Is the Increasing Frequency of Pet-Food Recalls a Good or Bad Thing? Discuss ...
Unless you've been hiding far from the pet media over the past week, you've doubtless heard tell of the ongoing Iams/Eukanuba salmonella recall. This time, it's a doozy for me, seeing as this one includes three "prescription" brands that my place of work carries: Intestinal Low Residue, Response FP (fish and potato), and KO (kangaroo and oats).
What's worse, I've actually been feeding the FP stuff to my food-allergic dogs. Which really doesn't stress me on the salmonella front. I'm well aware of the minuscule risks that have occasioned the need for voluntary recalls like this one. And my otherwise healthy dogs are unlikely to suffer severe issues even if their food has been contaminated. But it does kinda bug me that I have to raid my freezer's fish stash and cook up a batch of food for tomorrow. It also bugs me that the front staff had to spend hours calling up clients, explaining the situation, issuing credits for food and talking pet owners down off their salmonella fear-induced ledges they'd perched themselves on.
Reading this, some of you pet-food-jaded types might be thinking I'm getting what I deserve. "If you get lazy and stop cooking for your dogs … and if you're stupid enough to align yourself with a company that's recalled its foods more than a couple of times over the past few years," you might say, "that's what happens."
And yes, you would be right. But recalls happen with spinach and tomatoes too, right? It's not just pet-food. But the point is well taken. We've seen soooo many major recalls lately it's impossible to ignore. And yet, veterinarians kind of do.
Take last Saturday's AVMA Convention lectures. Offered at the very same time were, "Do raw food diets make you want to BARF?" and a presentation on the FDA and their pet-food recall process. Guess which lecture won out? (Clue: Not the FDA's.) According to Gina Spadafori over at PetConnnection, the ginormous turnout disparity was embarrassing for my profession. (OK, so "embarrassing" is my take on Gina's impressively toned down remarks.)
So what's up with all these recalls? According to Gina's assessment of the remarks made by Dr. Christopher Melluso at this lecture, if the FDA has its way we'll be seeing lots more of them. Here's her download of the changes at the FDA leading to greater pet food industry accountability arm-twisting:
– The FDA has improved and will continue to improve its monitoring of pet-food companies, with a series of initiatives directly related to the 2007 pet-food deaths.
– The pet-food companies will continue to have the upper hand, since the federal government still has no legal authority to force a recall.
– Better surveillance, reporting, and arm-twisting mean the FDA is more likely to know there’s a problem, and more able to push pet-food companies into "voluntary" recalls. (From what I gather the FDA’s "suggestion" of the necessity of a "voluntary" recall can be pretty strong.)
So thanks a bunch for this, Gina. Oh, and it's been a while since I went out of my way to out you on your generosity: Dinner at Dogwood was the ultimate Atlanta treat. Thanks!
OK, so off of the BFF love-fest and onto the question du jour:
In the context of Gina's report, how do you vote? Is it a good sign that recalls are happening faster and more furiously? Does it mean the FDA is finally getting the job done? Or is yet another recall just an opportunity to further lament the state of an ongoing crisis in pet-food quality?
Dr. Patty Khuly