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April 6th, 2007, 08:21 AM #1Pet food recall Senate investigation
DURBIN ANNOUNCES SENATE HEARING ON PET FOOD CONTAMINATION
Thursday, April 5, 2007
[CHICAGO, IL] - U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced the U.S. Senate will hold an oversight hearing on the ongoing investigation and the regulatory mechanisms that govern the pet food industry as the widespread recall of contaminated pet food continues."Many cats, dogs and other pets, considered members of the family are now suffering as a result of a deeply flawed pet food inspection system," said Durbin. "The FDA's response to this situation has been tragically slow. Pet owners deserve answers. The uncertainty about what is safe to feed their pets has gone on far too long. I want to learn exactly when the FDA knew about the contamination, who is inspecting pet food manufacturing plants, and whether we need to force the FDA to update their regulations to protect our pets. Most importantly, I want to hear how the FDA is going to work to resolve the current crisis and ensure this doesn't happen again."
Durbin, a member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, is working with Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), the Chairman of the Subcommittee, to schedule the hearing shortly after the Senate returns from recess next week. Hearing witnesses will include FDA officials who will be questioned on the timeline of the investigation, the source of the contamination, and the agency's regulatory and inspection responsibilities. The hearing will also include outside experts who will discuss the current state of the pet food industry, as well as regulatory or resource shortfalls that led to the widespread recall of tainted pet food.
While the FDA is reporting 15 animal deaths due to poisoning, the agency has received more than 10,000 complaints over the last several weeks. Reports of the actual number of animal deaths due to tainted food vary widely from other sources.
Durbin is urging the FDA to take action in three specific areas:
Delay in reporting. Menu Foods, Inc. first noticed a potential problem on February 20, 2007 but did not contact FDA until March 15, 2007. In the meantime, other companies were selling tainted product and the supplier wasn't aware that it had provided wheat gluten contaminated with melamine. Durbin wants companies that delay reporting to the FDA and endanger human and animal health to face penalties.
Lack of inspections. The Emporia, Kansas Menu Foods facility where many of these products were made had never been inspected by the FDA. The agency has been relying on the states to conduct inspections, but the FDA has jurisdiction over all pet food manufacturing facilities and the ultimate responsibility to ensure facilities comply with FDA standards. Where there should be federal regulation, there is instead a patchwork of state inspection systems and voluntary guidance. Durbin wants to require the FDA to work with the states to establish a standardized set of regulations and inspection requirements.
Incomplete data and reporting from the FDA. Blogs and nonprofit websites have filled a gap and become the most efficient way to share information on contaminations. Durbin wants to direct the FDA to create a similar information sharing system that would allow state veterinarians, pet owners and others to alert the FDA of possible contaminations.
On March 16, 2007 Menu Foods, Inc. initiated a voluntary recall of 60 million cans and pouches of wet pet food. The recall involves 42 varieties of cat food and 53 varieties of dog food made at its Emporia, Kansas facility between December 3, 2006 and March 6, 2007.
The FDA, which has jurisdiction over the regulation and inspection of pet food processing facilities, announced the recall on March 17, 2007. According to FDA, it was first notified of the contamination on March 15, 2007.
In addition to the Menu Foods recall of 95 different labels of pet food, the recall was expanded between March 16 and March 31, 2007 to at least 4 more makers of pet food, all well-respected premium brand companies - Nestle Purina, maker of Alpo; Hill's Pet Nutrition, maker of Prescription Diet; P&G Pet Care, maker of Iams and Eukanuba; and Del Monte.
On March 26, 2007, in response to reports that Menu Foods and FDA were underreporting the number of animal illnesses (acute kidney failure) and deaths attributed to the contamination, Durbin and Congresswoman DeLauro sent a letter to Andrew von Eschenbach, Commissioner of the FDA, requesting that within 15 days the FDA provide information on the number of pet food manufacturing inspections and violations, a detailed timeline of the situation, an analysis of FDA's oversight of pet food manufacturing facilities and a report of actions taken since the recent pet food recall. A response is due by April 10, 2007.
On March 30, the FDA discovered that the source of the contamination was a melamine-contaminated batch of wheat gluten imported from China by a Chinese company called Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. Ltd, which is based in Wangdien, China. The same day, in response to the Xuzhou discovery, FDA issued guidelines blocking imports of wheat gluten from that company and stepped up inspections of all Chinese wheat gluten shipments.
