At the time of this writing, the most recent Dog Food Recall happened just a few weeks ago. It was a fairly small dog food recall at least compared to the one that took place in 2007.
That one was a very significant recall (probably the largest recall in the history of pet food). Over 5,600 pet food products were recalled.
This pet food recall resulted in the death of hundreds of pets. Some estimates went as high as 8,500 death. Many more pets made terribly sick by the pet food.
It’s impossible to get an exact number of deaths because there’s no central database to track them.
Menu Foods, a manufacturer of pet foods for many large companies in the United States, issued the first pet food recall on March 16, 2007 (nearly a month after they received the first report of sick pets).
The problem was eventually traced to contaminated vegetable protein (wheat gluten) that was used as an ingredient in the pet food.The wheat gluten had been imported from China More recalls came in the following months as more pets got sick and died.
The recalls eventually extended throughout North America, and into Europe and even South Africa.
There’s no good reason for any dog food recall to happen. It is the result of pet food companies not focusing on quality. They put their desire to increase profits ahead of the need to ensure the safety of their products.
Now I don’t fault any company for wanting to increase profits, that’s the American way. But, it should never be done at the expense of safety!
Let’s look at the dog food recall of 2007.
Why was wheat gluten being used in pet food in the first place...and why was it being imported from China? The answer is simple...wheat gluten is a very cheap source of protein...much cheaper than meat products.
By adding wheat gluten to their pet food formulas, these companies can say that their products meet AAFCO’s standard for how much protein should be in a pet food. And, they do this without significantly increasing their production costs.
Now if they can get the cheapest wheat gluten on the market, they can increase their profits even more. And that is just what they did when they bought huge quantities of the stuff from China.
China is not, however, a country known for strict quality controls. Knowing this, these pet food makers should have implemented strict testing procedures to make sure that the wheat gluten was of a sufficiently high quality. They apparently did not do so.
But, wheat gluten is not even a good source of protein for pets.
Dogs and cats cannot get much benefit from the protein in wheat gluten. They find it hard to digest. Also, many pets are allergic to this protein. So, while it looks on the pet food label like the food meets AAFCO’s standards, it’s not providing the quality of protein that pets need to stay healthy.
And, we wonder why veterinarians are kept so busy.
Unfortunately, there have been many pet food recalls over the years. And, many pets have died from tainted pet foods prior to many of these recalls. Other pets were made seriously sick.
While each recall involved different circumstances and different ingredients were to blame, the common denominator for most was lack of quality control. Unfortunately quality control cost money and most companies just don’t want to spend that money to ensure the safety of their products.
It’s cheaper for these companies to deal with a couple months of bad press and a handful of angry customers, than to get serious about using quality ingredients. They know that most of the customers will come back to them eventually. Where else could they go?
When you love your pet, you naturally want the best for them. Many pet owners are willing to spend whatever it takes to keep their pets healthy. They just don’t know where to turn so they don’t end up another statistic in the next pet food recall.
But, there is good news!
There are companies out there that are putting quality ahead of profits. There aren’t many, but there are some. But you won’t find their products at the local discount mart.
The pet food that these companies make is considered “premium” and will cost a bit more than discount brands. But that’s because the ingredients are so much better.
But don’t be fooled...
“Premium” is just a word. Marketers know that their customers often want to buy better food for their pets and that they are willing to pay more for it. So they slap the word “Premium” on the label and jack up the price.
The average consumer is completely unaware that the ingredients are likely to be just as poor in their “premium” food as in the discount brands.
Why can companies get away with this? Because there’s very little regulation in the pet food market.
I believe that it’s more important to find a good pet food company than to find a good pet food. When you find a good pet food company (one that you can trust to do the right thing), they will be selling pet food that you know is good.
In 2007 I was a poor consumer when it came to dog food. I went for the pretty label and enticing marketing claims. I didn’t buy the cheapest dog food on the market, but I didn’t buy the most expensive either. And, I trusted that the food I was buying was safe.
Then, the dog food recall happened. The dog food that I was buying at the time was on the recall list, but my food was okay. And, my dogs were fine.
But this really scared me. I vowed that I would never put my dogs in danger again. I’d never again trust these big multinational companies with the health of my dogs.
So, I started looking around for a better dog food. I was fortunate...soon after I started looking, I found a great company with wonderful products. I’ve been feeding their products (food and treats) ever since.
I’ve put together a series of emails that will take you through how I came to trust this company and why I’m convinced that i’ll never have to worry about another dog food recall.