Dick Van Patten eats dog food. Not less than, that’s what the former “Eight Is Sufficient” actor will have you believe in publicity stunts for Dick Van Patten’s Pure Balance Pet Meals, the corporate to which he hitched his falling star again in 1989. A tour of the corporate’s Site features photographs of Van Patten, smiling stiffly alongside such movie star notables as former ‘N Sync singer Lance Bass and ex-“Baywatch” actress Traci Bingham, dipping their spoons into colourful cans of Pure Balance Eatables for Canine!
Name me loopy but it may take a lot more than an endorsement from Hollywood’s B-list to persuade me to dig into a can of canine chow, and I think I’m not alone in that sentiment. Actually, given latest occasions, more than a few pet homeowners are questioning whether or not we should always even be feeding pet food to our pets.
The mass media has certainly been on a pet food weight loss plan prior to now few months, due to the reporting frenzy surrounding Menu Meals’ recall, beginning in March, of greater than 100 brands of pet food. The contaminated merchandise, which allegedly killed or sickened hundreds of canine and cats, ranged from low-cost Wal-Mart store model Ol’ Roy to excessive-end labels such as Iams and Eukanuba.
This isn’t the first massive pet food recall to return down in current years. In December 2005, greater than a hundred dogs died of liver failure after consuming food manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods. The merchandise contained corn tainted with aflatoxin, a toxin released by a naturally occurring crop fungus. Aflatoxin ought to have been detected at any number of testing points along the way in which from cornfield to completed product, says Donald Smith, dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Drugs at Cornell University. “For some cause, one thing didn’t happen within the testing course of,” he notes.
Unlike the aflatoxin outbreak, the latest recall involved chemical substances that nobody knew to look for. The merchandise produced by Menu Foods contained wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate contaminated with the commercial chemical melamine, a flame retardant and part of some plastics. Earlier this month, government officers reported evidence that the meals may have contained cyanuric acid, a chemical typically present in swimming pools. The chemicals apparently triggered kidney failure in canine and cats that ate the tainted foods.
The Chinese language corporations that produced the wheat and rice proteins allegedly spiked the products with chemicals in an try to dupe buyers; excessive in nitrogen, the chemical compounds made the merchandise seem to contain more protein than they really did. It is secure to say that American pet meals producers did not intend for melamine to wind up as an additive in their kibble. “The problem was a toxin,” says Tony Buffington, a professor of veterinary scientific sciences at the Ohio State University. “Should you put arsenic in somebody’s tea, it is not the tea’s fault.”
Maybe not, but the recalls have served to highlight vulnerabilities within the manufacturing of processed foods — both pet and human foods. Weaknesses in pet meals regulation could have contributed to the recalls, says Smith. Or, he says, it could have been a matter of luck that this time, the melamine ended up within the dog’s bowl and not your own. “This has been a canary within the mine,” he says. “It’s a wake-up call.”
Pet owners like Melissa Hull, a small-enterprise owner in southern Maine, have definitely taken notice. Hull admits she and her husband “were undoubtedly aware of potential scary issues” of their cat Smokey’s business pet food, even earlier than the recall. But the incident drew new attention to the fact that so many pet food elements originated on the opposite facet of the globe, in nations like China that “have no FDA,” she says. “It definitely opened our eyes to just how poor the quality is.
Earlier this month, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois and Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut introduced laws to improve the nation’s food safety system, each for humans and their pets. Amongst other issues, the laws would give the FDA authority to order necessary food recollects and would set up uniform federal standards for pet food. As it stands now, pet meals falls into something of a regulatory gray area.
Most states follow pet food pointers printed by the Association of American Feed Management Officials. These rules touch on everything from labeling to contaminant testing to dietary requirements. However the tips are solely recommendations, and AAFCO itself has no regulatory authority. “A lot of the routine day-to-day pet meals regulation is performed by the states,” explains AAFCO Pet Meals Committee chairman David Syverson, and state laws and enforcement applications vary. On the federal level, the FDA’s Middle for Veterinary Medicine requires that animal feed be “pure and wholesome” and “suitable for eating,” but there’s at present no requirement that pet foods have FDA approval earlier than they hit retailer shelves.
One other weak point, Smith points out, is the dearth of a federal agency to monitor outbreaks of illness or illness in pets. The Center for Veterinary Medication has received hundreds of complaints from pet homeowners who believe their canine and cats had been poisoned by melamine. However tracking illness, Smith says, is not a part of the agency’s mandate. Even if it have been, it simply would not have the finances to do it. “We don’t have an equal of the Facilities for Disease Control in companion animals,” he says.
While pets could not have their own CDC, they do have a place in our hearts. Sixty-three % of U.S. households personal cats or dogs, and other people drop more than $15 billion every year on pet food. They’re a loyal bunch, says Duane Ekedahl, president of the Pet Meals Institute, a lobbying group that represents the producers of ninety eight p.c of the canine and cat meals produced within the United States. In line with Ekedahl, Pet Food Institute surveys found that customers are more loyal to their pet food model than to every other merchandise in the supermarket, with the notable exception of soda.