Monday, February 9, 2009

Pet food safety: Beware of the Internet reporting untrue stories, there’s nothing wrong with Canidae and Wellness

Back in the beginning of January I wrote a couple comments titled ”Case file Pet Food: Pro's and Con's of information sharing on the Internet” and ”FDA and DogsWell Breathies Chicken Treats for Dogs: More pro’s and con’s of information sharing on the Internet”. The content was about the advantages of the Internet. How fast information can travel and how fast it can become available to pet owners in their function as consumers. A good current example of those advantages are the recall alerts. However, there are also negatives about this flow of information. And it all comes down to how credible all of the published content sometimes is. Back then I had brought up 2 examples where “bashing” of products and “attempts to get a free ride” originally initiated by unqualified members of the cyber space society essentially can become harmful. In the cases cited in those comments I brought up incidents about pet food products and their manufacturers, who were blamed for apparent wrong doings that simply were not based on true and actual facts. I had delivered enough evidence that “both cases clearly had to be dismissed. The claim were never substantiated and the final outcome clearly was that the accusation was a wrong one. It would have been nice if the owner of the recall site would have published a statement to that extent as well. Well, that’s why I publish this comment: To bring the case to closure.”
Just these last days another one of this type of cases came across my desk. On or around January 27, 2009 the following headline made it’s debut on the Internet: “Class Action filed against the makers of Canidae Dog Food.”
The posting was titled “Class action lawsuit against Canidae” It listed a website as resource for further information. This site was “Canidae Pet Food Class Action Investigation”. The posting sort of quoted off this website. It also at the bottom had a couple moderator comments, which I guess were published accidentally and not meant for publication. These comments stated “Moderator cut: second paragraph; please post snippet only, then link to article. Reason: possible copyright issue”
Initially, I admit, I did what most of us do: I took it for the word of the day, for a fact and ran with it. Needless to say, I got worried. Because we are selling the Canidae line at our store. And we pride ourselves of “being a recall free store”. When I started looking into it, I found out, besides many other facts, that I was not the only retailer worried about the news.
But now let’s take a closer look at the posting: What everybody reading it will remember and keep in his memory is the head line. Possibly the actual text. But the problem is that nobody reads all the way to the very bottom. Which is where you find a clear indication that things don’t seem to be so perfectly perfect with the reporting. I guess the blog moderator got so excited that he forgot to cut out his instructions to himself. Well, I guess it worked. Not just did I myself initially step into the trap, many others, highly accredited experts too followed me right into it. All the sudden within a few hours it was all over the Internet. What was the trap?
There was talk about a website were details could be found about the actual suit. Well, I visited the site, it turned out, it was a law firm soliciting complaints from pet owners who may have possibly had problems and health issues with their pets because they fed Canidae products. And that was about it. It talked about an “intention” to file a class action suit. The case was apparently supposed to be filed in the State of Wisconsin. I searched all court data bases including the federal ones and came up with the result that there was no such filing as of that day. And still to this day there is none. The, when you visit the site, read carefully in the “About” section: “These materials have been prepared by (law firm name) for informational, investigative and promotional/advertising purposes…”.
Still, I wasn’t satisfied yet. So I contacted Canidae. They should know, right? And as one of their retailers I have the same right as their customers. I need to know what’s going on. What’s the truth and to me as a retailer also very important, how do I address the concerns my customers have? I e-mailed the company saying “what’s up with these rumors? What is the deal? What is your response and how do you want me to address the issue when customers ask?” The answer I got back was exactly what at this point I had expected: “We do not respond to rumors”. That was the answer: Plain and simple. And for me this chapter is now closed. We will continue selling the Canidae product line with the same support we have given it since we started selling it. As a high quality product which we highly recommend.
There’s one more thing on my mind: I am directing this question to the people who are publishing such garbage: Why do you have to make so many people worried for no reason and what really are your intentions behind it? I followed that particular blog for a while. And others too. The issue raised serious concerns among many Canidae feeding pet owners. And of course it also generated right away a great amount of pet owners who’s pets got sick right after their owners read the untrue story. Is that what do you get out of it? The other day there was an incident involving Wellness Dry Food. Sabine Contreras of The Dog Food Project investigated the case and here is how a senior executive of Wellness responded: “We wanted to address your question about … Wellness Fish and Sweet Potato Dry Dog food contains harmful fish bones. This consumer approached us and told us that the video was “available for purchase”. When we refused, he posted the video on YouTube.” To bloggers like the ones in the Canidae case and guys like the one in the Wellness case: Would you please find yourself a new hobby? And quit wasting everybody’s time? Because there is many people like me. Who take their job serious and unfortunately must investigate reports like the ones your are distributing. Thank you, I think I speak for everybody more or less involved in dealing with your garbage.
Like I said in the head line: There’s nothing wrong with Canidae and Wellness (which we will start carrying soon).

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