Surveys and number tallying:
- One veterinary professor sets out to survey to estimate the deaths from tainted pet food.
- VetLocator.com offers a peek into how pet owners and professionals learned and responded to the recalls.
Can food safety be solved with testing?
Pet food companies have maintained that testing would not have caught melamine spiking since it was so unexpected. But two issues have raised doubts about just how much testing was done in the first place.
- Spiking food ingredients with fake-protein was so widespread, there were cases in the US as well as brazen requests for melamine scraps by food makers in China.
- The FDA said pet food makers received wheat flour, not wheat gluten. Two substances very different from each other.
- Melamine was visible in the tainted foods.
Now, companies are beefing up their testing processes and offering new testing services. We don’t think that testing will catch every possible problem. We believe the industry must escape its “who can get to the bottom the fastest” mentality, and look to raise the bar by finding partners and suppliers they can trust, while giving consumers the most honest, accurate, and up-to-date information to make informed decisions.
BusinessWeek: FDA lacks the resources to fix things the right way.
WSJ editorial: Food problem must be fixed in China first. (Subscription req.) Highlights below:
Given shipping volumes — tens of thousands of foodstuff containers arrive each year — it is not possible to scan every export that reaches U.S. shores. Even if it were feasible, testing for an array of potential contaminants would be prohibitively expensive. A single test of one food sample for the toxic compound dioxin can cost $800 or more.
As China’s consumers grow wealthier and more informed, they are becoming less tolerant of such transgressions. Take the baby-food scandal of 2004, in which ersatz formula killed dozens of infants and sickened hundreds with severe malnutrition. Thanks to the Internet and mobile phones, that scandal received national attention and public outrage was met with at least 130 arrests and mass demotions.
Although outside agencies such as the FDA and the World Health Organization are working with Chinese authorities, this is at heart a problem only Beijing can solve. Doing so is a matter of self-interest for the Chinese government, which is trying to expand opportunities for agricultural trade.
Legal: Lawsuits continue to spread from Canada to Hawaii.
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(Thanks Pet Connection)