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?

Land O’ Lakes Purina Feed Recalls Lamb Feed

UPDATE – June 12, 2008:  The FDA has updated its release and there are now four lamb feeds being recalled due to lambs dying.  Full updated release here.

As I have previously wondered when Purina recalled aflatoxin contaminated horse feed, is there any possibility of cross contamination to Purina pet foods from the recalled livestock feeds? Any sharing of ingredients, suppliers, storage facilities or processing equipment between the livestock feed manufacturing and pet food manufacturing?  I sure would like to know.  But Purina says that’s “proprietary information” and won’t answer those questions.  All we can do is hope that the pet food is safe.

Original post:

From the FDA:

“The Land O’Lakes Purina Feed plant in Fremont, Neb., has initiated a limited voluntary recall of two lamb feed products due to higher than acceptable levels of copper.


The recall was initiated after receiving a customer complaint regarding the products. In addition, Land O’Lakes Purina Feed stopped producing the lamb feeds at the Fremont, Neb. plant and immediately began product testing.

To date, the presence of copper above acceptable levels has been found, which can cause serious health issues, and at high levels, mortality in sheep.”

Full release here.

Purina – Got Aflatoxin?

I tried to get answers to my previously posted questions regarding the aflatoxin contaminated mystery ingredient in livestock feeds recalled by Purina Mills. Specifically, I asked Purina:

1. Which ingredient it is they are talking about
2. Who the supplier is
3. What other companies might be facing the same problem (as indicated in Purina’s own statement)
4. Was any of this ingredient used in other feeds, such as dog food.

The first response I received said basically that Ralston Purina (makers of dog and cat foods) sold the part of the company that makes livestock feeds to Purina Mills and we don’t know nuffing about their recall. I was not satisfied with this response. (Shocking, I know.) So I wrote again, this time asking:

Do Ralston Purina (makers of dog and cat foods) and Purina Mills (makers of livestock feeds) share any ingredients, processing equipment, suppliers or storage facilities?

Clearly, this would be vital information with respect to trying to figure out if Purina’s dog and cat foods are 100% safe from the aflatoxin mystery ingredient in the Purina livestock feeds. And in the absence of any official response from the company stating that in fact, the dog and cat foods are safe, I’m trying the long way around to find my answers. Alas, the response I received to that query was the old We-can’t-tell-you-that’s-proprietary-information line we all became so fond of hearing during the 2007 pet food recalls.

So while I hoped to report that yes, Purina is answering questions and reassuring consumers their dog and cat foods are safe from the aflatoxin ingredient, I can not do so. I can only hope that just because Purina appears to be dodging the issue and engaging in the kind of deceptive non-responses consumers got so tired of last year, the pet foods really are safe.

Hello Purina? Anyone Minding the Store?

When Purina declined to go public with their aflatoxin contaminated livestock feed recall in March, they figured out (by May) that didn’t look so good. So they tossed up a fancy worded statement on their website. Well Purina, the fact that your company is not answering queries or providing information to reassure dog and cat owners that Purina pet food is safe also doesn’t look so good. Is it too much to ask to at least put up a response on your website stating that pet owners don’t have to worry because the aflatoxin contaminated mystery ingredient in your livestock feeds did NOT make it into your dog and cat foods? How about naming the supplier of the mystery ingredient so people who feed other brands can ask those companies if they buy from that supplier? (Especially given that it was your own statement which cast doubt on the safety of products made by other companies who bought from your supplier.) Or even naming the ingredient so pet owners can choose to buy food without that ingredient in it if they want? Anything?

Pet owners may recall that Purina dog foods have been called into question regarding aflatoxin contamination as recently as last year.

Referencing Land O’Lakes spokesperson Lydia Botham, this article at states:
“Botham said the aflatoxin was discovered through routine product testing performed by a state regulatory agency, with results confirmed by company testing.” So if the state agency hadn’t caught the aflatoxin, the company may never have “confirmed” it? (Note: Purina’s updated statement on their site says, “In mid-February our own incoming ingredient testing and routine state regulatory testing simultaneously indicated aflatoxin above FDA action levels in certain feeds…” which sounds rather different from Botham’s earlier statement.) If in fact the state agency caught it first, then this bit: “Botham said there have not been any confirmed health complaints due to aflatoxins related to the current recall of feed.” is a horse of a different color, wouldn’t you say? Maybe a state agency hasn’t forced Purina to be in a position to confirm any health complaints – yet. I don’t know. I’m speculating. Because right now, that’s about all I can do unless Purina decides to speak up.