On April 3, Nevada-based ChemNutra announced that it was the firm that had imported the contaminated wheat gluten and that it then provided the gluten to pet food companies. According to ChemNutra, all the wheat gluten went to pet food companies and should not be in the human food supply. ChemNutra initiated a nationwide recall of the contaminated wheat gluten product on April 2, 2007.
April 6th, 2007, 10:11 AM #2
- Join Date
- January 18th, 2005
This is just a small part of the big picture. Don't you remember the spinich contaminated with e-coli or the lettuce in the Taco bells also contaminated with e-coli or the instances of mad cow disease in the US? How come fool is suddenly unsafe?
I don't remember any of these type of things happening on such a wide spread basis in the 90s or before. Do you?
April 6th, 2007, 12:02 PM #3
True, but part of the reason may be the Pet Industry has grown in leaps & bounds since then.
Most of you may not have seen these stats. This vertical at 40 Billion is bigger than most!
Total U.S. Pet Industry Expenditures
2007 $40.8 Est.
Industry Statistics & Trends
- 63% of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to 69.1 millions homes
45% of U.S. households own more than one pet
- In 1988, the first year the survey was conducted, 56% of U.S. households owned a pet as compared to the 63% of present day
Number of U.S. Households that Own a Pet (millions)
Freshwater Fish 13.9 (we combine the fresh & Salt to 14.7)
Saltwater Fish .8
Small Animal 5.7
Total Number of Pets Owned in the U.S. (millions)
Freshwater Fish 139.0
Saltwater Fish 9.6
Small Animal 18.2
So since about 150 dogs and cats are involved in this recall it has drawn the attention of the Senate.
- 63% of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to 69.1 millions homes
April 6th, 2007, 06:11 PM #4
- Join Date
- January 18th, 2005
So you are saying more people own dogs than eat spinich??? Guess that's y they don't make anymore popeye cartoons.
April 12th, 2007, 02:44 PM #5Step in the right direction.
New National Pet Food Commission Formed to Further Build on Safety and Quality Standards
Panel Including Experts from Government and Industry Announced By Pet Food Institute WASHINGTON, April 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Pet Food Institute(PFI), which represents pet food manufacturers, today announced theformation of the National Pet Food Commission, composed ofnationally-recognized veterinarians, toxicologists, state and federalregulators and nutritionists, to further strengthen industry procedures andsafeguards in light of recent pet food recalls. The industry-government partnership will have two main goals: -- To investigate the cause of the current pet food recall. -- To recommend steps the industry and government should take to further build on safety and quality standards already in place. Information on the National Pet Food Commission's charge and a completelist of commissioners is available at http://www.petfoodreport.com. At theconclusion of its work, the National Pet Food Commission will issue areport outlining its findings and offering its recommendations to theindustry and regulators. PFI President Duane Ekedahl announced formation of the National PetFood Commission today during his testimony before the U.S. SenateAppropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food andDrug Administration and Related Agencies. "The pet food industry has been working diligently with the Food andDrug Administration, which has led the investigation to understand thecause of this incident since we learned of the first recall," Ekedahl said."As part of this continuing effort, the Commission will augment the FDA'swork and make recommendations so that consumers continue to be confident inthe food they feed their pets." "The people who make pet food are pet lovers and owners themselves,"Ekedahl noted. "They understand the concerns consumers have about pet foodproducts and feel a special responsibility to address this issue." Ekedahl was joined at the hearing by Dr. Angele Thompson -- an expertin nutritional biochemistry and a member of the American Academy ofVeterinary Nutrition -- who will chair the National Pet Food Commission. "It is a distinct privilege to offer what I can to such an importanttopic at this critical time," said Dr. Thompson. "It is imperative that westudy this problem from all sides and apply lessons learned to furtherbuild on industry procedures and safeguards." Dr. Thompson said the commission will have its first meeting in thecoming days. Since 1958, the Pet Food Institute has been the voice of U.S. pet foodmanufacturers. PFI is the industry's public education and media relationsresource, representative before the U.S. Congress and state and federalagencies, organizer of seminars and educational programs, and liaison withother organizations. PFI represents the manufacturers of 97 percent of alldog and cat food produced in the United States.
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