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?
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”.