Recall Update: Monday

Food safety opinion round-up: (Registrations may be required)

Related: A profile of Dr. Acheson

That comes back to communication. Acheson says he tries to find a balance between informing and disseminating incomplete or inaccurate information. “The goal across the board is to be as transparent as we possibly can and to tell the public what we know and what we don’t.”

During an investigation, he says, some brand names can’t be given out and others shouldn’t be until their roles can be verified.

In the cases where brand names have been withheld by the FDA, it was very clear that the unnamed companies were notified of the receipt of a tainted substance. The FDA needs to be more transparent to win the public’s trust.

In fact, an April 24 GAO report called for an overhaul of the US food safety system. (GAO report PDF highlight)

“While this nation enjoys a plentiful and varied food supply that is generally considered to be safe, the federal oversight of food safety is fragmented, with 15 agencies collectively administering at least 30 laws related to food safety,” the report says.

One problem the report cites is that while USDA is responsible for only meat, poultry and processed egg products - about 20% of the food supply - it receives the majority of food safety expenditures. The FDA regulates the other 80% of the food supply, but only accounted for about 24% of expenditures.

Canadian readers: Imported pet food approved despite serious doubts. Pet food company president says he’s not overly concerned over “hysteria.”

Need help? Want to do something to help? Go to our Forums.

Check out our fun and informative non-recall news below.

P.S. Want to do something fun? Join our Flickr group. Add your pet’s picture and we’ll show it on the right column!

(Thanks to Pet Connection and many readers.)

120 Responses to “Recall Update: Monday”

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  1. elliott says:

    Another good vet story. While at our cat clinic, a woman brought in cat to be euthanized. He had been living under the bed, not eating or using his box for nine months as a new dog was in the home. They did not want to “deal” with him any longer. Our vet took him in the back and put him in a kennel to await his fate. I asked if we may take the kitty (11 year old) home and help him. She took him out of the kennel and put him in my arms and said “guess this kitty just died”. He is such a gentle soul and has enriched our lives beyond words.

  2. molly says:

    about vets, they are people doing a job, there are good one and bad ones. Don’t forget, if you don’t like what your vet says, get a second opinion. We had a sick dog 1/2 dead and the vet said he didn’t think they dog would make it, sent us home with pills and not much else. The next day I thought this is wrong, lets get a second opinion. The second vet was awesome, saved out dog. He would have died within 24 hours, I am sure had we not brought him to another vet.

    Karen V: you were talking about your sister who is feeding her dogs Beneful, if she claims she can’t afford anything else and you think it’s not a good food, couldn’t you buy something else for her? I know whe has the money like you said she is buying a condo, but if you think it’s bad, to help the dogs out, can’t you buy them something and then she can even save $ by not having to spend anything?

    Im with the rest of you, people think this is all over or no big deal and I imagine they think Im nuts talking about it all the time and asking random people what they are feeding thier dogs/ cats so I can inform them it’s been recalled (some people have named things to me that have been) and tell them to sign up for the emails on this site so they can easily stay informed. I think a lot of the world doesn’t have thier priorities in order in relation to this crisis. I tell people about the possible contaminated chicken, pork and fish they are eating (who knows who will get it?) and they continue to eat these things and though I made it up!

  3. Genny says:

    One more. My neighbors suddenly moved away leaving their cat to fend for himself. I fed him most of the time anyway because would show up at my back door. One day I heard a very mournful cry. I went to check it out and there he was. He was very sick. I got another neighbor to help me rush him to my vet. He had to be put down. My vet knew he wasn’t ours and only charged us $5.

    A few times he has not charged me for rechecks. Same vet that was recently suggesting and mildly pushing SD for my sick cat. It’s not always about the money though sometimes it can seem that way.

  4. elizabeth says:

    There is one thing I have been mentioning to people I know who are good pet parents but just do not, for a variety of reasons, have the ability or time to home cook as I have been doing….. I suggest they feed a variety of foods from the safe list so that should the recalls continue their pet might have a lesser chance of getting a lethal dose of anything, and also would be less stressed if a food product had to be removed from his diet.

