December 19, 2012
I was reading an article on the KTBS website about a hand and foot – originally suspected as being human but later found to belong to a primate – which turned up at a Louisiana rendering plant. Rendering plants, for those who don’t know, take animal remains – sometimes whole, sometimes parts – and grind/boil/obliterate them into protein powder. The powder, called meat meal or sometimes more specifically named chicken meal or what have you, is sold to pet food companies and other buyers.
I was wondering how a primate hand and foot ended up at this rendering plant when I noticed a story under “Related Content” about a place called Chimp Haven. The sanctuary will be taking in another 100 chimps from a large research lab in New Iberia, LA. (Both the lab and the sanctuary are federally funded.) So while I can’t say for certain how the primate body parts ended up at the rendering plant, it seems only logical to consider the research lab as a possible source. You can just play that out in your mind for a little bit.
Oh, also: Good morning!
April 10, 2012
Recalled, no illnesses reported:
Diamond Naturals Lamb Meal & Rice. This is being done as a precautionary measure, as the product has the potential to be contaminated with salmonella. No illnesses have been reported and no other Diamond manufactured products are affected.
Not recalled, hundreds of illnesses (and some deaths) reported:
- Waggin’ Train (made by Nestle Purina)
- Canyon Creek Ranch jerky treats or tenders (made by Nestle Purina)
- Milo’s Kitchen Home-style Dog Treats (made by Del Monte)
A log of complaints collected from pet owners and veterinarians contains references to at least three popular brands of jerky treats that may be associated with kidney failure and other serious ailments, according to internal Food and Drug Administration documents obtained by msnbc.com.
“No specific products have been recalled because a definitive cause has not been determined,” FDA officials said in a statement.
Nestle Purina and Del Monte both maintain their chicken jerky treats are safe. Those of us who endured the massive 2007 pet food recall are accustomed to hearing such assurances which sooner or later result in recalled products.
It is very easy to make your own dog treats (sample recipe here). You can also share your own food with your dogs as treats. It’s a good use for stuff that’s gone stale from the cupboards (crackers, corn chips, cereal) and you can also give fruit/veggie pieces (apples, bananas, carrots). By making your own treats you have complete knowledge and control over what ingredients are in the treats, which is useful for owners of dogs with food sensitivities as well as those wanting peace of mind.
August 16, 2010
Consumer Affairs reports that Dianne, a volunteer with Collie rescue in IL, was feeding her own 4 dogs at home when she says she found a dead frog in a can of Pedigree chicken with gravy dog food:
“My big concern is what’s going into this food,” she says. “What’s going into this food that people are feeding their pets? Obviously, it’s not chicken. There’s a frog in that food – a whole dead frog. And if there’s a frog in there, what else is in the food?”
Mars Petcare, maker of Pedigree, seems to be attempting to file the claim under W for Wendy’s Chili Finger Fraud:
“At Mars Petcare US, quality and food safety is our top priority,” the company said in a statement ConsumerAffairs.com received Friday evening. “While it’s highly improbable that this could occur, we’re taking it very seriously and launching a full-scale investigation into this consumer’s claim.”
Mars added: “We are sending a third-party to the consumer’s home today to collect the frog and deliver it directly to an independent lab for testing. It’s important to note that canned pet food is cooked at high temperatures and processed on high speed equipment, making it very unlikely that a frog could become enclosed in a can.“
Dianne told us on Saturday that no one with Mars or an independent lab came to her home on Friday to pick up the dead frog.
Stay tuned. And yes friends, there is a photo of the dead frog at the link.
June 7, 2010
It’s only been 3 years since the massive pet food recalls of 2007 but anytime is a good time for a refresher. I’ve already blogged quite a bit on things I learned due to the recalls, including:
- My thoughts at the one year anniversary of the pet food recalls
- Why the AAFCO stamp of approval is worthless
- The similarities between the pet food and peanut butter recalls
- A list of things I think are worth avoiding in pet food
- The only product I can recommend
Basically, I was left with a strong feeling of distrust after learning about the widespread pet food industry practices which resulted in the deaths and tragic illnesses of thousands of pets in this country. That feeling remains as strong as ever because the pet food companies didn’t say, “This is unacceptable! We’re going to do a complete overhaul and come back with new, transparent practices that will restore consumer confidence.” Far from it. What they said was more along the lines of, “Circle the wagons boys! Consumers are daring to ask questions. Screw that!”
As far as I know, not one significant thing in the practices of the pet food industry as a whole has changed for the better since all those pets suffered and died. Therefore, the potential for a recurrence is plausible to my mind. And indeed, we have regularly seen pet food products recalled, though on a smaller scale, in the years since. Granted, recalls are going to happen, but the reasons that they happen and how they are handled by the pet food companies are very similar to 2007. There have been a few isolated cases where I thought recalls were handled well – for example Orijen – but the large corporations still deny problems, rely on secrecy and employ the “proprietary information“, duck and cover business model.
