Originally published June 25 2008
FDA Pet Food Safety Meeting Proves No One Is Watching Out for Pets
by Susan Thixton
(NaturalNews) If you heard a thud last week it was the ball dropping... the $26 Billion dollar a year pet food industry ball being dropped by the FDA and every major pet organization in the U.S. Finally, fourteen months after the world's largest pet food recall –- on May 13, 2008 the FDA held its Pet Food Safety Meeting. It was over in 90 minutes.
Dan McChesney, Director of the Office of Compliance for the Center for Veterinary Management (a sub category of the FDA), opened the meeting promptly 40 minutes late. Introducing Dr. David Acheson who told the sparse crowd that the FDA is shifting from 'reactive to proactive' implementing prevention, intervention, and response strategies in the FDA's new Amendments Act. Interestingly Dr. Acheson said the response to pet food issues has "been better on the animal side than on the human side". Knowing that thousands of pets became ill and died in last year's recall –- if that response was better than on the human side, I'm very worried about eating anything.
About 30 minutes of the 90 minute meeting was taken up by several FDA representatives who stood at the podium and stumbled reading FDAAA regulations. As a consumer and a pet owner –- watching our FDA representatives have difficulty reading –- I have to say this again: FDA Representatives had difficulty reading their own regulations... well, now I'm thinking about never eating again.
Next we heard from Dr. John Branham of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Though Dr. Branham seemed extremely uncomfortable in a tie, his statement offered three recommendations to the FDA:
1. Modification of pet food labels with health claims
2. Add calorie statements to pet food labels
3. Urged the development of a formalized disciplinary emergency preparedness program to be led by the FDA
Current pet food regulations implemented by AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials) and accepted by the FDA allow pet food labels to make "unqualified claims either directly or indirectly". Modification of pet food labels needs to go well past health claims if pet owners are to actually understand what they are feeding their pets.
Whew, next we took a 40 minute break. The handful of attendees stumbled around the room looking for coffee which we were later told was "not available at the meeting". Are you kidding me? Coffee is even available at Jiffy Lube.
There was a brief statement from Mr. Ricky Shrader of AAFCO. He seemed to brag that AAFCO has 'the most comprehensive list of animal feed ingredients' –- which puzzled me. There is nothing to brag about when one pet food ingredient name –- such as the common pet food ingredient by-product –- can be the combination of dozens of left over animal parts not suitable for use in human food –- and all misleading the pet owning consumer. Chicken feet and cow intestines listed on a pet food label probably wouldn't sell much pet food. Compliments of AAFCO and accepted by the FDA, pet food manufacturers are allowed to disguise these left-over animal parts as by-products. Not much to brag about.
The highlight of the event was heard from Mike Floyd of Defend Our Pets. Mr. Floyd nailed the FDA and AAFCO shortcomings time and time again. One of his suggestions to the FDA was since the FDA lacks the manpower to inspect all 327 ports of entry in the U.S., why not limit the number to just a handful of ports of entry to assure all imported products (human and pet) can be inspected? I'm guessing this is too common sense for the FDA to comprehend and implement.
Conspicuously missing at the pet food safety meeting was any input from the Humane Society, the ASPCA, and pet food manufacturers themselves. Common sense would lead one to think that the Humane Society and the ASPCA would speak up for the millions of U.S. pets that they are supposed to be looking out for. And common sense would imply that pet food manufacturers themselves would have provided the FDA with input of new ideas and suggestions for the safety of pet food. But common sense did not prevail.
Fourteen months after thousands of pets died and we still have nothing. Pet food is not even a smidgen closer to being any safer than it was prior to the last recall. Pet owners: read your labels. Call the pet food manufacturer and ask if they import any ingredients from China and if the food uses a human-grade quality of meat. Avoid by-products and chemical preservatives (just for starters). The FDA and the major pet organizations don't 'have your back'. Learn as much as you can about what your pet is eating (with treats too).
About the authorSusan Thixton has an international pet people following providing dog and cat lovers a trusted source for pet food and pet food ingredient information. She's been called courageous, perseverant, even "the Caped Crusader for Pets" for her 16 year study of pet food. Susan Thixton is the author of hundreds of pet industry articles and the 2006 released book Truth About Pet Food (currently being updated for a second edition). She developed and publishes the pet product consumer magazine Petsumer Report and is a frequent speaker and radio guest all over the U.S. and Canada with more than 70 appearances in the last 2 years.
If you are looking for straight forward pet food information that can have an almost immediate impact on your pet's health - subscribe to the free newsletter, and subscribe to Petsumer Report to see reviews of close to 700 dog and cat foods and treats (adding 40+ each month). Susan Thixton's 'truth' will help you find a safer, healthier dog or cat food that could add years to your pet's life. http://www.TruthAboutPetFood.com
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