Reality Of Pet Food Industry Recalls, FDA Claims No Duty To Investigate Poisoned Pet Food

Every industry has protocols on what to do whenever there is a recall.

Richard Sellers, vice president for feed regulation and nutrition of AFIA in Arlington, Virginia, wrote an article about what pet food companies should think about when handling a recall.

Some of Seller’s points included:

  • There is no legal obligation to immediately notify FDA of recalls. It is better to contact the state feed control official and discuss the situation before contacting FDA or other agencies.Sellers added that contacting a federal/state agency will consume lots of time with visits and collecting samples and information. State and federal agencies are entitled to little information and documentation, and companies can decide how much data they want to provide to agencies.
  • Protect the company: Sellers stated that protecting a company and its reputation can be just as important as removing potentially harmful products and alerting state and federal agencies.He added that recalls are inevitable as long as the possibility of human errors exists. The most important part of the recall process is creating procedures for handling recalls before the recall occurs. These procedures include how to handle complaints from customers, how do deal with the press, and how to respond with federal and state agencies if and when they are notified.
  • In other pet food/FDA related news, in a reply brief filed in Federal District Count on November 8, 2007, the FDA claims the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act creates no public duty for the FDA to investigate or protect the public from poisoned pet food.

    Here is a copy of the FDA’s filing.

    Source: Pet Food Industry

    (Thanks Sandi)

    32 Responses to “Reality Of Pet Food Industry Recalls, FDA Claims No Duty To Investigate Poisoned Pet Food”

    1. Sharon says:

      The Homeland Security Act makes it their duty for national security reasons. If they do not feel obligated to comply with the law then the entire FDA needs to be disbanded. They are a bunch of industry hacks and Bush cronies.

    2. Pet » Reality Of Pet Food Industry Recalls, FDA Claims No Duty To … says:

      […] Emily Huh wrote an interesting post today on Reality Of Pet Food Industry Recalls, FDA Claims No Duty To …Here’s a quick excerptRichard Sellers, vice president for feed regulation and nutrition of AFIA in Arlington, Virginia, wrote an article about what pet food companies should think about when handling a recall. Some of Seller’s points included: … […]

    3. 5CatMom says:

      Sharon’s right.

      The law’s been on the books since May 27, 2004.

      “This new authority applies to food for which the agency has credible evidence or information that it presents a threat of serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals.”

      FDA Finalizes Rule on Administrative Detention of Suspect Food
      Final Rule Increases Security and Safety of U.S. Food Supply

      When they say they have no authority - THEY’RE LYING!

    4. Anonymous says:

      Sounds to me like a 5 step process:

      4. PROTECT YOUR PROFITS & REP (should actually be listed as #1)

    5. 5CatMom says:

      Itchmo writes:

      “the FDA claims the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act creates no public duty for the FDA to investigate or protect the public from poisoned pet food.”

      But according to this, they have a duty:

      “Pet Foods
      The FDA regulates that can of cat food, bag of dog food, or box of dog treats or snacks in your pantry. The FDA’s regulation of pet food is similar to that for other animal feeds. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) requires that pet foods, like human foods, be pure and wholesome, safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled. In addition, canned pet foods must be processed in conformance with the low acid canned food regulations to ensure the pet food is free of viable microorganisms (see Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 113).”

      Here’s the Food , Drug and Cosmetics Act:

      I don’t see where it says they have no duty. They’ve been telling us for months that they DO.

      When something is REGULATED, that means the “force of law” can be applied.

      Now lawyers are involved, so they’re saying they HAVE NO DUTY.

      Go figure.

    6. LouieW. says:

      Let’s see.

      Didn’t FDA have a duty (to protect pet food) BEFORE they got $8 million in raises?

      Then they all got raises. And now they have NO DUTY.

      What an interesting game they play! So if they can’t DO anything, why do we need them?

      I say, dismantle the whole damn FDA.

