Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Miteful. Maggotful. Beneful.

The Consumerist has got not one, but two reports of maggots found in Purina Beneful dog food during the past few days. The first customer contacted Purina about the problem and was told:

"As soon as our food leaves our factory, it is no longer our responsibility."

Which sounds eerily similar to Purina's response to the mitey Beneful found in VA:

"We're slightly puzzled, but infestation in grain based foods can happen anytime after our products leave our manufacturing facility."

Gross-out alert. Shoot, I should have put that at the beginning huh?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

"Renderers take a potential hazard and turn it into something valuable"

How does this image grab you? An open dump truck pulls in to the back dock of your local grocery store. Workers toss in spoiled, stinking meat and trimmings that have been collected from the meat department because they are "inedible" for humans. The dump truck drives around southern Florida under the summer sun, flies buzzing at their leisure while the driver takes a coffee break before heading to the next pickup location. More rotten meat is tossed onto the truck, and more Florida sun beats down upon the stinking pile.

Cut to: You in your kitchen, pouring your pet's food from a bag with photos on it of delicious looking cuts of fresh meat. But where did the meat used to make that pet food actually come from? Yeppers, the dump truck. How do I know?

I came across this story over the weekend when the dump truck overturned and spilled the rotten meat onto the road:

It took hours for Collier County officials and Golden Gate firefighters to clean up the meat, hose down the road and brush the pavement with detergent.

[Note to self: see if they're hiring.]

“The smell was real bad,” Golden Gate fire Lt. John Handley said. “And it made a hazard because the oils in the meat seeped into the road and made it slick.”


“This is grocery store trimmings,” said Charlie Largay, president of the Miami-based Tallowmasters LLC, the owner of the overturned dump truck. “The material that is out of date or is trimmed off ... is just not thrown away into a dump. It’s recycled. It’s a high-protein product and it goes right back into animal feeds.”


“After it’s processed it comes out looking like cinnamon and it smells like dry dog food,” he said. “We sell it to the pet manufacturers for their dog food.”


The article goes on to try and determine exactly who is responsible for overseeing what in the pet food industry but after getting the runaround, comes up with no definitive answers. Sound familiar? Read the complete article here.

Nutro Pet Foods: Toxic Zinc? Toxic Denial?

For many consumers, pet food company transparency is key to earning trust in their products. Pet owners want honest answers to direct questions - not the runaround "We can't tell you, that's proprietary info" which companies used to get away with prior to the 2007 recalls. Despite this, and in response to a mounting body of complaint evidence against their foods, Nutro's mantra seems to be: deny, deny, deny.

Here's an overview of Nutro complaints and responses:

A July 2007 story about an owner who requested vet bill reimbursement from Nutro after her dog (who was fed Nutro) died. Nutro denied the claim.

ConsumerAffairs.com wondered if there is any link between reports of sick/dead pets who ate Nutro foods and the foods themselves in a series of articles starting April 18, 2008, with updates on June 23 and August 6, 2008. In addition, the site has been collecting ongoing consumer experiences with Nutro foods, many of which describe pets who became ill while eating Nutro products but recovered after the owner switched to a different brand.

On August 14, 2008 Pet Food Products Safety Alliance (PFPSA) posted an update detailing independent lab test results they received on Nutro foods which reveal excess copper and zinc.
Their lab results are available in pdf here and here.

Nutro has responded to Consumer Affairs postings of pet illness/death and PFPSA's test results on their website. They basically state that all the food is fine, never has been a problem and they have lab test results to prove it. Notably absent: the lab test results which prove it. Hmm.

PFPSA responds to Nutro's website posting and asks concerned pet owners to compare the complaints posted at Consumer Affairs with the symptoms of zinc toxicity and decide if they are consistent.

