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The Big Pet Food Recall, Continued

March 23rd, 2007 · 10 Comments · Advertising, Business, Cats, Factory Farming, Food, Health, Kiwi, Mr. Blue, News, Pet Food, Pets, Politics

Kiwi Hangs OutIn the comments to my post about the Big Pet Food Recall earlier this week, AmyC pointed out that the pet food industry isn’t regulated by the FDA; instead it’s self-regulated by an industry group called the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials). And then Grendel posted this link: What’s Really in Pet Food, and he’s right, it’s truly horrifying. And if you buy commercial pet food, you should read it.

Here’s just a little, um, taste:

You may have noticed a unique, pungent odor when you open a new bag of pet food — what is the source of that delightful smell? It is most often rendered animal fat, restaurant grease, or other oils too rancid or deemed inedible for humans.

Restaurant grease has become a major component of feed grade animal fat over the last fifteen years. This grease, often held in fifty-gallon drums, may be kept outside for weeks, exposed to extreme temperatures with no regard for its future use. “Fat blenders” or rendering companies then pick up this used grease and mix the different types of fat together, stabilize them with powerful antioxidants to retard further spoilage, and then sell the blended products to pet food companies and other end users.

These fats are sprayed directly onto extruded kibbles and pellets to make an otherwise bland or distasteful product palatable. The fat also acts as a binding agent to which manufacturers add other flavor enhancers such as digests. Pet food scientists have discovered that animals love the taste of these sprayed fats.

… and those of us who have cats are left to wonder why so many of our friends wind up being diagnosed with cancer.

At this point, even Newsweek is asking whether pet food needs to be better regulated:

But on Tuesday, FDA officials admitted that the regulation of pet food takes a back seat to its regulatory obligations of other food and drug sectors, and that inspections of pet-food processing plants are done only on a for-cause basis.

“There are limited resources,” said David Elder, director of the Office of Surveillance and Compliance in the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine in Rockville, Md.

… and why are the resources too limited for the FDA to effectively regulate pet food? Blame the Republican party and its decades-long campaign to deregulate everything and starve the federal government of money for necessary programs, so that billionaires can get those sweet, sweet tax cuts. Remember how Grover Norquist famously said he wanted to drown the federal government in the bathtub? Well, he may have just drowned a bunch of cats and dogs, too.

As for me, after reading this article, I’m considering switching to Newman’s Own Organics.

Take a look at this ingredient list.

… That sounds like the right answer to me. I really like that the only meat in it is free-range chicken; as an animal lover I hate having to buy cat food with factory-farmed animals in it. That’s a conflict I felt every time I bought a bag of Science Diet, and it will feel good to leave that behind. I was only buying Science Diet because my vets have always recommended it; but after learning a little more about the money system behind those recommendations, I’m no longer willing to be held hostage by that.

So — anyone out there have any experience with Newman’s Own pet food, or know anything about it I should consider before switching? Chime in if you do, in the comments.


10 Comments so far ↓

  • amyc

    Looks like a good list! Whole, recognizable ingredients are always better than “meals” or “byproducts” or multisyllabic chemicals. Your kitties will thank you.

    If you don’t have Dr. Pitcairn’s book, you should totally get it: http://www.womenandchildrenfirst.com/NASApp/store/Product?s=showproduct&isbn=9781579549732

    It completely changed my worldview about animal care and nutrition.

  • Sonya

    I’m considering switching to Newman’s Own, I’m also considering Natural Balance: http://www.naturalbalanceinc.com/ My kitty is kind of fussy too, so it will be a question of finding a food that’s not filled with disgusting, disease causing ingredients AND one she’ll actually eat.

  • Ocelopotamus

    Yes,the slow transition is definitely key when changing foods, because they do tend to be fussy. I’ve found it’s best to start out with literally just a few kibbles of the new dry food mixed in with the regular, and then gradually increase over 2-3 weeks. The Natural Balance looks interesting, but it has lamb in it, which makes me a little ooky …

  • Sonya

    I haven’t switched to the Natural Balance dry yet, I’m pretty happy with her dry food because it’s breed specific and has special kibble shaped for her head shape. But she dove right into the Natural Balance canned. I’ve given her the Venison and Green Pea, and the Chicken and Liver Pate. Her eyes are much brighter, she seems to have more energy, and her coat looks fabulous. So I would recommend the Natural Balance canned. If anyone does try the Newman’s Own, please post how it goes! I’m curious to know how it is.

