Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pet Food Safety - Making a difference? Yes, we can!

My friend Susan Thixton of TruthAboutPetFood.com is going for it again: Susan, self declared “Caped crusader for Safe Pet Food”, just like all of us in this community, is on a mission to make a difference in this world with its overwhelming jungle of pet nutrition products and to separate the good and healthy from the bad and sickening.

She is the publisher of the
PetsumerReport.com, which is an on-line pet food evaluation and rating service. As of today she has developed and compiled an extremely informative database of over 1,000 pet food products, for each of those products providing a great number of details. Her evaluations include listings of proteins, health promoting ingredients, controversial ingredients, comments about by-products and chemicals, positives and negatives, information about the manufacturers and more. Also included, if necessary, are so called “Red Flags”, which are warnings about unfavorable circumstances. All this information she collects and then works it into a simple rating system based on quality ingredients with the result of each product being rated on a scale from 1 to 5 “Paws”. To make the information collected most objective, Susan contacts the manufacturers asking questions without giving away her “true” identity, just as any pet owner would and can do. The service is available to any interested party on a subscription basis at a very affordable price. I personally use her database all the time as a basis and part of my daily work in evaluating and comparing pet foods for our clients.

But that is not enough for Susan. She also publishes her blog
TruthAboutPetFood.com, I guess I don’t have to further explain what it is all about, its name gives it away. Some of you may have noticed that I list her blog as one of the ones I follow very closely for obvious reasons. Just a few months ago I came with Susan to an agreement that allows me to use some of her comments either partially or in full on this blog as I see fit. In return I am supposed to write a comment here and there for hers (and yes, Susan, I promise I will. Right now there are just not enough hours in a day).

After all this preliminary intro info you rightfully ask, “,so what is she involved with now?” Just a couple days ago, in her blog comment
Will New Legislation Actually Improve Pet Food Safety?” Susan asked the question “Food safety advocates believe The Food Safety Enhancement Act will be the much needed answer to a series of nationwide recalls and lack of consumer confidence with food safety. Will this new legislation do anything to protect the safety of pet food?”

For those of you who haven’t followed her blog, it has to be said that Susan has made it her mission and priority to fight for improvements of pet nutrition. If she feels that requires her getting involved at the legislation level of that segment of problems, then she doesn’t mind that either. And when I say “fight”, I can tell you Susan means it. If she believes a letter to a congress man/woman is necessary she will just do that. Or getting the President involved? She will try that too without even thinking twice. And she never gets tired, even if after many attempts she does not too often find an open ear. She just remains persistent. She is realistic enough to not expect too much coming from the latest change in government. Like she puts it: “Knowing that the FDA has allied itself with pet food industries in the past (and currently), I have my doubts that benefits within The Food Safety Enhancement Act will actually reach pet food; dog food and cat food safety is last on a long list of ‘things’ to do. When you consider that presently the FDA, in defiance of Federal law, allows pet food to include diseased and/or dying livestock animals (and the diseases and chemicals in their bodies) as pet food ‘meat’ ingredients, when you consider that past laws required the FDA to complete pet food safety measures that they were ignored (
http://www.truthaboutpetfood.com/articles/127/1/FDA-Ignores-Pet-Food-Safety-Deadline/Page1.html), I have little hope that The Food Safety Enhancement Act will do anything to ensure the safety of pet food for our furry family members for a long, long time.”

So what’s her plan? “We cannot get discouraged (believe me I understand if you are), we must continue to write our law makers and decision makers. We must become a constant reminder in their email boxes that our pets are important; although they can’t vote, we can!”

And just a couple days later she showed what she meant. Under
Pet Food Warning Labels she reported:
“The Obama Administration has pledged to create an unprecedented level of openness and public participation in government. The FDA, in an attempt to abide by the Administration, has formed a ‘FDA Transparency Task Force.’ The following is an initial transparency guideline recommendation to the FDA regarding pet food. Please add your signature.Barely two months into his presidency, President Obama sent a memorandum to the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies of U.S. government. Dated January 21, 2009, the memorandum titled ‘Transparency and Open Government’, stated “Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing. (
Although the President’s memorandum required that “executive departments and agencies to take specific actions implementing the principles set forth” within 120 days, as typical fashion, the FDA stretched the deadline a few weeks to announce (on June 2, 2009 – exactly 131 days) to announce they have developed a task force seeking recommendations for “enhancing the transparency of the agency’s operations and decision-making process.” (

Susan has composed a
letter to the FDA Transparency Task Force and needs our help. I figured the least I can do is pass on her pledge: Click here to access Susan’s article and letter and to add your name to the FDA letter.

Susan asks: “PLEASE forward this article and signature request to every pet owner you know. There are 74 million homes in the United States that own a pet. My goal is to collect One Million Signatures to send to the FDA. There is Power in numbers. To gain the signature of one in 74 pet owners seems to be a very conservative goal. One million signatures on the other hand will be an extremely powerful message to the FDA. “

Assuming that most of you are on the same page with Susan and myself I am sure we can drum up quite a few supporters. While we (the people of this blog) may not be able to come up with the expected One Million signatures, I say every single one counts and brings us closer.

All I have left to say is a “Thank you” to Susan. All of us truly appreciate your time and energy in this so very important matter. Following your relentless efforts is a great pleasure and for people like myself devoted to the health of our companion animals it is comforting to know that there are others too fighting for the “unwritten” rights of our beloved pets.
cc: Susan Thixton

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