Four year anniversary 0f Melamine Pet Food Recalls 2007-2011
Did you know that:
There is a pet food recall on an average of once every three months. The past month alone has seen at least two pet food product recalls and a “product withdrawal” (an under-the-table way of recalling product without the scary “recall” word being put in front of the public). Potentially toxic mold, omission of critical nutrients, over-or under-dosing of vitamins and minerals—all these are threats to the lives and health of our pets, and all have been present in pet foods in the very recent past.
Over the past few years, two horrible pet food disasters stand out especially. The widespread presence of kidney-damaging melamine in pet foods made by Menu Foods, a subcontractor company that does food production for many well-known brands, caused an estimated 14,000+ dead and damaged pets in the US and Canada in 2006 and 2007. Melamine, a plastic used in dishes and fertilizer, was deliberately added by Chinese suppliers of wheat gluten, one ingredient in the pet foods, to falsify protein tests. In 2008, a very high-end brand of dry cat food was subjected to high levels of irradiation when imported to Australia, causing changes in the food that resulted in very severe neurological damage and ended in death for many cats whose families are still paying the costs. Many problems caused by pet food go undiagnosed or unreported.
The “standards” for nutrition in commercial pet foods are very weak. AAFCO, the Association of American Feed Control Officials, specifies in its handbook the following protocol for assuring an adult dog food is nutritionally adequate:
Eight dogs older than 1 yr. must start the test. At start all dogs must be normal weight & health. A blood test is to be taken from each dog at the start and finish of the test. For 6 months, the dogs used must only eat the food being tested. The dogs finishing the test must not lose more than 15% of their body weight. During the test, none of the dogs used are to die or be removed because of nutritional causes. Six of the 8 dogs starting must finish the test.
Not very stringent standards, are they? All the food has to do to “meet standards” is not starve or kill your dog in six months. That’s all. Yet many pets eat the same food every day for fifteen to twenty years. And the members of AAFCO themselves are all members of the pet food industry. Talk about the fox guarding the henhouse!
The FDA cannot issue mandatory recalls for pet food that is known to be unsafe. (In fact, the FDA has no authority to mandate a recall on anything but baby formula.) Recalls are at the discretion of the manufacturer. So a company that knows a given batch of pet food contains, say, fragments of metal from a machine that broke during a production run, is under no absolute obligation to do anything about it. And when customers call with complaints, the pet food company’s answer is almost always, “We have had no other complaints about that problem,” when in fact there may have been plenty of other complaints.
What you can do:
- If your pet is ill, contact your vet and let the vet know if you have reason to believe the food is causing a problem.
- If you have a pet food problem, contact both the company and the FDA. http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/ReportaProblem/ucm182403.htm
Issued by: FDA, Center for Veterinary Medicine
- Learn about pet food ingredients; what’s good, what’s bad, and where they come from. Carefully read the labels on your pet’s food.
- Save all receipts for pet food, and save the original packaging until the food is consumed by your pet.
- Become involved in advocating for safe, nutritious pet food.
For more information:
itchmoforums.com An active pet forum with information about food ingredients, recalls, specific product reviews and experiences. ItchmoForums does not receive corporate sponsorship or funding, and does not accept advertising.
http://www.pfpsa.org Pet Food Products Safety Alliance, a consumer group that tests pet food and posts test results.
Timeline for the Menu Foods recalls of 2007.
Description and discussion of effects of irradiated food on Australian cats.
http://www.consumeraffairs.com Consumer Affairs lists consumer complaints about a large variety of products, including pet foods. Search for your pet’s food on this site, and you may be surprised. Also publishes articles on pet food problems and recalls.
FDA is providing the following information from Premium Edge Pet Foods to alert pet owners of a voluntary recall of certain cat foods manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods for Premium Edge. The affected brands were found to contain an inadequate level of thiamine, which may cause clinical signs of thiamine deficiency in cats eating this food. FDA is working on this situation and will provide additional information as it becomes available. If your veterinarian diagnoses that your cat has become ill from consuming the affected pet food, please ask your veterinarian to file a report with FDA.
