Safer Pet Food, Maybe?
Pets are awesome. I’ve been blessed with two cats (they were given to me many years ago from a store employee when she sought a new home for them). Currently, I am blessed with Ellie Pie, a great dane. Of course, I have fond memories growing up with Ginger, a poodle.
Earlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed new rules to make pet food and animal feed safer. This is crucial since the vast majority of pet food brands do not meet human food quality and safety standards. The proposed rules appear to be in response to the federal government’s announcement that certain pet treats imported from China have caused illness in over 3,600 dogs and the death of over 600 pets. According to TIME magazine news, federal officials are still unable, after six years, to determine the cause of this terrible illness. See http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/10/23/the-fda-has-no-idea-why-jerky-treats-are-killing-hundreds-of-dogs/ Currently, the government does not do much to prevent food safety problems but instead is responds to problems when they occur.
The proposed FDA rules can be found at https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/10/29/2013-25126/current-good-manufacturing-practice-and-hazard-analysis-and-risk-based-preventive-controls-for-food The public has four months to offer comment to the proposals before the FDA issues its final rules.
The proposed rules not only protect pets but people who handle contaminated pet food. Essentially, the proposed rules require pet food producers to develop a plan to prevent food-borne illnesses and to put protective procedures in place throughout the production process. Pet food producers must review their plans every three years and maintain certain cleanliness standards for pet food processing. The FDA’s proposal does not address the use of antibiotics used in certain feeds for farm animals — an issue of high concern for many public health advocates. For a balanced and comprehensive review of the debate on the use of antibiotics for meat production see http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/meat/safe/overview.html
So how should we go about selecting safe and healthy pet food for our love ones? One of the best guides I’ve seen is written by Chris Illiades, MD and can be found at http://www.everydayhealth.com/pet-health/healthy-pet-food-guide.aspx It is a great primer on how to read pet food labels. Likewise, Dr. Karen Becker ranks the quality of certain pet foods from great to disastrous at http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2010/07/21/13-pet-foods-ranked-from-great-to-disastrous.aspx Both of these links are quick and easy reads and provide important guidance to do right by our beloved pets when it comes to feeding them.