Pet Food Recalls
August 9, 2013
Are you tired of hearing about pet food recalls? On Bees Ferry Veterinary Hospital’s Facebook page, it seems like we post pet food or treat recall notices about once a week. These constant reports make all of us a bit paranoid about what we are feeding our pets, so let’s take a few minutes to look at the facts.
It is the memory of the massive 2007 recall of adulterated pet food ingredients that enhances our concerns today and makes us all pay closer attention to any recall. In 2007, the melamine that entered so many pet foods caused illness and even death in an untold number of pets.
More recent recalls are generally done because of the presence of Salmonella or aflatoxin (mold) noted in the final product. Fortunately, most of these recalls occur before any illness is reported and the pet food manufacturers are quick to recall not only the affected lot, but other batches of food with the potential for contamination. On rare occasions, a pet food might be recalled because of a deficiency or excess of a vital nutrient.
The good news is that these recalls often happen before large quantities of the foods ever get to consumers, so the potential for problems in our pets is greatly reduced. And, pet food companies are working with the FDA to implement specific measures as outlined in the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011. These provisions may help boost our confidence that important safety measures are maintained or even increased.
The reality is that pet food recalls are not on the increase at this time. The Office of Surveillance and Compliance at the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine says that the number of companies recalling foods stays pretty consistent from year to year, although the number of products/brands may fluctuate at any given time. In fact, due to the implementation of governmental safety measures, testing showed a decrease in Salmonella contamination from 12.4 percent of pet food samples in 2006 to 6.1 percent in 2009.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to completely avoid food safety issues. I am sure most of us have had food poisoning ourselves from time to time. But you can greatly reduce risk to your pet by developing a good relationship with whoever sells you your pet food. This may be your veterinarian or it may be one of our local, independent pet food shops where buyers have a good relationship with the companies behind the products. Remember that, overall, pet foods are safe and healthy, complete diets.
Follow your veterinarian’s social media pages to stay on top of important recalls or you can follow the FDA’s recall list: http://www.fda.gov/animalveterinary/safetyhealth/recallswithdrawals/default.htm or the Pet Food Safety Recalls and Alerts page at the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website: https://www.avma.org/news/issues/recalls-alerts/pages/pet-food-safety-recalls-alerts.aspx.