Overall, I would say my opinion of pet food corporations has changed little since 2007. How about you – do you feel things in the pet food industry are better, worse or about the same?
June 6, 2010
Food Geek Edition:
The New York Times has a good article called The Truth about Cat and Dog Food:
[...]I wonder whether people who invest in high-end pet foods are getting their money’s worth. Are their pets really healthier and happier? Do they live longer? And are these foods any better than the generic versions sold in supermarkets and big-box stores?
Terrierman has posted a view on the above article.
The NYT piece contains an interview with food expert Marion Nestle, as does this piece in the San Francisco Chronicle.
A Veterinarian links the 2007 pet food recall to food safety issues which affect us all
FDA launches a pilot program for GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) “substances” in animal food. Let me guess, that would include everything on the planet?
Bravo, a company which sells raw pet food, is moving its production of beef and lamb formulas from the U.S. to New Zealand. Bravo had previously sourced some lamb and beef parts from New Zealand but did the manufacturing of the product in the States. One reason for the switch:
Sourcing and manufacturing the products in New Zealand enables Bravo to use the entire carcass and reduce the number of steps involved in the production process, thus resulting in better quality products[...]
I always like the idea of using an entire carcass of a food animal. I hate to think that anything edible or usable is wasted.
A cooked, homemade dog food recipe I came across
How does this vid compare with feeding time at your house?
The most popular post on my blog right now seems to be this one from a year ago about the FDA telling Evanger’s pet food company to get it together on the botulism thing (I paraphrase, heh). So an update is probably in order. Apparently Evanger’s has not made satisfactory changes and the FDA (a government org which, inexplicably, lacks the authority to mandate recalls of anything but baby milk) has recently, in effect, shut the company down:
When the FDA announced its latest enforcement against Evanger’s, the agency’s Dr. Bernette Dunham said: “The FDA is stopping Evanger’s ability to ship pet food in interstate commerce. Today’s enforcement action sends a strong message to manufacturers of pet food that we will take whatever action necessary to keep unsafe products from reaching consumers.”
Before Evanger’s can resume shipping products, the FDA said, it must prove that corrective actions and processing procedures have been made to ensure the company’s finished product will not present a health hazard.
Botulism is a toxin that affects the nervous system and can be fatal, the FDA said. Symptoms of botulism in dogs and cat include progressive muscle paralysis, disturbed vision, trouble chewing and swallowing, and progressive weakness to the body. Death is usually caused by paralysis of the heart or the muscles used in breathing.
U.S. Marshals seized millions of dollars worth of ingredients on May 7 2009 from American Mercantile Corporation, based in Memphis Tennessee. During an inspection of the company in March, FDA investigators discovered evidence of extensive rodent and insect infestation throughout the company’s warehouse, which the company failed to correct.
American Mercantile stores and processes food ingredients, which are sold or used in the dietary supplements, food, tea and pet food manufacturing industries.
American Mercantile apparently also has links to pet and equine foods. According to a story on herbs4horses.com, American Mercantile is a parent company of Herbs for Horses, an herbal product company for the equine and pet market. American Mercantile’s ability to source ingredients for equine and pet foods is what attracted Don Silver, Manager of Equine Science to sell his company to American Mercantile in 2006.
No one at Ingredients Corporation of America or Herbs for Horses was available for comment at the time of publication, but the ownership affiliation between these two companies and American Mercantile gives rise to the question about whether contaminated ingredients are in finished foods and pet products.
Based upon past recalls involving the contaminant melamine and the recent contaminated peanut product recall, we know that some ingredients are spread throughout the human and pet food market in a large scale manner. While we don’t know yet how widespread the use of these seized ingredients may be, I think it’s probably worth following the story to see what develops.
The dog chew called “Greenies” have been on clearance at the supermarket where I shop for groceries and now I know why. Consumer Affairs reports that Nutro, maker of “Greenies”, is pulling them from supermarket shelves:
NUTRO Products, Inc. says it is pulling its Greenies line of pet dental chews from supermarkets and other mass markets. Beginning in June, the Greenies — which have been blamed for illness and deaths in some dogs and cats — will be distributed only through veterinary hospitals and pet specialty retailers.
It’s the latest attempt to resolve highly-publicized incidents of pet deaths attributed to the popular treats. Pet owners said the treats failed to be properly digested and led to fatal intestinal obstructions.It’s the latest attempt to resolve highly-publicized incidents of pet deaths attributed to the popular treats. Pet owners said the treats failed to be properly digested and led to fatal intestinal obstructions.
Read more on the safety concerns regarding the product at the Consumer Affairs website.
Nutro’s announcement is here.
January 7, 2009
China View reports:
On Dec. 22, 2008, the agricultural authority received a report which said more than 300 dogs died at two shelters in Taipei county.
Staff with the shelters said the dogs were extremely weak, jaundice, and had blood in their urine. The symptoms are typical of liver damage.
According to Taiwan media, another 1,000 dogs, with the same symptoms, reportedly died in Yunlin, Tainan and Kaohsiung counties.
