The good and bad of pet food during 2017.
2017 got off to a heartbreaking start with the death of a dog linked to euthanized animal meat in Evanger’s Pet Food. It was New Year’s Eve 2016 when Talula and four other dogs became ill and spent the night in an Emergency Veterinary Clinic. Talula didn’t survive.
2017 could have turned out very differently for many pet families had this family not taken immediate action. The family suspected the pet food was the cause, and had a necropsy performed on Talula’s body. The veterinarian performing the necropsy was attentive and noticed the stomach contents looked strange. His attention to detail resulted in testing of the stomach contents for pentobarbital – which ultimately led to the Evanger’s pet food recall and an FDA investigation (still ongoing at year’s end). Turning their grief into something positive, Talula’s family has initiated an educational program for other pet parents. They designed this poster to help educate pet owners to report every suspect pet food related illness (please share).
Evanger’s Pet Food issued a recall of the pet food a little over a month after Talula and the other dogs got sick, February 3, 2017. Two weeks after this initial recall, another variety of Evanger’s manufactured pet food – Against the Grain – was recalled for pentobarbital contamination. And two weeks later – February 28, 2017 – more Evanger’s brands were recalled. March 6 brought additional recalled Evanger’s pet foods. And April 20th, 2017 Party Animal Pet Food recalled numerous varieties for pentobarbital as well; these pet foods were manufactured at Evanger’s.
Evanger’s filed a lawsuit against their meat supplier in April 2017, but through this lawsuit disclosed to consumers meat purchased was “inedible” – not Human Grade as the company previously told consumers.
Party Animal Pet Food filed a lawsuit against Evanger’s in June 2017 (Party Animal experienced a pentobarbital recall with food manufactured at Evangers.
Early in 2017 we also learned that Mars Petcare purchased VCA veterinary hospitals – a $70 billion dollar purchase. This purchase made the worlds largest pet food manufacturer the owner of the two largest chains of veterinary clinics in North America (along with one of the largest veterinary laboratory chains that even non-corporate vet clinics use).
AVMA’s Ties to Hill’s Science Diet
In February of 2017 we learned that the largest veterinary association in the U.S. hired a former executive from Hill’s as the organization’s new President. In what seemed to be a revolving door, Janet Dolin DVM worked for AVMA from 1991 to 2007, 2007 to 2013 she worked for Hill’s Science Diet, then returned to AVMA in 2013 – becoming the organization’s President in 2017.
Criminal Charges for a Pet Food Ingredient Supplier
In March of 2017 we learned that Wilbur Ellis – pet food ingredient supplier – was facing criminal charges for selling poultry by-product meal as chicken meal to Blue Buffalo (and unknown other pet food manufacturers). This was a first to my knowledge of anyone in pet food facing criminal charges.
10 Year Anniversary of the Deadliest Pet Food Recall in History
March 2017 marked the ten year anniversary of the melamine pet food recalls from 2007. Horrifying to consider, very little has changed in the regulatory system of pet food since. In September of 2007 – Congress took swift action hoping to prevent another deadly pet food recall requiring FDA to update pet food labels and update pet food ingredient definitions. These safety measures were required to be completed by September 2009. To date – FDA has not completed this work. We are 8 years past the deadline.
Hide or No-Hide?
In July of 2017 we learned of testing performed on a popular dog treat that is linked to the death of two dogs (one died in June, the second recently died after complications believed to be linked to the treat) – Earth Animal’s No Hide dog treat. Tests showed the Salmon No Hide variety (which contained no beef ingredient) was majority beef; “The sample was analyzed using a universal animal DNA test, which identified it as Bos taurus. DNA from other animal species was also detected in relatively low abundance.” And a PhD expert examined the treats and provided the statement “the material is absolutely rawhide split material.” All test results were provided to FDA in July – to date, the FDA investigation is on-going.
We learned this year of a new study linking the pesticide glyphosate to fatty liver disease. “These rats were administered Roundup via drinking water at a concentration of 0.1 ppb, which is an allowable level within both the U.S. and the European Union. The molecular analyses conducted by researchers on the internal organs of the rats fed Roundup included testing of liver cell disturbances. Overall, ultra-low dose glyphosate-formulation exposure led to observations of biomarkers also seen in fatty liver disease.” Previous testing of pet food found levels as high as 300 ppb of glyphosate.
In March 2017, FDA issued an alert to pet food consumers regarding pet food “made with livestock gullets (meat from the throat region) have the potential to contain thyroid tissue and thyroid hormones. Pets that eat food or treats containing thyroid hormones may develop hyperthyroidism, a disease that is rare in dogs and usually triggered by thyroid cancer.” Two recalls occurred this year due to excess of thyroid tissue/hormones (listed in Recalls section).
