Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Canadian import pet food policy critique

Well, after more than two years, the Canadian government has come out with its pet food import policy.

At first glance, it appears as if it will be harder for US companies to import pet food into Canada. There are some important questions posed to Canadian importers for permits to import commercially prepared pet food.

But what questions are NOT being asked in this document?

What influence did the corporate multinationals have in shaping this policy? It’s worth another FOI request to find out, a request I will be filing shortly.

Will this policy be applied equally to large multinational corporations as well as to small producers?

How will this affect the import of a new burgeoning industry, the raw food pet food market?

There are new regulations requiring all raw products to be endorsed by a full time, salaried veterinarian. Now this is really where the problem lies. As things currently exist, most veterinarian clinics are stocking species inappropriate kibble. Veterinarians receive very little in the way of non pet food company training and are, by and large, biased against raw food for pets. So how does this help?

In Ontario, veterinarians are not only the sellers of multinational kibble, they are the owners in the veterinarian distribution company in Ontario that distributes ALL pet food products. The Veterinary Purchasing Company Limited in St. Mary's Ontario, is owned by a large number of vets in south-eastern Ontario. The only thing that keeps this from being a monopoly is that there is a small agency in Northwestern Ontario that services that region.

Most Ontario veterarinians are shareholders and as such, they receive regular dividends from this company. This is a clear conflict of interest on the part of veterinarinans. This needs to be challenged and changed in provincial regulation. Veterinarians should not be selling pet food or profiting from the distribution of these products.

No where in this document did I see the term “species appropriate” as a criteria for ingredients for pet food. That’s a vital link that needs to be among criteria for ANY pet food product. We have seen the negative health impact of high carbohydrate laden products and how detrimental they are to pet health, especially cats.

The main concern on the part of the feds appears to be BSE. Well, despite the best efforts at enforcement, BSE has been in the food system in North America for years and continues to be.

As for cleaning, storage and processing at individual plants, we saw clearly from the Maple Leaf listeria scandal, that despite there being a CFIA inspector at the plant, there was still contamination that occurred. How will things be different with more inspectors?

In Canada, unlike the US in which there was a recent change to FDA regulations, product recalls are still VOLUNTARY on the part of industry. The Canadian government has no authority under which to issue product recalls. This fact alone should be of concern to every Canadian when it concerns the safety of our food supply system.

Although there are questions and regulations in this document that need to be asked, it certainly falls short of what is really required to reign in the multinationals that make such excessive profits from pet food. Or the veterinarians that profit from the sale of species inappropriate kibble.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

New US food safety site

US Federal site for food safety

All in one location, this site has many links with respect to food safety issues. If you type in "pet food" in the search box many different documents and sites will come up.

And....here's an important link: how to report a pet food problem:

How to report a pet food problem in the US

Friday, September 11, 2009

Pet Food: A Dog's Breakfast

It's the fall of 2009, and the CBC's Doc Zone re-broadcast this important documentary from Yap Films last week.

For those of you who haven't seen it, there's a blogger upload available at:

Pet Food: A Dog's Breakfast"

There's a very clear demonstration on how kibble is made, which may serve to convince those of you still feeding dry food why these formulas are completely upside-down nutritionally for our beloved feline carnivores.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Food Safety bill passes in the US House

Food Safety bill passes in US House of Representatives

At the end of July, 2009, the US House of Representatives passed the Food Safety Enhancement Act, H.R. 2749. Now the ball is in the court for the Senate to pass similar legislation. There are some key things in here that are useful, if this act is actually enforced. As we saw from the pet food recalls and the plethora of recalls of processed food products since then, ensuring that there are adequate staff in place to enforce regulations is critical.

The article details several points in the legislation:

"• Inspections of high-risk food facilities at least every 6-12 months as well as inspection of lower-risk facilities at least once every 3 years (FDA currently averages inspections once every ten years.

• High-risk food facilities to submit the results of testing their finished food products for safety.

• All registered domestic and foreign food facilities to identify hazards and implement steps to prevent or reduce contaminants that may appear in food.

• Businesses to keep basic safety records in a standard format so they are easier for FDA to review.

• An FDA-mandated recall if a company fails to do so when requested.

• Food facilities selling to American consumers to register with the FDA and pay annual fees.

• The FDA to gather information and run a pilot project to set up a method to trace food back to its source in the case of contamination. Such a “traceback” system would have to allow FDA to trace food back to its source within 2 business days."

A number of these recommendations were directly a result of the pet food recalls. Remember how no one could identify the source of the melamine? And how the FDA was unable to issue recalls for tainted pet food products? At least these reforms are something and it's doubtful that these would have been passed in the Bush era.

Greater oversight and further legislative reforms are needed however. One-size fits all policies don't work in the context of our food supply system, particularly with respect to small organic farmers -- there are too many variables.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Obama Administration bans use of antibiotics in healthy livestock

Article excerpt from Organic Consumers site/

Good news. Fantastic that Obama is dealing with so many of these kinds of every day issues that you know the Bush Administration would have NEVER even have considered. Of course it makes no sense to administer antibiotics to healthy livestock. Do you think his staffers and colleagues are reading articles like this one by Michael Pollan?

