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16 March 2009


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“Three years since the pet food recall… and everything’s changed!”

From your mouth to Obama's ears!


I think the most shocking revelation for me remains the knowledge that many of the more expensive foods (pet or human) share at least some (possibly all, we don't know until there is a massive recall) ingredients with moderately priced and "bottom of the barrel" brands. So-called organic, natural, and premium foods (again, pet or human) are made with the same exact ingredient(s) as "Fido's Bargain Chow" and "[insert grocery store name here] Snack Bars".

Sandi K

Very good write-up Christie, thanks to you and Gina for continuing coverage of this tragedy. Added to that is the Chem-Nutra trial that was scheduled for March 23rd and has been post-poned with possible plea deal in the works....and no charges for Menu Foods as of this date. Not only has very little changed but no one has been held accoutable for their actions......yet. Even though I lost a pet to this nightmare, I also still have hope that each day will bring us closer to that statement of yours "everythings changed"! Everyday I continue to fight for that good outcome.

Carol V

One important issue that is forgotten by some was the wheat "gluten" was labeled food grade--not feed grade---this pet food crisis was one very small step away from an "all food" crisis....

here's a link..


Gina Spadafori

And the fun just doesn't stop:

"Texas Star Nut & Food Company of Boerne, Texas, is recalling packages of Raw Peanuts because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. The recalled product contains peanuts supplied by Peanut Corporation of America, which has recently announced an expansion of a voluntary recall covering all peanut products manufactured and distributed from their Plainview, TX plant. Peanut Corporation of America is currently the focus of an ongoing investigation concerning the recent Salmonella outbreak."


Colorado Transplant

I am wondering how much melamine I am eating?

Liz Palika

There is one change for the better - begun by Gina and Christie and carried on by many of us - we're talking (and posting and emailing) and people are learning. I write about pet foods all the time and even talk about pet foods in my dog training classes. And dog and cat owners are learning and asking questions. The more we all know - every single pet owner - the better.

Gina Spadafori

Our continued sympathy and thoughts for everyone who lost a pet, almost lost a pet or is still struggling with the aftermath of the Menu Foods/Chinese import debacle.

Honestly, so many deaths were reported from March to June while the database was open that we were numb with grief. And we had to keep covering the story.

I think it's absolutely right and very important Christie's observation that most now understand that it's the same food supply, for people and pets. Food safety is an issue that hits us all.


I just love the smart alecks on this site!


Well there's Monsanto and their Franken seeds. They force farmers to sign a contract that they will not save seeds to use the following year or give seeds to any other farmers. They then have employees who check the farmers fields (from afar) to make certain the farmer is adhering to the contract with Monsanto or Monsanto will force out the farmer if he doesn't comply. This is my shortened version of how Monsanto is attempting to control farming around the world.

Gina Spadafori

I'm already part of the sekrit backyard chicken conspiracy. Ticket me for illegal tomatoes? Bring it on!!

Anne T

Lori, I can see all the police in my small town, be they the town department or the county sheriff or the state police wasting money and man hours tracking down the 2000 plus backyard gardens, issuing citations for illegally grown tomatoes, when they already of 100s of unenforceable Nanny lawsthey have neither the manpower or the budget to deal with. The thought sends me into peals of laughter along with intermittent head banging.

Since the big beef producers blocked a small organic producer from individually testing for BSE, anything is possible when it comes to big agribusiness. However we have a very powerful organic farmers and growers association in my state, so such a fight could prove interesting, and I bet nationwide the public outcry would be LOUD! I can hear Gina now. Ouch.

Carolyn S

Brava Christie!

I still remember, a month after my beloved cat was diagnosed with Diabetes, the phone call I got from my vet's office, telling me the food they'd sold me to help my cat was being recalled. I said, "OMG.." she said "Oh it's fine, this is a precautionary recall.."

It was a month after I'd bought it. Thank God he hated it and the bag was still full and uneaten. What if..?

Pet food companies are so insidious, so deceitful and so greedy that we must demand the best, or it will most certainly happen again.


We're just as much at risk as we were leading up to the 07 disaster. All it takes is ONE SLIP.

One company to not thoroughly check and test it's import quality at point of delivery.

We got a ways to go.


For my three cats and all the other victims of 2007 and food recalls ever since,

may the day be at hand when the consumer's safety comes first among our food authorities,

manufacturers are punished by huge fines and jail time for producing tainted or lethal food, and the FDA is replaced by a group using current science and zero tolerance for any level of food toxins.


What amazes me that there has been relatively little fuss even with the peanut butter paste recall.

Look at the stink in the news about AIG bonuses - reprehensible to be sure, but nobody is going to die from them.

How many more deaths is it going to take before the American people actually start to give a collective damn?

