Skip to main content

Four Years Later, FDA Rejection Letter to Consumers

Related News


  1. Jeri

    I am sharing this article far and wide. It needs to go viral. Sometimes it takes strong light to make the cockroaches scatter….

    1. Duncan Ness

      I agree with Jeri! I’m going to share this all over as well. We pay enough in taxes to NOT have part of the government refuse to obey its own regulations. If one of us didn’t obey the law, we’d be in big trouble.

  2. Ann *

    Would it help to contact the same Congressman who intervened in the China chicken jerky treat debacle? Isn’t Congress supposed to make the federal agencies follow the law?

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      It wouldn’t hurt – and yes, Congress is basically FDA’s boss. We have tried writing members of Congress in the past too about these FDA Compliance Policies that allow pet food to violate federal laws, the only member that investigated for consumers was the late Senator Robert Byrd.
      We do need someone in Washington to understand how serious of a misrepresentation of the quality and safety of pet products this is to consumers. If these pet products actually alerted consumers that the ingredients don’t abide by The FD&C Act and could put the pet at risk (similar to the warning on cigarette packaging), then at the very least consumers wouldn’t be duped by slick advertising.

  3. Robyn

    I just sent my congresswoman a synopsys of this along with my concerns. I also included the link for the entire messages. I also signed the request including my pets names. :o)

  4. Joni Lowther

    Susan, I know many want to help fight this. What exactly can we do on an individual level to make our voices heard? Who do we contact, congressmen, representatives? Who can we write? call? Talking points because when you call, they only give you a few minutes.

    I know this is large scale but has anyone ever tried to connect CNN’s Anderson Cooper or NBC’s Brian Williams on this topic? Both of these anchors are big animal lovers and this is a story that would have broad base appeal. A 3 minute piece on national news would blow the top off this.

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      The biggest pressure would be to members of Congress, but we have to get someone (in Congress) to look at the evidence in order to not believe the smoke and mirrors response from FDA (as example of what FDA told Senator Byrd). If anyone could get a member of Congress to read and listen to all the evidence – that would be wonderful. I’ll put something together for everyone to send to Congress. Media attention would help too.

      And when we can publish our pet food testing project – depending on the results we find, might just get us the attention from everyone that we need (testing has not begun yet – but soon!). But in the meantime, I will put something together for everyone soon.

    2. Jo

      I’m with Joni Lowther on this one. A press release to Anderson and Brian is the very best way to get the public (and government) attention this matter needs and deserves. Any time the national media gets involved in an issue, the ball quickly starts rolling and oftentimes government attention follows…or is forced to follow by that very media involvement. We can bug our congressmen and women all day long, and should, but we all know what most often happens when we try this…we hit a dead end. No, it’s media attention we need, and starting with two animal loving reporters such as Brian and Anderson is where we should start.

      1. Dianne

        You could also try John Stewart. You can’t write some of this material.

  5. Catherine

    Okay, so they used the legal meanings of the citizen’s petition to deny two of your three requests. The last did not have sufficient evidence. So, does the evidence of adulteration exist? Can it be connected to rendering plants? Especially specific rendering plants? Your testing of various pet foods is the place to start. The other is for someone to find connections between specific renderers and specific pet food plants. Then those particular foods can be looked at more closely for any indication that adulteration is present. Just like the CDC does when they have to track back to a disease outbreak source.
    As people spread this letter on social media, ask people about who and what they know about these industries. Make connections, that can be linked together. You never know if someone finally had enough of working at the rendering plant and might be willing to be a whistler blower.
    They are playing a game, very much like “what does ‘is’ mean?” (From the Ken Starr report: “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. If the–if he–if ‘is’ means is and never has been, that is not–that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement….Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no. And it would have been completely true.”). We can play that game. Give them exactly what they asked for!

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      Excellent point Catherine – please everyone ask everyone you know if they know someone delivering ingredients from a rendering facility to a pet food manufacturer. These individuals would be protected under Whistle Blower protection (It would be illegal for these waste ingredients to be included in any food – thus someone reporting this illegal activity would be subject to whistle blower protection. And their identity could be protected too!). The Food Safety Modernization Act has specific information on Whistle Blower protection. It would be fantastic if we can use their own regulations to out the crimes being committed.

