Thursday, March 29, 2007

More on Pet Food

Okay, I know I blogged last week on pets and the Internet and included a bit about the pet food recall. But the subject seems to be getting even nastier, so here I am again.

I can only imagine how awful some of the owners whose cats and dogs were affected by the tainted food must feel. The company involved, Menu Foods, makes pet foods for a whole lot of well known companies, both established pet food brands and other foods that are branded specifically for the stores where the stuff is sold. The pet owners surely assumed they were doing the very best they could to feed their babies, and instead wound up poisoning them.

Yes, I know similar kinds of things have happened now and then to people because of tainted spinach and other produce served in fast food restaurants and homes. Of course that’s terrible, too. But to me it seems as bad where the poison is inadvertently served by pet owners to their dearest friends.

I’ve been following the story with interest, particularly when the FDA has apparently determined that there has been a relatively small number of deaths and illnesses caused by the recalled food, but veterinarians who belong to national professional organizations have reported much larger numbers.

Being a lawyer as well as a writer, I’ve also been interested to see that the lawsuits are starting. Of course I’m not a litigator like my mystery protagonist Kendra Ballantyne. Maybe she’ll run into a similar situation some day in one of her adventures. If so, I’m sure she’ll find out whodunit, and why. And maybe she’ll even handle the lawsuit.

Not that any genuine claimant is likely to get rich even if he wins a suit based on poisoned pet food. In the law, pets are considered property, not family. I don’t know if bereaved owners will be able to get substantial amounts of money for wrongful death and emotional distress, let alone punitive damages, but I suspect not. And even if they do, it won’t bring their best friends back.

So what do you feed your cats and dogs?

In case you’re interested (and I certainly was), I received this link from the PetSit USA newsletter, which I really appreciated. It’s a list of pet foods that have apparently not been affected by the recall:

It’s much easier to find the lists of recalled foods, but many brands have individual types of foods manufactured by different suppliers, and this list describes which use any of Menu Foods’ products and how they’re produced.
I’ve changed what I feed Lexie and her good friend Sparquie. No problem with their dry breakfasts, but instead of their canned dinners they now get a combo of dry food with a smaller amount of canned food--from one of the manufacturers shown on the list as not being produced by Menu Foods.

I have to applaud my local Petco, since they took back the canned food I had in inventory with a couple of the recalled brand names, even though none of it was the “gravy and chunks” kind that was supposedly all that was affected. The manager went with me to check out the canned food they were still selling and helped me read the labels, since my older pup Sparquie is on a low-salt diet and I needed to find something that would work best for her.

I doubt that Menu Foods set out to harm any of the creatures they’re attempting to feed. Why would they? Their economic losses now are horrible, and the bad PR could even put them out of business. I only hope they figure out what went wrong so they can ensure nothing like it ever happens again. Plus, I hope they go public with it so they can educate other manufacturers in a manner that will keep it from happening to them, too.

It’s a situation that benefits no one--least of all the poor, poisoned pets.



Anonymous said...

I am glad to see a blog post on the pet food! For years, I have been yelling to friends and family about the poor quality of pet foods in the U.S. There are little to no regulations to what they can put in the pet foods, opposed to some European countries. After having done the research, I found out that premium foods are even more evil then grocery brand dog foods. Did you know that Science Diet has levels of ethoxyquin in their foods, but does not have to put it on their label due to loop holes in the regulations? It is even somewhere hidden on their own website, in order to avoid legal issues.

My personal opinion is that commercial dog food is a hype. Premium foods are just as bad as cheaper foods, they just charge you more, the proof is that the MenuFoods dog food, is obviously going to all different dog foods, both grocery and premium. High levels of pentobarbitol are found in premium foods as well as regular dog food, and everyone knows that every commercial dog food contains euthanized dogs, cats, other pets, cows, diseased chickens as a whole- and who knows what other animals. (Also rats, that is where the rat poison probably came from.) Why this comes as a big surprise to most people, I don't know, since amounts of pentobarbitol are regularly found in most dog foods. You can look this up in any FDA report online. If you feed your dog any commercial brand dog food, you are feeding him other dogs as well. They grind up any reject cheap meat, euthanized animals from vet offices, and mix it with an abundance of things that dogs don't eat in the wild, like corn, and call it dog food. Yuck!

My vet actually told me that veterinarians get offered student grants by Science Diet, if later on they sell their products in their practice. He was one of the few that did not give into the market giant, because he recognized that the food was crap with a bow on top. Nutritional classes at vet schools are taught by pet food representatives! How wrong is that. At another vet practice, I inquired about the dog food issue, and all the vets said I was crazy because Science Diet is the best around. When I was about to leave, one of the assistants actually told me in a hushed voice that I was right, and that if they heard her telling me that the food was bad, she could get fired!

I actually had fed my dog Science Diet when I first got him. He had horrible allergies, woke up early licking his paws, and always seemed uncomfortable and edgy. Different vets said that he needed all these expensive allergy tests, but could not find what was wrong. They blamed it on the breed. Until my father- of all people! said I should try changing his food. I was reluctant at first, because he was getting Science Diet, the primo food out there! When I did, sure enough his symptoms cleared up within a few days! He was a completely different dog. So I needed no more proof. That is how I got to researching the dog food, and what I found out got me pretty upset.

An unusual amount of dogs die of cancer. I truly believe it is because of poor nutrition. I know of at least 3 different dogs that have been given only scraps, and have lived up to 20 years old- that is 7 more years then they would have normally been given! There are also stories of dogs in my family, that were given scraps and the weekly hambone from the butcher, that have lived up to over 20 years old!

I feed him Flint River now (oven baked kibble), and I even feel bad about that, because I don't know their suppliers- although private testings has cleared this food everytime and they say they use only human grade meat. (It does actually smell great when wet, like fresh baked cookies). I try to minimize this to days where I don't cook for us. When I do cook, he gets scraps. He is 13 years now, and most vets think that he is in super condition for his age!


Anonymous said...

Sorry, I didn't mean to write a book here (although this is a writer's blog). I figured since there were 0 comments, mine can just count for more?


Linda O. Johnston said...

Thea, thanks so much for your post! This whole fiasco has been an eye-opener. I've always heard that people should feed their dogs dog food and not people food because it's specially formulated to provide the best diets for them, but now I think people food could be best after all!

Anonymous said...

Here is a great weblink to the API's view on dog food today:
It also has a few good dog recipes. If you feed your dog only home made food, or a combination of kibbles and scraps, it has to be balanced- of course.