    7. Penny says:

      If FDA has no duty to regulate pet food, I’m switching to HOME MADE pet food IMMEDIATELY.

      The commercial food I bought yesterday goes back to the store!

    8. EmilyS says:

      “Protect the company: Sellers stated that protecting a company and its reputation can be just as important as removing potentially harmful products and alerting state and federal agencies.”

      See: this isn’t about the FDA.. whether or not they regulate pet food isn’t the shocking thing about this post. The pet food industry didn’t learn the lessons that the makers of Tylenol taught during their poisoning incident. TAKE IT SERIOUSLY, ACT IMMEDIATELY, BE HONEST and CUSTOMER SAFETY IS FIRST AND FOREMOST. They preserved their profits and reputation by their actions (as well as possibly preventing more deaths). People kept their trust in the manufacturer.

      If the pet food industry follow this guy’s that protecting the company is more important than the safety of their products, they can expect a decrease in consumer trust… and continuing loss of business.

    9. LouieW. says:

      When you call the PF companies and talk to them about their policies and procedures, the mantra they chants is:

      “We comply with all FDA rules and regulations”

      Trouble is, you can’t tell where the pet food company stops, and where the FDA and lobby groups start.

      It’s all one big cabal.

      Pet food companies SHOULD set their own high standards, but instead they point to FDA. And no one has lower standards than FDA, IMHO.

    10. Buddy & Belle's Dad says:

      This was one of the most disgusting articles I have ever seen. Let’s cover up and make sure our reputations are protected. I tend to agree that this makes the FDA one big joke that should be overhauled immediately with all present employees never employed by any government organization again. Let’s apply this same standard to human food. We don’t need to admit there’s a problem until say 50, maybe 500, or 50,000 people are sickened or killed and then we should look out for the poisoner’s reputation. Gee, makes me feel real secure about these clowns who are supposedly overseeing food safety. And, if you want an even more secure feeling, remember these same idiots are also overseeing the drugs released into the market (gee, maybe that’s how Merck got where they are). Just saddens me to see things like this continue to exist.

    11. Ruth says:

      So what did Tylenol do with its recalled acetaminophen? Wonder, how it was disposed?

    12. CGP says:

      To me , the problem exists on multiple fronts. The pet food industry is circling its wagons to protect itself - that is the sole purpose of these associations - defend, protect, and lobby. It’s obvious that the responsibility to the consumer begins and ends with your purchase of their pet food - then it’s your tough luck if you have a problem. Why are companies not accountable for the products they sell?

      If the FDA doesn’t protect us, why do they exist? I thought they were being enabled with mandatory recall ability. If so, will they ever use it? Will companies comply when faced with mandatory recalls or will a loophole exist that doesn’t force them to do so?

      Last question - what has the USA become? Our food supply is not safe - whether for humans or pets - and no one is taking the responsibility to ensure that a needed change is taking place.

    13. Carol says:

      I hope those of you that were not aware of this article pass it on to your friends and relatives to see the truth! These companies care about themselves first —-no matter what they try to tell us with their commercials—this article is disgusting—-I feel the same kicked in the stomach feeling as the day I found out I poisoned my two cats by feeding them!!

    14. anonymous says:

      It might be helpful if every news agency or media outlet that has taken the dubious word of the FDA that everything on the store shelves is safe, really, it is this time, so many times over the last year, got a copy of this so they will know why the FDA is doing a piss poor job.
      Why was the FDA making press statements if it was not their job?
      Why was the media listening to them?
      Why were people told to jump through hoops to give information to the FDA if it was not their job?

      CNN asking the FDA the tough questions would be so refreshing.

      Maybe a whole new agency , just for pets food and supplies, is the answer.
      With mandatory citizen power and input and no political appointed positions, that would clean up the pet food industry right quick.

    15. 3cats says:

      The FDA is disputing the claims
      made in one particular lawsuit,
      not every one in the country. Even just lawsuits can be derailed by legal technicalities. So don’t quit fighting to improve the quality of pet food.

