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The FDA Betrayed Us – Truth about Pet Food

In June 2017 more than one shopper advocates met with FDA. We agreed to more than one issues (witnessed by means of five folks). We abided by means of each element of the settlement, FDA didn’t.

Dr. Karen Becker, an lawyer buddy and myself went to Washington DC in June (2017) for a gathering with FDA. Also taking part within the assembly – by the use of a convention name line – used to be Nikki and Guy Mael (the house owners of the pug that died from eating Evanger’s Pet Food). In attendance from FDA incorporated Dr. Dan McChesney (Director CVM Office of Surveillance and Compliance) and Charlotte Conway (there have been others in attendance from FDA however they aren’t pertinent to this put up). That assembly began with Nikki telling the tale of her canine’s loss of life from dog food. FDA changed into extraordinarily uncomfortable with that dialogue – and requested us what we would have liked…why have been we right here?

We mentioned with FDA the next (transient model):

We requested FDA for labeling explanation of puppy meals. Those that meet the felony necessities of meals to be termed meals. Those that don’t meet the felony necessities of meals be termed feed. FDA in particular mentioned to us this is able to be imaginable. We requested about a verification program for uncooked puppy meals that don’t reasonably meet the felony necessities of human grade. FDA in particular mentioned to us this too can be imaginable. We then moved to dialogue of period of time to enforce the above. FDA defined the quickest direction for the feed/meals labeling and verification approval can be throughout the AAFCO procedure. And FDA mentioned they might introduce the feed/meals labeling and verification on the August 2017 AAFCO assembly. FDA requested us to record the plan we mentioned and post it as an addendum to the prior to now submitted Citizen Petition and to e mail the similar record at once to them. Per this request, that record used to be submitted as addendum and emailed at once to you on July 10, 2017. (To learn the total tale of our travel to Washington DC – Click Here.)

Per our precise settlement – underneath is hyperlink to the record submitted as an addendum to our Citizen Petition (submitted July 7, 2017) and emailed at once to Dr. Dan McChesney (July 10, 2017) of FDA/CVM. Below this is hyperlink to Regulations.gov – proof to the very same record accredited and printed by means of FDA (click on on pdf icon to view).



Again – the whole thing incorporated within the above ‘Addendum’ used to be mentioned with FDA all the way through our June assembly and agreed to by means of FDA. FDA by no means instructed us this used to be unacceptable, by no means instructed us we wish to speak about different choices. There are 5 witnesses to this truth.

On August 6, 2017 – days earlier than the AAFCO assembly I emailed Dr. Dan McChesney inquiring for affirmation the company would certainly do as they agreed. My precise e mail to Dr. McChesney:

Hi Dr. McChesney –
I’ve emailed Charlotte, however have now not won a reaction. I’m simply in need of affirmation that FDA will introduce the feed/meals labeling factor we mentioned in June. It used to be mentioned on the time this may well be urged by means of FDA to be added to the Pet Food Label Modernization Working Group. Will you be going to AAFCO so that you can make this recommendation, or will this be Charlotte? We simply need this to get shifting ahead. If you want to verify FDA will make the recommendation to the Pet Food Committee – I might respect it.

On August 7, 2017 Dr. McChesney replied with:


I will be able to now not be going to AAFCO.  Charlotte goes as is Dave.  It is our goal to have Charlotte carry the labeling factor(s) on the Working Group assembly.   It is our hope that there may also be some heart flooring discovered particularly within the spaces of transparency/availability of definitions, aspect definitions and labeling this is extra consumer pleasant.  FDA started examining below the FSMA necessities of the preventive controls for animal meals laws this move September.  Inspections will increase in  2018 and states will change into extra concerned.  The focal point of the inspections had been CGMPs and in 2018 we can start having a look at meals protection plans and the way a company is controlling hazards.  While, the point of interest of those laws is aspect and product protection,  it does give us (FDA and States) a better presence and this may increasingly allow us to invite about assets of elements and to pass judgement on if attainable hazards are being managed and if the elements agree to the definitions getting used at the label.  I imagine Charlotte arrives on Wed.

Though Dr. McChesney incorporated some regarding language (“some middle ground”) – he in particular mentioned “It is our goal to have Charlotte carry the labeling factor(s) on the Working Group assembly. My thoughts used to be relaxed – FDA showed they might do their a part of the settlement.

