A pet food industry spokesperson is ‘shocked, dismayed and concerned’ that pet food consumers are suing the pet food industry more often these days. It seems the pet food industry doesn’t understand that consumers are simply fed up with sick and dying pets and the lies.
Debbie Phillips-Donaldson is editor-in-chief for the publication Pet Food Industry; this publication is owned by WATT Media. As reminder, WATT Media hosts a pet food industry trade event each year – an event that I am not allowed to attend. In 2011 and in 2012 I requested a press pass to attend the Pet Food Forum hosted by WATT Media. I was told “no” I cannot attend. Not with a press pass, not with paid admission. This WATT Media trade event is open to industry – not consumer advocates. I was told I was a “conflict of interest” in a phone conversation with WATT Media.
It is Ms. Phillips-Donaldson job to write in defense of the pet food industry, so we can understand her opinion – but we certainly don’t have to agree with her. Often she has crossed a line (in my opinion), not taking into consideration the people that actually provides her a job (consumers) – and in a recent post I feel she crossed that line again.
Ms. Phillips-Donaldson’s post titled “Pet food class action lawsuits becoming the norm” states that consumers used to ‘vote with their wallets’ when they “didn’t like a company’s practices or products”. She shares that US consumers are moving towards class action lawsuits against pet foods/treats “because, well, they can.”
She shares she believes the growing number of consumer lawsuits against pet food “stems from a lack of consumer trust in the industry” – and continues with stating the lack of trust “stems from the 2007 melamine-related pet food recalls, when many consumers found out for the first time how some pet food was made and where some ingredients came from. And, in my opinion, with a few exceptions, the industry missed the perfect opportunity then to commit to transparency in those and other areas, and win back most pet owners’ trust.”
And Ms. Phillips-Donaldson’s opinion is that she doesn’t believe the recent rash of lawsuits – for Made in the USA claims in pet food/treats – hasn’t caused any harm to anyone, so why sue?
Opinion: Let me educate you a bit Ms. Phillips-Donaldson. Pet food consumers are fed up with the misleading marketing in pet food/treats. They are fed up with sick pets or dead pets and no one is held accountable. The FDA states that an estimated 1,000 dogs died from consuming jerky treats from China. The FDA has been investigating these deaths and many more illnesses for 9 years – yes, 9 years – with no resolve. For you to say that misleading Made in the USA claims are not harming anyone, is very short-sited.
Consumers are fed up with ‘Made with Real Chicken’ when the chicken can actually be sourced from diseased chickens rejected for use as ‘food’. They feel scammed when images of grilled meat are allowed to be displayed on the label when regulations require images to be truthful. Consumers are furious that the FDA continues to allow the pet food industry to violate federal law – with no warnings on the label.
You are right about one thing – in 2007 “the industry missed the perfect opportunity then to commit to transparency”. Most have ignored that opportunity every year since.
Why are consumers turning to lawyers to right the wrongs in pet food? Because lawyers are the only ones listening to us. We’ve tried all other venues – FDA, State Department of Agriculture, AAFCO. They are slow at best. Lawyers listen and take swift action to right a wrong. We like that.
Pet food consumers have waited for six and a half years for FDAAA (updated pet food regulations required by Congress to be completed by September 2009). Pet food consumers have filed countless death and illness reports with FDA and received no investigation. Jerky treat consumers have waited 9 years for FDA to give them an explanation of their pet’s death or kidney disease. We are tired of waiting. We are tired of sick pets and no accountability. You/the industry want the lawsuits to stop, well I’d suggest stop killing or sickening our pets. You stop, we’ll stop. Until pet food is truly safe – until pet food abides by federal law, every law – we’re going to keep calling our lawyers.
And by the way, if Pet Food Industry and WATT Media wants to set a good example to pet food manufacturers of making that first step towards transparency – how about inviting myself and about 10 consumers for free admission to the Pet Food Forum? You say that the industry ‘missed the perfect opportunity for transparency’ – why not start that transparency yourself and allow us to see behind the curtain?
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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