FDA Addresses Concerns on Pet Food Safety Monitoring

In light of the pet food recall in recent months, as well as the Wal-Mart dog treat melamine contamination last month (July), the administration addresses safety protocols in place for pet food safety.

Posted: August 23, 2007 5 a.m. EDT

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The FDA is now running tests on all Chinese protein import products to determine safety
The FDA has implemented pet food safety controls to test all vegetable protein products from China, including wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate.
The pet food recall in recent months was once again in the spotlight as one of the ingredients responsible for the ubiquitous outbreak in illnesses and deaths was found in dog treats imported from China on Wal-Mart shelves just last month (July). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) addressed concerns as to what the administration is doing to ensure pet food safety in the future.

The FDA confirmed 16 pet deaths as a result of food contaminated with melamine and cyanuric acid in the recent recall over the last several months, although hundreds of unconfirmed cases of illnesses and deaths were reported to veterinarians around the country as well as to the FDA. (This incident is separate from the Wal-Mart dog treat contamination, in which no deaths or illnesses have been confirmed by the FDA to date.)

“The FDA recognizes there may be more pet illnesses and deaths than the 16 deaths it has confirmed so far [as of Aug. 21, 2007],” said Laura Alvey, FDA spokeswoman. “But unlike with human food, there is no surveillance network for FDA to rely on to confirm cases of illnesses or death ... The FDA’s complaint system is designed to identify emerging problems and does not provide data on the patterns and causes of disease, (epidemiologic data), that would enable FDA to conclusively link illness or death with a specific product.”

Alvey said the FDA believes all contaminated pet food has been removed from store shelves and that the administration has implemented controls to test all vegetable protein products from China, including wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate. The FDA will stop all food products until the importer can prove through an independent laboratory that the product is free of melamine and related compounds.

“The agency is continuing to work with firms investigating the pet food contamination situation,” she said. “The FDA import alert for these products sourced from China remains in effect and U.S. Customs and Border Protection will continue laboratory testing of products as they enter the U.S.”

The FDA is collecting samples of human food and animal feed, which includes pet food, and if a problem arises the agency will back track as necessary, according to the FDA’s website. Additionally, FDA personnel traveled to China in April 2007, to discuss with Chinese government officials how the contamination occurred and ways to prevent it in the future. The FDA is evaluating information obtained from the trip, the website states.

At this time, the FDA has not issued a recall of the Wal-Mart dog treats that tested positive for melamine. “The FDA is aware of complaints from consumers about some chicken jerky pet food products,” Alvey said.  “We are actively investigating the matter and conducting testing. To date, our own testing has not found any contaminant(s) in the products [as of Aug. 21], however, testing is ongoing.”

To read about the Wal-Mart dog treat melamine contamination, click here.

Heidi Hatch, Associate News Editor for CatChannel.com

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Reader Comments

Cathy    Hubbard, OH

8/23/2007 10:00:07 AM

I am glad to see you are still giving us updates on the food labeling. After all the scares went away, you don't hear anything more about it. Thanks for such great work on this web site.

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