Today's post is in reaction to the Pet Food Industry magazine article called "Pet food recalls: looking back at 2007, moving forward." The subtitle of this article is "what really stands out from the 2007 pet food recalls is the reaction by consumers, who no longer trusted pet food companies."
Author of the article, Debbie Phillips-Donaldson says "Until then, even the most devoted pet parents didn't really consider where or how their pets' food was made or what was in it."
What the 2007 recall did was expose HOW hundreds of pet food brands where made. In the feature film "Pet Fooled", Susan Thixton states, "In 2007, pet owners didn't have any idea that one manufacturer, Menu Foods, made hundreds of different varieties of foods. That was a betrayal of trust to so many pet owners."
The recall also exposed how questionable ingredients were sourced and put into pet foods. It's clear that Menu Foods was sourcing "wheat gluten" from China for cost purposes, and then putting that protein product into MANY products that were marketed for their differences. Why didn't Menu Foods test the raw ingredients for safety before blindly adding the ingredients into pet foods? Deaths of pets occurred because of these horrible manufacturing practices and no one from Menu Foods was fined or put in jail as a result. If a citizen were to kill another pet, they would be arrested for animal abuse.
And how can a consumer know that anything is different today? Major industry still operates in ways that are arguably secretive towards the pet parents if they really want to figure out the exact sources of where the ingredients that go into the foods come from. At a certain point, does passion become business and things become just "too big" and competitive to maintain transparency to distribute nationwide or through various companies? Or are companies not completely transparent because there may be a potential marketing and financial downside to telling consumers where ingredients come from and the quality of these ingredients?
What has changed since 2007 is the growing number of pet parents who are getting more interested, involved, and proactive in species appropriate nutrition. For the industry making billions because of low cost foods widely distributed, it's probably not a threat for them because they operate on a market share basis and own a multitude of different pet food varieties. These multi-conglomorate companies will likely just adjust their offerings as the market changes.
But the pet parent can indeed choose not to buy any food from a major conglomerate and instead, visit independent boutique stores that sell products that are more transparent and independently owned and operated. Major companies will argue that there's no "proof" that their food offering is any less "healthy" and is 100% complete and balanced and safe, but that's not the argument. The overall argument is quality sourcing, transparency so consumers can confirm sourcing, and species appropriate nutrition. If a pet parent doesn't choose to make their own pet's food, there are a multitude of super passionate, independent pet food companies that have spawn out of the 2007 recall that provide them commercially and are arguably more transparent about sourcing than other major brands. Pet parents are waking up to nutrition, and the confusion of the industry is what lead to the feature film "Pet Fooled." What has changed is that the 2007 recall hasn't died and the practices of "white labeling" hasn't changed. What matters isn't "white labeling" or a manufacturer making a particular "brand" of food, but instead honesty, transparency, and sourcing of ingredients for species appropriate nutrition.