As pet owners, all of us need to form our own opinions based on the facts as we can obtain them. It's challenging enough to filter out possible bias on both sides so I for one am grateful to PFSPA for posting their independent lab test results. This gives me something solid to examine which I can consider to be at least somewhat free of bias. Nutro, if you have independent lab test results which document that your foods do not contain excess copper and zinc, I know many of us would love to see them. Got a scanner?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Treats on the Internets

Recommended reading from around the Wide World of Web:

Smart Dogs evaluates the evaluators when it comes to testing rescue dogs with resource guarding issues:

The testers waited until the dog was busy eating the food, then began to poke annoyingly at its face with a fake hand on a stick.

This is a good piece - read the full post here.


Terrierman offers a hunter's perspective on why Sarah Palin's promotion of wolf killing in Alaska has nothing to do with hunting.


As I mentioned a few days ago, Purina Beneful dog foods were pulled from the shelves at a VA store due to grain mite contamination. Yesterday, Asbury Park Press had a Q & A feature with a Vet who offers an opinion on how dog food might become contaminated with grain mites:

For the grain mites to be so numerous, it makes me wonder how old the pet food you purchased was. I also wonder about the hygiene at the point of manufacture and the quality of the ingredients that could have come from heaven knows where, giving you even more reason to purchase ingredients yourself and make your own dog food.


A Daily Kos diary talks about people dumping an increased number of pets at the side of rural roads in Appalachia during the economic slide.


This article explains how a dysplastic Golden Retriever was treated with an injection of his own stem cells and the hope this treatment may offer other animals.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Cranky Dog Bloggers for Obama

A group of pet owners are blogging on the US Presidential race at Bark Obama! This is not a pet blog but rather a political blog written by people who love pets. You've been warned.
And: welcome!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

One More Time for Old Times' Sake

Mars Petcare US is (again) recalling food due to Salmonella concerns. Affected brands include Pedigree, Ol' Roy, and Pet Pride. I guess we're supposed to be thankful that they told us about the Salmonella at all, even if it was on a Friday night, during a hurricane, and the problem has been going on for some time already.


Purina Beneful dog food has been pulled from the shelves of a pet supply store in Virginia due to contamination with grain mites. Predictably, Purina is trying to plant the idea that the infestation occurred after the food left their facility. It's the same old pet food corporation song and dance: deny first, discover truth later (or never, as the case may be). Hey Purina: give the American consumer a little credit here. We can comprehend that a problem like grain mites might occur with a grain based pet food product, that a company can deal with it responsibly and that future products can be deemed safe. What really pisses us off is when companies immediately respond to any and every question with We know nuffing. Again.


And in the oldie but goodie department, we have the Chinese adulterating food with melamine in order to try and boost profits (again). Unlike last year, when melamine tainted ingredients from China killed and sickened thousands of pets, the victims this time are infants and the tainted food is baby formula. Nice.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Got Any Old Pet Food That Fell Behind the Lazy Susan?

The website Pet Food Recall Facts is putting out a call for unopened canned/pouches of old pet food for testing:

If any pet owners have unopened samples of pet food manufactured prior to the end of December 2006, and would be willing to make them available for testing, please contact me. The samples I’m interested in would be store brands with expiration dates of “09” for canned food and “08” for pouches. I’m interested in the “loaf” style of pet food that does not list gluten as an ingredient. If anyone has such samples available for testing, I would most sincerely appreciate your making them available. Personal information of those making samples available will be held in the strictest confidence.

If you are interested in helping or learning more, visit their website.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Michigan "Pet Sellers" May Be Investigated by the FBI

The AKC alerts us to a proposed pet ordinance in Michigan - HB 6395 - that sounds a leetle scary:

If adopted, HB 6395 would:
Define anyone who sells or offers for sale more than two dogs per year, or more than one litter of dogs per year, as a "petseller."

Mandate that those who qualify as pet sellers to acquire an annual petseller license from their county animal control shelter at a cost of $200/year.

Require an applicant for a pet seller license to submit his or her fingerprints with a license application for a criminal history and FBI background check.

Give discretion to county animal control shelters to deny applications for pet seller licenses, regardless of outcome of background investigation.

If you are a Michigan resident, get your Representative's contact info and call/snail mail/fax a letter indicating your opposition to this bill.