    2. Mary Sue

      I agree with Catherine. A. and B. under the discussion section were denied because ” a request for enforcement action is not an appropriate request for a citizen petition”. Maybe there is another way to address those. C. was the only part denied “because your report does not provide sufficient data and information to support this request”. Catherine’s ideas are a good way to start gathering the required evidence for resubmission.

  6. Sandra

    Oh how shameful of them! Regardless- I will never stop fighting for what I believe is right because I care about what my dog eats. Period. One day, we’ll be so loud we cannot be simply shut out. Until then, keep up the good fight on our behalf, Susan. I believe in the work you do for us and our pets.

  7. Gitta

    I think a big part of the problem, the lack of public outcry is that way too many pet parents are thoroughly brainwashed not in small part thanks to the veterinary profession and other pet professionals. It seems to me the majority of otherwise well-educated and critical consumers has no clue, is woefully ignorant and therefore SILENT. When their pets get ill, they blame it on the breeder/breed or fate before they would even consider the oh-so-great pet food. A few “nutjobs” can be ignored safely.

    Given the big problem with health care illiteracy – how do we reach a broader base? If the 2007 scandal didn’t leave a lasting mark – how do we get pet parents outraged and engaged? Yes, above mentioned media would be a start, but will only reach a certain segment.

    Besides the denial, 4 years by itself should get somebody in Congress to stomp on some FDA toes (yes, I realize a do-nothing Congress would be the kettle). I have the feeling this extreme delay was done deliberately to send a message: you worms – you insignificant little fleas – don’t even think it.

  8. Holly Allison VH

    FDA+CDC = Nothing. These govt agencies are not pro-health nor are they pro-citizenry, including our pets. They are govt. agencies supported not only by your tax dollars hard at work (ha) but also by Special Interest Groups, their Lobbyists who, historically, have very deep pockets. The SIG’s are the behind- the -scenes- players responsible for laws being passed or ignored. It’s done by manipulating govt agencies into passing that which supports the SIG’s best. If unpopular [with special interest groups] legislation is passed, it’s the special interest groups’ Lobbyist’s who insure that it’s not enforced – how ? By making it unenforceable. They don’t care about us.

  9. CB

    I read this whole post, as well as the petition letter, very carefully, and I believe you are misunderstanding the law and the FDA’s response. First, the wording of the Act that you quote and that the FDA response also uses says that using diseased animals and animals that have died other than by slaughter “shall NOT be actionable”…meaning, no one has to prevent or do anything about that and it is okay in the case of pet food. That is exactly what that language means in the Act (it’s badly written and confusing, but that is what it is saying if it uses those exact words). So that alone defeats your whole argument, unfortunately. You are saying they should uphold the law, but they are upholding the law. What you really want them to do is change the law.

    But no government agency will set about changing laws without solid scientific evidence, and rather than saying “No” to your petition, what the FDA said is that you did not provide convincing scientific data.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think there is scientific proof that eating meats from dead and diseased animals hurts pets. We all wonder if it does, but I don’t believe there is any proof (after all, dogs eat road kill and and half dead rabbits and chipmunks or whatever if they find them in the woods). So far, what we do know and can prove is that some ingredients from China have killed or sickened pets. But millions of dogs have led long healthy lives eating diets from the big commercial pet food companies like Purina.

    In addition, although all of us find the idea of euthanized pet remains being added to dog food utterly repellent, I doubt that there is convincing proof that pets eating this food are harmed by ingesting trace amounts of the drugs used for euthanasia (plus, these trace amounts may not even be bioactive at that point). After all, all those drugs are tested on animals in safety and toxicology studies.

    I urge you to put your energy into finding scientific evidence for what you are positing, rather than demonizing the FDA. They won’t do anything without scientific proof–just look at what drug companies have to go through to prove that new drugs are safe and efficacious. In addition, I am sure the FDA is aware there is a lot of hysteria and conjecture about what helps or hurts pets now, and there is a lot of sensationalism and playing on people’s fears–a lot of it driven by small boutique manufacturers trying to prove they are better than the big companies.

