The Silent Killer of Pets
In 2007 melamine was the killer of countless dogs and cats across the U.S. and Canada. In 2009 there is a new killer of pets; silence.
The 2007 pet food recall taught Pet Food and the FDA something BIG. The 2007 pet food recall taught Pet Food and the FDA that Pet Parents go a little ballistic over news of a pet food recall. It’s been referred to as ‘pet food hysteria’. Instead of just going on as usual, panicked ‘hysterical’ Pet Parents turned to blogging and Tweeting about a tainted pet food. We (pet parents) want to learn everything we can and want to share every bit of pet food news the best way we can hoping to save the life of our or someone else’s pet. This blogging and Tweeting told Pet Food and the FDA pet parents have lost trust in pet foods and have serious doubts of the effectiveness of the FDA. The apparent new method of handling pet food recalls, is not handling them at all. The new recalls are silent.
In recent weeks, the following ‘silences’ have happened in pet food…
Premium Edge Pet Food learned of cats getting sick (one died) in the Rochester, NY area. The pet food manufacturer (Diamond Pet Foods) tracked down the food the sick cats had consumed; the company discovered all suspect foods were manufactured within a twelve minute time frame. It is believed that some type of manufacturing error occurred during those twelve minutes. Premium Edge contacted distributors and retailers in the Rochester area to pull suspect product from store shelves. No official recall was initiated with the FDA nor did Premium Edge add a press release to their website until after news broke publically. The FDA recall came 18 days after the Premium Edge recall was published here. What happened to the pets that was already eating that cat food unknowingly?
The most recent pet food product pull was from Wysong. After a reported death of a dog, Wysong discovered mold in several lots of dog foods believed to be caused from a “malfunctioning moisture checking device” during manufacturing. The second Wysong statement told petsumers that incoming ingredients and finished products are tested for moisture and mycotoxins (mold). Despite stated testing, dog foods still managed to contain mold and still managed to be shipped to distributors and retail outlets. Wysong placed a press release on their website; however it was not easily found. No official recall press release was initiated by the FDA. In fact, Wysong stated the FDA told them a press release was not necessary. “The matter was of small enough consequence that we have even been told by the FDA that a news release is not necessary.” http://www.petconnection.com/blog/2009/10/22/wysong-pet-food-recall-way-to-miss-the-point/
Again, what happened to the pets that were eating the moldy foods sold previous to the dog food withdrawal? (Latest statement from Wysong http://www.truthaboutpetfood.com/articles/473/1/Statement-from-Wysong-Pet-Foods/Page1.html)
Why was there not a prompt FDA recall press release of these pet foods? Why were these products (and many others of late) ‘withdrawn’ from store shelves instead of publically and promptly recalled? What is the difference between a pet food withdrawal and a pet food recall?
The FDA provided me the following explanation to the difference between a pet food withdrawal and a pet food recall…
“FDA does not have statutory authority to require manufacturers to initiate pet food recalls. Therefore, the initiation of such recalls on the part of manufacturers or importers is voluntary.
Please see the following for additional information on recalls:
Recalls classified as Class I require a press release which is typically issued by the firm. FDA posts those releases at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/default.htm.
Companies have conducted recalls that were not classified as Class I and issued press releases which is their prerogative but only Class I classified recalls require a press release.”
The FDA website defines a Class I, Class II, and Class III recall as:
Class I: Dangerous or defective products that predictably could cause serious health problems or death. Examples include: food found to contain botulinum toxin, food with undeclared allergens, a label mix-up on a lifesaving drug, or a defective artificial heart valve.
Class II: Products that might cause a temporary health problem, or pose only a slight threat of a serious nature. Example: a drug that is under-strength but that is not used to treat life-threatening situations.
Class III: Products that are unlikely to cause any adverse health reaction, but that violate FDA labeling or manufacturing laws. Examples include: a minor container defect and lack of English labeling in a retail food.
Now…the FDA states a Class I recall requires a press release. Class I is defined as a dangerous or defective product that predictably could cause serious health problems or death. Both of these recent pet food withdrawals are believed to have caused numerous serious illnesses and death, thus classifying them into a Class I recall. Yet neither of this pet food withdrawals were promptly released on the FDA website as is standard for Class I recalls. Why not?
The same FDA webpage states the following about recalls…
FDA seeks publicity about a recall only when it believes the public needs to be alerted to a serious hazard. When a recalled product has been widely distributed, the news media is a very effective way to reach large numbers of people. FDA can hold press conferences, issue press releases, and post updates to its Web site regularly, to alert people.
“It’s about being as transparent as possible,” says Catherine McDermott, public affairs manager in the Division of Federal-State Relations in FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs. “If we feel there is that much of a health risk, we will offer media updates every day to give new information, and all that we know gets posted to FDA’s Web site.”
‘Transparent’? Are you kidding me?
As if the above wasn’t enough of a concern, there is one more pet food issue that must be addressed. When a pet food is withdrawn from store shelves, what about the customers that have already purchased that suspect food? Don’t these pet owners deserve to be warned?
It’s quite a problem. Pet Food doesn’t like to admit an error has occurred with their pet foods. Who would? An official pet food recall becomes a permanent scar on the company image; furthermore it could become a haunting financial disaster.
However, on the other side of the coin, are pet owners…scared out of their wits. There is probably not a pet owner in the U.S. or Canada that doesn’t have a first hand experience with a sick pet due to a pet food or know someone that does. Over the past several years, thousands of dogs and cats have died directly because of a pet food. Thousands of pet deaths, YET nothing has changed in pet food regulations to prevent future deaths. Pet owners are frightened; worried sick if their pet’s food will recalled or silently pulled from store shelves…AFTER their dog or cat has been eating it. Will they learn the food is bad too late? Will their beloved dog or cat get sick or die?
There is a GAPING HOLE in the pet food withdrawal and recall system that everyone of authority seems to be ignoring; Notification of pet owners. Ya know…the people that purchased the pet food…they’re called CUSTOMERS! Customers and their pets are falling into this GAPING HOLE and no one seems to care.
Thanks to the Internet and a world of concerned pet parents, news of pet food withdrawals does get out sooner or later…but I have to wonder how many times has the news of a suspect pet food arrived too late? How many pets have fallen into the GAPING HOLE? One sick pet due to NOT INFORMING A PET OWNER is too many.
Furthermore, with every new story of a pulled pet food, without first learning it from the pet food company itself…the suspicion meter rises. What else are they (pet food) hiding? What else are they not telling us? More and more pet owners become even more untrusting of ALL pet food.
Trying to keep the lid on a pet food withdrawal isn’t working. The current recall system isn’t working either.
So…let’s try something else.
Let’s take matters into our own hands and ask (ok, perhaps demand nicely) Pet Food Companies initiate a notification system for pet food withdrawals and silent recalls! This isn’t brain surgery…this is a very simple system that can Save the lives of Pets! Perhaps your pet!
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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