And in March 2017, FDA issued an alert “advising pet owners and caretakers not to feed their pets certain lots of Evanger’s canned Hunk of Beef or Against the Grain Grain Free Pulled Beef with Gravy canned dog food after unopened cans from both brands were found to contain pentobarbital, a barbiturate.”
One of the most meaningful things for me that happened this year was in Mobile, AL at the January AAFCO meeting. Because we are watched and listened to constantly at AAFCO meetings, our group tends to leave the hotel at any opportunity for some privacy. In Mobile we found a little neighborhood pub that was quiet and mostly visited only by locals. Through the meeting – we got to know the bartender and shared our dilemma of constant observation by those that attend AAFCO meetings. On Monday night, with our entire group in tow, we went back to our safe place. Same bartender who was glad to see us. The place was empty for a while, then a few people walked in. Our ‘be careful what you say’ radar went up. So I asked the bartender if she would let us know when anyone other than locals came in. She gladly agreed. She joked the code word will be ‘Blueberry’.
We had organic chips and salsa, and ordered another pizza and were having a wonderful time – not being watched. A few more people entered the bar. And then the bartender slid this to me across the bar…
It turned out that sitting down at the other end was some of ‘them’. Our pet owner bartender was one of ‘us’. She had our back. She was telling us be careful of what we say – we were being listened to. I carry this ‘Blueberry’ message with me everywhere I go. It is testament that there are many more of ‘Us’ than ‘Them’ – and we take care of our own.
As typical – this year we had two public AAFCO meetings; in January and in August. The January meeting was held in Mobile, Alabama – where I received threatening texts related to the Mars Petcare plant (formerly) located in Joplin, MO. The mystery person sending the texts obviously knew I was friends with several people who worked at the Mars plant (that lived in Kansas) and knew I had arrived at the AAFCO meeting…and wanted to send me a message that ‘they’ were watching me and wanted former employees of Mars to stop any efforts to make their story become public information.
As you can tell, these texts were received on an old style flip phone. In 2016 I had to go back to using the old style cell phone because individuals – I assume the same individuals as above – put spyware on my smart phone. Never a dull moment with Big Pet Feed.
During the January AAFCO meeting the definition of ‘pet food’ was discussed. The definition presented was: ‘The term pet food means any commercial feed prepared and distributed for pets.’ It is significant for all to note – the definition of “pet food” is “feed”. Regulatory authorities do not consider pet food as food…it is feed. The exception would be ‘Human Grade’ pet food – which is food, abiding by all food regulation (feed does not).
In June of 2017, consumer advocates (Dr. Karen Becker, an attorney, and myself) went to Washington DC to meet with members of Congress and FDA. During our meeting with FDA, the agency promised us they would take a stand to better inform consumers what they are purchasing – feed or food. We requested the agency to required products that meet food law to be termed ‘Cat Food’ or ‘Dog Food’ and those that do not meet the requirements of food law to be termed ‘Cat Feed’ or ‘Dog Feed’. FDA agreed in June this was a good idea – but changed their minds (without notification) by the AAFCO meeting in August. The FDA absolutely blind sided us and betrayed all pet food consumers.
The August AAFCO meeting was held in Bellevue, Washington. One of the early topics of discussion during this meeting was the amount of human food waste that goes into pet food/animal feed. A speaker shared the startling fact that “73% of human food processing waste goes to animal food”. During the Pet Food Committee meeting the Global Alliance of Pet Food Associations (GAPFA) – which is basically an industry trade association representing Mars Petcare, Hill’s Science Diet, and Purina – approached AAFCO asking for the Vitamin A levels in dog food to be increased. AAFCO agreed to form a working group to discuss the topic (after this meeting but before the next meeting in January 2018). Two holistic veterinarians requested to participate in these discussions (Dr. Jean Hofve and Dr. Cathy Alinovi) – but AAFCO denied their request. There was also discussion of pet food labeling updates that are believed to be coming sometime in the future (nothing AAFCO does is fast). Labeling updates are minimal.
AAFCO kicks me out
In November of 2017, AAFCO informed me the Board of Directors decided to remove me as a consumer representative advisor to committees. AAFCO felt posts I made on this website were “disruptive to committee business.” It remains my belief that AAFCO denied my Freedom of Speech – the right for all pet food consumers to know what happens in the pet food regulatory system. But…AAFCO is a private corporation and can do whatever they like. Clearly, they didn’t like me.
