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Pet Food Recall And How To Select A Nutritious Food Replacement

Aug 17, 2007
On April 5, 2007, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provided an update on the recall on pet foods from Menu Foods. The Agency reported its latest findings in the ongoing investigation into the recent outbreak of cat and dog illness and death associated with pet food manufactured with contaminated wheat gluten.

FDA launched an investigation within 24 hours after being notified by Menu Foods of a recall and investigators arrived at the company's plant and searched for possible sources of contamination. The same day, FDA consumer complaint coordinators nationwide began taking calls from consumers and veterinarians who reported illnesses potentially associated with the contaminated pet food. FDA has received over 12,000 reports in the last three weeks more than twice the number of complaints typically received in a year by the consumer complaint coordinators. In an effort to trace all of the contaminated product, the Agency conducted numerous inspections of manufacturers and warehouses identified as recipients of the suspect product. FDA has also been working with the affected firms to assist them with their product recall efforts.

FDA's investigation identified the distributor of the contaminated wheat gluten as ChemNutra, of Las Vegas, Nevada. FDA worked with the firm to trace the suspect product, and identified its Chinese source. FDA has asked the Chinese government to help us with the investigation which continues to determine how the melamine may have gotten into the wheat gluten. FDA is currently sampling 100 percent of all Chinese wheat gluten being offered for import. FDA Field laboratories confirmed the presence of melamine in shipments of wheat gluten received from a source from China.

This was done through testing of samples of finished product and raw materials. Melamine is a product used as a fertilizer with other industrial and commercial uses. FDA laboratories have conducted over 400 sample analyses, and to date have found 21 samples that were positive for melamine. To date, voluntary recalls of pet food products have been conducted by Del Monte Pet Products, Hill's Pet Nutrition, Menu Foods, Nestle Purina PetCare Company, P&G Pet Care, and Sunshine Mills. On April 5, Sunshine Mills, Inc., of Red Bay, Alabama, voluntarily recalled a portion of its branded dog biscuits made at its Red Bay, Alabama biscuit plant during part of March 2007. In addition, Menu Foods, Inc., voluntarily expanded its pet food recall for selected cuts and gravy pet food products, manufactured back to November 8, 2006. Both firms issued press releases which are accessible on the FDA website.

Be sure you are aware of these other facts of the recall. This is an ongoing investigation. FDA is conducting recall audit follow-ups to ensure an effective recall. They continues to work with federal, state, and local partners, veterinarians, and members of the public as part of this investigation. At this time there is no evidence that any wheat gluten contaminated with melamine has entered the human food supply.

Understanding the role of melamine in each of the dog and cat illnesses will require an extensive analysis of the information, assistance from outside sources, and perhaps further research. The Food Drug Administration's priority now is to assure that all contaminated product is identified and removed from store shelves. All the contaminated wheat gluten has been traced, and all the pet food manufacturers who have received contaminated ingredients have been identified and have initiated recalls. Following the removal of all suspect products from retailers, there remains an ample supply of safe cat and dog food available at stores throughout the U.S.

The Food Drug Administration has a dedicated pet food recall page on its website which has all of the current information including all press releases issued, frequently asked questions, as well as contact information for FDA consumer complaint coordinators. FDA urges members of the media and public to visit the FDA website.

With the food recall, What should a pet owner look for in their pet food. Most pet owners have heard that it is better to feed their animals specially formulated food for pets rather than table scraps. An occasional treat is fine, but table scraps used to excess may unbalance a pet's diet. Purchasing pet foods labeled as "complete and balanced" can help ensure that your pet's diet is nutritionally adequate.

Dog and cat foods labeled as "complete and balanced" must meet standards established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) either by meeting a nutrient profile or by passing a feeding trial. The AAFCO's Canine Nutrition Expert (CNE) Subcommittee and Feline Nutrition Expert (FNE) Subcommittee have established new nutrient profiles for "complete and balanced" dog and cat foods. Dog Food Nutrient Profiles were established in 1991 and Cat Food Nutrient Profiles were established in 1992. Both were updated in 1995 to incorporate new scientific information.

The new nutrient profiles replaced the recommendations of the National Research Council (NRC) as the AAFCO-recognized authority on canine and feline nutrition. Dog and cat foods labeled as "complete and balanced" based on the AAFCO Dog or Cat Food Nutrient Profile must meet all the nutrient minimum and maximum levels as established by the Subcommittee. The Subcommittee set these levels after considering the most current information on good nutrition for dogs and cats. The profiles are designed to provide practical information for manufacturers of dog and cat foods.

There are now two separate nutrient profiles -- one for growth and reproduction and one for adult maintenance, instead of just one for all life stages. This allows dog and cat foods made for adult animals only to contain lower amounts of some nutrients, eliminating unnecessary excesses. Also, maximum levels of intake of some nutrients have been established for the first time, because of concern that over nutrition, rather than under nutrition, is a bigger problem with many pet foods today.

The protocols for conducting the feeding trials for dog and cat foods have also been updated. With these improvements, label reference to either the AAFCO nutrient profile or AAFCO feeding trials better assures the consumer of the validity of a "complete and balanced" claim. Endorsements, seals of approval, etc., from other organizations do not add assurances of safety and may be misleading.
About the Author
Jerry Johnson owns the Little Paws Pet Supplies as well as several other successful webstores. He has a passion for sharing information that can make life easier for all of us. Jerry and his wife Gloria enjoy their dog Jabez. Visit Little Paws Pet Supplies for great buys on pet supplies and Flint River Ranch Food.
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