Pet Food Recall Update
The pet food recall is no longer front page news, however the repercussions of the widespread pet food recall that commenced on March 16th continue to ripple throughout the companion animal world. This week’s e-mail contains an overview of the history and impact of the pet food recall, further information may be found by clicking on any one of the attached links.
Pet Food Recall Recap
The pet food recall commenced with the voluntary withdrawal of more than 60 million units of cuts and gravy style cat and dog food by Menu Foods on March 16th 2007. This recall was quickly followed by recalls from several other major North American pet food manufacturers.
Following extensive testing of the food the toxic compound was identified as melamine that had contaminated the wheat gluten ingredient in the food.
In April melamine was also found mixed in with bags of rice protein distributed by Wilbur Ellis which prompted further pet food recalls in North America. The pet food recall was not limited to North America as melamine was also detected in corn gluten used in the manufacture of pet food in South Africa.
With melamine identified as the toxin, sourced from Chinese exports of animal feed products, the US FDA issued an import alert on April 27th subjecting all imported Chinese vegetable protein to detention without examination. At this point in time it appears that the flood of new pet food recalls may have come to an end.
Full details on the pet food products that have been recalled and the ongoing investigations into the incident may be found on the FDA website.
Recall Impact to the Companion Animal World
A) Impact on Animal Welfare Organizations
It was reported in local and national media that adoptions declined in the immediate aftermath of the pet food recall, this decline appears to have been short lived with adoptions quickly going back to their pre-recall levels. Perhaps of more long term concern is the financial impact that was felt by those organizations that had to throw away food stocks of wet food which is often used to entice older, sick or thin animals to eat. Many organizations that had to dispose of food in large quantities are faced with the need for increased donations in 2007. The pet food recall has resulted in some organizations moving onto pet food partnership programs with some of the major pet food manufacturers.
We are always looking for additional ways to improve the PetPoint animal management system. The impact of the pet food recall on animal welfare organizations may be sufficient cause to create new food related modules in PetPoint. Help us understand more by letting us know how the pet food recall has affected your organization – click here to fill out our survey now and you may win 25 free 24PetWatch microchips!
B) Thousands of pets fell ill or died - many uninsured pet owners are still waiting for compensation
Thousands of companion animals and their owners have been impacted by this pet food recall which has caused sickness and death for many hundreds, if not thousands, of animals. Those pet owners whose animals were insured by ShelterCare Pet Insurance prior to becoming sick are covered for the diagnosis and treatment of their pet up to the coverage limit under the category of Poison Ingestion. ShelterCare Pet Insurance Programs and the associated PetCare Pet Insurance Programs have received over 75 claims relating to the pet food recall all of which were processed within our service standard of 5 business days. Many pet owners who did not have insurance are still waiting for compensation from the pet food manufacturers directly and there is no indication at this point in time of when they will be compensated.
C) Pet Food Recall may result in better monitoring of food intended for consumption by animals
It has become clear during the course of the incident that, prior to the recall, the Food and Drug Administration did not keep pet foods and food intended for animal feed under the same level of protection and safety ensurance as food intended for human consumption. On a positive note, the widespread concerns about this issue and it’s implications for human grade food have clearly resonated with the FDA which on May 1st announced the creation of a new position. The Assistant Commissioner for Food Protection will advise on “strategic and substantive food safety and food defense measures” with the hope that new security measures will be put into place for the future.
D) Some pet owners were left confused about feeding options for their pets
Pet owners that were not being directly affected by the tainted food have been left with residual concerns about the safety of the commercially prepared food that they are feeding their pets. Animal welfare organizations may wish to inform their new adopters that the American Veterinary Medical Association does not recommend that people attempt to prepare home-cooked meals for their pets. Pet nutrition is very complicated and unique to species and individual animals. "If a pet is healthy and doing well on the pet food it is currently eating, and the food is not on the recalled products list, there is no reason to change their diet," said Dr. Mahr. AVMA President.
E) Focus now shifting to potential contamination in the human food chain
As the new incidents of contamination in pet food seems to be under control, the focus of the FDA investigation appears to be shifting to the food used to feed animals destined for human consumption. The inclusion of melamine in animal feed raises the nitrogen level of the feed and makes it appear that the feed is higher in protein without increasing its nutritional value. This makes it attractive to makers of feed for stock animals such as pigs, chickens and fish. There are indications that including melamine in animal feed is acknowledged in China. At this moment in time:
- The FDA has issued a hold on 50,000 swine at three facilities in Illinois due to concerns that the animals had consumed contaminated livestock feed.
- The FDA has also released to inspection and possible slaughter 10 million previously restricted broiler chickens.
- The FDA also announced that tainted feed has been fed to fish on an undetermined number of fish farms in the US. The FDA has issued a hold on the fish affected but is yet to release the identity of the fish farms or the type and number of fish involved.
More information can be found at http://www.avma.org/aa/petfoodrecall/default.asp.
The Pethealth Family