Dr. Donald R. Strombeck, author of Home-Prepared Dog and Cat Diets : The Healthful Alternative, was interviewed in the latest issue of Bark Magazine. His comments and insights into University of California, Davis reveals that even at that very well-respected organization, some are willing to put pet food industry priorities before scientific data.
Why is this important? Dr. Strombeck is Professor Emeritus of School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis. He is also an honorary member of the College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and has been widely published. His numerous awards include the Ralston Purina Award for research excellence in small animal diseases. He is also a frequent critic of the pet food industry’s practices.
Dr. Strombeck criticizes AAFCO and state agriculture departments and says the industry won’t change its ways unless a crisis like the dog and cat food recalls occur — not a proactive step in protecting our pets. And also shares some amazing insights into pet food. We’ve provided some highlights from the interview.
Highlights from Bark Magazine interview with Dr. Strombeck:
Bark Magazine: How have you seen the pet food industry change during that time? What kinds
of impacts has it had on the teaching of nutrition at vet schools?
Dr. Donald R. Strombeck, DVM, PhD: It has become a gigantic, multi-billion dollar industry.The industry learned to advertise and describe their products as being the â€œbest,â€at least according to
them. But they have tried to control the education of veterinarians on pet nutrition. They send a lot of literature and books to veterinarians who teach. One of the dogmas they have promoted, and that
many veterinarians have bought into, is that you should only feed commercial pet foods because they are balanced and provide everything an animal needs. And that you shouldnâ€™t feed any human food
or add any table scraps to it. So, if you go to most veterinarians,that is what they are going to tell you.
B: Are there any changes that the federal government can make to improve the process and to ensure the quality of the ingredients? What about the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) â€” arenâ€™t they the ones responsible for overseeing this?
DS: AAFCO is a mutual admiration society representing the pet food industry. They are from the industry. They say that they can police themselves and donâ€™t need any government interference. And thatâ€™s the way it operates. There havenâ€™t been any changes there,and so the only thing that will cause them to change the way they do things is if they lose a lot of money, like from a scare like this.
B: Or perhaps if the public becomes more aware of their power; its members all seem to come from state agriculture departments.
DS: The members are in the back pocket of the pet food industry.
B: Even some of the kibble in this recall was contaminated.
DS: Did you read the information in my book about kibble being contaminated with bacteria? Veterinarians know this. I got money to research this, and gave it to Jim Cullor, a good researcher; I asked him to do a study to determine the numbers and kinds of bacteria that could be cultured from kibble. And he did it, but I donâ€™t know if it was ever published. [Editorâ€™s note: We are checking on this.]
The guy who was in charge of public programs at Davis was adamantly opposed to having this published, because he wanted to protect the industry. Also, I remember when the pet food industry
would say on the bag of puppy food, â€œmoisten this foodâ€and put it down for them. But bacteria multiply rapidly on moistened dry food. You know that puppies, a lot of times, eat a little bite and wander off, then come back to it, so the food could be there all day long. It is a good way for them to get diarrhea.
There’s a lot more interesting information in this article. You can find where you can pick a up a copy of Bark magazine from their site.
(Image courtesy of Bark Magazine)