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FDA May Finally Do Something to Make Pet Food Safer

FDA May Finally Do Something to Make Pet Food Safer

Just days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) called on veterinarians and the public for help with its investigation of jerky treat related illnesses, it announced a proposal that is intended to make animal food safer.

Aside from concerns about toxic jerky treats, there have been a number of issues in the past few years that have resulted in tons of pet food being recalled. In 2007, melanine a chemical used to make plastic was added to food in China, which caused thousands of dog and cat deaths and prompted what’s believed to be the largest pet food recall in U.S. history. Since then, recalls have abounded over problems ranging from antibiotic residues, nutritional deficiencies and mold to improper storage and Salmonella, among other issues.

The lack of current regulations for animal food is almost surprising, considering the way we view our companion animals and the fact that it’s a multi-billion dollar industry. Concerned pet parents are trying to buy the good stuff, even when we’re broke, but even lower end products that hit the store shelves should, at the very least, be safe.

Unfortunately, as it stands now there are no regulations concerning the production of pet food, and the FDA doesn’t really get involved until after there’s already a problem with food that’s on the market.

The proposed rule, announced on Friday, marks the first time the FDA has proposed preventive measures, which will give the the agency more leverage in the supply chain to stop problem products from ever reaching store shelves in an effort to protect both animals and people who can get sick from handling contaminated foods.

“This proposed rule on animal food complements proposed rules published in January 2013 for produce safety and facilities that manufacture food for humans to set modern, prevention-based standards for food safety,” Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine Michael R. Taylor said in a statement. “They also work in concert with standards proposed in July 2013 to help ensure that imported foods are as safe as those produced domestically.”

The proposed rule stems from the the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 and is intended to protect both pet and livestock food from bacteria, chemicals and other contaminants. It will require manufacturers to put procedures in place that will help prevent foodborne illnesses and correct problems that may arise. It’s also intended to prevent nutrient imbalances in food, which can be a big deal for some types of pets who rely on specific nutrients in food that their bodies can’t produce.

According to the FDA, this will also be the first time that animal food facilities will be required to follow proposed current good manufacturing practices that address areas such as manufacturing, processing, packing and holding of animal food, in addition to addressing other areas, such as sanitation.

However, the new rule won’t do anything about the problems stemming from jerky treats, because the cause is still unknown, or about the overuse of antibiotics in livestock feed.

The FDA will be holding a series of public meetings about the proposal over the next few months. The proposed rule will also be published in the Federal Register on October 29 and will be open for public comments for 120 days. You can submit a comment in support of making animal food safer at regulations.gov by searching for the docket number FDA-2011-N-0922.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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113 comments

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10:27AM PST on Nov 23, 2013

Why is our dogfood/catfood being sent to foreign countries? They hate us and they hate our pets!!
FDA has no control over there. WTF!!

8:19AM PST on Nov 21, 2013

I don't really trust the FDA, but I hope that at least they will actually work on making pet food safe.

1:53PM PST on Nov 19, 2013

Finally! I hope it is true

3:30AM PST on Nov 9, 2013

The government can't do anything right. Just look at the ObamaCare web site. They had 3 years to build it and it doesn't work. We have to do our own research to make sure our pets are safe from bad food. I feed my cats Iams because they never use imported ingredients.

12:49PM PST on Nov 8, 2013

yah, i'll believe it when I see it

12:47AM PDT on Nov 3, 2013

It seems to me that the inspection, regulatory, and enforcement parts of the FDA and USDA have been understaffed and undermined for years, often through Republican-led cost cutting and regulation cutting measures.

If I could run things, I would not allow representatives of the industries being regulated into the high levels of the FDA or USDA (Isn't a Monsanto person in charge of food safety at the FDA? Yuck!), and I would require that former FDA and USDA empoyees wait at least ten years before entering the industries being regulated.

I'd also fully fund these agencies and give them the power, minus interference from Congress or the President, to look out for the safety of the people.

4:26PM PDT on Nov 2, 2013

The FDA is busy blocking our access to natural supplements & chemical free food & pasteurizing [destroys nutrients] everything, so then we should take FDA approved supplements to chemically replace what they destroyed! They also get paid by our tax $''s to do this, Being so busy, they don't have time to protect us, or our pets from the poison spewed to us. USA needs to produce as much of our food as possible; Import NO EDIBLE PRODUCTS FROM CHINA;

7:28PM PDT on Nov 1, 2013

ty

10:14AM PDT on Oct 31, 2013

Well said Brian S but in truth do any of our government agencies do anything?

7:45AM PDT on Oct 31, 2013

Some of the research that I have been doing as of late would suggest that the FDA doesn't really do anything to begin with. So, the way I see it, the FDA has issued a statement and they will get more money to do nothing. Isn't great the way the government works now days?

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches ancient Greek, Latin and Classics at Saint Peter's University in New Jersey.... more
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