    16. 3cats says:

      The FDA is disputing the claims made in one
      particular lawsuit, not every one in the country.
      Even just lawsuits can be derailed by legal
      technicalities. So do not quit fighting to improve
      the quality of pet food.

    17. anonymous says:

      Then perhaps a few more lawsuits should be filed, fix up those technicalities.
      If the FDA, which has been an active participant in the cover-up of the truth, is not willing to clean up the pet food industry, and congress and the courts cannot compel the FDA into doing the job taxes pay for, then pet food, indeed human food safety, should not be trusted to a rogue agency.

      Either the FDA knew about the pet food food toxic waste unholy partnership all along, and since the FDA is hand in hand with the PFI that seems likely, or the FDA was shocked to discover the extent of the problem, a year ago, and just has no intention of doing anything about it.

      No one says quit working for safer pet food.
      Trusting the FDA or the PFI is never going to get that done.

    18. catmom5 says:

      This is simply disgusting! I hope that this is broadcast far and wide so EVERYBODY can see just what these agencies and pfi are really about. Dead or sick animals? NOPE! Dead or sick people? NOPE! Greed and higher profits? YEP! SIMPLY DISGUSTING!!!

    19. ray says:

      Protect the company: Sellers stated that protecting a company and its reputation can be just as important as removing potentially harmful products and alerting state and federal agencies.

      Why are our tax dollars paying for these idiots to PROTECT THE COMPANY AND ITS REPUTATION? Shouldnt they be trying to protect the consumers?

      Sounds like the same idiots who heard the rumor about a possible attack on U.S. soil prior to the 9/11 and did nothing about it.

      There have been rumors that shopping malls may be a big target this CHRISTMAS SEASON (yes, I said CHRISTMAS - not holiday). But Homeland Security said they dont think we should worry about it. It’s just a scare tactic that will only hurt our economy.

      Ditto catmom5 comment:
      This is simply disgusting! I hope that this is broadcast far and wide so EVERYBODY can see just what these agencies and pfi are really about. Dead or sick animals? NOPE! Dead or sick people? NOPE! Greed and higher profits? YEP! SIMPLY DISGUSTING!!!

    20. pat says:

      did you folks see this at the end of the article on the pet food industry mag site?

      “This article is a condensed version of a product recall webcast presented by the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) in 2006. The entire webcast can be obtained from AFIA (”

      wouldn’t you call this interesting timing?

    21. pat says:

      Home > Petfood Industry Articles

       View All
      Date: 2007-10-24
      Recall realities
      By Richard Sellers

      Essential factors to think about in preparing for and handling a recall

      Richard Sellers is vice president for feed regulation and nutrition of AFIA in Arlington, Virginia, USA.

      Every industry firm, no matter what size, should plan for the daunting task of recalling products for one or more reasons: human error, supplier error, intentional/unintentional contamination, for example. Being prepared is the best way to handle a recall.

      This article is intended as a guide to important factors to consider in handling those incidents. Every firm should have a procedure in place that is developed in concert with:

      * Senior management;
      * Plant quality personnel;
      * Manufacturing personnel;
      * Public relations staff; and
      * Legal counsel.

      Recalls can be either from one or more facilities and/or from upstream or downstream in a facility’s supply chain. Responses to different types of recalls are dependent on several variables, including the hazard, level of risk, amount of product/animals affected and how much control a firm has over its affected products.

      Reasons for a recall

      Several factors must be considered in determining if a recall is warranted, including the complete information about the event or incident that caused this situation. Complaints, animal deaths, reports from suppliers and customers are just a few reasons to consider a recall. Good corporate citizenship, minimizing liability exposure and avoiding government sanctions are all excellent reasons for acting as well.

      If a voluntary recall is requested by a regulatory agency, firms should not ignore them. Generally, the federal and state sanctions are quite severe and may include loss of license, criminal/civil lawsuits, fines and loss of property.

