Friday, June 20, 2008

University of Guelph accepts funds from Hills

Twice already this year -- The University of Guelph gets the Poison Kibble award.

The University of Guelph just can't get enough of the pet food companies -- their money, that is. They've just accepted $5 million dollars for a "new primary health centre" to be built on campus. That's right, directly on the campus.

"Skills like communicating with clients and proper pet nutrition will be the new focus of the primary care centre." Like training vets in how to sell and prescribe untested and unregulated pet food products?

Once again, the University's Dean, Dr. Elizabeth Stone, insists that "we will retain academic freedom to teach the same way we do now."

Well I would venture to point out that that is the very problem. There is no academic freedom when a major multinational company gives this kind of money to a publicly-funded institution. Again, the University of Guelph is allowing their silence to be bought. Teach the same way they do now? Again, that's the problem -- vets prescribing and selling species-inappropriate, unregulated and untested pet food.

How is it that they are not seriously considering the major class action lawsuit launched by Maltzman Foreman in the US against Hills for misleading advertising? This lawsuit is currently headed to court. How can the university accept such a large donation when a company like this is being sued? Have they just chosen to ignore all these lawsuits and take the side of the pet food industry?

It's scandalous and the public should be outraged that their tax dollars are miseducating vets to be perpetual kibble pushers.

What many people are choosing to do is change vet clinics -- and send their vet a letter when they leave, letting them know that they will only be entrusting the care of their beloved pets to vets who do NOT sell these species-inappropriate, misleading advertising, prescription diet formulas.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Update on Florida class action lawsuit

In the many daily email updates I receive on the pet food issue, this one stands out:

The impact of this particular lawsuit will have major implications for the industry. The PFI has already attempted to have this case dismissed, but thankfully the judge refused to dismiss the lawsuit.

With Menu Foods settling, could it possibly be that this sets a precedent for the other class action lawsuits? It seems we now have what are called "cross border" settlements with respect to different jurisdictions in North America for dealing with these kinds of class actions. Another curious by-product of globalization.

"The defense claims the allegations in the lawsuit castigating the entire pet food industry are culled from the Internet."

What? Like all the blogs, discussion forums and websites talking about the illnesses caused by long term feeding of untested and unregulated commercial pet food products? And what, exactly, is their point?

That the public is talking about this openly on the internet? Well mainstream media certainly isn't covering the topic anymore, are they?

Mainstream media serves to only air all those glossy high production value ads claiming that pet food products are now being "reformulated." In these ads, the PFI are still blathering on about their formulations being "healthy and balanced" despite the fact that there are only short term acute toxicity studies, at best, being done on these products.

Mainstream media has dropped the story from the crawlers (which incidentially, seems to be the only form of reporting breaking news these days on cable news networks).

Is the defense claiming that the information "culled from the internet" means, in some way, that the issues being raised are not credible? That people's pets have not gotten sick from commercial pet food? That dry food isn't causing feline diabetes, chronic renal disease, cancer, inflammatory bowel syndrome, and urinary tract infections in cats? That people are learning that no cat should eat any form of dry food?

As people start to understand this, as they are on the blogs and discussion forums, dry food will start collecting dust on the shelves of health food stores, veterinarian clinics and supermarkets.

U.S. District Court Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga says in this article:

"Defendants do not assert that the FDA or any other regulatory body has specifically approved the advertisement or statements at issue in this action, and nothing in the AAFCO standards authorizes defendants to engage in false advertising," Altonaga wrote in her order.

Keep it kicking, judge. It would be fabulous if this case would set a precedent.

All of these lawsuits demonstrate a desperate need for genuine accountability in the industry. But maybe if that happened, they wouldn't be able to continue to dump massive quantities of corn and wheat to produce grain-based kibble, which is the main "species inappropriate" ingredient in commercial pet food.

The PFI should not be regulating themselves. Governments in both Canada and the US need to be able to issue product recalls. FDA reform will be one of the factors critical to re-shaping the industry over the next two years, as decisions resulting from these lawsuits emerge.

Then again, people can make other choices -- like refusing to purchase any commercial pet food product.

If you need proof of how healthy a cat can be NOT eating commercial food, and only eating a raw meat with ground bone (and minimal supplementation) diet, take a look at Makena, who is now one year old.

Now, isn't she a gorgeous picture of health and happiness? Wouldn't you want any cat guardian you know to have the same kind of healthy kitty?