What’s a Pet Parent to Do?
Salmonella has reared its ugly head again, this time in the Hartz Mountain Rawhide Chips. I am not a big advocate of feeding dogs rawhide or pig ears: They are indigestible, some occurrences of intestinal blockage have been reported, and some dogs (when left unsupervised) have choked on them. In addition, some of these products use animal parts from Asia or other third-world countries. These countries do not regulate pesticides, chemicals, or sanitation. Even if the hides are from the United States the chews could be processed in a foreign country. Arsenic is just one of the harmful substances used in rawhide processing, another is bleaching solutions (to make the hide white). Unfortunately, dog owners are blissfully unaware of this and they continue to give Fido these treats. It’s not that dog parents want to give their four-pawed pals something harmful, it’s just that most people believe these products wouldn’t be on the market if they were dangerous. And yet, time and time again the pet product industry breaks this trust.
You might recall that back in August another outbreak of Salmonella turned up in pet food. This time it was the Mars Petcare US company. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discovered a link between Salmonella Schwarzengrund, pet food, and an outbreak of Salmonella that affected sixty-six people and spanned 18 states. As it turns out, these people were affected by the exact same strain of Salmonella discovered in the Mars Petcare brand of Red Flannel Large Breed Adult Formula and the Krasdale Gravy kibble. The Pennsylvania Health Department also discovered traces of the strain at the Pennsylvania factory where the food was produced.
Mars was quick to act, recalling the food within a week of this discovery. Then once again in September another Mars Petcare US pet food recall was made. Again it was over “potential” salmonella contamination. This time a variety of their brands were affected and products in 31 states were pulled from the shelves.
No doubt about it, Salmonella is on the rise. In fact, the CDC reports that there are about 40,000 cases of Salmonella poisoning in the United States each year. That’s just the ones that are reported — milder cases are rarely reported — so it is difficult to state with certainty exactly how many cases actually occur each year. The problem is that Salmonella is highly transferable. That is, a person handling contaminated dog food can get it on their hands and accidentally ingest it. Another problem is that drug-resistant strains of Schwarzengrund Salmonella are increasing. And if a person contracts a drug-resistant variety they will require prolonged hospitalization. In some cases it results in death. As is usually the case with disease, the elderly and young are more likely to become victims. Furthermore, Schwarzengrund Salmonella can create multiple problems, even after a person recovers. One is Rieter’s Syndrome, an arthritis-like disease that causes painful joints, eye irritation, and painful urination.
On the whole, the frequency of Schwarzengrund Salmonella outbreaks is alarming. It reminds us to be cautious when handling all food products, including pet food. Certainly we need to take care in washing feeding bowls, utensils, and measuring cups. In addition, we want to caution small children about playing with pet food. Finally, as pet parents and consumers we want to educate ourselves about the food we are feeding our dogs and cats. Being enlightened will help us select the best quality of dog food or cat food for the four-pawed members of our family. It’s not just about our pets, Salmonella involves the human members of our family too. Let’s all wise up about pet food, take the time to investigate and research — after all, you wouldn’t put anything harmful into your baby’s mouth would you? By the same token, no loving pet parent would want to place harmful food into their furry baby’s bowl.
From toys to food to treats to medications: this author reveals the truth about the pet food industry!
Susan Thixton, author and pet rights advocate, has done it again! Read her article entitled The FDA ignores Pet Food Safety Deadline in the American Chronicle where she reveals the agency’s stalling tactics on the FDA Amendments Act that required the FDA to develop “Early Warning Surveillance Systems and Notification During Pet Food Recall.”
Better yet, visit her web site where you will find out the truth about pet food, which just happens to be the name of her web site!
This site truly represents the rights of pets to have safe foods, treats, and toys. Just as human consumers need consumer watch guard groups, so do pets. In fact, pets need them more since many people consider them to be expendable commodities or property. Neither one of these view points is true. For those who share their lives with their dear furry, scaly, or feathered friends, pets are family members. They need to be protected from harmful substances, insecticides, pharmaceuticals, and foods, just as we would protect other members of our family from harm
Sign up for her PetSumer Report and stay informed!
On behalf of all the creatures thank you Susan!
Published on Taipei Times
EDITORIAL: A shameful tradition of tainted food
Friday, Oct 17, 2008, Page 8
In China, tasteless and colorless melamine has been part of the food chain for a long time. Its addition to Sanlu’s milk powder has now created a global panic over contaminated Chinese foodstuffs.
And this was not the first time.
In May last year, companies in China’s Jiangsu and Shandong provinces added melamine to wheat protein and barley protein powder, which caused thousands of pets in the US, Canada and other countries to fall ill or die.
More than 60 million pet food products were recalled. Feed for 20 million chickens, hundreds of thousands of cultivated fish and thousands of pigs was also contaminated with melamine.
The immediate reaction by the Chinese authorities to the allegations of poisonous animal food was strong denial, and it was only when the US insisted that it be involved and sent representatives to China to take samples that the scandal was exposed.
So what did the Chinese authorities learn from that incident? Nothing.
In the most recent crisis, local governments continued to offer denials even after New Zealand company Fonterra Co-operative Group used diplomatic channels to put pressure directly on the Chinese government. It is well-known within the Chinese industry that melamine is added to milk powder, vegetable proteins, processed food products and animal feed. The government knows it and tolerates it.
Melamine is one of many harmful additives, and even if the melamine problem were eliminated, other hazardous substances could be added to products.
On Wednesday, frozen green beans imported from China to Japan were found to contain 34,500 times the amount of pesticides allowed in Japan. The government immediately ordered a recall.
There is no end to all the problems with Chinese food products.
Importing countries must pressure China and demand that it meet its responsibilities by strengthening procedures to manage, inspect and ban contaminated food products and thus control the export of toxic food.
Taiwan’s Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection and the Department of Health should meet their control responsibilities and implement stricter sampling of raw materials imported finished or semi-finished.
The government should amend the Commodity Labeling Act (商品標示法) to require that, in addition to listing manufacturing country, contents and nutritional value, labels also show the production process at the place of origin for raw materials to that consumers can make an informed choice as to the safety of a specific product.
Although China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Yang Yi (楊毅) said China would handle the milk powder incident satisfactorily and demanded that Duqing Co in Shandong send representatives to Taiwan to investigate its export of dairy creamer here, he has kept mum on the issue of compensation to the victims, which displays a total lack of sincerity.
The milk powder scandal has had a serious economic impact on the companies involved as well as public health in Taiwan.
The Taiwanese government and private sectors must demand compensation from the Chinese government and manufacturers.
If China does not provide an adequate response to compensation demands in a timely manner, Chinese products should be boycotted and people should take to the streets to protest when Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) visits Taipei.