The agricultural department did not give any details on when any of the dogs died or how many others might be affected by the tainted food.
Gee that has a familiar, FDA-ish ring to it. Apparently “Peter’s Kind-Hearted Dog Food” was made “with 1,500 tonnes of moldy corn which was imported from Pakistan last November”. The way this is written, it could be interpreted that the company knowingly bought moldy corn (which is known to carry aflatoxin) to make their dog food. I would hope that’s not the case. The company offered a vague reassurance that all the dog food had been accounted for and none was exported. But where did the rest of said moldy corn end up?:
Ji-Tai also produced 1,450 tonnes of pig food with the moldy corn However, Yunlin county authorities found no toxic pig food in spot tests.
It is unknown whether any of the pig feed was exported off the island.
Vaguely UNreassuring. Particularly for those who buy pig feed and/or eat pork. But no worries, I’m sure the FDA’s got your back.
November 30, 2008
Never fear: the FDA SWAT team is on da job. That’s right, just when you were worried that eggs, baby formula, and other milk products were contaminated with the same toxins which killed thousands of pets in 2007, the FDA swoops in to save us all from the menace of [insert JAWS theme here] PET TURTLES:
On March 3, 2008, Strictly Reptiles Inc., a wildlife dealer in Hollywood, Fla., sold 1,000 baby yellow-bellied sliders and Mississippi map turtles to a souvenir shop in Panama City, Fla. The sale violated a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ban on small pet turtles designed to protect the public from the disease-causing bacteria Salmonella. Turtles often carry Salmonella on their outer skin and shell surfaces, and people can get Salmonella infection by coming in contact with turtles or their habitats.
On July 14, 2008, the U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale convicted and sentenced Strictly Reptiles for its role in illegally selling, and offering for sale, live undersized turtles. The Florida District of FDA’s law enforcement arm, the Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigated the case leading to the conviction, with help from FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.
OK well I guess the melamine contamination is not such a worry after all. In fact, the FDA has flip-flopped on the whole melamine safety issue. When we learned about the toxin being in pet food last year, the FDA said it had “no approved use in human or animal food in the United States” and there was no safe level of melamine in foods. I’m a layman but this made sense to me since melamine is the material they use to make things like dinnerware and the Magic Eraser. But after discovering melamine and cyanuric acid in human foods this Fall, the FDA created a safety level for the poisons, except for baby milk. Now in an Olympic medal worthy double flip-flop, the FDA has determined safe levels of melamine and cyanuric acid for baby formula. I’ll have one Magic Eraser on an edible melamine plate TO GO and give me a kiddie meal of cyanuric acid on the side please.
But regarding the super-dee-duper dangerous pet turtles, the FDA really had to take a stand. Some things are too important to let slide (little turtle pun there – you’re welcome). See, the FDA warns us:
Small pet turtles are of particular concern because children are more prone to handling the turtles without washing their hands afterwards, and even putting the turtles in their mouths.
OK I admit I didn’t have a pet turtle as a kid. So perhaps it’s not surprising to learn that I never put one in my mouth. I do remember having a mouse and surely at some point I put him in my mouth but apparently that memory has been blocked. But one thing I do recall trying is dog food. In fact, I think I tried it because all the other kids I knew had tried it and I didn’t want to lose my status in the Nerd Society. Maybe you or your kid has put dog biscuits or cat food or dog kibble in their mouths too. Well I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news, May 2008:
A salmonella outbreak that swept 19 U.S. states in late 2006 has been a mystery, until now.
Nearly 200 consumers were sickened by what investigators believed to be tainted tomatoes, or other produce.
But now, the Centers for Disease Control says the apparent source of the 2006 salmonella outbreak was tainted dog food.
More bad news, September 2008:
[P]et food is being voluntarily recalled because of potential contamination with Salmonella serotypeSchwarzengrund.
Salmonella can cause serious infections in dogs and cats, and, if there is cross contamination caused by handling of the pet food, in people as well, especially children, the aged, and people with compromised immune systems.
Still more bad news, October 2008:
The Hartz Mountain Corporation is recalling one lot of its chicken-basted rawhide chips because of possible Salmonella contamination.
Even more-more bad news, November 2008:
Mars Petcare US is extending a recall of dry pet food after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported finding Salmonella in additional samples of the company’s SPECIAL KITTY Gourmet Blend cat food.
The earlier recall, issued October 27, was for cat food produced at Mars’ Allenton, Pa., plant on August 11, 2008. The recall is now being extended to cover all dry pet food produced at the plant with a “best by” date between August 11, 2009 and October 3, 2009.
Holy Bad Bacteria Batman – this is starting to look like a pattern! The FDA SWAT team response to all these Salmonella pet food issues? *crickets*
But before we judge the FDA too harshly for apparently protecting big business over American citizens, let us not forget their swift and decisive take down action on the pet turtle threat. I think we’ll all sleep a little better knowing that there are some safety issues that really bring the FDA out of their shells. (You’re welcome, redux.)