Original Lori

I don't meant to start anything crazy, but today lunching with a new hire and my HR manager he mentioned a strange rumor. He said that his friend who works at Burpee Seeds told him that 20/20 had been there taping and asking questions about a proposed bill that would PREVENT people from growing their own backyard vegetable gardens.

Now, my immediate reaction was OUTLANDISH! That could never be!! But who knows? Maybe he got it wrong and it's to prevent backyard growers from selling excess veggies under the table? But to be honest with you, it wouldn't surprise me if some big food corporation who is scared that people will stop buying their ecoli coated vegetation would try to push something like that through on the tails of another bill.

I suppose either more will come out about it or nothing will and I'll know it was just a rumor.


China may have eased up on melamine. but look what else they've been making a practice of for the past 20 years.

Are there any honorable people in this industry! Bad enough doing this after the fact, but forcing water into stomach's and hearts of pigs and cattle prior to slaughter????????



Lori, that's an over exaggeration of a food safety bill that's been making the rounds recently. And of course, not true. When I first started looking into it, it lead me to some Ron Paul supporter sites, and not to too many farmer sites. Food and Water Watch and several other groups have gone over the bill and that is not what it says, or will do :) Monsanto controlling the seeds of the world, well that's another issue . . .


" a proposed bill that would PREVENT people from growing their own backyard vegetable gardens."

I think they'd have to arrest Michelle Obama and her girls, then.. aren't they starting a garden?


Barb, WorldnetDaily.com isn't exactly an object source.

Most of the coverage of this seems to be coming from reliably hysterical-wingnut sources, the kind of sources that think it's reasonable to question whether Obama is an American citizen and eligible to be president. The snippet on which all this HR 875 hysteria is built is this:

(14) FOOD PRODUCTION FACILITY- The term ‘food production facility’ means any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation.

The argument is that since there is no explicit exemption for backyard gardens, it will obviously cover backyard gardens, too.

However, immediately above Paragraph 14 (quoted above) is Paragraph 13:


(A) IN GENERAL- The term ‘food establishment’ means a slaughterhouse (except those regulated under the Federal Meat Inspection Act or the Poultry Products Inspection Act), factory, warehouse, or facility owned or operated by a person located in any State that processes food or a facility that holds, stores, or transports food or food ingredients.

(B) EXCLUSIONS- For the purposes of registration, the term ‘food establishment’ does not include a food production facility as defined in paragraph (14), restaurant, other retail food establishment, nonprofit food establishment in which food is prepared for or served directly to the consumer, or fishing vessel (other than a fishing vessel engaged in processing, as that term is defined in section 123.3 of title 21, Code of Federal Regulations).

Paragraph 14 lists types of operations and activities excluded from the effects of the proposed new law, but it's being used by a certain segment of the political spectrum to argue that they're included and would be effectively banned.

Note what else is excluded explicitly in Paragarph 13(B).


Comment by Gina Spadafori — March 17, 2009 @ 6:36 am

And “24 hours GPS tracking of … animals”? Not in there. “Warrentless government entry” to farms? Can’t find it.

Sounds like they're getting it confused with NAIS which has a LOT of people up in arms:


Victoria McDowell

We are an organic dog food manufacturer who does care about your pets and not the bottom line. We buy the very best meat,vegetables in our food. Yet, we hear oh "IAMS" is only this amount to buy. Well thats because Iams, and the other top 5 pet food companies use garbage for food. They do care about the bottom line, and not about your pet. You can see for yourselves online everyday where these companies buy/given free to remove the waste and put in "Your beloved pets" food.

Check this out- What is really in dog food?

Many vets have know about this since 1990 and perhaps earlier. It only costs these companies $260 per ton to make the food, costs I mean paying someone to make the food, not the cost of the ingredients.


Let's see - 36 kids shot dead on the streets of Chicago and we're going to have law enforcement worrying about whether Fifi is neutered and whether Fifi's owner is growing carrots in her garden.



The Oregon Dept of Agriculture just announced they are going to "scan" Oregon farmer's markets this summer to decide if stricter rules are necessary to avoid health hazards. Never mind that there hasn't been one single illness reported in connection with an Oregon farmer's market. I wish they would take the money and implement an inspection process for all products brought INTO the state from elsewhere. You know, stuff like pet food, peanuts, spinach, peppers. I was sort of wondering if inspection of backyard gardens might be next. Heaven forbid I share extra produce with the neighbors!


Here's an article talking about HR 875.

Lose your property for growing food?

Big Brother legislation could mean prosecution, fines up to $1 million


Original Lori

Straybaby-thanks for the info, I figured it was started with some grain of truth that got out of hand.

And obviously it would be completely unenforceable, but it would have been fun to go all Thoreau...or at least feel like I was. My illegal seed starter mini green house flaunting itself on my front bay window.

