How Does the FDA Count Recall Deaths?

FDA

Frankly, we have little idea on what the FDA’s criteria is for linking a pet death to the Menu Foods Recall. Surprisingly enough, the FDA has not issued guidelines indicating the criteria for counting official deaths.

We’re getting the sneaky feeling that the FDA is treating pet parents with suspicion. Yes, we love our pets. Yes, we’re fanatical about them. It doesn’t mean we’re making this stuff up. One of FDA’s jobs is to protect us from bad pet foods. A fanatical devotion to ensuring the purity of the death toll serves no one but Menu Foods. It certainly does not serve the public or the FDA. Maybe not even the pet food industry, who will continue to repeat the mistakes if the truth is not served.

More after the jump.

We do have access to this document (PDF warning) that states:

“The FDA has provided the following case definition for field investigation/cases: veterinary documented renal failure, necropsy results if animal died, food consumed within 1 week of death (illness), and intact, unopened cans of the food.”

This gives us a hint as to the standard for associating a death with the recall. It requires a practically dispute-proof set of facts – a responsibility for the court of law, not the agency whose duty is to protect us – and gives us an insight into why they are still quoting the party line of 16 deaths. (Remember that Iraqi minister during the war who insisted to the media that Iraq was winning while US tanks were rolling into Baghdad? Yeah, this sounds totally different.)

If itchmo ran the world, (a scenario we frequently daydream about) here’s what we would require to establish a reasonable (not bulletproof) method for determining the linkage between illness and cause.

In short, we’re looking for just two things:

  • Reasonable evidence of ownership of recalled foods. Not specific UPC codes. Many parents have already returned or tossed the food – because it was recalled. Receipts, empty cans, or a sworn affidavit of consumption should suffice. Pet parents buy food with the intent to serve them to the pets, not to adorn our kitchens for a FDA visit.
  • Veterinary documentation of illness or death with acute renal failure as a major factor. Many cats already suffer from some sort of kidney problems. Just because they have prior medical issues shouldn’t disqualify them from being affected by the toxin. Necropsy should not be a requirement as vets seems to be able to diagnose ARF without having to perform this emotionally intrusive task. Having a third-party diagnosis alleviates the need for the FDA to investigate every case.

We think that a simple two-pronged test can win the public’s trust that the pet deaths numbers are more than reasonably accurate.

5 Responses to “How Does the FDA Count Recall Deaths?”

  1. itchmo!seattle » Blog Archive » Media Death Toll Exceeds National Numbers says:

    […] your pet. News and fun for cats, dogs, and their parents. « Pig Ears for Dogs Recalled How Does the FDA Count Recall Deaths? […]

  2. Deb Jarvis says:

    The FDA is comign to my house tonight. We fit all but one of the criteria - the necropsy results. We have the rest of the information that they need, and I even made them copies. We shall see what happens from there.

  3. Lynette says:

    “A fanatical devotion to ensuring the purity of the death toll serves no one but Menu Foods.”

    I disagree. I think it serves not only Menu Foods, but also the FDA. Does the FDA really want to admit they’re doing an incredibly poor job at regulating the pet food industry? Look at the blatant claims on pet food packaging that has no research whatsoever to back it up? The FDA has long ago dropped the ball where pet food is concerned… Do they want to confess “Well, we’re really not regulating the pet food…” or “We’re regulating the pet food, but obviously not well enough…” I think the FDA would love us all to think this was just a little “slip up” not a major catastrophe.

  4. Rhonda B says:

    Found this info in an advisory to vets regarding the food recall:

    The FDA has provided the following case definition for field investigation/cases: veterinary documented renal failure,
    necropsy results if animal died,
    food consumed within 1 week of death (illness),

    and intact, unopened cans of the food.

    If veterinarians suspect that a case meets this general case definition, FDA has requested that you contact them at the following e-mail
    Address: emergency.operations@fda.hhs.gov

    Ok, does this explain the discrepancy in the reported number of deaths? I think it does.

    Our bulldog Winston fell ill because of the last one or two cans that he ate. Garbage was picked up on Monday, he was hospitalized on Tuesday, and I was totally out of the food. So, using the FDA guidelines for reporting, his illness CAN’T be reported to the FDA because even thoughhis vet believes Win was affected, he had the symptoms and had eaten the food within the required timeframe (have a cash register receipt), we had no open packaging, and no sealed cans… so no report can be made!!!!!!

    Can you believe it????????????

  5. Sharon G. says:

    I’m beginning to think this is WAY bigger than first realized. I met a woman last night, whose dog, age 4 yrs. died two days before Christmas of kidney failure. She was heart broken. She had been giving him the pouches of food. How about a website featuring pets who have died during all of this. We could also have people come forward with animals who have been affected and treated for the poisoning. If the FDA can’t track it, and give an accurate account, why can’t we? I love my pets and have stopped all pet food, until further notice.


Close
E-mail It