The Politics of Recalling Allegedly Poisonous Pet Food

Although this short post is about dog food the principles apply to any companion animal foods. For a long time there has been vociferous complaints from dog owners about Nestlé Purina dog treats making their dogs seriously ill and in some cases the owners allege that the food has killed their dog.

Personally, I trust people who are companion animal owners who complain like this. They know their companions better than anyone else. They know exactly what happened etc.

Yet despite a flood of complaints, Nestlé Purina PetCare did nothing, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of America could find nothing wrong with the products. These were dog treats made in China. Regrettably, one has to admit that China does not have a good reputation in respect of food quality, as they have in past introduced ingredients which are poisonous.

It appears that the Chinese authorities are less than rigorous in monitoring food standards in manufacturing plants, and some would say that corruption plays a role. The most high profile case was melamine in baby food, which has been called “the 2008 Chinese milk scandal”. They have also used melamine  – a compound that can make a sort of plastic – in cat food. Melamine is the same stuff used for the manufacture of kitchen cupboards and work tops! The Chinese liked to put plastic in food. It makes them more money. Do they still do it?

Dog Treat Recall

Dog Treat Recall

Recently, Nestlé Purina PetCare voluntarily recalled the suspect dog treats but it was not for the reasons that have been bandied around the internet. It was because the products allegedly contain small amounts of a poultry antibiotic which isn’t approved in the U.S. Pretty benign stuff. Purina are adamant that there is no health risk.

So they recalled dog treats out of the kindness of their hearts just to be on the safe side yet for many months dogs have allegedly been killed by these products.

It appears to me that Purina has found a neat way out of the Chinese mess. Perhaps there was some obstacle in some contract that prevented Purina recalling the treats beforehand, even though the health problems were very real and concerning. I actually suspect that there was some political machinations going on behind the scenes between the American authorities and the Chinese food regulators to try and save the reputation of the Chinese in the light of previous disasters. This minor infraction of including some harmless antibiotic in the dog food paints the Chinese in a better light and allows Purina to recall the treats while taking the focus off the FDA. Neat.

I am sure this episode has done the company no good whatsoever. In my view Nestlé Purina do not have the best of reputations themselves. Why are they buying dog food from China? Answer: it is cheaper. But is it edible?

Nestlé Purina have also been implicated in animal testing. It is hard to avoid buying their cat and dog food because they are a giant octopus in the pet food marketplace. I do try and avoid it, though, for the sake of personal principles and my cat’s health.

Chinese motto, “If it moves, eat it, but don’t forget to put melamine in it first”.

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The Politics of Recalling Allegedly Poisonous Pet Food — 5 Comments

  1. lol- the motto I mean.
    The rest is shocking and disgusting. I would say the one single biggest crap thing about the country I live is Nestle. My mothers husbands son works for Nestle and it just so happens he’s a total money hungry a** h*le. I think you have to be either stupid or an a** h*le to work for a company like that on any level. Thats just personal opinion though. This business about the Chinese I read about a few times up until now but nobody has come up with the neat theory about the antibiotic as a way of saving face for both Purina and China. I do know that the FDA is there but it’s not really all that effective for many reasons no doubt to do with money. I have heard clearly that all jerky dog treats made in China sold under any company name are killing and hurting a large amount of dogs.. I also know a gigantic proportion are just fine and these products even have facebook pages with a ton of likes and there’s apparently no problem.

    In my opinion it should not be about proportion of complaints and negative evidence that causes action since there will always be so many who are fine that nothing will ever be done. I think it should just be the fact that a pattern of complaints about a specific product comes in and something gets done regardless. If it were humans I think the first sign of somebody dying would pretty much sort the issue. But its animals and the standards are incredibly low in my opinion. Why is it almost impossible to find cat food in the obvious places without animal biproducts in drives me nuts. I can’t even get good food for my cats. I don’t know where to get food regularly without biproducts. Then there’s the grains. And after all that, just when you think things are bloody awful you get China poisoning food which the crappy corporations buy on the cheap.

    The only real standard is to compare situations to ‘what if it were involving humans’ – then you get an idea of how bad the gap is. Look at the photo above – the packaging is so false. It’s impossible to live with such a huge distrust surrounded by lying skimping companys like Nestle Purina. If only people had some power. In the US the FDA still allows HUMANS to eat genetically modified food. Aren’t they supposed to protect people from the corporate pigs. I found this unbelievable. In Canada I didn’t know what I was eating in a damn restaurant. GM food is still LEGAL and big business out there. Who allows it? What government allows corporations to create low standards for life? My only conclusion is that where it is legal is where it is corrupt. It can only be legal to poison people because somebody is getting paid not to end it. It’s illegal all over Europe. Personally I think all this I am talking about is the new and hidden corruption of capitalist democracy. It’s mad corruption. It’s worse than the old fashioned corruption where at least it was clearly corruption.

    • You have expressed my feelings. Cat food is about making money and the health of the animal is second to that. As you say it is almost impossible to buy really decent cat food that replicates a mouse. It’s all road kill etc. And what about the preservatives. These days it refuses to go off. There must be ton of preservatives in it but I can’t find out what they are because on the box I checked it is not listed. The standards are very low. The packaging is great to attract humans. It is human packaging. Sometimes it smells like human food. I guess it has to to attract humans who buy it.

  2. Nestle are real bad guys when it comes to animal testing so I don’t suppose they have any scruples about what goes into their food.
    But big firms get away with things, they just deny it. Bob Martins flea treatments have made cats ill, even killed some, yet it’s still on sale in shops and supermarkets and many people don’t know how dangerous it is.
    It’s all about money these days, not about the health and safety of our pets.

    • I totally agree that Purina could and should have pulled these products off the shelves as a precaution based on the large number of complaints. It would have shown a very ethical approach. Sadly they do the opposite. I doubt sometimes whether the FDA are doing the job they are meant to do. I think there was enough evidence. I wonder how may dog owners were interviewed and how many autopsies on dogs were carried out. To me (and I am suspicious and cynical) it does not feel right.

      In Britain we have had a burger scare. Testing revealed some horse meat in burgers. It was safe. It was just not beef. The companies removed 10 million burgers from the stores. That is the difference between humans and dogs/cats.

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