Originally published November 11 2008
Pet Food Recipe Changes and Challenges
by Susan Thixton
(NaturalNews) If you haven't seen it yet with your brand of dog food or cat food, you probably will soon. Prices of pet food ingredients are rising just like the prices of your groceries in recent months. Many pet food manufacturers are scrambling to stay competitive; some changing the formulation or recipe of their products trying to save money. What is going to happen to our pet foods is a question on many pet owners minds.
The rules of pet food manufacturing state that a company can change the ingredients in a pet food at any time yet they are not required to show the changes on the label for six months. With rising prices of ingredients in a very competitive market, every pet food manufacturer is facing the decision of a formula change using less costly ingredients or risk raising product prices and losing customers. The worry for pet owners is the quality and nutritional value of those 'cheaper ingredients'. And of course they worry if more pet food companies will turn to countries with little to no quality control as a supplier of 'cheaper ingredients'.
After the six months label change has been made, reflecting the new list of ingredients, do you think you would notice it? Do you examine the ingredient list every time you purchase a new food? If you are like most consumers, you don't. And you shouldn't have to.
I am not sure what can be done about this, but it's certainly time that all food regulations – pet and people – are developed to protect the consumer or petsumer instead of business. The pet owning customers are solely responsible for the profits and the existence of pet food companies. It's time we are treated far better than how you are treating us. We'll be glad to take our money elsewhere if you continue this way.
Here is an example of how important it is that rules of pet food manufacturing and labeling be changed; proving the point that the existing non-disclosure is of no benefit to pet owners and to quality minded pet food companies. In 1938 when the world listened to radio, a 60 minute broadcast of the H.G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds terrified listeners all over the country. Excerpts of the book were presented as news bulletins, suggesting to listeners than an actual Martian invasion was in progress. Listeners panicked assuming the broadcast was real and an invasion was actually happening. In reality it was just Wells' novel being read as a 'show'. Fast forward to the present; multiply the H.G. Wells reaction by millions with the Internet. One unknowing pet owner's dog has a reaction to the ingredient changes in their pet food. The dog gets loose stool and is showing signs of 'tummy' problems. With all the recalls in the last few years, the owner justifiably panics and turns to the Internet; posting the information about her dogs reaction to the food. She discovers that other pets have suffered the same experience; more tummy problems. And naturally everyone – NOT knowing the pet food company changed their recipe – assume the next recall is on the way! Then later when they discover the pet food had an ingredient change – without their knowledge. They feel duped. Taken advantage of. Misled and mistreated for years of customer loyalty. This pet food company, by NOT being upfront with customers regarding ingredient changes, just put many pet owners through great worry and concern. Because they did not put the concern of the pet first, they just lost customers.
You should know that pet food companies CAN choose to alert their customers to any ingredient changes or supplier changes, but they do not have to. The existing regulations do NOT deny them the opportunity to alert their customers to any changes in the pet food.
Pet owners should also be aware that some pet food companies have hired representatives all over the globe to secretly post good reports about their products on blogs and forums all across the Internet. Some of these representatives have blogs of their own – pretending to be a faithful fan of a particular pet food line; spreading nothing but positive information. Others are sent to post comments on forums regarding the pet food line they work for. Take great caution with any information you read.
Add everything together - pet food regulations protecting pet food instead of petsumers, higher ingredient prices, non-disclosure of recipe changes, non-disclosure of ingredient sources, and the rapid spread of information on the Internet – pet owners continue to fret and worry what to do about pet food. Unlike pet food companies, pet owners don't look at their dog or cat as a business. They are family to us. Without changes to pet food regulations demanding timely and truthful information, without responsible pet food manufacturers taking the fight on themselves for changes in existing regulations (instead of letting consumers groups do all the work), pet owners continue to worry and stress over which pet food products they can trust. Surely somebody will 'get' this.
Responsible pet food manufacturers should be the ones lobbying AAFCO and the FDA to demand changes in pet food regulations instead of leaving all this work to a few pet consumer groups. It is time things change and the few responsible pet food companies out there that DO care about producing high quality pet foods instead of high quality commercials should step up and take the bull by the horns. Demanding changes to the extremely lax laws governing pet food will not only benefit pet owners, it will benefit reputable pet food manufacturers as well. Are you listening?
In the meantime, changes in a pet food, even small changes, can affect your pet; dogs especially. Most dogs need to change foods – even change of a new recipe of the same food – slowly. I suggest to pet owners to add ¼ new food to ¾ old food for 4 to 7 days, ½ to ½ for another 4 to 7 days, and so on. Cats can typically change foods quickly without problems. But should you notice any problems in elimination or behavior with your dog or cat, immediately call the pet food manufacturer and ask of the 'formulation' or recipe has been altered. Slight changes of ingredients will probably only affect your pet for a few days. Don't wait to see if 'things' improve in a few days, call the manufacturer right away. If they tell you no changes have been made in the food's formulation, you should probably consult your veterinarian just to be safe.
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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