Ok, I admit it…I have a bad attitude. I am sick and tired of lame excuses by the FDA, fed up with the garbage left-overs of human food being turned into pet food, and I’m over the top ticked off how a television commercial that tugs on pet owner heart strings motivates…almost manipulates…unknowing pet owners to purchase. I’m a cynical, self absorbed, picky petsumer (pet owning consumer).
The FDA released July 2, 2008 another ‘pat themselves on the back’ report claiming “significant progress” in the Food Protection Plan. It’s interesting that no one except the FDA has noticed any ‘significant progress’ in food safety, thus their need to brag on themselves. With regards to pet food, the Progress Report proudly states: “FDA has gathered input on animal feed best practices for preventive controls from industry groups including the National Grain and Feed Association, the American Feed Industry Association, the Pet Food Institute, and the Association of American Feed Control Officials (an organization of state feed control officials).” To clarify, the FDA is accepting the advice of suppliers of pet food ingredients and manufacturers of pet food for the ‘best practices for preventive controls’ in pet food safety. The progress report did NOT state the FDA has obtained input from non-biased veterinary science; no…instead they are putting the safety and health of our pets in the hands of the industry itself. This is the official FDA endorsement of the fox guarding the hen house. It is NOT something to brag about, it does NOT provide pet owners with much safety…but my guess would be it does protect the profits of pet food industries and ingredient suppliers.
Pet food ingredients such as ‘by-products’ and ‘meat and bone meal’ continue to be used in many of the pet food top sellers, yet I doubt many pet owners who feed some of these highly advertised pet foods know what by-products or meat and bone meal really is. I doubt the pet food manufacturers themselves can tell you exactly what is in these common pet food ingredients. They don’t want to tell you either. The official definition of by-products is NOT meat; and the ingredient can include (but is not limited to) things like animal lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, stomachs and intestines. Oh…and this stuff doesn’t have to come from a healthy animal either; sick and diseased animal parts are acceptable for use in pet food too. Pet owners are not afforded with informed, honest pet food labeling (to say the least). I guess ‘Fido’s Kibble with Cow Intestines’ wouldn’t be a top seller.
To make matters a little worse, the existing rules of the pet food industry – the same folks that allow cow intestines and chicken feet to be disguised under more appealing sounding pet food ingredient names – Do NOT Allow the ‘good guys’ of pet food any privileges to separate themselves from lesser quality producers. The rules of pet food specifically state no mention of grade or quality of ingredients is allowed on the label or in advertising. Now here is where it gets really ridiculous, the rules DO ALLOW pet food manufacturers to make “unqualified claims either directly or indirectly” on a pet food label with statements like ‘Nutritious’, ‘Premium’, ‘Choice’, and/or ‘Complete’. Think about that a moment…a pet owning consumer Can Not be told if a pet food uses the finest human grades of ingredients, but they can be told ‘unqualified claims’ like a pet food is premium even if it’s not! Thanks to our friends who make the rules on pet food – a caring pet owner has no way of knowing what kind of meat (high quality or inferior) is in Fido’s or Fluffy’s food by looking at the bag and they have no way of knowing if ‘premium’ really does mean premium. Ridiculous isn’t it.
And then…there are the television commercials and other slick advertising tactics of the pet food industry. Pet lovers ‘feel the love’ from these commercials and naturally assume that ‘love’ is found in the pet food as well. Often times, the ‘love’ is by-products, meat and bone meal, dangerous chemicals, risky imports, and more. I know what ingredients are inside of many of these highly promoted pet foods, I understand pet food ingredient definitions, and I know who uses imports from China…I find their commercials dreadful.
This is personal to me (and millions of other pet owners). Over fifteen years ago I lost an eight year old dog to bone cancer my vet told me was caused by chemical preservatives in her pet food. These same chemicals are still commonly used today. In the past ten years U.S. pet owners have spent over $388 Billion dollars (that’s with a ‘b’) on their pets. I’m sure not one dollar of that money that was intentionally spent to purchase cow intestines or harmful chemicals to feed to their pet. Yet cow intestines and risky chemicals are being purchased everyday; thanks to the existing rules of the pet food and pet treat industry. The FDA and AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials) continue to seek advice from pet food producers and ingredient providers instead of non-biased science.
Yes, I’ve got a bad attitude, I think more about the safety of pets than I do corporate profits, and I don’t think its fair chicken feet and cow intestines can be hidden under less offensive ingredient names like by-products and meat and bone meal. My stomach churns when I think about my beautiful dog that died far too young from known dangerous chemicals that are still commonly used today. And those tug on your heart strings television commercials tick me off. I’m proud to be a cynical, self absorbed, picky petsumer.
My hope is that more pet owners confess the same. There is no need to go back to college in order to interpret a pet food label, but it does require a little education and a little effort. Learn a few pet food ingredient definitions and before you make one more purchase of dog food or cat food – read the ingredient list on the label. Call the manufacturer and ask if any ingredients originate in China. Quality nutrition will enhance your pet’s life. Become a picky and cynical petsumer – your pet will benefit from it!
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author, Buyer Beware
Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
Is your dog or cat eating risk ingredients? Chinese imports? Petsumer Report tells the ‘rest of the story’ on over 2500 cat foods, dog foods, and pet treats. 30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee. www.PetsumerReport.com
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