Veterinary Professor Speaks Candidly On UC Davis, AAFCO, Etc.

Dr. Donald Strombeck VDM

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 “best,”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 shouldn’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) — aren’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 don’t need any government interference. And that’s the way it operates. There haven’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 don’t know if it was ever published. [Editor’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, “moisten this food”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.

(Thanks Janice)

(Image courtesy of Bark Magazine)

13 Responses to “Veterinary Professor Speaks Candidly On UC Davis, AAFCO, Etc.”

  1. Rose says:

    I hope this interview encourages other veterinary professionals to talk openly about the pet food industry and it makes veteniarinans and vetenary medical schools re-evaluate the pet food industry to FORCE an emphasis on quality rather than good marketing for pet foods.

    The industry is not changing on it’s own, self-policeing has not worked. It’s time for professionals and consumers to force this change. The way to make it start to happen is by educating consumers and professionals.
    Perhaps this is a good opportunity for a non-profit non-industry run pet food orginization to start. Examples from other industries would be UL testing and Consumer Reports.

    We are in critical need of a independent research orginization for the pet food and products industry. This would have to include ongoing testing that are supported by membership subscriptions: not from the pet food industry.

    Anyone out there have connections, scientists, marketing and large donor base to get this started?

  2. Katie says:

    I read this article in Bark magazine, it was very good. Dr Strombeck has done a good job telling it like it is. No wonder U Calif Davis was concerned - lose all those grants… There needs to be independent research done on nutrition - the minute PFI and AAFCO get involved they want their interests covered to the detriment of our pets. Can only hope that with the pet food crisis that more vet nutritionists not under the the funding of pet food companies, will be more vocal about what a pets diet requires.


  3. catmom5 says:

    BRAVO for Dr Strombeck who is willing to tell the truth. I’m hoping and praying that he is just the beginning of some others who are willing to stand up to the PFI and big corporations.

  4. Trudy Jackson says:

    Hey Guys Try this for vitamins.
    This is what Elizabeth Hodgkins DVM uses on Her raw food for Her pets.

  5. mittens says:

    “AAFCO is a mutual admiration society representing the pet food industry. They are from the industry. They say that they can police themselves and don’t need any government interference.”

    might add the fda in that mutal hand jive society.

  6. Beth says:

    I just got Dr. Stombeck’s book and have begun the “hepatic diet” on two of my dogs that have rising liver enzymes–caused by liver-toxic medications. Phenobarbitol for my epileptic and Prednisone for the other with an autoimmune disorder.
    Strombeck, like Dr. Jean Dodds, has devoted his life to canine at feline wellness.

  7. straybaby says:

    Beth, have you read Emma’s story? May help with your epileptic if you haven’t seen it:

    lots of good info, but a sad ending unrelated to her condition :(

  8. Jan says:

    Previous to the pet recalls my dog was on Science Diet W/D. Although he didn’t lose weight on the food he at least had stopped gaining. After the scare I put him on a diet in Dr. Strombeck’s book and he has steadily been losing weight. The big surprise is that he doesn’t beg all day as he did in the past. His coat is beautiful and he has more energy. We will never go back to purchasing food from the pet food industry. I’m so grateful to Dr. Strombeck for his life’s work of improving the life of our pets.

  9. purringfur says:

    And remember the University of California at Davis… from Don Earl’s site www dot petfoodrecallfacts dot com:

    Didn’t UC Davis tell a pet owner BEFORE the pet food was even submitted for testing that acetaminophen couldn’t possibly be in the food?

    From Don’s site:
    UPDATE June 18, 2007: In an apparent conflict of interest, UC Davis is the beneficiary of a half million dollar grant from Hill’s. The page to the previoulsy linked UCD press release on said half mil mysteriously disappeared shortly after it was posted here. Do you suppose they are having computer problems? Or did they just become a bit shy about disclosing which side their pet food is buttered on?

  10. birmancat says:

    No wonder UC Davis couldn’t find acetaminophen, they would have lost their funding. It’s a shame that they couldn’t do an independent evaluation without showing their bias. Dr. Strombeck is right about the handshake and looking the other way going on between the PFI, AAFCO, ASPCA and the FDA.

  11. Sylvia says:

    Thank you, Dr. Strombeck!

  12. Stefani says:

    What really depresses me is that although there are voices out there in the veterinary community, they are still a small, important vocal minority. I can’t tell you how many vet students still believe that it’s OK to feed diabetic cats dry food, and to give shots of insulin without testing hte blood sugar at home.

    That would be like telling a human diabetic that it’s OK to live on cookies and potato chips, and never test his blood sugar.

    Heck, its not just vet students that have this ignorant position, it’s the majority of the vets out there, too.

  13. Damian says:

    Dr. Strombeck is right on! We are so happy to see a movement torwards “Real Food” for our dogs. Check out our website, we make All Natural Homemade Dog Food, our recipes were inspired by Dr. Strombeck book, Home-Prepared Dog & Cat Diets.

    All Dogs need and deserver real food.

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