How Do You Feel About Pet Food Corporations in 2010?

It’s only been 3 years since the massive pet food recalls of 2007 but anytime is a good time for a refresher.  I’ve already blogged quite a bit on things I learned due to the recalls, including:

  • My thoughts at the one year anniversary of the pet food recalls
  • Why the AAFCO stamp of approval is worthless
  • The similarities between the pet food and peanut butter recalls
  • A list of things I think are worth avoiding in pet food
  • The only product I can recommend

Basically, I was left with a strong feeling of distrust after learning about the widespread pet food industry practices which resulted in the deaths and tragic illnesses of thousands of pets in this country.  That feeling remains as strong as ever because the pet food companies didn’t say, “This is unacceptable!  We’re going to do a complete overhaul and come back with new, transparent practices that will restore consumer confidence.”  Far from it.  What they said was more along the lines of,  “Circle the wagons boys!  Consumers are daring to ask questions.  Screw that!”

As far as I know, not one significant thing in the practices of the pet food industry as a whole has changed for the better since all those pets suffered and died.  Therefore, the potential for a recurrence is plausible to my mind.  And indeed, we have regularly seen pet food products recalled, though on a smaller scale, in the years since.  Granted, recalls are going to happen, but the reasons that they happen and how they are handled by the pet food companies  are very similar to 2007.  There have been a few isolated cases where I thought recalls were handled well – for example Orijen – but the large corporations still deny problems, rely on secrecy and employ the “proprietary information“, duck and cover business model.

Overall, I would say my opinion of pet food corporations has changed little since 2007.  How about you – do you feel things in the pet food industry are better, worse or about the same?

Pet Food Problems

Nutro has recalled some varieties of puppy food but they haven’t posted about it on their website which seems totally in character odd. Pet Connection has the details.

Premium Edge recalled two varieties of cat food due to thiamine deficiency which causes neurological problems.

Esbilac puppy formula has not been recalled but there is an internet posting from a group claiming to have sent the product to an independent lab for analysis. The analysis turned up some discrepancies with the product label. The makers of Esbilac deny any problems with their product according to the posting.
Note: I have done supplemental puppy feedings with this homemade puppy formula and had great results.

Greenies Chews Will No Longer Be Sold at Supermarkets

The dog chew called “Greenies” have been on clearance at the supermarket where I shop for groceries and now I know why. Consumer Affairs reports that Nutro, maker of “Greenies”, is pulling them from supermarket shelves:

NUTRO Products, Inc. says it is pulling its Greenies line of pet dental chews from supermarkets and other mass markets. Beginning in June, the Greenies — which have been blamed for illness and deaths in some dogs and cats — will be distributed only through veterinary hospitals and pet specialty retailers.
[…]
It’s the latest attempt to resolve highly-publicized incidents of pet deaths attributed to the popular treats. Pet owners said the treats failed to be properly digested and led to fatal intestinal obstructions.It’s the latest attempt to resolve highly-publicized incidents of pet deaths attributed to the popular treats. Pet owners said the treats failed to be properly digested and led to fatal intestinal obstructions.

Read more on the safety concerns regarding the product at the Consumer Affairs website.

Nutro’s announcement is here.

Nutro Pet Foods: Toxic Zinc? Toxic Denial?

For many consumers, pet food company transparency is key to earning trust in their products. Pet owners want honest answers to direct questions – not the runaround “We can’t tell you, that’s proprietary info” which companies used to get away with prior to the 2007 recalls. Despite this, and in response to a mounting body of complaint evidence against their foods, Nutro’s mantra seems to be: deny, deny, deny.

Here’s an overview of Nutro complaints and responses:

A July 2007 story about an owner who requested vet bill reimbursement from Nutro after her dog (who was fed Nutro) died. Nutro denied the claim.

ConsumerAffairs.com wondered if there is any link between reports of sick/dead pets who ate Nutro foods and the foods themselves in a series of articles starting April 18, 2008, with updates on June 23 and August 6, 2008. In addition, the site has been collecting ongoing consumer experiences with Nutro foods, many of which describe pets who became ill while eating Nutro products but recovered after the owner switched to a different brand.

On August 14, 2008 Pet Food Products Safety Alliance (PFPSA) posted an update detailing independent lab test results they received on Nutro foods which reveal excess copper and zinc.
Their lab results are available in pdf here and here.

Nutro has responded to Consumer Affairs postings of pet illness/death and PFPSA’s test results on their website. They basically state that all the food is fine, never has been a problem and they have lab test results to prove it. Notably absent: the lab test results which prove it. Hmm.

PFPSA responds to Nutro’s website posting and asks concerned pet owners to compare the complaints posted at Consumer Affairs with the symptoms of zinc toxicity and decide if they are consistent.

As pet owners, all of us need to form our own opinions based on the facts as we can obtain them. It’s challenging enough to filter out possible bias on both sides so I for one am grateful to PFSPA for posting their independent lab test results. This gives me something solid to examine which I can consider to be at least somewhat free of bias. Nutro, if you have independent lab test results which document that your foods do not contain excess copper and zinc, I know many of us would love to see them. Got a scanner?

Report: Nutro Pet Foods Making Pets Sick

Lisa Wade McCormick from ConsumerAffairs.Com has posted an article compiling reports from owners in many states whose pets became ill after eating Nutro brand foods.

Nutro’s products for dogs include varieties under the following names:

  • Nutro Max
  • Nutro Natural Choice
  • Nutro Ultra

Nutro’s products for cats include varieties under these names:

  • Nutro Max Cat
  • Nutro Natural Choice Complete Care

As always: if your pet is ill, seek prompt care from your Veterinarian.