Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pet Food Recall settled, move on and don’t change

Latest news on a settlement agreed upon in a class action lawsuit involving the pet food industry following the history’s last year’s largest recall ever one more final time bring some impressive numbers to light: 12 pet food makers including the nation’s largest ones with 180 brands were involved. The recall followed 17,000 filed complaints, so far 6,000 claims on the settlement have been filed. Claimants are entitled to reimbursement of up to 100% of their documented and up to $900 in undocumented expenses. 31% of the total $24 Million settlement are set aside for legal and attorney fees. One pet food maker spent a whopping $55 Million as a result of its involvement (Commercial mass market pet food seems to be a real money maker, the company doesn’t seem to be hurt).
While we all feel with the pet owners who suffered losses of their beloved pets, and those damages cannot be made good upon with any amount of money, let’s put the whole thing in perspective. Sure, these numbers are impressive, the recall itself, the damages caused and the restitution now ordered to be paid for by the defendants. The defendents rightfully have been proven guilty and justice has been done. Case closed.
But there is another way of looking at it: What really has changed? Basically nothing. Everybody wiggled himself out of the mass by renaming and repackaging their same or most minimally changed products. And on top of it is complaining that they had tremendous losses because of the incident. If you compare the ingredient listings, they haven’t changed a whole lot. Recalls still keep happening at increasing frequency. Sure, smaller manufacturers, usually privately owned and supplying “really healthy & natural” food got a revenue boost as a consequence. Some pet owners are more carefully selecting the food they are giving their pets. I am even convinced that our business was favorably impacted and harvested some benefits. But let me ask you, is that enough? How much larger does a recall have to be to finally initiate some real changes benefitting all of us including our pets? I don’t know and I am skeptical as long as I observe the market and notice that regardless of how many animals died or suffered, as long as the vet recommends a food, pet owners don’t seem to care too much about the fact that this food is made by one of the largest defendants in this now closed case. Life goes on. It is amazing how fast homo sapiens, nature’s most evolved and intelligent creatures forget and forgive. I read on
Wikipedia, the on-line encyclopedia that “Humans are notable for their desire to explain phenomena, manipulate and develop technologies to change and pass on their knowledge to each other…” I guess this must have been an oversight: They forgot to mention “Does not apply to all 100% of the special breed “Pet owners” when it comes to feeding their companion animals.”

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