      There are no mandatory recalls in either federal or state feed laws. Both groups have administrative detention authority, controlling movement of products with reasonable cause of being in violation of an applicable law.

      For animal foods, FDA has administrative detention authority and records review authority under the Bioterrorism Act (, but this can only be invoked by the agency with credible evidence of serious adverse health consequences or death in man or animals. On the state side, Michigan requires reporting of contamination, and such reporting cannot be used against a firm in any action taken by the department. Florida, requires reporting of corn or other grain load refused for aflatoxin, and non-reporting is subject to a $100 fine.

      Before a recall

      In case a recall is needed, all firms should designate a recall coordinator and sole spokesperson for the company. Companies should also define the recall team that goes into action when called by the coordinator. A firm’s customers and suppliers may need to designate a recall contact person also, and one may be needed for each facility. Firms may require outside consultants on a recall team also, such as toxicologists, attorneys, microbiologists or others.

      Initiating a recall

      Once a decision has been made to initiate a recall, a firm must immediately stop distribution of all potentially implicated products, assemble the recall team and launch an inquiry into the cause and scope of the problem. It should determine who will make final decisions and impress upon all involved that the decisions must be honored.

      In the area of public relations, one spokesperson should be named for the firm, and all questions directed to that person. There should be a separate team at each facility that coordinates with the corporate team. When the team meets, direction should be given to each member regarding their responsibilities and data collection to assemble and disseminate before each meeting.

      Before initiating a recall, the firm must determine, among other things:
      Get a load of this!!!!!!

      “Firms should agree upon their objectives before dealing with media calls.There are no mandatory recalls in either federal or state feed laws.

      * The amount and location of product in distribution;
      * Whether the defect is obvious;
      * How many reports of illness or death have been received;
      * Any special risks to segments of consumers (e.g., dog and cat sensitivity to acetaminophen, etc.); and
      * The seriousness of the problem and the potential for harm.”

      Note bullet point 4. Why would he use this particular example? And remember, this was originally written in 2006.

      this really stinks to high heaven.

    22. Don Earl says:

      A little more background on the lawsuit….

      The Food Drug and Cosmetic Act states: “The Administration shall;
      (1) promote the public health by promptly and efficiently reviewing clinical research and taking appropriate action on the marketing of
      regulated products in a timely manner; (2) with respect to such products, protect the public health by ensuring that; (A) foods are safe, wholesome, sanitary, and properly labeled”

      As amazing as it may seem, the FDA does not view the above as a duty imposed upon it, but rather that it has discretion to act or not act as it sees fit. About like a fire department having discretion to respond or not respond to a 5 alarm fire.

      The FDA figures a rule it made up itself voids our First Amendment right to redress of grievance. The FDA rule reads: “(2) The Commissioner shall object to judicial review of a matter if: (i) The matter is committed by law to the discretion of the Commissioner, e.g., a decision to recommend or not to recommend civil or criminal enforcement action”

      For those who may not remember the redress of grievance part of the US Constitution from school, editing out the irrevelant parts, it reads like this:

      “Congress shall make no law abridging the right of the people to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

      In essence, the FDA figures the rules it made up abolishes the First Amendment and that it is under no obligation to investigate the source of a massive and lethal pet poisoning epidemic.

      Anyhow, the current status of the action is I’ve filed a motion for summary judgment, which could potentially result in a court order forcing the FDA to do a proper investigation, and, the FDA has filed motions to dismiss the case. According to theory, a decision from the court should take place just about any time now - one way or the other.

      I’m not under any dilusions about the odds of success on this one. The odds are too terrible to mention. I’m doing this without a speck of help from anyone, going heads up against a multi billion dollar government machine with all the attorneys our tax dollars can put into play against me. If nothing else, the outcome should show anyone who has their eyes open what sort of place we live in.

      The land of the free and the home of the brave?


      The land of the duped and the home of the slave?

    23. Anonymous says:

      The land of the greed and home of the bush!

