Stupidity in the pet food industry, some things just never seem to change do they? For the third straight year, TruthaboutPetFood would like to remind all of the stupidity that occurred this year and accept your votes for the Stupidest Act in Pet Food for 2011.
Some of our nominees this year are new faces, and many old favorites are back for further consideration. For your pet food enlightenment, here are the 2011 nominees…
Iams Pet Food
On Friday November 25th Price Choppers (a grocery store) posted a notice on their website that three varieties of Iams pet food were being recalled due to elevated aflatoxin levels. On Sunday November 27th, that notice on the Price Choppers website mysteriously disappeared. Monday November 28th, with a phone call to Iams we learned that the recall wasn’t a recall. Price Chopper “posted erroneously” the warning to consumers…it seems they were only supposed to remove the product from store shelves – not warn consumers. Iams told me this was a “product pull, not a consumer recall.”
As always, the FDA has several stupid acts to consider…
On November 18, 2011, the FDA issued a warning to consumers regarding the dangers of chicken jerky treats from China. This warning from the FDA was five months after the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association sent warnings about the Chinese jerky treats AND the FDA warning did not mention any brands to assist worried consumers.
Early in 2011, we learned of the shocking pet food testing results performed by Spex CertiPrep. Months later, the FDA tried to discount the results. However, thanks to a toxicologist friend of TAPF, we learned that the FDA’s attempt to discount the heavy metal pet food testing results was not soundly based on modern science. It turns out, the FDA cited the National Research Council’s (NRC) heavy metal risk levels instead of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) highly science based heavy metal risk levels. The difference between the two? The FDA’s accepted levels allow 133 times more dangerous heavy metal contaminations in pet food than the EPA.
When considering if the FDA is your choice for the 2011 Stupidest Act in Pet Food, keep in mind that the FDA has won this award for the last two years. As well, consider that the FDA firmly believes it is acceptable for pet foods to contain ingredients sourced from euthanized animals, diseased animals and downer animals. In fact, FDA Compliance Policies provide pet foods loopholes to violate Federal Food Safety law. At the January 2011 AAFCO meeting, I asked Dan McChesney FDA Director, about these ridiculous Compliance Policies. His response was the typical political dance (avoidance) and he held steadfast that the FDA feels there is no risk to pets consuming euthanized or diseased animals.
The RealAge website, which offers advice for those wishing to extend their life, has added in recent years ‘petage’ information. This year they added an article titled “What Not to Feed a Cat“. RealAge.com told readers “CatAge advises against feeding your cat raw or cooked meat”. Hmmm, isn’t pet food (kibble and can) supposed to contain cooked meat?
Hill’s Science Diet
This year Hill’s Science Diet introduced a new Feline Thyroid Health diet which has not received rave reviews from the veterinary world. Reports are that the diet was only tested in a minimal number of cats and some suspect Hill’s will be continuing their research on this pet food on the unsuspecting patients of practicing veterinarians. I sent Hill’s Science Diet questions on these concerns, but they never bothered to respond.
Science Diet has a webpage titled The Truth about Pet Food Ingredients. Interesting, Science Diet’s ‘truth’ endorses GM grains as beneficial to pets, and tells pet parents that by-products are healthy, nutritious pet food ingredients. All by-products healthy? Even by-products from diseased and euthanized animals allowed by FDA Compliance Policies to be processed into pet food by-product ingredients?
Debbie Phillips-Donaldson writes for petfood-connection.com – Big Pet Food. In a blog post this year, she shared some advice that falls into the stupid category (that is if you are a pet owner). Her post was about the ‘natural’ claim on pet foods… “So, even though most countries or regulatory bodies have no legal definition of “natural,” the buzzword has clearly captured consumers’ attention and wallets. It’s a marketing claim that works.”
In other words…’natural’ means nothing officially – but it sells pet food.
For two years in a row, Consumer Reports have published extremely ill-informed information to pet owners. This year, they told pet parents that cheap pet food was just as nutritious as any expensive pet food. When pet owners and myself tried to provide Consumer Reports with some education, they stood their ground. Insisting that pet foods sourced from diseased or euthanized animals was just as nutritious as pet foods sourced from Grade A meats. I’m pretty sure a third grader could figure out how stupid this is.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is an organization that has charge of all pet food ingredient definitions (and they approve new ingredients), pet food labeling, and various other regulations that define the pet food industry.
AAFCO has determined that there is only one approved source for Vitamin K that should be allowed in pet foods (other than a food source such as spinach). AAFCO’s ONLY approved source of Vitamin K?…menadione. Which is a risky synthetic Vitamin K linked to serious illness. No, not even a natural supplement vitamin K is approved by AAFCO – only synthetic.
A recent study found that Senior Dog Foods vary dramatically in calories, protein and sodium. One would think that a ‘senior dog food’ would meet nutritional requirements for a senior dog, right? Oh, but wait – there aren’t any! Nope, AAFCO hasn’t bothered to establish Senior pet food regulations. So even though there are dozens and dozens of varieties of Senior Pet Foods, millions of dollars spent each year on Senior pet foods, there are NO regulations established to require those Senior Pet Foods to actually do anything specifically to improve the health of a senior pet.
There is no one particular company or authority to tag this stupidity nominee on, however – it remains stupid. $21 Million dollars worth of Chinese imported pet food ingredients imported into the US in just one month this year; and that is an average month. No warning is required on the pet food label that contains these Chinese imported ingredients. Ok…I realize that not everything that comes out of China is risky, but considering the 2007 pet food recall and that the FDA just issued a warning that Chinese imported jerky treats for dogs are risky, it continues to baffle why so much continues to be imported from China for our pets.
The Pet Food Industry holds a big trade event each spring. Pet food ingredient suppliers are there, the latest manufacturing technology is there. I was urged to attend this event by several pet food manufacturers (those that appreciate the information TAPF shares with pet owners). Imagine what great news and information I would be able to learn and share with pet owners! So this spring, I wrote Steve Akins Vice President of WATT Publications (hosting the event) for a press pass. The request was denied. I was told “It’s in the best interest of our conference and exhibition to deny your request for a press pass”. Ok, so then I asked if I could attend if I paid admission? Nope, they would not let a consumer representative in!
Evangers Pet Food
Evangers Pet Food has made news for a couple of years now. Last year they were accused of stealing gas & electric from power companies at their Chicago area pet food plant, this year the FDA came down on Evangers alleging a couple of varieties of pet foods they produce did not contain the specified meat claimed on the label. Evangers has denied the FDA claim, but we’re still waiting on FDA notice of the resolve to this issue.
Visit Truth About Pet Food to cast your vote.