My position at AAFCO as consumer representative will be now held by Mr. B.C. Henschen – a wonderful, trustworthy, intelligent independent pet store owner from Indiana that has several AAFCO meetings behind him. He will take my position ‘at the AAFCO table’ at the January 2018 meeting. He’ll be great.
Evidence to Questionable Activity with Mars Petcare
In 2017 I was provided with depositions from 3 witnesses of the Boyd v Mars Petcare lawsuit. Also this year, Freedom of Information Act requests were made to multiple government agencies regarding their investigation (which proved to be no investigation) of the pet food plant. Without a doubt, the information received regarding this pet food plant has been the most concerning information I’ve ever read about a pet food. To read the depositions, Click Here. And with the publishing of these depositions, I received more threats.
The name redacted is one of the former employees of the pet food plant (but unrelated to the depositions published).
To read the multiple posts quoting the Freedom of Information Act requests…
Click Here to read the information provided by the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety regarding the investigation of Mars Petcare.
Click Here to read the information provided by OSHA regarding the investigation of Mars Petcare.
Click Here to read the information provided by FDA regarding the investigation of Mars Petcare.
Click Here to read the information provided by Missouri Department of Agriculture regarding the investigation of Mars Petcare.
Pet Cancer Documentary
One of the most positive, amazing things that happened this year was the release of Dr. Karen Becker’s and Rodney Habib’s cancer documentary. Both of these pet food advocates traveled the world interviewing the leading scientists and researchers in pet cancer and put together an amazing documentary. Words cannot even explain how amazing this film is. Highly recommended for any pet owner who is facing a cancer diagnosis in their pet – and for those that don’t want to ever get that diagnosis.
And in 2017 we were provided with another ground breaking film about the pet food industry – Pet Fooled. I personally have received hundreds of emails from consumers that have seen the film and were concerned what they were feeding their pets. Producer Kohl Harrington did a fabulous job with a difficult subject. Pet Fooled 2 is already in the works. The film is available on Netflix.
And with any film or post that might disclose dirty secrets of Big Pet Feed to consumers, there are veterinarians that come out of the woodwork to bash the truth. DVM360.com veterinarian author Dr. Sarah Wooten attempted to bash Pet Fooled, but did a poor job attempting to bad mouth the film. She resorted to false statements trying to sway fellow veterinarians away from the film.
Recalls of 2017
9 Lives, Everpet and Special Kitty Canned Cat Food – low levels of thiamine (Vitamin B1).
Expanded recall of 9 Lives, Everpet and Special Kitty Canned Cat Food (from above).
Blue Ridge Beef recall for potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
Evanger’s recall for pentobarbital contamination.
Companion canned dog food – foreign material (metal).
PetSmart Grreat Choice canned dog food – foreign material (metal).
Wellness canned cat food – foreign material (metal).
Blue Buffalo canned dog food – foreign material.
Triumph canned cat food – foreign material.
Against the Grain canned dog food – pentobarbital.
Expanded Evanger’s recall – pentobarbital.
Blue Buffalo dog food tubs – improper seal.
Expanded Evanger’s and Against the Grain recall – pentobarbital.
Wellness topper dog food – high levels of thyroid hormone.
Blue Buffalo dog food – high levels of thyroid hormone.
Barnsdale Farms, HoundsTooth and Mac’s Choice pig ear dog treats – Salmonella.
Party Animal dog food – pentobarbital.
Small Batch dog food – Salmonella.
American Beefhide, Digest-eeze, and Healthy Hide rawhide treats – illegal processing aid.
Loving Pets dog treats – Salmonella.
Companion, Dentley’s, Enzadent or Dentahex, Essential Everyday, Exer-Hides, Good Lovin’ or Petco, Hill Country Fare, and Priority Pet rawhide treats – illegal processing aid.
Arthro-iONX – Joint & Mobility Pain Formula and DIA-IONX – Blood Sugar Imbalance pet supplements – bacterial contamination.
Darwin’s dog food – Salmonella.
Primal pet food – bone fragments.
Despite all our collective efforts, another year has passed where pets needlessly died and were sickened because authorities don’t bother to enforce law, openly allowing companies to lie to consumers. When will it end? When will authorities begin to enforce law and protect our pets? Let’s hope something changes in 2018. I have a good feeling…it will!
My thanks to all of you for your continued support of this website and our consumer association. Wishing all a Happy and Healthy 2018.
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What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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The 2018 List
Susan’s List of trusted pet foods. Click Here to learn more.
Have you read Buyer Beware? Click Here
Cooking pet food made easy, Dinner PAWsible
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