    I am a firm believer in truth as opposed to emotions and conjecture. Getting the real facts will do more than anything else to help our cause.

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      I disagree. And I assure you FDA knows very well that diseased decomposing animals (illegal per FD&C Act in any food) is used in pet foods. It is illegal per federal law. There is no way around the legal aspect of this. None. FDA allows a violation of federal law in pet foods/animal feeds.

    2. Susan Thixton Author

      And one more thing – the ‘shall not be actionable’ is not law you are quoting. That is FDA Compliance Policy which is not law. You didn’t read the FD&C Act – read the definition of food and the adulteration of food – then you will understand that these Compliance Policies allow the law to be violated.

      1. Peter

        The FDA was given authority to oversee safety of food, drugs, and cosmetics in 1938, in response to public outcry that the then-current Pure Food & Drug Act was inadequate, subsequent to people DYING from adulterated drugs. As the responsible federal body, FDA would thus “administer” the Act. Investigative journalists (known as “muckrakers”) had postured that the FDA was held in “regulatory capture”: created as a state regulatory agency to act in the public interest, but instead advancing commercial or special interests that dominated the industries it was charged with regulating. This “failure of government” is what you are all talking about, today.

        I disagree that there is no “scientific evidence” that “adulterated” foods are or would be harmful to pets/animals. That is why the definition of adulteration was developed in the first place. As an example, it is clear that foods prepared under “insanitary conditions” would be harmful, and those conditions are established as falling under provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFD&C Act). That FDA enforces the Act with respect to foods destined for human consumption contradicts an assertion that there is “no evidence” that harm would result from consuming such products.

        But “filth,” for example, means different things to the FDA, depending on who the food is destined to be consumed by. The FFD&C Act enfolds both human AND animal foods, and also animal feeds used for livestock. But through its compliance policies, FDA allows ingredients that should be discarded or destroyed as waste to be legally diverted into pet food, supporting monolithic agribusiness profit models that turn garbage into profit. This is a modern version of “regulatory capture.”

        I do not believe the petitioners are asking for the law to be changed. They are asking that the government body responsible for administering (enforcing) federal law to do so.

  10. Pat Baker

    FDA is not going to listen. Everyone has a choice, Don’t buy the dog food. Home prepare your dogs food, with human grade ingredients, I haven’t bought dog feed for over 35 years. My dogs live long healthy lives without all the nasty diseases

  11. Jim

    Susan, Just think!
    The same FDA regulates (?) the drugs that we all ingest.

  12. Pacific Sun

    My hunch is …these are the only arguments we have to contest (and protest) commercial PF, which includes secondary (reprocessed, rendered) ingredients (particularly protein) with respect to the FDA’s Compliance Policies allowing it:

    (A) The current practice is detrimental to our pet’s health & safety [which requires evidence.]
    So how can we provide proof beyond anecdotal confirmation?
    Is there a comparison study where dogs have been fed highly reprocessed commercial PF versus fresh food?

    (B) The current practice is ascetically displeasing and potentially harmful [which requires evidence.]
    So how do we confirm our observations and speak for the masses?
    Do we do this through the use of a whistleblower and our PF testing results?
    Is the proof determined by the PFI’s reluctance to be forthright?

    (C) The current practice ~may or may not~ be acceptable, unhealthy, or unsafe [which frees us from the burden of proof].
    HOWEVER the action itself IS contrary to a PF company’s advertising claim of using “Fresh” and “Natural” (most specifically) meat protein!

    So until our PF testing is completed, or we find scientific evidence of the ill-effects of highly processed PF versus whole food, it seems likely that (C) would be most easily pursued by us. Certainly contrary to the principle of fresh and natural (wholesome) is the use (or the majority inclusion) of secondary protein that is far removed from its original, naturalized, un-tampered with, intact, clean, and chemically free state!