Our Decrepit Food Factories/

I'm careful, when dealing with local butchers and farmers, to ensure that I am dealing with people who do NOT administer antibiotics to the chickens, rabbits, turkey and cornish hens that I buy for my cats' food. I certainly don't want them being exposed to unnecessary antibiotics as part of their daily menu. All the more reason to ask questions and build a good relationship with your local farmer through your local farmers' market so you are familiar with their farming practices.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

New Canadian pet food policy?

Well, two years after the Menu Foods pet food recalls, the Canadian government is finally getting around to doing something in the way of regulating imports. Since that time we have seen continous recalls of food products -- both pet food and human food -- for various kinds of contaminants and toxins.

We have seen a flurry of press releases and announcements from PM Harper but no detailed concrete legislative action around insuring the safety of our food supply system in a world of globalized trade. Hmm...Harper's "action plan" -- how will this be enforced?

Will the government actually respond to public complaints about ingredients in pet food? Where is there mention of any kind of database tracking system for documenting problems with these products?

Are they even asking the right questions when there are so many issues with processed food products for pets and humans? What role did the lobbyists and industry play in this process?

Harper's spin on food safety

The new policies, which came into effect July 1, 2009 are not actually available for public scrutiny at the moment. Keep checking this link -- when the policy is finally released this is where it can be downloaded.
Pet Food

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Chemnutra pleads guilty to melamine in pet food

Chemnutra was identified as the source of melamine for the 2007 pet food recalls. The recalls occurred because all the major multinational food companies were using the same supplier. The Millers, a married couple who are the CEOs of ChemNutra, are getting fined and may be going to prison. So that lets the big multinationals off the hook -- the ones who were clamouring for a cheaper price on gluten. Never mind that glutens are not an advisable source of protein for cat.... or that many people have developed gluten sensitivities.

So now the CEOs of the multinationals can say, well see, it wasn't us. Just like Royal Canin is claiming that they were "victims" of fraud themselves. I don't think this argument will stand up well as a legal defense.

Here's the PDF of their guilty plea:

What's even more troubling is how pervasive melamine is in our food supply system -- not only wheat and corn gluten in pet food, but biscuits, infant formula, chocolate bars, Canadian cocoa, coffee...the list goes on. And when the FDA thought people weren't looking (yes it was true everyone was watching the US presidential race at the time) they quietly APPROVED melamine for the food supply system? Hello? Poison in our food and our kitties' food is okay?

I'm not joking. You can read the FDA report here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Makena in June

Okay cat gallery fans....you keep asking me for more pictures. Yes this kitty is something special. Makena's diet serves as a positive counterpoint to the globalized multinational pet food industry menu. Many people say they don't have the time to invest in feeding their cats a more natural diet but do you have the time to deal with a sick kitty and thousands of dollars in vet bills when your cat becomes ill from species-inappropriate commercial pet food formulations?

I find I'm spending the same amount feeding a raw diet as I did feeding species inappropriate multinational veterinarian kibble. The price points are not the same as the 69 cents a tin people are used too, but once you do the math, you'll see you are getting better value for money feeding your obligate carnivore correctly.

And as you can see, feeding a raw diet gets you a beautiful kitty like this. Who could argue with this picture of feline health and happiness and contentment?

Cat treats with a difference -- another alternative menu recipe for cats

Makena and Manu get homemade cat treats every day...in fact, they've come to expect these. Makena pokes her head into the fridge every night and points to the container I keep these jerky treats in. Her favorite is chicken hearts, which are loaded with nutrients that every kitty needs.

Dried meat treats are easy to make for your cats. All you need is a dehydrator. Here, I've tossed organic chicken hearts on one of the trays. You can load up multiple trays at once with different things if you wish or just dehydrate a single tray. I plug in the dehydrator, let it dehydrate for about 7 hours and then store in a container in the fridge.

It's best to do small amounts since there are no preservatives or added to these treats and they will only last a few days. Watch out for any potential mould that may develop and if that happens, just toss them.

You can experiment to see what your cat likes. Fish skins are popular here (and those will keep outside the fridge for more than a few days) as are chicken thighs, salmon, bits of lamb or goat pieces. Of course I get pieces of meat without the bone for dehydrating purposes.

Friday, June 12, 2009

FDA suspends temporary emergency permit of pet food company


Interesting. Maybe in the age of Obama the FDA's two staffers in the Centre for Veterinary Medicine (yes there are only two people working in that department) feel emboldened enough to start holding pet food companies to account.

That's doesn't change the fact that there are many regulatory changes and legal changes needed to reign the industry in. Governments in Canada and the US need the power to issue product recalls. Shockingly there is nothing in the law in either country that allows either government to do this.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Tainted pet food supplier to plead guilty

Two stories I got in my google alerts this morning. Note that the importers were an American firm doing business with China, a critical fact often unreported or under-reported in the many stories about this case.

