Monday, February 9, 2009

Peanut butter recall for pet treats: A “possible maybe” becomes harsh reality and a “definitely is”

Recall alerts these days unfortunately have become such a “regular” news topic that often they are not taken too serious any more. They are just like news of the DOW going up or down, a politician getting caught a, gas prices going up and others. Today’s comment however shows that it is indeed extremely important for us pet owners to read and follow nationwide recalls related to pet food and pet nutrition products. And not just when there are major events out there such as the current peanut butter disaster, but always, because many recalls, especially minor ones, easily get lost and overlooked. They are so “minor” that nobody even talks about them. Yet their impact could be just as detrimental to any single pet. How do you stay on top of the events? Follow websites publishing recall alerts, like for example our “Recall Alert”. Other sites, I found to be “on top of things happening” are Susan Thixtons “Truth About Pet Food” or Sabine Contrera’s “Dog Food Project”. You also can follow the government’s official FDA website. My recommendation is to subscribe to any of these web sites. This way you automatically get informed by e-mail when something is happening. Although, like it is the case with a subscription to the FDA’s recall list, it can become sort of annoying if there are major recalls as the current peanut butter recall going on. Then your mail box easily gets flooded with literally hundreds of alerts coming in since the filtering system is very broad.
Anyway, coming back to what I actually wanted to talk about:
The FDA published on its website under “Recalls” on 01/23/09 the following press release issued by Supervalu, Inc.:
“Happy Tails And Shoppers Valu Brand Multi-Flavored Dog Biscuits Recalled As Part Of Nationwide Peanut Corporation Of America Recall SUPERVALU is Recalling Happy Tails and Shoppers Valu Brand Assorted Dog Biscuits Sold at ACME, Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, and Shaw’s/Star Market
Contact: Susie Bell 952.828.4356
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Minneapolis, MN (January 23, 2009) –SUPERVALU is voluntarily recalling Happy Tails and Shoppers Valu multi-flavored dog biscuit products because they may contain peanut butter that has the potential to be contaminated with salmonella. The precautionary move follows a nationwide recall issued by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) of peanut butter and peanut paste produced in its Blakely, Georgia processing facility.
According to the FDA, pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Well animals can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.
The products were sold at some SUPERVALU banner stores including ACME, Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, and Shaw’s/Star Market. The identified items have not been directly linked to the salmonella outbreak. However, because the safety of customers, and in this case their pets, is a top priority and out of an abundance of caution, SUPERVALU has voluntarily recalled the products.
This product recall includes all:
Product Name and Description: Happy Tails Multi-Flavored Dog Biscuits, 26 ozUPC#: 41163-42406Sold at ACME, Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, and Shaw’s/Star Market
Product Name and Description: Happy Tails Multi-Flavored Dog Biscuits, 4 lbUPC#: 41163-42403Sold at ACME, Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, and Shaw’s/Star Market
Product Name and Description: Shoppers Valu Multi-Flavored Dog Biscuits, 4 lbUPC#: 41130-30507Sold at ACME and Shaw’s/Star Market
Customers who purchased the recalled dog biscuit products can bring the product back to their store location for a full refund or exchange.
No other products are currently included in this recall. Based on information from the FDA at this time, the peanut butter for sale in SUPERVALU banner stores is not affected by the recall issued by Peanut Corporation of America.
Customers with questions can contact SUPERVALU Inc. at 877.932.7948. Customers can visit the FDA Web page at www.fda.gov for more information and updates on the situation.
All privately owned sites listed in the introduction as possible recall alert source sites, our “Recall Alert”, “Truth About Pet Food” and “Dog Food Project”. reported of the alert.
What bothers me with this particular alert and the press release is the wording: “voluntarily recalling Happy Tails and Shoppers Valu multi-flavored dog biscuit products because they may contain peanut butter that has the potential…”

But first things first:
The “Statesman Journal” of Salem, Oregon reported on Saturday, 02/07/09 “Dog sickened with salmonella”:
“PORTLAND — Oregon Public Health officials on Friday confirmed the state's first salmonella-related illness in a dog. The case is linked to contaminated peanut products.
"This is the first Oregon pet illness and first Oregon pet food product that has been linked to the current salmonella outbreak nationwide," said Dr. Emilio DeBess, the state public-health veterinarian.
The dog, owned by a family in Douglas County, still is alive, he said.
The positive test was traced to a box of Happy Tails Multi-Flavor Dog Biscuits sold at an Albertson's in Roseburg, health officials said.
"This is a reminder that people need to check not only their own food, but their pet food and treats as well," DeBess said.
Dogs, cats and other pets can get sick from contaminated food just like humans and can be a potential source of exposure for people, the veterinarian said.
The most common symptom of salmonella in pets is bloody diarrhea, he said. Pet owners immediately should take the pet to a veterinarian, he said.
Oregon Department of Agriculture urges residents to go to a federal Web site to check the latest list of recalled food items, including some recently added pet products.
In Oregon, food-safety inspectors are visiting retail establishments across the state to check for and remove recalled products.
The agency also is working with food banks and charity organizations to identify and remove any potentially contaminated peanut-containing products.
To see the list of recalled food products, go to www.fda.gov.”

So, what’s my point? Well, like I said, it is the wording of the press release. What do you mean by saying “voluntarily”? You better recall it and let’s face it you are not recalling the product because it is in the pet owners’ best interest, but because it is in your company’s best interest. Not to recall would be a major mistake and could cost you dearly. And the other phrase really bothering me is “may contain”. Let’s face it people, how naive do they think we all are? Manufacturing processes these days are sophisticated enough that you can clearly tell which batch of which product contains which batch of ingredients coming from which source at any given time down to an individual bag. That means you know the product contains contaminated ingredients. And that the ingredients were indeed contaminated has been in the news now for a while too. Known so well that our government started a serious investigation with the top people looking into the case. According to some media sources they even started a criminal probe? Now I would say that’s really well known. And it was known before January 23, 2009, which is when you published a press release through the FDA.
I just wonder sometimes: Do our (pet and human) food manufacturers indeed believe consumers are stupid? It certainly appears this way.
Which reminds me, last year I bought Marion Nestle 2008 “Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine”. I think it deals with this kind of issues especially related to the pet food industry. I really need to start reading it. Apparently it is real eye opener.
By the way, let’s not forget, my best wishes for a fast recovery go out to the dog in Portland and his owner. Hope things work out for the best.

1 comment:

Let'sTalkPetFoods said...

Very Well written article :)

I watched CSPAN senate meeting on Peanut Recall. Spent 2 hrs giving piece of mind to TV & FDA who SIDE STEPPED to make them unaccountable.

2001 (FDA inspected 1st time)
2006 (FDA *contracted to inspect)
2001-2006 state inspected.Records no longer available according to plant)Saved only 3 yrs.
2001- 2008 (12 cases found at plant )

Neither plant nor private labs-legally required to report this ! Senator asks FDA how they get companies to issue *voluntary recalls*. FDA says they *CONJOLE* them & companies agree based on legal alternatives if they don't .

FDA worried about humans, not pets getting sick ! Dogs carry salmonella in their systems.. http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/index.jsp Dry pet foods and some human foods carry salmonella within FDA % allowance! Over that and they act !

Plant under criminal investigation. (8) people died ! One healthy 70 yr woman, who ate PB on he toast every morning died!~ Only Crime? Her age!

Pamela
www. AnimalsSpeak.org