Wednesday, April 18, 2007

argh, continued

Please excuse me while I rant for a moment. Actually, this is my blog, so I don't need anyone's permission to rant. The pet food recall continues to grow, with each day revealing even more unsettling and infuriating information that forces vigilant pet owners to completely mistrust every level of the industry. But what really saddens me is the complacency of an even larger number of pet owners, people who don't seem to care or understand the significance of what's been happening. I'm beginning to feel like some psycho-obsessive cat lady, because several times that I have mentioned some of the more egregious examples of misinformation and ineptness, I have been met with a relative lack of interest. Considering that I'm only really saying anything about it to people I know who also have pets, this is rather disturbing. Is it simply that they think I am overreacting, or do they not care as much? I have a hard time believing the latter. So is it overreacting that I am seriously concerned about what to feed my cat - whom I love immensely - when I've seen accounts attributing some 4,000 deaths and countless more serious illnesses to contaminated pet food? Well, on Sunday, one of the dry foods that I started feeding Opaw just two weeks ago was recalled, when it was found that the same contaminant from the first recalls were found in a different ingredient. I had done my research and sought out a food that I thought highly unlikely to cause a problem, a food with high accolades, hundreds of testimonials, and a reputation for high quality ingredients. The contaminant - melamine - was previously found to be contaminating wheat gluten. I sought out foods with not only no wheat gluten, but no grains or derivatives of grains whatsoever. I thought I would be safe. What I didn't realize at the time is that even a company with a great reputation can flat out lie. Here is the rundown of what has gone down in the last couple of days regarding this food:

1. On Monday, I discover that Natural Balance has recalled the Venison & Green Pea Dry Cat Food, along with a venison-based dry dog food. They claim that they have received a few customer calls about gastric upset and kidney "problems", but do not know what is causing the problem.
2. On Tuesday, I see reports that melamine has been discovered in rice protein concentrate, an ingredient in both of those foods. I wonder to myself how a food marketed for cats with allergies that claims to have no grains whatsoever and venison as it's single source of protein would contain rice protein concentrate. I also wonder how I could have missed that ingredient on the label of the bag, and on the company website where I researched the food before purchasing it. I was specifically looking for foods with no grains, both as a precaution during the food recall, and because I was trying to figure out what was causing Opaw's stomach troubles.
3. Shortly after the discovery of the melamine in rice protein concentrate, several posters on sites discussing the recalls point out that rice protein concentrate is listed as an ingredient on NB's website for these foods, but swear that it was not there just a couple of days ago. Searching for cached versions of the webpage confirms that they updated the website to include the ingredient within the last couple of days.
4. Natural Balance reveals that they recently reformulated these foods to include the rice protein concentrate. So much for no grains, so much for single source of protein, so much for informing customers.
5. So much for claiming that they source all of their ingredients from within the US (the venison being the exception, it comes from New Zealand). Today it is revealed that the rice protein concentrate was supplied by a San Francisco-based company...who bought it from China.
6. This supplier states that it shipped rice protein concentrate to four other pet food manufacturers, but decline naming the companies at this time.
7. I sit here and wonder if the companies that make the other foods that I feed Opaw might be one of those four. I look at their websites and see none of the suspect ingredients listed. I look at these companies that claim there are no grains or grain derivatives of any kind in these foods, no glutens or protein concentrates, no ingredients that have magically appeared on the list where they weren't two days ago. I don't trust them.


B said...

"Today it is revealed that the rice protein concentrate was supplied by a San Francisco-based company...who bought it from China."

ah. fucking Chi-er. oh, wait.

Seriously though, you did some good research there. You should make sure the class action lawsuit includes the same evidence.

Food companies, human and animal alike, always try to twist definitions in their favor. Ask Alton Brown about cooking sprays that claim to have zero fat.

faycat said...

What it all really comes down to, though, is that I seriously doubt any class action suits will be successful because the FDA does not restrict much of anything. Nothing they did was illegal, at least so far. Perhaps China is a scapegoat, it's certainly not beyond the realm of possibility. But, like so many other things that have gone down over the last few weeks, we'll probably never know.

Get this, it's not even illegal that Natural Balance didn't list the suspect ingredient on their packaging. The FDA gives them six months to correct packaging.

B said...

Wow. Shittage. Is that the same for human food?

faycat said...

I don't know if that goes for human food as well, but I wouldn't be surprise.

By the way, it was just revealed that the pet food recall in South Africa was caused by corn gluten tainted with melamine and imported from - dunh dunh DUNH - China.

I am officially self-hating.

Book and Hook said...

You are not alone in your obsessing. Someone else who has some a lot of the research you have done is New Cat City at
He is just as concerned and disgusted.
I have been just horrified throughout this whole thing.
I hope things get better for everyone and for all the affected pets.