The day previous to the Pet Food Committee assembly the place Charlotte Conway used to be to introduce “the labeling issue(s)” we met within the corridor. Witnessed by means of considered one of our workforce of attendees, I at once requested Charlotte Conway “Did you read the addendum I submitted?” She replied “Yes, I have read it.” Again, my thoughts used to be relaxed – FDA gave the impression to be doing their a part of what used to be agreed to (by means of all events).

That is till…

During the ultimate 5 mins of a 2 hours assembly Charlotte Conway mentioned the next (notice – this used to be her precise phrases, David Meeker’s precise phrases, my precise phrases – it is a quote):

Charlotte Conway: “I have a more political comment. CVM has been approached by consumer advocates and some interested consumers with interest in assuring that there is more information on pet food labels to help clarify and educate consumers as to what is in the pet food product. In our discussions, we really didn’t feel that we were going to be able to solve this problem right now. For those that have been around for years, we tried to update pet food labeling as mandated by FDAAA and it stalled out in the clearance process. And we don’t see that going forward anytime soon. And so my idea was that we could take that ask and move it into this work group – the Pet Food Label Modernization effort. I don’t think the ask is fully conceived, but the goal is very aligned with a lot of the work being done in some of these work groups. Some of what I am seeing in the ingredient work group doesn’t quite align with it, but I think my understanding it is mainly animal protein ingredients are of most concern to consumers and those are probably on the villain list. And hoping to insure that we get good information on the pet food label for consumers, I don’t know if that is creating more ingredient definitions for animal protein products so that it can be clear kind of the sourcing based on the name of the ingredient, I don’t know if it is information otherwise on the label – not the human grade we’ve already got that box but if there is other additional information to be provided on the label to talk about the source of those meat ingredients …if I’ve misconstrued Susan please let me know but I think it is mostly the meat ingredients that are a big part of the concern and we would request that these working groups consider that and consider how best to give the information to consumers about what is in the product in a clear and transparent and useful manner. I’d be happy to follow up in any discussions but I don’t have the answer today. It was just Dr. McChesney and I in that discussion that felt this was the appropriate place to take that.”

Note: FDA completely led us to imagine this used to be a method to clear up the issue. The ONLY dialogue in query used to be period of time to succeed in the labeling trade. FDA themselves mentioned the quickest method to succeed in a labeling trade used to be throughout the AAFCO procedure. We by no means as soon as requested for converting the names of elements all the way through the assembly. We by no means as soon as requested to create extra aspect definitions. Why would we ask for that after aspect definitions are owned and privately held by means of AAFCO – now not obtainable to shoppers. We by no means as soon as known as elements “villain ingredients”. We presented a unravel the place trade may just nonetheless make the most of the ones elements and on the identical time supply shoppers with transparency. We in particular instructed FDA it used to be now not our purpose to smash any aspect trade or dog food producer.

David Meeker National Renderers Association: “As a representative of those companies that make animal protein products – we have products that are on your villain list and that’s not because they are really villains its because of language and people understanding things – for example calling by products bad ingredients, they’re not. But we understand the pet food industry and the need for consumer translations. We do have customers other than pet food and we need the definitions that we have, we are very happy to help develop some new definitions, pet food grade definitions, some premium definitions.”

Susan: “That is sort of what consumers want – that we presented to FDA. But it is not per se just ingredients. It is the finished product. Pet foods are regulated as feed. This is what we approached the FDA with, they’re feed. The exception to feed is human grade – those meet all regulation of food. Consumers want to know – I have a petition that we did in just a very short time frame, we gathered almost 50,000 signatures in just a couple of weeks. 50,000 consumers want to know if they are buying feed or are they buying food. That is a very clear, quick, simple – just what we’ve been working on in our working group, the feed labeling. Plus federal law – the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act states if there is an alternate ingredient allowed, in the interest of transparency of the consumer, it must be stated on the label. Feed is not stated on pet food labels. They are labeled and marketed as food, yet they do not meet the legal requirements of food. And that’s what consumers are wanting. We are not saying get rid of them. When we went to FDA, we didn’t call them villain ingredients. We didn’t want to end them. We just want transparency. The consumer deserves to know what they are buying. Are they buying feed or are they buying food. It’s that simple.”