Diamond Pet Foods has issued a voluntary recall on the following date codes of Premium Edge Finicky Adult cat food and Premium Edge Hairball cat food: RAF0501A22X 18lb., RAF0501A2X 6 lb., RAH0501A22X 18 lb., RAH0501A2X 6lb. The date of manufacture is May 28, 2009. All retail outlets shipped the above lots were contacted, asking them to pull the product from the store shelves. The retailers were also asked to contact their customers via email or telephone requesting them to check the date code of the food. However, if you or anyone you know has these date codes of Premium Edge cat food, please return them to your retailer.
Symptoms displayed by an affected cat will be neurological in nature. Symptoms may include wobbly walking or muscle weakness, paralysis of the hindlimbs, seizures, ventroflexion (bending towards the floor) of the neck, and abnormal eye movement called nystagmus. Any cats fed these date codes that display these symptoms should be immediately taken to a veterinarian.
The company tested the product and found no contaminants in the cat food; however the cat foods were deficient in thiamine. Diamond tracked the vitamin premix lot number that was utilized in these particular cat foods and have performed testing on another lot of Premium Edge cat food that used the same vitamin premix, and it was not deficient in thiamine. No other neurological signs have been reported on any other product manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods.
To contact Premium Edge Pet Foods, please call 800-977-8797 between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm central time, Monday through Friday.
How to Report a Pet Food Complaint
Issued by: FDA, Center for Veterinary Medicine
Communications Staff, HFV-12
7519 Standish Place
Rockville, MD 20855
Halloween is meant to be a scary holiday for us humans, but our pets don’t appreciate the fright! There are many dangers to our furry companions on and around Halloween. Here are some tips for keeping your pet safe:
- On Halloween and during the days before and after, do not leave your pet outdoors unattended, and most especially do not allow cats to roam. Even dogs in a fenced yard are not safe from harassment by those who may throw objects over a fence, including things that may not be safe for your pet to eat. Such activities tend to increase around Halloween. Horribly, many pets, especially cats, disappear at this time, never to be heard of again. One can only speculate as to what their awful fate may have been.
- On trick-or-treat night, your dog, cat, or bird may be happiest in a quiet area behind closed doors. Even pets who normally welcome visitors may be spooked by repeated ringing of the doorbell and strangers in costumes. This stress may cause your pet to behave unpredictably, to dart out an open door, relieve him- or herself on the floor, or even bite and scratch. Dogs may enjoy a filled bone or Kong to work on and stay occupied while separated from the activity, especially if crated. A bed to snuggle in, or a blanket to hide under, may comfort a scared cat. Birds may do best with their cages covered. Try to have a family member spend time with pets who are thus confined, playing with and reassuring them.
- Young trick-or-treaters may be intimidated by dogs who greet them at the door, or who are in the yard in front of your house; another good reason to keep your pet in a private, safe area.
- Keep bowls or bags of Halloween treats out of your pet’s reach, and don’t underestimate where they can find these! Dogs may eat a whole bag of chocolate bars with the wrappers still on, and experience serious consequences. Chocolate is toxic to pets and can be deadly. Many cats love pumpkin, and may be attracted to your jack-o-lantern. While pumpkin is in general good for cats and dogs, consuming too much can cause digestive upset.
- Be extremely careful with lighted candles; do not use them where they may contact wagging tails or inquisitive whiskers, or be knocked over. The best option is to use battery-powered candles or flashlights.
- Use caution with decorations and costumes. Pets may swallow beads, strings, glitter, or other materials that can cause choking or bowel obstruction, or damage the stomach or intestines. Check carefully to make sure that small parts do not come off and become available to a curious pet.
Wishing you and your pets a safe and happy Halloween!
Photo copyright ItchmoCommunity member. Used with permission.