Friday, March 30, 2007

Don't Touch That Bowl

Remember a few days ago when I said I'd stop talking about crappy pet food? Well, I lied. All this double talk by the FDA and the New York State Food Laboratory about chemicals they're finding in those recalled Menu Foods products have got me all in a tizzy. I just can't shut up about it.

A article in today's New York Times served up a big plate of confusion as to what ingredient actually poisoned all those dogs and cats a few weeks ago: the FDA says plastic, the N.Y. State Food Lab says rat poison, a Canadian university lab says plastic, the New York State Department of Agriculture says melamine (the aforementioned plastic) is not a known cat toxin, and to top it all off, the contaminated wheat gluten that was blamed initially? Now the FDA is saying it might not have even gone into the tained food. Get it together, people.

My aunty in Hawaii had been feeding her pets food that was on the contaminated list, but luckily, Buttons the dog and Hobbes the cat both seem to be okay. But everyone is sufficiently freaked out.

And to freak you out even more, here is an excerpt from a NYT interview with Marion Nestle, a nutrition professor at New York University who is writing a book on the pet-food industry to be released next year:
Q: What's in pet food? Is it regulated?
MN: Pet food is regulated by the FDA through the same state agencies that regulate food for farm animals. But product excluded from animal feed can go into pet food - meat and bone meal, nervous system tissue - parts of animals not allowed for anything else. ... The opportunity for cheap byproducts is much greater in pet foods. The assumption is that better brands don't do that, but it's not verified.
Q: What about health claims?
MN: When you see food claims on breakfast cereal - for instance, that it lowers cholesterol - there has to be some scientific substantiation behind them. Pet foods have claims on them, that they support a healthy immune system, reduce risk of whatever, but they don't have to be supported by large amounts of science. They're worded in such a way that doesn't violate the FDA's labeling rules. I think the FDA will have to take a much closer look at pet foods - this is the second recall in a short time.
New York Times: "For Cats and Dogs, Life Is a Bowl of..."
New York Times: "F.D.A. Tests Show Chemical in Pet Food"

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