Pet Food Recalls & Food Safety Issues
While much smaller in scope since the 2007 recall, pet food recalls continue, including this week’s cat food and February’s peanut butter Salmonella contamination that affected both human and dog food products. For the latest information on food recalls and safety concerns, visit the US Food & Drug Administration’s Food Recall page on their website.
To summarize events since the 2007 recall, while the US FDA (responsible for pet food regulations, which are enforced at the state level) has taken some action toward improving response and tracking of pet food safety crises, and committees have been formed to further define safety standards for our pets’ food, no legislation has yet been passed to impose stricter rules for pet food safety and ingredient testing.
It seems likely that there will be no additional federal regulations enacted, as many industry insiders believe that existing laws and safety protocols adequately address pet food safety needs, and there is often general resistance to expanding governmental controls in big businesses like the pet food industry.
Instead of new federal legislation, there may be some stricter “guidelines” made by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), the agency that (loosely) regulates the pet food and livestock feed industry by setting feed standards and definitions of acceptable feed and pet food ingredients.
What this means for pet owners is that nothing much is very likely to change in the near future. We all need to come to the realizatin that the responsibility for providing safe foods to our canine companions remains where it always has been – squarely on our own shoulders! The best way to ensure you’re feeding a safe food to your dog is to do your homework and as far as possible feed a more species appropriate diet to our carnivorious pets.
On a related note, I often hear a common misconception about the AAFCO statement found on most dog foods: the idea that AAFCO approves foods, and that the AAFCO statement on a dog food label guarantees safety. AAFCO offers guidelines for dog food and livestock feed manufacturers, but does not actually approve or strictly regulate what goes into our dogs’ food. The AAFCO statement simply says that the manufacturer avows that their food contains the AAFCO-recommended minimum requirements of all nutrients necessary to sustain life for a particular species of animal.
So if you are still feeding commercial pet food (kibble or canned) and the lable says that the food is “formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles.” This simply means that dogs eating the food as their whole diet won’t die from a nutrient deficiency. It does not mean that the ingredients in the food are of high quality, actually digestable, or that they are even healthy for your canine! Dogs are developing serious health problems like cancer, diabetes and kidney/liver diseases at alarming rates since commercial dog food was introduced – just a coincidence? I think not! Just because a food meets “AAFCO guidelines” doesn’t mean it’s healthy for your animal to eat.
In fact, many of the AAFCO-approved ingredients in dog food are considered quite unhealthy by those who know what the tricky ingredient language really means. Acceptable dog food ingredients include things like sawdust, peanut or soybean hulls, newspaper pulp (powdered cellulose), rendered road kill (animal fat, animal digest), and worse!
Interestingly, the melamine that harmed in so many pets in 2007 is believed to have been added to the grain-based ingredients to increase the protein content so the food would meet standard pet food nutritional guidelines! How’s that as “food for thought”?
To read more about what is really in pet food, read the articles below: