After conducting a random sample test of Natural Balance 5 lb and 28 lb bags of sweet potato and chicken dry dog food, the FDA determined the pet foods to be positive for Salmonella contamination. Products that were affected have a “Best By” date of June 17, 2011 and were sold in pet specialty stores in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Natural Balance has sent a letter to all pet stores and other sellers who have purchased these products and encourage them to return the products to their place of purchase. The recall notice states that Salmonella can affect both animals and humans who have handled the pet food. Animals with salmonella may become lethargic; have diarrhea, fever or vomiting. Less noticeable symptoms may be decreased appetite and abdominal pain. Pet owners are being urged to contact their veterinarians if you notice any symptoms.
Is your premium pet food worth the extra money? Two scientists have teamed up to investigate the pet food industry and the claims made for their products. Marion Nestle from the Paulette Goddard professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University and Malden C. Nesheim emeritus professor of nutrition at Cornell University have published their findings in their book, “Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat.”
Dr. Nestle and Dr. Nesheim compared 10 premium chicken dinners for dogs and found the ingredients to all be very similar. The ingredients all started with chicken or chicken broth followed by grains and vegetables; however the nonpremium brands often used more grains, poultry, meat and fish byproducts. Dr. Nestle stated “All pet foods are made from the byproducts of human food production. No matter what the package says, your dog is not getting whole chicken breasts, but what remains after the breasts have been removed for human food.”
Drs. Nestle and Nesheim suggested seeking out labels that state “complete and balanced” because this indicates that the pet food meets the nutritional requirements of cats and dogs as listed by the Association of American Feed Control Officials. State officials and the animal feed industry along with the FDA and AAFCO develop model regulations for pet foods which are voluntary unless covered under state laws. As of now no agency requires proof of pet food health claims. According to Drs. Nestle and Nesheim pet food companies say they do extensive research on their pet foods but often it is not conducted in a scientific fashion with comparable control and experimental groups. The doctors suggest getting your pet’s food from a reputable vendor such as vetdepot.com. Both Doctors did recommend that if one brand does seem to affect your pet in a positive way you should stick with it.
The Food and Drug Administration along with the National Institutes of Health have launched a new website called Safety Reporting Portal for reports of pre- and post- market safety data. This portal will make it easier for pet owners to report issues or adverse reactions to pet foods and pet medications, as well as for drug manufacturers to quickly report issues. The FDA and the NIH teamed up to create this portal as a first step toward an electronic reporting system that will be a gateway for consumers and professionals to file a single report to multiple agencies.
The Safety Reporting Portal is a more user-friendly way for producers to submit safety reports which are required by law. Ultimately this will enable everyone with Internet access to report a safety concern about medical products as well as foods, cosmetics, animal feed and veterinary products. Voluntary reports will take at least 10 minutes to complete and mandatory reports will take a minimum of 20 minutes, depending on how much information you wish to provide. The Safety Reporting Portal can be reached at: https://www.safetyreporting.hhs.gov