – yep, enforce every detail of the FD&C Act. But kibble and canned non-human grade pet food…we’ll let them violate this law, and this law, and this law.
Until the day arrives that pet food consumers sue the FDA forcing them to enforce law (and we will!), be aware that any pet food – regardless of price – containing one of the following ingredients could contain diseased animal material, non-slaughtered dead animal material, euthanized animal material, and/or decomposing animal material (all of these pet food ingredients DO NOT have the requirement to being sourced from a slaughtered animal)…
Chicken by products, Chicken by-product meal, Turkey by-products, Turkey by-product meal, Meat Meal, Beef Meal, Lamb Meal, Venison Meal, Meat and Bone Meal, Animal Fat and Animal Digest.
If your pet’s food contains one or more of the above ingredients, ask the manufacturer for proof that they do not source from diseased, non-slaughtered dead animal material. The responsibility of proof lies with the pet food manufacturer. If they can’t prove quality ingredients to your satisfaction, find another pet food.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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