FDA pulled the Rug Out From Under Pet Food Consumers
Susan Thixton, the doyen of consumer rights in the pet food market believes that the FDA has been lobbied and cajoled by the big pet food manufacturers to stop verifying that some pet foods are actually ‘food’ (she means as opposed to pet ‘feed’). They have made a change in policy secretly.
This opens the door to more misleading images and general labelling to confuse and confound the consumer even more.
Why do the big pet food manufacturers want this? I’ll make a guess: the big boys make pet food with poor ingredients because it maximises profits. When other companies start to improve standards (desperately needed) the established manufacturers are upset because it erodes profits. They like to keep the consumer in the dark. A lot of businesses do this: they deliberately confuse customers so they can con them.
Here is some detail about what has gone on based on Susan Thixton’s reporting:
Over the past recent years, the standard of pet food has been raised on consumer demand. Pet food companies began using human grade ingredients rather then pet grade (feed). These companies rightly promoted their products on the back of this by telling customers about their superior ingredients.
Then the regulatory authorities said they could not do it. In response, Honest Kitchen Pet Food gained the right to tell consumers that their pet food contained real food in a lawsuit against the authorities.
Honest Kitchen Pet Food provided proof that their products contained actual food ingredients and this proof was verified by the FDA which issued a letter to them they could tell consumers about the human grade ingredients. The letter is called a Letter of No Objection.
The door to better pet food ingredients had been opened. But the FDA has recently withdrawn the process of issuing Letters of No Objection.
Instead, the FDA has decided to let each state verify whether pet food ingredients are ‘real food’ or feed. The authorities working at state level don’t have the ability to do this because they have relied on the FDA for eight years. Also, they work with ‘feed’ and don’t have the expertise on genuine human grade ingredients in pet foods.
The possible outcome of this mess is unsure. Thrixton suspects that the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) will allow manufacturers to make false claims as to human grade ingredients or prevent claims about human grade ingredients. Either way it is a disaster for the pet owning public who crave clarity.
People are likely to be more confused about pet food ingredients at a time when there is a real need for improvements in ingredients and transparency from the manufacturers and authorities.
The FDA has behaved in an underhand manner. They could have ensured the states had the ability to run a verification program and notified the consumer of their decision in advance of the changes. Instead they kept quiet.
Thrixton was tipped off about the changes. She had insider information.
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