  5. Deb says:

    Does anyone know if any (lower level) employees of any of ‘these’ companies….made public statements?

    Molly…you are not nuts, I have been doing the same thing. Some people don’t even ‘get’ the dog food issue……never mind ‘the big picture’. There’s a lot of dirt that’s been swept under the carpet…..I doubt we will ever know how bad it really is.

  6. Gail B says:

    RE: elizabeth Says: May 14th, 2007 at 11:16 pm

    “I suggest they feed a variety of foods from the safe list so that should the recalls continue their pet might have a lesser chance of getting a lethal dose of anything, and also would be less stressed if a food product had to be removed from his diet.”

    What a great idea! I have been at a loss when folks ask me what to feed (other than homemade and many are unwilling to go that route). I don’t want to be responsible for recommending the next product being recalled. But I think that is a great idea.

  7. Karen V says:

    Molly dear:

    While the thought is nice, I am on disability. Through slow growing awareness, I have changed my pets diet to as wholesome as my funds will allow (I can’t afford Kumpi, with 3 cats, I can’t afford any cans smaller than the 12, 13.2 oz cans - making dinner time for intensive for the cats than myself;-) My pet food budget went from $12 a month to over $50 a month.

    I can’t afford to buy the food for her 2 dogs and her boyfriends ailing dog. They eat a lot more than cats. In fact, the boyfriend bought the Beneful for her - he is the manager for Dollar. You should see his running shoes and socks. (I was impressed). You should see his car. Regular ski trips, the whole works.

    I’m sorry, I’m here at home saving dollars on Gas. I have medical bills up the ying yang. Getting my hair done must be a saved for/planned event. So the best I can do is try to tell her (she is now a tad defensive - she can’t afford it) - while I make sure I try to care for the cats the best way I can.

    Long rant I know - sorry ;-)

  8. straybaby says:

    KarenV-
    understandable rant! family member’s priorities can be maddening at times ;)

    do you have compact florescent lighting? if not, that has helped me cut my electric bill in half. i bought them by the box on amazon at a decent price. i was worried about the light color (picky artist that i am!), but the soft ones i got are just fine. the money i was saving made it real easy to switch to free range meats for my raw fed crew when this came down. i may not always be able to afford it, but i can ride out this crazyness for awhile and it’s good incentive to keep hustling work to keep us all on clean food. and it’s got to be cheaper than poisoning six pets and myself :-/

    oh, and i’m not suggesting this to care for the dogs, but to help you close the new gap in your pet food budget. and it’s kinda fun getting the lower bills. take *that* Con Ed!! lol!~ :)

  9. Karen V says:

    straybaby

    I’m on PSE, and my last bill (even with the cold times) was $37.90. I don’t think it can get much cheaper than that.

  10. molly says:

    do you guys really think tha’s a good idea, feeding a variety of not recalled foods? I am doing it only because I had stocked up on 3 different things for the dogs before all of this. (Not on list) but isn’t it true that even a small amount can make a dog or cat very ill so it may be worse to switch as you may get something bad the more brands you use? Then again, if you happen to choose something poison and feed a steady diet of that, I guess that would be worse. For our dogs (they’ve always been “spoiled”) they do get people food with thier pet food , always have. I understand this may dilute things if they do happen to get something bad. does anyone know?
    Karen V: I totally understand. It just drives me nuts, like you said your sisters bf has fancy shoes etc. but isn’t willing to spend a little more to care for his / her dogs. I also have to plan and save to get my hair done every 3 months. At times, Ive thought of cutting it very short and just letting it do what it will to save the expense but I doubt I ever will :) .

  11. Barry says:

    Business Week: How Safe Is The Food Supply? - The hamstrung FDA may be unable to prevent a contamination crisis

    http://tinyurl.com/2tlctv

    Excerpt…

    The FDA’s plight is in stark contrast to the U.S. Agriculture Dept. The USDA oversees meat while the FDA regulates everything else. But after hundreds of Americans were sickened by Jack in the Box Inc. hamburgers in 1993, “the meat program got fixed,” says Hubbard. The USDA has 10 times as many inspectors as the FDA and can send inspectors to foreign plants. It denies entry to products from any company that doesn’t meet safety standards. And it limits shipments to a handful of ports where the imports can be inspected. “The USDA got the two things it needed–authority and resources,” says Hubbard. “The FDA can’t get either.”