Come to think of it, around us, the squirrels would do a pretty good job of enforcing a law like that, if they could only get them to organize.


Now wait a minute. We already have the mess of food safety regulation being less effective than it could be due to the multiple agencies (FDA, USDA, local Departments of Health, etc.) who have oversight and don't work well together. And now we're talking about adding yet ANOTHER oversight organization under Health and Human Services?

Oh yeah. Let's make the oversight of food safety even MORE confusing and ineffective!

Gina Spadafori

I read the bill. It's not something I would support, mostly because it's just a lot more vague blah-blah that accepts as an ideological starting point that corporate global ag is good, just needs tweaking. The Internet nuttery is a little overblown, though. Here's a take on it from Grist's Tom Philpott that pretty much tracked what I thought after reading it:


"I’ve been reading hysterical missives about H.R. 875 for weeks. I could never square them with the text of the bill, which is admittedly vague. For example, the bill seeks to regulate any “food production facility” which it defines as “any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation.”

But then again, the USDA already regulates farms. And “24 hours GPS tracking of … animals”? Not in there. “Warrentless government entry” to farms? Can’t find it.

More recently, reading around the web, I found more reasoned takes on H.R. 875. The bill may not be worth supporting — and from what I hear, it has little chance of passing. But it hardly represents the “end of farming,” much less the end of organic farming. The Organic Consumers Association, an energetic food-industry watchdog, recently called the paranoia around H.R. 875 the 'Internet rumor of the week.' "


For me, the point is that the global corporate ag system is a threat to public health. The answer to that isn't to tweak a dangerous system and in so doing add more burdens to the folks who aren't the problem -- family farms that practice humane, sustainable agriculture for a regional clientele. These -- along with home and community gardens -- need to be supported and nurtured by state and local gov't, and by US, the people who eat.

This bill doesn't get us there.


The whole system of corps, big business, financial industry and governments - worldwide - are now corrupt. Don't expect any major changes in anything any time soon. More's the pity!

Gina Spadafori

I do struggle with the concept of "are now corrupt."

I suspect you could have made that statement at any time in recorded human history, sadly enough.

But I do think the levels of "standard corruption and greed" do peak even higher now and then.


Canada can track every single head of cattle through every change of hands back to its original source. This is actually an important tool for that pesky "food safety" thing--if a cow is sick, you want to know where it came from and where it's been, so that you can trace the source of the infection and what other animals might be exposed. Or, wacky idea, quickly identify a locus of BSE--we all remember "mad cow disease," right?

The NAIS system is about that kind of identification and back-tracking, with the same microchips you put in your pets for identification. Not GPS and 24-hour tracking.

And the main complaint of the cattle industry is that they don't want to have to pay for it; they'd be happy to go along if 100% of the cost were borne by the federal government.

Gina Spadafori

That was one of my thoughts as well. When microchips first arrived on the market, I used to get a lot of mail from tinfoil-hat folks who were absolutely convinced that microchipping pets was a "test run" for a gov't mandate to 'chip and track people.

I'm sorry, but ... I find it hard to imagine such a high level of competence in any state-run enterprise.


The recall is not even -over- yet, so no, nothing is better.

Pets are suffering and dying today and will suffer and die tomorrow from the poison they were fed by loving hands, pet owners are struggling to meet the needs of the sick pets, struggling to pay the bills, instead of making better food the pet food companies are making more commercials.

Melamine is still entering the food system, the FDA, in a stunning display of speed, has established limits for the allowable poison.

In yet another stunning display of speed, several drug companies are developing drugs to treat the mysterious kidney failure epidemic.

Expensive drugs one presumes.

Not looking better to me.

Original Lori

Actually that should be to Dorene, not Anne T...sorry!

Anne T

And it's going to get so much better! Head's up: This was on American Media's "MarketPlace" yesterday.

"Tyson Foods partners to feed your pet

People are cutting back on a lot of things in this downturn, but not on pet needs. That may be one reason why meat producer Tyson Foods is partnering with Freshpet to enter the pet food business. Caitlan Carroll reports."

Here's the link.


Melachicken anyone?


I heard the NPR report yesterday and I thought -- why am I buying the pet food from Tyson? Why not just buy the "human" Tyson food and feed it to my pets as is?

Actually, I haven't bought Tyson products in years. But the story could get me off my duff and wrap some pet-friendly veggies in some free-range chicken and start feeding THAT to my dog and cat.

Original Lori

Anne T--not to start the great debate again. But I finally started cooking for my dog. Big batch of ground turkey from the turkey farm, some veggies (which will soon come from our garden), a bit of rice, and some thing with calcium, yogurt or the like. I'm still mixing with a bit of kibble. But his coat is shiny, he's maintaining his healthy weight, and the "after" is much easier to clean up. Also importantly, I'm having a lot of fun doing it.

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