A recent article by Marc Selinger on VIN News, provides a glimpse of the destruction a pet food recall can cause.  When you read the FDA reports of pet deaths provided through a Freedom of Information Act request taken by VIN News, the startling reality of an FDA statement smacks you in the face…“there’s no surveillance network tracking cases” of pet food related illness.

First, below are excerpts taken from the reports provided to FDA

Consumer reports death of dog due to consumption of dog food.  Dog, 14 yro, female, Chihuahua, weighing 5 lbs with a pre-existing heart murmur, consumed a combination of Natural Balance, Taste of the Wild and Canidae dog foods.  Dog displayed symptoms of loss of appetite, lethargy and diarrhea.”

“Consumer reports 1 death and 1 illness of dogs due to consumption of dog food product.  Dog #1, 5 mo, male, not neutered, weighing 18-20 lbs, is an Australian Border Collie.  Within 2 days of consuming product, he began to experience loss of appetite and bloody diarrhea.  Symptoms persisted until death on Apr 6, 2012.

“Consumer reports the death of her dog and cat from what she believes is the consumption of a dog food product.  Both consumed the same product.  Within a week of consuming product both dog and cat displayed the same symptoms, lethargy, loss of appetite and increased water intake.  Dog 11 yro Weimariner weighing 50 lbs died on 4/8/2012.  Cat, who also occasionally consumed cat food was a 12 yro mixed Siamese, died on 4/27/2012.”

“Complainant reports death of dog due to consumption of dog food product.  Dog, Alaskan Husky, female, 9yro, weighing 40 lbs had no pre-existing health concerns.  Within 2 days of consuming food she experienced diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, fever (106) and increased water intake.  All symptoms persisted until death on Apr 8, 2012.”

“In Mid March the owner’s dog a 1/2 German Shepard & 1/2 Golden Retriever was introduced to “Kirkland Signature Adult Dog Food” for an approximate two week time span.  The owner noticed that his dog had started having diarrhea and acting lethargic.  The dog owner went on vacation to GA and took the dog with him; however, the owner left the “Kirkland Signature Adult Dog Food” at home.  During the vacation the dog ate an unknown brand of dog food and the dog’s health greatly improved.  Upon returning home the dog was reintroduced to “Kirkland Signature Adult Dog Food”.  Within a week and a half the dog became ill, lethargic, had diarrhea, had lost of bowels, went into convulsions, and died at (blacked out).”

Now, here is FDA’s statement provided to VINNews…(bold added)

“Laura Alvey, spokeswoman for the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine, noted that when it comes to pet food, there’s no surveillance network tracking cases. The agency doesn’t have resources to conclusively link adverse events in animal health to food products in question.”

In 2007, after the deadliest pet food recall in history (imagine thousands of death reports similar to those above), Congress had a sit down (so to speak) with FDA.  Congress told FDA they must develop…

“(b) Early warning surveillance systems and notification during pet food recalls
Not later than 1 year after September 27, 2007, the Secretary shall establish an early warning and surveillance system to identify adulteration of the pet food supply and outbreaks of illness associated with pet food.  In establishing such system, the Secretary shall –
(1) consider using surveillance and monitoring mechanisms similar to, or in coordination with, those used to monitor human or animal health, such as the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) and PulseNet of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, …”

Perhaps in an effort to appease Congress, last year (August 2011) FDA announced their launch of PETNet – Pet Event Tracking Network.

In the FDA press release announcing PETNet, the FDA suggests it was their idea to develop this pet food event tracking system.  “PETNet grew out of discussions held with State and federal government public health officials at an August 2008, FDA sponsored meeting, “Gateway to Food Protection” (also known as the 2008 “50 State” meeting).”  No, an early warning surveillance system for pet food was demanded by Congress – and it was required to be completed by September 27, 2008.  However, PETNet wasn’t announced until August 2011 – 3 years late.

And now, after another deadly pet food recall, the FDA states “there’s no surveillance network tracking cases.”   Excuse me?

In my frustration, I am sending the message below to all of my Representatives in Congress…

Dear _____,

I am writing requesting your immediate investigation into FDA.  In 2007, after the deadliest pet food recall in history, Congress told FDA they must, within 2 years, develop pet food ingredient standards and definitions, processing standards for pet food, and update labeling standards of pet food.  Five years later, nothing more than a calorie statement on pet food labels has changed.  In other words, FDA did not perform the requirements issued by Congress.  As well, at the same time Congress required FDA to complete within 1 year (by September 2008) an early warning and surveillance system to identify adulteration of pet food.  Three years past the deadline, FDA announced PETNet.  However…

In a recent VIN News article, Laura Alvey spokesperson for FDA stated “when it comes to pet food, there’s no surveillance network tracking cases. The agency doesn’t have resources to conclusively link adverse events in animal health to food products in question.”

If you or I were required to perform duties by a given date as a responsibility of our job – and we ignored those duties – you and I would lose our jobs.  I ask you specifically, why are authorities at FDA not held accountable like you and I would be?

I respectfully request Congress take swift action and require FDA administration to perform pet food safety requirements developed by Congress five years ago.  Please respond to my message with your intentions to follow up with FDA.

(signature)

I encourage everyone that feels the frustration of lack of FDA action (pet food, pet treats) to please take a few moments and write your Representatives in Washington.  For a list of your Representatives, Click Here.  Feel free to compose your own message or copy mine above.  But please, just do it.

Actually I would like for members of Congress to hear just a few of the horror stories of pet death or illness, face to face, with a few pet owners that have suffered greatly because of a pet food or pet treat.  We deserve answers.  We deserve answers from Congress, from Diamond, Waggin Train, Milo’s Kitchen, and countless more.

Note:  in one of the pet death reports provided by VINNews, an owner had one pet die and the other pet became ill.  In this report, the pet that did not die but suffered similar symptoms, consumed a food whose production code and expiration date does NOT match foods that were recalled.  This food, linked to the same symptoms that killed this pet owners other dog, was NOT recalled.   The product from the FDA report:  “Kirkland Lamb Rice and Vegetable dog food Lot #KLV0201A2XMS, UPC #096619253500, EXP DT: Mar 26, 2013”

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