Pet Food Recalls
Pet food safety and your pet's health.
Last spring, I bought a brand of cat food I'd never tried before. My two cats seemed to like it, but I noticed that they were a bit sluggish for a few days. Then I heard about the infamous pet food recall from Menu Foods and realized that the new food was on the list. I called the vet immediately and took "the kits" in later that same day. Much to my chagrin, anger and worry, blood tests revealed that they were both suffering from compromised kidney function -- one of the problems caused by the contaminated pet food.
In the end, thanks to my committed veterinarian and weeks of intensive (and expensive!) treatment, the kits ended up being just fine. A tentative settlement agreement has been reached for the class action lawsuit that resulted from the recall. If your pet ate any of the recalled food, find out how to submit a claim.
How do we keep our pets safe from contaminated pet food, especially with bad news breaking every few months? You could feed your dogs and cats the so-called BARF diet (Bones And Raw Food), which is a homemade approach to pet food that mimics what animals eat in the wild. But if that's going a bit far for you or your pet sitter, consider these pet food safety tips.
- Stay informed. Prevention may be the best medicine, but it's nearly impossible to prevent what you can't predict. One of the best things you can do is to regularly check for recalled pet foods. The Humane Society of the United States has a Pet Food Safety Center that reports pet food and pet treat recalls.
- Stay really informed. Does the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulate pet food? Sort of. Pet food products don't require pre-market approval by the FDA, but the organization does ensure that ingredients used in pet food are safe and have "an appropriate function" in pet food. Get more information about the FDA regulations and check for known pet food recalls.
- Take action. If your pets have eaten a recalled product, immediately stop feeding that product to them. Make a vet appointment right away, even if your pet doesn't show any symptoms. (Symptoms of illness from eating tainted food can include lethargy, vomiting, or changes in "bathroom" habits. But don't wait for any of those to show up.) I believe that early intervention brought my cats back to health after they ate the recalled food.
- Report problems. If you suspect that your pet has eaten contaminated food, file a formal complaint with your state FDA's Consumer Complaint Coordinator
- Take political action. There is a bill before the U.S. Congress known as the Human and Pet Food Safety Act of 2007. It proposes to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Among other things, it would require food labels to be clearer and more comprehensive and would establish an early warning system for contaminated food products. The Humane Society urges you to contact your congressperson and senator to show your support for this bill by calling them and submitting an email petition.
The bottom line is to stay informed and to take action when necessary. These are relatively simple steps that can make a big difference for all pets. I'm going to add a note to my calendar to check for recalls every week-better safe than sorry.
Jennifer McGuiggan is a freelance writer and pet blogger. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two gray cats.