    24. Don Earl says:

      FWIW, this is the document the FDA’s reply is to:

      I don’t suppose it’s as attorny-ish as such things ought to be, but it says what I had to say about as well as I know how to say it.

    25. mittens says:

      “There are no mandatory recalls in either federal or state feed laws.”

      the FDA is not even just a paper tiger but merely an extention of sundry private industries masqurading as a governmental agency. it’s a giant slush fund for government hacks, industry shills to secure incredibly lucrative civilian jobs as a reward for their inactivity on consumer concerns and blocking of any perceived threat to industry.

      they do not have the power to enforce a recall and they NEVER had it. proving a particular food item killed or sickened a human or an animal can be a very very difficult task-in the pet food recall situation the actual culprit has either never been pin pointed scientifically and conclusively or is known and is being covered up. it’s the very proof that is the difference in any lawsuit now pending. no one has exhibited that proof and as insane as it sounds your pet’s death is simply not enough. it’s not fair. it’s not right. it just is. the food and drug act may say such and such but the truth is the FDA does not itself as a rule test anything, does not have the power to enforce recalls and is largely funded by the industries it is suppose to ‘ regulate’- surely a profound conflict of interest.

      even past heads of the FDA consider it a broken corrupt entity that does not even vaguely function as any normal logical person would assume a regulatory agency should. the laws that it functions under are so vague and so largely filled with self made ‘ regulations’ (that are not technically congress passed ‘ laws’) that i would think any litigation against it would prove very difficult to pursue . it is not appropriately funded and far too exposed and beholden to the companies it is suppose to protect us from.

      it needs to be put down so the clowns in the pet food industrial complex will no longer be sheilded from their well deserved comeuppance. smug bastards.

    26. stefani says:

      ARGGHH!! F-THEM!

      I am making my own cat food.


    27. Cathy says:

      Don, Thanks for all of your efforts. Have no lawyers, judges or government workers been touched by this tragedy? My thinking is that this is a BIG can of worms and that’s why nobody has stepped up.

    28. anonymous says:

      The pets have been dying for a year now, the sad fact is that the pets
      have been eating God knows how what toxins for many years. Pet parents
      paid for the toxic waste fraudulently labeled as premium pet food.
      Pet parents paid for vet care for pets sickened by the hellbrew and we have
      been paying for years.
      The pets paid , in suffering and death, oh boy did they pay.
      Pets are dying and suffering today and pets will die and suffer tommorrow.
      Everbody is paying but the people who made, sold and distributed deadly poison.
      That homeland security has not done jackbooted thug raids on every pet
      food manufacturing facilty in this country is amazing.
      The FDA sure can and does do jackbooted raids when the mood hits them,
      evidently mass poisoning is OK, selling vitamins, though, your
      door is going down and you are going to jail.
      But you, your kids and your pets are not the priority. The bribes are.

      We, and the rest of the good ole USA, fed our pets the rendered remains
      of other pets, roadkill and deseased cattle and thats the best of what
      went in the pet food.
      The FDA assisted the PFI in covering up the truth.
      To an honest media, this would be a feeding frenzy.

      Bad, all of it, bad, and sickening.
      The worst, though, the absolute worst part, is that they got away with it.

      And they are going to get away with it the next time too.

      Plenty of people who want this to go away.
      The PFI.
      The minions of the PFI, the FDA.
      Vets who stayed silent because the money means more to them than the pets.
      Even some of the internet pet sites who CLAIMED to care, the ones who “stood down” on the recall the day the FDA “stood down”-odd coincidence don’t you think?
      A media that was eager to buy the lie and far less interested in the truth.
      Unless the truth gets as widely spread as the lies, unless there is some
      attempt at justice by the authorities, unless the entire country rises up
      and says that things must change, this IS going to happen again.
      The poisoning IS happening, daily, for all of us.
      And it is going to go on tomorrow.