Tainted pet food suppliers to plead guilty/

Suppliers knowlingly imported tainted pet food/

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Feline Nutrition Society

Here's a new site created by bloggers who have been reading and sharing information about correct nutrition for our beloved feline companions. Many of the links are ones that I have on this blog so it's good to see that the truth about feline nutrition is being distributed widely.

The Feline Nutrition Society/ stated mission is to advocate for raw feeding for cats.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Irradiated cat food banned in Australia

Canadian irradiated cat food banned in Australia

So where's the Canadian government on this issue? It was Australia that discovered that this particular product, imported from Canada, was irradiated. But once again, simply calling a halt to what is considered a controversial practice -- sterilizing cat food -- isn't the solution either.

These species-inappropriate products just need to be removed from the market entirely. After all, if it can be done with Vioxx (where thousands of people died) it can be done with cat food too.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The recalls continue

What did the settlement in the Menu Foods lawsuit resolve? Here's the latest recall. Really, the PFI cannot be trusted to produce products that are safe and healthy for a cat to consume. With the lack of effective government legislation worldwide on the pet food issue, the only solution cat guardians have is to take matters into their own hands and make their own food.

No cat should ever eat any form of dry food and the ongoing recalls just prove this point. And it's not just a matter of excessive zinc or potassium, as the company is claiming either. All dry cat food is "species inappropriate" since it is composed mainly of grain and made by the process of high heat processing and extrusion. Cats, as obligate carnivores, cannot tolerate carbohydrates.

A list of the products being recalled can be found here:
Recall of Nutro products

Friday, April 24, 2009

Winn Foundation hires 2 Hills vets to do study on raw diets


Well well well....so the PFI is not content to totally dominate market share in the global pet food market. Now two veterinarians closely affiliated with Hills Pet Nutrition have been hired to carry out a study on raw diets for cats. How interesting that they choose to study kittens. Geez that was my inspiration for starting this blog! I thought it would be a "case study in action" to start my new kitten, Makena, on a raw diet and to post the results on this blog.

Good grief! Do we really need a study to prove that cats are obligate carnivores? Don't these people even watch all those documentaries on felines in Africa on the Discovery channel? Running tests to prove that cats are better off eating meat? What is the real motive of this study? Will they skew the results of whatever formulation they come up with to prove that cats should not eat raw meat?

The burden of proof really lies with the veterinarians and multinational corporations who are formulating species-inappropriate diets -- diets for cats that are NOT what Mother Nature intended. Do we need a study to prove that the earth is not flat? Really. "Complete and balanced" -- well, as we know from the recalls and from the many sites dedicated to feline illnesses such as FD, commercial pet food is anything BUT "complete and balanced".

Dr. Claudia Kirk, as some of you may remember, was the PFI apologist who appeared on the panel before the Congressional Investigation into the tainted pet food scandal in 2007.

What exactly will they be doing in this study? Will they screw up the formulations in order to "prove" raw diets for cats are bad? So-called "results-oriented science"?

I've emailed the Winn Foundation posing these very questions. No response to my email.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The latest from Makena

Yes I do get picture requests. Here's the latest picture from Makena, who is now 1 year 10 months old. This girl is HUGE at almost 12 pounds -- and -- still growing. Her coat is so shiny and soft, our pet sitter asked if I was putting oil on her coat. She is a very active, alert and content kitty. Raw fed since I got her at 10 weeks. Don't let any pet food company vet tell you that a raw diet is dangerous -- Makena is proof positive that it isn't.

It's best to find a holistic-minded or -- the new term -- integrative medicine vet. They will not push veterinary kibble on you and will support safe health care alternatives for your kitty.

Pet food debate -- the real issues

The recalls continue. See the latest recall of pet food containing salmonella.

It’s pretty clear that this unregulated industry is producing products that are unsafe. Basically, given the total lack of effective government regulation, citizens need to take matters into their own hands in order to ensure that their beloved pets are fed real food. If it’s in a can or a bag – don’t buy it!

The debate is now hitting mainstream vet publications. I composed this letter to the editor as a response to questions posed about veterinarian ethics and the pet food industry, published in the Canadian Veterinarian Journal here:

Canadian Veterinary Journal
Volume 48, November, 2007


This elicited a response from a Dr. Tony Buffington, a veterinarian with close ties to Hills Pet Nutrition. Notice how Dr. Tony dodges the issue of dry food. He doesn't outright say it isn't causing illnesses in cats, just dances around the issue.
You'll need to go to the Canadian Veterinary Journal again and search for it. It's in the CVJ June 2008 issue; 49(6), pages 561-563.

A further rebuttal by Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins and Dr. Marion Smart can be found in the same CVJ journal, October 2008; 49 (10) page 945

and on that same page, by Fiona MacMillan, UK pet food activist, and others...

The emperor truly has no clothes, but one can see how compromised many veterinarian academics have become when institutions are dependent upon funding from multinational corporations.