The FDA issued an update – sort of – on the current problem of excess Vitamin D recalls. The update leaves lots of unanswered questions.
Issued 2/15/19, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Animal and Veterinary Division provided pet owners with information about the ongoing excess Vitamin D pet food recalls. This recent ‘update’ is little to no new information (new from what FDA told pet owners months ago). The ‘update’ from FDA seems to confirm the agency knows very little about pet food, ingredient suppliers or who they sell to.
To read the full FDA notice, Click Here.
There are several concerns with this new notice from FDA on the current Vitamin D issues.
- This FDA notice is titled “Vitamin D Toxicity in Dogs” – and strangely enough it is not specific information about the rash of vitamin D recalls we’ve seen over the past several months. The new FDA notice seems to try to divert attention away from the current problem in pet food by listing under Causes: “…can also occur if a dog accidentally gets into vitamin D supplements that a person in the household is taking. Another common way that dogs get vitamin D toxicity is after accidentally eating certain chemicals meant to kill rodents like rats and mice, called cholecalciferol rodenticides.” No other similar notice from FDA attempts to deflect consumer attention away from a known (and current) pet food problem. Example being FDA’s notice sent out about pentobarbital in pet food; FDA did not try to deflect the issue in this notice. The agency was direct in what the problem is and how FDA is handling it. (Pet owners can read more of these types of notices from FDA here.)
- The new FDA notice stated “If your veterinarian suspects the food is the source of excess vitamin D, having the lot code helps the FDA identify exactly when the contamination occurred and what other products might also be affected. This can help prevent other dogs from getting sick.” While true – lot numbers can track which brands of pet foods received the toxic vitamin D, what FDA neglects to inform pet owners of is ingredient suppliers (such as the vitamin D supplier) are required by law to keep records of all sales – who they sold a toxic vitamin D to. Starting with the first vitamin D recall back in November 2018 – the FDA would have had access to every record – been provided with a full list of each pet food company that received a shipment from this supplier. It is unknown if FDA has not asked for these records from the ingredient supplier – but with certainty, they should have done this immediately after the first recall.
- The FDA notice states: “It’s also helpful if you save the food in its original package, in case it’s needed for testing. If testing is not needed, contact the company listed on the package for further instructions or throw the products away in a way that children, pets and wildlife cannot access them.” Pet owners should ask the pet food manufacturer how to dispose of a pet food? No, if the recalled pet foods are a risk to public health, the FDA should be providing proper disposal information to pet owners – NOT the manufacturer.
While the FDA says the agency continues to investigate the toxic vitamin D issues, it’s less than comforting knowing that 2 1/2 months into their investigation pet owners are provided with no new information and – significantly – news that appears to prove FDA hasn’t traced the toxic vitamin through sales records to all other manufacturers who purchased the toxic vitamin D.
Could lack of leadership be the problem?
The FDA division that would be responsible for investigating pet food related deaths and illnesses is the Center for Veterinary Medicine Office of Surveillance and Compliance. Dr. Dan McChesney retired from that post almost a year ago and the agency has not permanently filled the position. Instead, FDA has rotated in and out various existing employees – perhaps some employees that do not have the proper experience to assure pet owners that deadly situations such as this vitamin D investigation is properly performed.
While we can only speculate if temporary directors of Office of Surveillance and Compliance plays a role in the lack of information provided in this new FDA ‘update’ – it is certain that pet owners deserve an immediate and full investigation on this issue and all pet food related issues.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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