    We should be able to identify to the FDA which PF companies are mislabeling their products as fresh and natural when in fact they’re using reprocessed ingredients, the proof of which is needing to cook the mass at extremely high temperatures. We wouldn’t be putting the FDA in the position of contesting its own Compliance Policies. But we would be making the FDA responsible (on a case-by-case basis) for making sure which companies need to accurately label, describe and picture their product, which it turns out, will be the same as “animal feed!” In other words the PFI would be allowed to use Compliance Policies but they just wouldn’t be able to claim “fresh and natural” ingredients at the same time.

    Remember, while we think of our pets as family members entitled to dietary privileges, the industry only cares if it is making suitable “animal feed.” Their understanding of AF is if it doesn’t kill or harm the animal then there is no issue. So until we can prove otherwise, or enforce what we really want in PF, then companies should at least be REQUIRED to describe and label their product in a FDA compliant fashion. Meaning they can’t say their protein is “fresh and natural” (much less grilled or added in as raw) without mentioning their reprocessed (cooked) ingredients too.

    Even a dehydrated green pea …. isn’t a truly “fresh” green pea!!

  13. Jane Eagle

    “… FDA stat[es] they will continue to do what they want to do, it doesn’t matter what pet food consumers think, want or deserve.”… OR PAY FOR.

  14. Ellie

    Look at the news. Look at the government in general. This is not something unusual. There are many laws our bureaucrats refuse to enforce throughout the country.
    When one agency or politician is allowed to ignore the law it is the beginning of the end.

    1. Pacific Sun

      It’s good to keep our focus on what we CAN do rather than get stuck on a frustrating state of affairs. The world, our country and society will never be to our satisfaction. But we can pick our battles. One, is about keeping these PF issues in front of Readers. Two, is knowing that people motivated enough are united in their effort to make progress. Witness the donations made for the PF Testing Project.

      Where we are today, is miles from where we started in terms of gathering and dispensing information and advocacy. You and I wouldn’t be reading this right now, if the author had ever given up.

      1. Ellie

        Anyone who tries to take on the FDA or any government agency is taking on corruption at it’s highest lever ever in this country. It takes a lot to deal with that kind of power.
        Only a majority of Americans standing up and paying attention is going to change the situation and I don’t see that happening anytime soon since our media is a very controlled unit.
        Trying to educate people through websites and blogs only goes so far. Of course doing so is important but it is going to take a real wake up call in this country to get the majority to pay attention.
        I appreciate what Susan does and commend her determination. Not many would put up with what she has been faced with. The information is important to those who do care about what they are feeding their pets but when you can’t even get people to care about what they are eating expecting them to give a darn about their animals is daunting.
        The FDA will only change when the people of this country insist that it do so. Right now very few are paying attention.

        1. Peter

          Ellie, in their 1933 book, Kallet and Schlink warned the public: “Let your voice be heard loudly… in protest against indifference, ignorance, and avarice responsible for the uncontrolled adulteration and misrepresentation of foods, drugs, and cosmetics.” They were referring not only to manufacturers, but our government.

          1. Ellie

            I don’t know how my post would lead anyone to believe that I am against speaking loudly about and protesting the dishonest parts of our industry and our government.
            My complaint is that corruption has gotten to a point where we as a country are very close to failing miserably.
            This is a country that was once ruled by law and now we are becoming instead, LAWLESS. Bureaucrats rule over the people as through they were a law unto themselves but in truth they are supposed to answer to the people who pay their salaries.
            There is a small section of people who pay attention but the majority of the population is so clueless that they will fight against anyone who would try to stand up against the tide of misinformation and corruption.
            We don’t lay down and allow them to succeed. Yes, we continue to do as much as possible to educate people but until they actually CARE about the issues it is going to be a long hard road.
            I don’t really care about those who monitor this board, I hope they know people are fed up with what they are doing and that the more frustrated we become the more we will work against them! Hopefully there will be even more effective ways of getting the people’s attention in the future, however, if the internet is allowed to be controlled by the government we will have lost our main avenue of communication.

  15. Pacific Sun

    Toyota and GM deadly Ignition Switch defects were swept under the rug for years. People still buy the products! Who doesn’t get a recall notice once or twice a year figuring hey if the car can be fixed at no charge then what’s the problem. Actually it is a problem. But how can we fight industry when we’re not even incented to protest? The media is definitely to blame! Whatever happened to real investigative journalism? Muckrakers? Welcoming whistle blowers? Taking on a controversial issue and hammering it home?? Can you think of the last time that really happened?

