Monday, October 6, 2008

COOL: We want that for pet food too so that we know it comes from China

Since last week it’s official: “Now coming to a supermarket near you: Beef from the United States, Mexico, Canada, New Zealand and Uruguay. All in the same pound of hamburger.” Reported the Palm Beach Post on Friday. They were talking about the new federal rules debuting last week mandating that food labels reflect where the food originated. In the interest of letting the consumer know where their food came from. According to a recent survey taken by New York based Consumers’ Union, “an overwhelming 92% of Americans want to know.” Claims Urvashi Rangan, a senior scientist with the organization.
It’s called COOL, which stands for Country Of Origin Labeling. Here is what’s COOL; Meat sold in super markets, fish sold in supermarkets, raw peanuts, pork chops, bagged lettuce, fresh salmon and shrimp. This applies to raw food. Cooked or salted items are exempt. Also exempt are meats sold in butcher shops, fish sold on fish markets, roasted peanuts and peanut butter, bacon, bagged mixed salads, smoked salmon and cooked shrimp to name a few of both categories. Obviously this looks like there are quite a few loop holes right from the get go. Just a couple days after the rule took effect a group of 31 senators has already asked US Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schaefer to put more restrictive meat labeling rules in place. Plus, senate bills were introduced to include dairy products and pharmaceuticals. And, of course there are already complaints from the meat packing companies: “The cost of segregating cattle at the plant, keeping carcasses separate and keeping meat products separated is extremely burdensome.” according to Mark Dopp, senior vice president at the American Meat Institute in Washington.
Regardless of complaints and loop holes, overall the new rule has been welcomed. “I think it’s wonderful, particularly because we should be eating more local. … if it doesn’t come from where I am I don’t want it.” said one citizen in Palm Beach County.
Already then, but what does all of this have to do with pet food you may ask? Nothing and at the same time a whole lot. It is my wish that we get similar rules implemented for the pet food industry. After all, we have been struck quite often now with ingredients coming from overseas, resulting in horrific incidents of illness and death. All to well we still have last year’s recall in mind where the contaminated ingredients were sourced from China.
Don’t get me wrong: In this age of global trade I have no problem with that we buy and sell products from and to countries all over the globe. That’s the way it is and is going to be, it’s real and we better get used to it. What I do have a problem with however is the quality of the products we buy and that there seems to be no or very little control over these products. For this reason I believe we have a right to know where our pet food ingredients come from. At least, at that point I have the choice to say Yes or No to a kibble bag with ingredients coming from who knows where. And if enough pet owners join me in deciding against a Chinese ingredient containing bag, maybe that is going to change the overall situation and get rid of the problem. Because it seems like as long as we don’t know and keep buying these products, nothing is ever going to change. If we don’t buy, the seller’s will notice that in their pocket books. Isn’t that where it hurts them the most? You wanna bet that this brings positive results and change?

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