    29. anonymous says:

      Oprah Winfrey had a sick dog last week, I heard a lot more about her one sick dog than I have heard about the hundreds of thousands of pets that died.
      Are dying and suffering, daily, a year into this.
      How right is that?
      I really fight , daily, not to hope for death, or worse, on Oprah and her dogs~!
      Sometimes I lose the fight and hope something “biblical” will shut that woman up, and not harm the pets, of course, but something bad enough to just make her take her act to say, Iran, Bahrain, someplace that could really benefit from Oprah. I think Oprah has done about as much damage to this country as Osama Bin Laden, I can only hope we don’t pay Osama as much.

    30. anonymous says:

      A lot of people have been saying, since the recall began, that the FDA is corrupt beyond saving, useless beyond tolerance and stupid beyond plausible deniabilty.
      They were right.
      Either FDA officials do the perp walk on nationwide TV, right next to PFI members and all of them do serious jail time or it is time for a whole new government.
      And a close look at those “club fed” deals. Guantanamo Bay is good enough for friends of Osama?, it is good enough for friends of the PFI.

    31. Don Earl says:

      RE: “Have no lawyers, judges or government workers been touched by this tragedy?”

      It was too widespread for some of them not to have been. Never the less, one thing I’m certain of, they ALL use products regulated by the FDA.

      When people aren’t willing to stand up for the rights of others, they eventually lose their own rights.

      Maybe they figure losing a pet was something that happened to someone else and it’s okay to stand down. I just wonder how they’ll feel when it’s a son or daughter, a wife or husband, a parent, a friend, a child or themselves the next time it happens. What will they do when they come home from work to find their families dead around the dinner table over a bad can of soup?

      Maybe then it will matter. Unfortunately, by then it’ll be too late to do anything about it.

    32. anonymous says:

      Actions like yours are the only hope, faint as it might be.
      50 honest pet parents might do it, might turn the tide. The hundreds of thousands who lost pets and the hundreds of thousands more who are paying for expensive care from veterinarian’s who are not worth the drool from a dying CRF pet, well, easy enough to put those sickly pets down, there are plenty more where that rescue pet came from.
      And so profitable for the vets too!
      How many vets paid their student loans off this last year? All that renal failure, death, suffering and no burning need to do anything but stay silent and rake in the money. A proud moment for the profession. Scum, that is what they are, the Vets, scum.
      No vet will ever get anything but contempt from me.
      A hundred lawsuits, just two in each state, would do it. Lawsuits that have nothing to do with getting a few coupons or anything but justice. But justice, it seems, is no longer to be had in this country. And action, from the few pitiful pet parents who found their way to these pet sites is limited to whining. Sad.

      Clean food, pet or human, is not easy to get and to get it with help from those paid tax money to do so seems to be impossible these days.
      The FDA is adamant, legally adamant, that safe food is not their job.
      OK, congress can’t get answers, documents or anything resembling the truth from the FDA and every pet parent here knows that the FDA is useless, inept, incompetent, liars, criminally liable and socially unacceptable. The FDA still gets paychecks, media coverage and far more attention than the truth.
      Kills any lingering respect I had for the media but then there was not much left. The cover up of the truth of the recall is now standard proof of the death of journalism in the US. Frankly, I thought journalism died quite few years before but there is no doubt that the recall embalmed it!

      Geez, you show people the truth, which they are not getting from the media or the vets or the ad agencies and they are not even surprised anymore, liars deserving of contempt, proud moment for several professions. Most people puke when they see what the pet food industry has done, is doing. Puke. Hurl. Vomit.
      Could explain why no one admits to being related to the poisoners.

      They cringe, the young ones, but they won’t admit to being related. Their frienemies , however, just love the dirt. And use it.
      The internet can be cruel to the spawn of poisoners.
      And not too great for the kids of cowards..
      And there are so many cowards with kids just itching to rebel and hate the cowards. The internet can be fun. Google your family name and get a boatload of shame.


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