  • Ocelopotamus

    Thanks, Sonya! I’m hopefully going to pick up some of the Newman’s Own today — according to the Web site they have it at Ruff ‘n’ Stuff here in Andersonville. I’ll report on how it goes …

  • DaveS

    Beautiful kitties. Is Mr. Blue a Russian Blue? He looks similar…

    I did a ton of research in this area a few years back, and was horrified what I learned, as you’ve identified in these posts. Nutritionally, cats should get their water from food, not by drinking water to reconstitute dry kibble — it’s hell on their kidneys, and generally crap quality. Wet is the way to go. And cats should not have grains, which most mainstream pet foods contain.

    I considered raw foods, per a friend’s recommendation. This is an excellent brand: http://www.companionnaturalpetfood.com/ The sanitation and logistical issues were a bit much, and he didn’t adapt so well.

    I settled with quality cooked wet food, and wholeheartedly recommend WELLNESS brand, made by parent company Old Mother Hubbard.
    It’s not fully organic, but made from all human-grade meat products, in their own facility, and with no grains (except for flaxseed). Since I switched Tango to Wellness, he drinks hardly any water, has lost 2-1/2 lbs, and works the runway with more energy than ever. Plus his coat is amazing. The other surprise is there’s virtually nothing in the litterbox — no joke! There’s no waste as there’s no filler/junk to process (usually grains).

    I buy the large cans which are more economical, about $1.80 per, not bad at all. I go to Ruff Haus pets right next to the Rockwell Brown line stop. Great folks! I see that Ruff ‘n’ Stuff carries this too.

    Locations to buy on the North side:

    If you hear of other excellent recommendations, please post.

  • Ocelopotamus

    Mr. Blue isn’t a Russian Blue because (as I’ve learned) that’s a very precise breed and he doesn’t have all of the characteristics, but he may have some of that in him. He’s also a lot like what’s called a British Blue (see http://www.moggies.co.uk/breeds/br_blue.html). He has that big head with the full cheeks, and the muscular body.

    I’ve looked at Wellness, as well as Royal Canin and a couple of others. But the reason I’m still preferring Newman’s Own at this point is the factory farming issue — Newman’s Own is the only brand that’s telling me the meat in it doesn’t come from confined factory farmed animals. The chicken is free-range, and there’s some ocean fish in the canned food, and that’s it. If Wellness or Royal Canin or any other quality brand ever makes a similar statement, then I’ll definitely consider them again. I just don’t don’t want to buy food made from cows, sheep, pigs or other mammals who’ve been kept in horrible misery and confinement their whole lives if I can possibly avoid it. Here’s what the Newman’s Own site says about the chicken in their food:

    “Bell & Evans® Chicken – The Excellent Chicken® contains no antibiotics and is fed only a 100% natural, all-vegetable diet. Raised in abundant fresh air and provided plenty of clean water, Bell & Evans chickens provide amino acids essential for muscles, hormones, enzymes, antibodies and structural and protective tissues.”

    They also say, on their FAQ page: “Bell & Evans naturally fed ‘human grade’ chickens do not contain antibiotics, artificial preservatives, additives or colors. The chickens are humanely raised in a controlled environment and never fed rendered meat scraps containing bones, feathers, fish meal, or animal fats, oils, or grease.”

    … so that’s what’s made me a big fan at this point. I’m going to try to post an update soon about how the kitties have received it.

  • DaveS

    Definitely a comprehensive statement, and that beats 95% of “human” food these days. *sigh* But we’ll get there.

    Thanks, I’ll definitely check out the Newman’s too. Everything he (and Nell) touches turns to gold, in every sense. He did give us a shirtless Brick and his Roman features — an unmatched contribution to personkind. ;-p

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