In early January 2009 I sent the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture a letter requesting that the State of Florida enforce the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act laws with regards to pet food. Their response was, as typical, disappointing.
To those that are not aware, despite Federal Laws developed to prevent it, the FDA ignores Federal Laws and allows ingredients into pet foods that should be classified as adulterated; and in turn should be prohibited. Many pet owners from across the U.S. wrote their respective Representatives in Congress regarding the FDA pet food concern; every single response received from Congress ignored the issues presented them.
Discouraged, but not giving up the fight, I contacted the Inspector General’s Office in Washington, D.C. I have recently been told that I will NOT receive any information from the Inspector General’s Office regarding these issues; no acknowledgement of receipt of my letter, no update if this government agency is planning on an investigation, nothing.
I also contacted the Florida Department of Agriculture regarding the adulterated pet foods that the FDA allows to be manufactured and sold across the United States. Below is the response I received:
Dear Ms. Thixton,
Commissioner Bronson has asked that I respond on his behalf, to your January 5, 2009 e-mail expressing concern regarding the utilization of products in animal feed and cosmetics that are derived from diseased animals or animals which have died otherwise than by slaughter. Commissioner Bronson shares your concerns and is committed to ensuring the safety and wholesomeness of animal feed sold in Florida.
As you noted, Section 402(a)(5) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act stipulates that a food shall be deemed to be adulterated, “if it is, in whole or in part, the product of a diseased animal or of an animal which has died otherwise than by slaughter”. However, according to the policy currently sanctioned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (FDA-CVM), the inclusion of these products will not be ordinarily actionable if products are not otherwise in violation of the law, and they will be considered fit for animal consumption. This policy is based on data indicating a minimal risk of disease associated with the remains of animals that may have died otherwise than by slaughter, once subjected to the rendering process. While technically prohibited by the FD&C Act, the current policy allows for a cost effective alternative to landfill disposal or incineration for animal tissues that can be otherwise rendered into viable, non-pathogenic materials with various potential uses.
The utilization of euthanized livestock and companion animals, and the potential effects of pentobarbital residue in rendered products that may ultimately be used in animal feed or cosmetics, is a controversial and abiding issue. To address this concern, CVM researchers conducted, and published the results of, related research efforts including the development of analytical methods to detect pentobarbital, results of pentobarbital analyses, potential toxicity of pentobarbital, and analysis of dog food samples by Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) to identify the types of animal DNA present.
The PCR study concluded there was no evidence of dog, cat, or horse protein in any of the samples analyzed. The sensitivity of the PCR assay was 0.0007% on a weight/weight basis. This equates to a detection limit of 7 kilograms per 1000 metric tons (approximately 15 pounds per 1,000 U.S. tons), enabling the detection of the rendered remains of a single dog in any of the samples. In the samples analyzed, CVM found only the presence of cattle, sheep, pig, or poultry protein remains. Although the studies did not yield a clear correlation between pentobarbital and a source species, it is suspected that euthanized cattle were the most likely source.
It is important to recognize that reputable Pet Food Companies have a great deal at stake in regards to negative publicity if it were determined that their products contained canine or feline protein material. Since the release of CVM’s initial pentobarbital survey in 1998, the Pet Food Institute worked diligently with their member companies to establish strict specifications in regards to the ingredients they receive and to improve their quality control systems to further ensure the absence of pentobarbital from dog food, and the results of the follow-up survey in 2000 indicated a reduction in both the prevalence and concentration of pentobarbital in dog food. Although the current FDA-CVM policy enables the rendering and subsequent use of remains from animal’s which have died otherwise than by slaughter, it does not authorize the use of animals that have been euthanized with pentobarbital for this purpose.
Your suggestion regarding the implementation of additional sampling requirements for animal feed and feed ingredient manufacturers registered in Florida is appreciated and warrants consideration. However, in 1994 the Florida Legislature abolished our Feed Laboratory program, replacing it with a privatized laboratory program. The current program monitors registrant product compliance through this certified private laboratory analysis program, so there are limitations regarding sampling and associated analyses that are required of manufacturers. Currently, the categories of testing prescribed under Chapters 580 F.S and 5E-3 F.A.C. include analyses for nutrients and mycotoxins only – the program does not provide for testing of contaminants such as pentobarbital.
The quality and safety of agricultural livestock and companion animal feed is a valid consumer concern, and it is the Department’s objective to ensure that all feed products distributed in Florida meet current regulatory standards and perform as represented by the manufacturer. We have communicated your concerns to FDA-CVM, and will monitor any future research efforts undertaken by FDA or others for information that contradicts the present data and compels additional investigation.
If I can provide any additional information regarding this issue, please do not hesitate to contact me at (850) 487-3863
George W. Hayslip
Feed Compliance Section
Bureau of Compliance Monitoring
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
The following quote from the above speaks the most to me: “However, according to the policy currently sanctioned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (FDA-CVM), the inclusion of these products will not be ordinarily actionable if products are not otherwise in violation of the law, and they will be considered fit for animal consumption. This policy is based on data indicating a minimal risk of disease associated with the remains of animals that may have died otherwise than by slaughter, once subjected to the rendering process. While technically prohibited by the FD&C Act, the current policy allows for a cost effective alternative to landfill disposal or incineration for animal tissues that can be otherwise rendered into viable, non-pathogenic materials with various potential uses.”
Just to be crystal clear, his statement is that according to FDA “policy”, this is allowed. This is NOT the law; it is ONLY FDA ‘policy’. In other words, the FDA developed a ‘policy’ to provide some pet food manufacturers the ability to skirt the law. Technically, and legally, any pet food that contains even the tiniest portion of a diseased animal or an animal that has died other than by slaughter – would be considered adulterated and prohibited for sale. I also find disheartening the following quote from his response: “the current policy allows for a cost effective alternative to landfill disposal or incineration for animal tissues that can be otherwise rendered into viable, non-pathogenic materials with various potential uses.” Imagine…our pet’s food is a ‘cost effective alternative’ of disposal of ingredients that would otherwise be placed in landfills or incinerated.
I want to encourage every pet owner across this country to write letters to your Congressional Representatives, the White House, your State Department of Agriculture, your State Representatives, and anyone and everyone that you can think of. We were told today by two former FDA agents on my very first TruthaboutPetFood Radio Show – this very thing (you can listen to the recorded show here: https://www.truthaboutpetfood.com/pages/TruthaboutPetFood-Radio.html). They emphasized that many changes must be made with our current food safety system, and emphasized that to do this citizens must keep pounding on the doors of those that have the power to do something about it. Please, don’t give up. Please, don’t get discouraged and let someone else worry about it or do something about it. There are more than 74 millions pet owners in the U.S. – together we have massive power.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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