    In the ‘60’s television played a HUGE role galvanizing public opinion against the war. Shocking images were on TV screens every night. You could even see which reporters were disgusted by our involvement in Viet Nam. That reporting ignited a very vocal segment of the US population (yes) against the US government! It was government who caved. To our detriment today the media is only a passive and reactive agent of corporations. Billions are spent on advertising to make a greater lasting impression than any negative 60 second news piece ever could. ~And that’s by design~ This applies no differently than to what we’re facing with the PFI and unaware consumers. Is it easier to believe a happy Beneful commercial or read that 4D protein is part of our pet’s lifelong diet? Think of what the News could do if they didn’t just report on what’s bad, but made clear how people could make the changes? Unfortunately the media is afraid of assuming that kind of power. Because I am sure Sponsors forbid it.

    I guess what worries me is when a new Reader, after reviewing all the disturbing TAPF articles gets to a point like this, when they’re likely to give up, especially when it’s confirmed to them that the FDA is already a lost cause.

    Sure we can say that about local government, congress, the administration, the lack of inspired leaders and dedicated public servants. But it means that only WE can make the difference anyway! How? Well not by showing the PFI Trolls (those who monitor this site and public opinion and gage trends) that we’re confirming obstacles to one another. Instead that we keep focusing [first] on the Truth and [second] on the positive things that are happening. That’s what needs to be in print! Because everyday yet another Reader will say, I don’t buy commercial PF anymore!

    If you’re still not convinced, remember that the power of Social Media and Google type news feeds, reaches more people than television ever will. And they’re NOT controlled by any … interested …parties!!! So let’s put that weapon to our use. While we still can!

  16. Kelley

    Corruption has always existed. In politics and government. (As an example) I just read a novel about San Francisco circa the1906 Great Quake and how the City succumbed to near destruction. Not because of natural causes but because of criminal civil mismanagement and decision making! The City was ruled by sheer brutality. Talk about lawlessness!

    Nowadays, the problems are really two-fold. (One) people aren’t taught history anymore. They have no perspective. And (two) everything is more connected. Negativity becomes exponential the more it is exposed. I don’t want to get off TAPF topic. So, when we give up on the FDA (as a body of nebulous policy makers) then we need to break down our campaign into manageable steps. (As an example) an Calif. Assembly Bill (backed by big money and influence) was introduced about 5 years ago. For the select few who understood its implications it absolutely polarized pet owners! Media attention was superficial and sensational. It was “politically incorrect” to speak against it. Because people didn’t understand there was far more to the Bill than “sound bites.” In fact the argument turned into one of emotion versus facts and reality. It seemed like a lost cause. But evidence and statistics were collected. In the 11th hour “Interested Clubs” finally got involved, rallied members, and that spread to the public. . The campaign literally sandbagged politician’s phones and mailboxes. People were visible at the Capital. And all THAT was before social media was at everyone’s fingertips. In the end those politicians figured it just wasn’t worth the nuisance, the bad press, losing in their districts. For them — it became more expedient to “defer” that measure, than make it law. They had heard from their constituents!

    We are so much more powerful today. Yet even less seems to get done. Two steps are needed. (One) if TAPF coordinated an information campaign, for every single Reader to send a flyer (to the FDA, Congress, and friends) about FDA Compliance Policies adulterating PF, then at least people could read about the issue first! Do they know now just because “we” do and it seems so obvious? Well you know what. I bet you there’s only a select group of policy writers and protectors who are diffusing attention.

    That means (if we care) it is our job to inform people! Who else is going to do this??? (Two) we have to tell everyone we can that whatever this policy is allowing just by the very fact that there was a need for that policy to be written in the first place — WE DON’T WANT IT IN OUR PET FOOD PERIOD. Bottom line. End of discussion. Get it out, assure us that it’s out. Or we’ll find products that can. And we won’t stop broadcasting this information.

    Or we can sit on this website all day long and lament how hopeless …. big challenges … always are!

Leave a Reply