When the Going Gets Tough
The tough get going! Nay-sayers were bashing our test results again. Negative comments from a ‘pet food brand ambassador’ vet. Misleading and inaccurate complaints from an industry lab. The truth hurts – unless the truth is on your side.
Back in January when we released our pet food test results, nay-sayers came out of retirement to bash. A veterinarian – Dr. Jessica Vogelsang – whose website states “This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog.” mocked our results. Not one of the bashers bothered to contact me or our scientists – they just opened their mouth and inserted their foot.
What the critics didn’t like, was our results were paid for by consumers and the results were for consumers. Results for consumers – just like what is provided to consumers by veterinarians or human physicians – don’t include methodology. But the critics didn’t like that. They wanted it their way, not our way. It’s easy to criticize when a square peg doesn’t fit in their round hole.
And recently, a television station in my own backyard joined in the bashing, almost appearing to defend Beneful Dog Food in the midst of a lawsuit. This television station went to the Pet Food Institute (trade association representing Big Pet Food) for comment, and our non-friend there Kurt Gallagher (the very same Kurt Gallagher who purchased the domain names TruthaboutPetFood.org and .net on behalf of the PFI) directed this journalist to none other than Dr. Jessica Vogelsang – the very same vet mentioned above that offers herself as a “Brand Ambassador”. (Some of the brands she has worked with include Iams, Eukanuba, Innova, and Hill’s Science Diet. I’ll let you form your own opinion if her ‘brand ambassador’ duties could have included defending the brands we tested.)
And Mr. Kurt of PFI also directed this television station to the lab who performed the mycotoxin results for us, the very same lab that had our press release announcing the Pet Food Test results pulled from the internet within a day of its release. The statement the lab provided: “A spokesperson wrote in an email, “I can confirm to you that the samples, which were quite small, were given to our labs without any branding or commercial packaging, so we have no means of verifying that any of the results match particular products.”
The lab complained they received blind samples – something that is standard in testing when unbiased results are wanted. And they complained that the samples were “quite small” when they themselves established the sample size. Anyone that knows the slightest bit about product testing knows that blind samples are common and sample size is always determined by the lab.
But for some reason, this television station didn’t understand this simple truth about product testing. And when the original story aired, they did not include the statement from our scientist provided to them. Which said…
I am not sure what was said to you by Alltech.
On March 17th I attended professional meetings for the ASAS Midwestern Section and ADSA Midwest Branch . At one of the talks, an Alltech scientist presented data regarding their 37+ Program that is used to evaluate North American feedstuffs for multiple mycotoxins using ultra performance liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS/MS) methodology developed at Alltech’ s Global Research Headquarters, KY, USA.
The information that was presented has been added to my collection of materials from Alltech that define their methods and level of scientific expertise.
The pet products that were tested were sent to our office from :
Pet Food Consumer Advocate
All pet product samples were sent to Alltech for testing. Test results received from Alltech were reported to Sue Thixton, as received from Alltech. Alltech Scientists used the following headings on the reports: Toxins; Amount , ppb; Low Risk; Medium Risk; and High Risk.
Explanations of these categories and the significance of having combinations of mycotoxins was not written by INTI Service. The Alltech interpretation of their reporting methods are available in many sources. Alltech emphasizes “there is a need to analyze multiple mycotoxins using sensitive quantitative tests” and that “different forms of mycotoxins interact among each other to increase overall toxicity even when they are present even at smaller concentrations.”
The comprehensive testing that was done by the 37+ Program is typically more advanced and sensitive to mycotoxins than what is commonly used by pet food companies with their rapid testing (TLC and ElSA) of incoming ingredients. Alltech considers the TLC and ELISA methods as “not providing a good appreciation of the overall mycotoxin challenge coming from the simultaneous presence of multiple groups of mycotoxins in a feed material.”
After some…let’s call it unpleasant correspondence between me and the television journalist that did this bashing story…the television station posted a follow up response from our scientist.
“I am a full member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and in 2012, I received the General Achievement Award. The field of forensics is governed by a specific set of scientific and ethical guidelines that surpass scientists not bound by the Forensic community.
The samples received by our professionals at INTI, were processed according to procedures defined according to the type of investigations that are requested. All products came “as is” from the store they were purchased. Each product was photographed and given an identification number to prevent laboratory bias for a specific brand of product.
The only person allowed to send proper representative samples was a trained research scientist with a BS, MS, and PhD.
I have over 29 years of experience in evaluating animal feed and health claims and I am qualified to testify as an expert witness in almost every state and in Federal courts.
Alltech’ s comments do not indicate the exhaustive conversation our head researcher Dr. Tsengeg Purevjav had with Alltech scientists regarding the scope and required accuracy of the tests that were under consideration.
All sample sizes were done with the full direction of Alltech Scientists. At no time was INTI Service or Dr. Purevjav contacted by Alltech to indicate the samples were too small or not handled properly. At no time did Alltech Scientists ask for addition samples or any other information except to get their invoice paid.
The results of the tests conducted by Alltech were reviewed in phone conversations between Dr. Purevjav and Alltech scientists. In addition, all Alltech supplied documents were used before, during, and after direct contact with Alltech Scientists.
The presenter at the 2015 Midwest Animal Science meetings in Des Moines on March 17 contradicted what Alltech told you :”It is not intended to be representative of a toxicological risk.”
When the going gets tough, the tough get going!
For the record, four months later (after our results were published), not one pet food company has bothered to contact me. Not one of the pet foods we tested has asked me or our scientists for testing methods. Not one regulatory authority has reached out to our scientists to discuss the findings. Could it be that they all know we did our testing exactly right and they have no way to defend what we found in pet food?
Another weak attempt to discredit the effort of determined pet food consumers. Long story short, our Pet Food Test results stand firm.
But I do have a question for nay-sayers. If we did things so wrong, please enlighten us on how to properly test pet food. Be specific. Share with us your insight on proper testing methods. What do you recommend?
How very sad that some in media are so gullible. How very sad that no one other than educated consumers (who almost all learned the hard way) and a handful of brave veterinarians are questioning how waste feed ingredients can become ‘complete and balanced’ nutrition for pets. How very sad that most lawmakers ignore that FDA openly allows pet food/animal feed to violate federal food safety law. How very sad that FDA believes recycled waste is nutrition.
And…How very sad that pet food consumers had to spend their own money to test pet food – found startling risks – and no regulatory authority lifts a finger to investigate.
One more time. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. We – pet food consumers – are one tough bunch. We’ve been bashed and battered, our pets have been killed or sickened, and all regulatory authorities and many so called experts continue to turn a deaf ear to us. I hope they all hear this – we have only begun to fight.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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