    It’s not for lack of trying. Officials developed a comprehensive import-safety plan five years ago that would have cost $100 million. The FDA didn’t get the money. The agency asked for authority to block food from countries repeatedly linked to contaminated products until they put in their own controls. Congress didn’t pass it, in part because food manufacturers spend more than $1 million each year lobbying against new regulations. “The food supply should not be the Wild, Wild West for capitalism,” says Caroline Smith DeWaal of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “If a country does not have systems in place to ensure safety, they shouldn’t be able to send us food.”

  12. straybaby says:

    dang! that is low! my new low is 60-70 and that’s with free heat! i only need to worry about a couple of high months in the summer now. top floor living. ugh!

  13. Uni says:

    The vet we use isn’t even in our town. We actually travel to one town over because we consider him to be the best. When asked whether we should give our pet’s heartworm treats medications, he told us he’d never seen a case in our areas and that they don’t need it.

    Hallelujah! A vet who doesn’t want to overmedicate!

    Our vet has also let us pay using installments over time when we couldn’t afford the whole bill at once. He treats pets on an individual basis. He talks honestly with us about what each individual pet needs.

    He is very gentle and always talks soothingly to the animals and tries to make the visit as comfortable for them as possible, as of course many pets get stressed out by the visits.

    If he knows he can’t treat a certain animal well, he recommends them to someone he knows who can.

    After hearing so many horror stories I am shocked and disgusted by how lousy some vets treat their patients and their pet parents, and I am grateful to all the good vets that ARE out there.

    Our vet is getting on in years and will probably be retiring soon. We hope someone just as professional as he is takes over his practice. If not, we’ll have to look elsewhere…

  14. Kiki says:

    I have one good vet story. By the way, there IS a difference between doing the right thing (which in my eyes should be standard) and going above and beyond. We have reduced our standards so low in this day and age that we get all warm-hearted and joyful when someone simply does the right thing. I think it’s crazy.

    I remember this one old vet who worked at Blue Cross/Blue Shield when I was a young, young adult and pretty poor (to the point that even basic care for my pets was really hard). This man, bless him, NEVER made me feel like I couldn’t or wouldn’t be able to afford care for my animals. We always worked something out in such a subtle, easygoing, and respectful way and he was so affordable that I knew he must have reduced his rates just so I could take care of my pets. That good man not only took warm and loving care of my animals, he also left my dignity intact.

    Two more points both which I’m sure will catch the ire of the vet lurkers out there.

    Where do the rendering plants get a big junk of their business? Veterinarians. When a vet asks if you would like for them to take care of your pet (you pay them a fee), that is vetspeak for now I’m going to charge you once more for your animal’s body and then I’ll turn around and sell the same body to the rendering man that is scheduled to come tomorrow - if that’s not double-dipping, then what is?? Now this is already after you have paid them for treatment to save your pet before they recommended euthansia. The right and correct thing for vets to do is to INFORM their clients of the options: Ms. Kiki, you have three choices on how you would like us to care for the remains of Fido: we can have Fido cremated (and for an extra $175.00, you an have a little box with Fido’s remains, we can have Fido buried at the local pet cemetary (for an extra $500.00 for a little coffin if in fact this ever really happens) or for only $75.00, we can schedule to have Fido removed to a rendering plant, where we have an account with RenderingmanUSA and charge them a fee (probably much higher than the burial or cremation fees) to have Fido thrown in with a bunch of other dead dogs and cats and roadkill and used for premium pet food, some of which may be sitting on our shelf right now. Which option works best for you, Ms. Kiki?
    OK: ALL THE LURKING VETS OUT THERE - HAVE YOU EVER ONCE GIVEN ANY OF YOUR PATIENTS THE TRUE OPTIONS?????? no. you have not. why? because your dead animal disposal business would go way down. Only the poorest of the poor or people with no other options would be forced to give you their pets for food. everyone else would rather just bury Fido in their backyard. If I would have known then what I know now - I would never let any deceased animal go to a rendering plant.

