The pet food recall has scared the nation.
More than that, it has seriously placed the credibility of not only the pet food companies but that of our own government at issue.
Despite Menu Foods having been responsible for the deaths and sickness of hundreds of pets, they're encouraging the public to keep buying their product because after all, while they recorded nearly a $6 million profit in the last quarter of 2005, for sure their bottom line is going to take a hit in the first quarter of 2006.
Pet food companies like Purina were busy saying buy me, buy me, we're not part of it only a few days later to have Purina tell us that they too were included, recalling one their Alpo Prime Cuts in Gravy, a popular dog food. And then followed Del Monte, and Hill's. Who can you trust anymore?
It seems that virtually every day another company joins the recall and the $64,000 question remains, just what company is the one that the FDA says is the one to whom melamine-contaminated wheat gluten had been shipped which manufactures dry pet food. They refuse to name the company and in our view, that's totally irresponsible, to say the least. If the government in the body of the FDA knows a company's products may contain contamination, they have a responsibility to tell the public so that the public stops using that product.
Just what is the priority of the federal government, trying to save the lives of helpless pets or looking out for the bottom line of pet food manufacturers? Never mind, we think we already know the answer.
In this particular problem, it is said that cats are more susceptible because of their size. What if the contamination affected food for human consumption? What if 16 human beings had died? What if the entire human population was at risk because of imported wheat gluten instead of "ONLY" the entire nation's pet population?
Where is the outrage? Is it because people say, so what, it's only an animal? This is a country that condones using animals for laboratory testing. Why is the Congress and the President apathetic towards this issue? What if it's found that this same wheat gluten used in pet foods is being using in foods for human consumption? How do we know it's not. We as a nation should be more concerned about what the government is NOT telling us than what they are.
... Apparently FDA wasn't concerned enough to tell the public who the manufacturer is they have identified whose dry food is contains the contaminated wheat gluten. Hill's, the only manufacturer so far to have called dry cat food, says it's not them.
In this pet food recall, at first we were told it was confined ONLY to 95 brands of wet dog and cat food, that absolutely dry pet food was safe. Wrong, the federal Food and Drug Administration then identified melamine in wheat gluten used in dry cat food produced by Hill's Pet Nutrition Inc. of Topeka, Kan., and on Friday, that food was recalled. Just think how many pets may have been affected.
Worse yet, just think how many pets continue to be affected because their owners have diligently watched the recall list and think they are feeding their pets safe foods only to be informed within days that that food too is being recalled.
How safe are we, how safe are our pets? FDA officials tell us that while wheat gluten is also used in some human foods, they have supposedly found no indication that the contaminated ingredient had been used in foods for human consumption.
To reiterate, the scary part to us isn't what they're telling us, it's what they're not telling us. After all, the government is pretty good at cover-ups, particularly when they are protecting entire industries, in this case, the pet food industry. Dog and cat food sales in the U.S. reached over $14.3 billion in 2005, according to the Pet Food Institute that represents manufacturers of commercial pet foods.
The president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) called for the resignation of Andrew von Eschenback, FDA commissioner, after the FDA refused to name the dry pet food maker. http://www.peta.org/pdfs/IGCFax.pdf
PETA president Ingrid Newkirk says that two independent laboratories are claiming that the FDA was wrong when it determined that the agent causing kidney failure in cats and dogs was wheat gluten contaminated with melamine. FDA has yet to recall the dry food that is reportedly killing dogs and cats. What are they waiting for? To see how high the death toll will rise? Do they feel secure because they think they can't be held liable, that cats and dogs are considered personal property and that there can be no damages awarded by a court for emotional distress, intentional emotional distress caused by our own government?
Although the FDA says that melamine was found in pet food and that it may have been the ingredient making animals sick, PETA points out that at the FDA news conference on March 30, the agency did not report the fact that the New York Department of Agriculture and a top Canadian agricultural laboratory -- Animal Health Laboratory at the University of Guelph - both dispute the FDA's finding.
"A house-cleaning of the FDA is overdue," writes Newkirk. "Cherished animals are dying horrible deaths because of a fat, callous industry, and you have forfeited the public trust by siding with it to the detriment of the public."
PETA has also called for criminal investigations of Iams, Menu Foods and other companies to determine if there were delays that may have caused more suffering and deaths of animals. Menu Foods president Paul Henderson has already confirmed that the company delayed its recall until weeks after the first complaints were made about the pet food, in order to confirm that cats and dogs were dying from eating the pet food and not from other reasons.
PETA has charged that Menu Foods reportedly knew of this potentially deadly food as early as Feb. 20. When reports surfaced that its dog and cat food might have caused severe illness in customers' animal companions, PETA spokesmen say Menu quietly conducted lethal toxicity tests to confirm the contamination. Dogs and cats were allegedly forced to ingest toxic and lethal food in Menu's laboratory before the company announced the recall of pet food from stores nationwide nearly one month after the initial illness were reported. During this critical time, countless animal companions may have been at risk of getting sick, and many may have died, PETA says. http://www.peta.org/
While the finger pointing for the contaminated wheat gluten has been directed at China, on Monday China denied that the pet food ingredients exported to the U.S. are to blame for the pet food recall.