Tell the FDA to Enact Stronger Pet Food Safety Regulations

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Sponsor: The Animal Rescue Site

Let's move forward with stronger pet food safety standards. It's time!


Pet food has long been a source of worry for pet owners and health officials. Reports of salmonella contamination are frequent, and threaten not only animals eating the food but also the owners handling it. Nutritional deficiencies and toxins have been found in pet foods as well — including melamine and salmonella which has led to multiple pet deaths.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the manufacture of cat food, dog food, and dog treats or snacks you have in your pantry1. One of the ways it does that is through the the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires that all animal foods, like human foods, be safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled2.

However, we regularly see violations of this law in tragic headlines reporting pet illness and death.

The FDA's new proposal includes safety requirements similar to those in place for manufacturers of human food, ensuring that manufacturers are proactive in their efforts to keep pet food safe3. The current system is reactive; the government does not respond to pet food safety issues until after they are reported. In the past, it's taken weeks of reports from consumers before contaminations were discovered and recalls announced, and thousands of dogs and cats are believed to have died.

The FDA is proposing that pet food companies follow rules very similar to those that manufacturers of human food must follow. That means that companies that take part in manufacturing any pet food component would be required to keep a record of, monitor for effectiveness, and report their manufacturing practices4.

Important pieces of this proposal include sanitation, hygienic practices and training, processes and controls, storage and distribution of pet food, and equipment design, use and maintenance.

Manufacturers will be required to develop procedures to prevent foodborne illness, and have plans in place to correct any problems, under the new law5.

This long-awaited move by the FDA is likely to be opposed, and possibly diluted, by large pet food manufacturers and importers. Make your voice heard now: It's past time for the FDA to help ensure that the food we feed our pets is safe!

More on this issue:

  1. U.S. Food & Drug Administration (19 February 2021), "Pet Food."
  2. U.S. Food & Drug Administration (12 May 2020), "FDA's Regulation of Pet Food."
  3. Federal Register (29 October 2013), "Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Food for Animals."
  4. USA Today (25 October 2013), "FDA proposes rules to make animal food safer."
  5. Saundra Young, CNN (25 October 2013), "For the first time, FDA addresses pet food safety."
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The Petition:

To the FDA Commissioner:

As you know, the discovery and recall of contaminated pet food happens on far too frequent a basis. Recalls of pet food are announced regularly.

The melamine scandal of 2007, which caused the tragic loss of thousands of beloved pets and even made it into the human food supply via chicken feed, should have served as a warning of how sweeping pet food contamination can be.

It seems the lessons from that tragedy have not been learned, as pets continue to die every year from pet food contamination.

Still today, dozens of pets die from food contamination every year and far more become seriously ill.

I am incredibly supportive of your proposal to enact stronger pet food manufacturing safety regulations similar to those in place for food for humans. No doubt you will receive many communications from organizations determined to dilute and weaken your proposal. I choose to support strong regulation to protect health and lives. Please continue to consider the health of our animals and our population, and enact these regulations faithfully and completely.

Sincerely,

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