    SECOND: Except for PC and they were marginalized by their own profession, from what I heard (going against the grain). Vets had an opportunity to be true leaders during this crisis - the profession as a group has alot of clout with the pet food industry. I just think alot of good and noble actions were completely squandered as the vet profession sidelined themselves during the crisis. Pet owners could have had a true advocate on their behalf, with vets insisting on helping foster some change and helping get to the bottom of things. That never really happened. The vets (as a group) silence was deafening and telling - on many levels. There were a few noble people who rose to the occasion and we will be forever grateful for their time and effort and good works (PC and others)….

    That’s my morning rant…

  15. Kiki says:

    To expand the argument - I would say from an ethical standpoint, not informing pet owners of what happens to the remains is certainly NOT giving informed consent. Imagine if the medical profession did the same with human remains? In fact, when they get caught selling body parts without informed consent, they lose their license.

    All I am saying is that vets should be held to the same high standards as is expected from the medical profession (the operative word is expected). To me, that implies that the profession should be held to a higher standard above and beyond a business model - a higher calling if you will. That means providing informed consent and first and foremost, doing no harm.

    If vets truly considered pets as small children in each and every interaction, I know that I would have had different experiences. For example, if a small child was lost and a stranger picked him up and brought him to his GP’s office (say he had a medical tag on), I highly doubt that the doctor would refuse to take the little tyke in. The kid would be taken in, given some juice, and the parents would have been called. If a child was found with traumatic injuries and there was no parent or guardian available, I highly doubt that doctors would refuse to stabilize the child and keep him alive.

    Treating pets is no different (except legally) than treating a small child. If lack of a legal framework ultimately drives a veterinarian’s attitude and approach to treatment, then that is NOT a vet who will do the right during difficult times or in compex situations. There is no higher calling or love of animals or compassion or commitment. There is a job, a business model, a bottom line. That’s the truth.

  16. Kiki says:

    The problem is not the rendering plants per se. The problem is twofold however.

    1. Proper informed consent from the pet owners. How many of us have ever been told explicitly that the remains of our animals (unless cremated and given back to us) would go to a rendering plant and used for pet food??? I feel that this complete LACK of informed consent is extremely unethical and verges on illegality just on its’ own.

    2. If used in pet food, then absolutely it should be explicit (on the label - euthanized dog, cat with tumor, and squirrel with rabies meat).

    The result of both actions - true informed consent from pet owners AND explicit labeling of species-specific ingredient would result in a major change in how rendering plants are used, regulated, etc… The animal disposal business via rendering through vet offices would be virtually eliminated in all but the most extreme circumstances and in it’s place, I think cremation or burial would be the standard procedure for pet remains. I think stray animals and euthanized animals from the humane society might still be a source for rendering plants, but the result of rendering would not be pet food or anything close - maybe a soil treatment or natural fertilizer to be used on NON-agricultural lands.

    This, I feel is the correct approach.

  17. Trudy Jackson says:

    Menusux, On May 14th you had a peice about melamine dishes. How can you tell what a melamine dish is? I have a lot of cheap plastic dishes for the animals and the kids. So how can I tell what they are? Of course I couldn’t afford to have them tested. And it wouldn’t be worth it. Are there any other things we are eating from that we should be concerned about? Please let Me know, thanks, Trudy

  18. Helen says:

    Molly, if you have several foods on hand, and your pet is clever enough to detect a toxic one…and refuse to eat it, you have something else around the pet is used to. Also, I think it is crazy that we have been taught pets should eat only one flavor of one food their whole lives. (Imagine if you were only allowed to eat oatmeal mixed with liver every single meal for your entire life?) :P Then if they have to change, it is VERY hard for them. If they are used to variety, not only are they getting a more pleasing diet, they have the option of letting you know they shouldn’t eat what you served.

  19. Sylvia says:

    Is an Itchmo admin out there?

  20. Sylvia says:

    Well, if you see this, check your tips mailbox. A virus link got posted. Someone thought it was just a directory of chemicals made in China.

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