Charlotte: “The one comment I would have and reiterate is and I believe Dr. Solomon mentioned this and we’ve mentioned this in other talks is that at FDA at least we are clearly moving away from using the feed term. The way the law is written is it is animal food. We regulate human and animal food. And all the new publications that we are putting out we are using animal food. And so…”

Susan: “But still the FD&C Act defines food as what animals and humans consume. And it very clearly defines adulterated food – which a lot of those adulterated foods are openly allowed in feed and animal food. So that’s where there’s this problem. And if it meets food regulation, then let’s call that pet food. If it does not meet food regulation, lets call that pet feed. Let’s call it what it is.”

Charlotte: “I just don’t see that moving forward with pet feed.”

Susan: “That’s different than what you said in Washington.”

Charlotte: “That is absolutely not different than the message conveyed in Washington. At that point we mentioned the same message, that we are not using feed. We are open to supporting the addition of information to convey that there are different sources, I think Dr. Meeker’s idea about maybe coming up with pet food specific ingredient definitions to help delineate some of that – I think there are a lot of ideas to get better information – but I just don’t see pet feed going forward.”

Susan: “That is absolutely different than what you said in Washington Charlotte.”

Charlotte: “I guess we’ll disagree. But I’m open to ideas. We talked about a grading system when you were there and maybe there’s a way to set the working groups – I’m not on any of these working groups – but the working groups could come up with a grading system for pet food. But I have never recommended pet feed.”

Susan: “Ok.”

Never as soon as all the way through our assembly did FDA let us know puppy feed used to be unacceptable. Never as soon as.

I used to be blindsided by means of Charlotte Conway of FDA at AAFCO – all shoppers have been blindsided by means of Charlotte Conway of FDA. We abided by means of our a part of the settlement, FDA (in particular Charlotte Conway) didn’t.

After the above took place, the AAFCO assembly used to be adjourned. I went again to Charlotte Conway with Dr. William Burkholder of FDA at her facet – I instructed her she simply threw tens of millions of customers below the bus. Her simplest observation used to be “I’m sorry you feel that way.” I requested her once more – the similar query I requested the day prior; “Did you read the addendum that I submitted?” This time she modified her tale, this time she mentioned “No. I did not read it.” It used to be transparent she had now not learn the record, it used to be transparent considered one of two issues took place. Either Charlotte Conway has very deficient recollection talents (nope, that’s now not it) or any individual modified her thoughts (in all probability FDA’s thoughts) on our settlement.

Some unanswerable questions…why didn’t FDA simply let us know in June they wouldn’t settle for puppy feed? Why used to be that now not ever discussed – in order that we can have mentioned proper then different choices? Why did they let us know (five witnesses) something after which totally trade their tale in entrance of all the AAFCO target audience? Was the purpose to humor us in Washington DC and humiliate us in entrance of trade at AAFCO? Did they snicker once we left that day in June?…’Ha, we simply offered them a invoice of products! They believed each phrase!’ Did trade ‘influence’ FDA to betray shoppers? Do they believe we received’t struggle for our pets?

An e mail used to be despatched to Charlotte Conway’s boss – Dr. Dan McChesney – Sunday August 13, 2017. In phase that e mail mentioned…

“We really feel betrayed by means of FDA.

Consumers deserve higher than this. Consumers deserve to grasp what they’re purchasing – feed or meals. One approach or any other, we’re going to struggle to make that occur. FDA can paintings with shoppers or FDA can paintings towards shoppers. And let me remind FDA that Dr. Karen Becker has over 1 million fans in social media. With our community of shopper advocates we now have a collective following of a minimum of five million folks. And our community has many connections in main mainstream media as smartly. We are a gaggle of very made up our minds folks which can be dedicated to do what is true for dog food shoppers.

We got here to Washington DC to paintings with you. Charlotte made it very transparent FDA isn’t keen to paintings with us. If that is your feeling as smartly, so be it – we can transfer ahead with our authentic plans. It will maximum indisputably be an unpleasant very public fight – one thing we attempted to keep away from by means of coming to you first. If Charlotte spoke incorrectly, I wish to pay attention this from you very quickly with your own promise to how this may also be promptly resolved.”

Should Dr. McChesney do the fitting factor, it’s going to be shared with all. Should he now not, let the fight start. As you learn this, we’re making plans the fight. News might be shared quickly.

Personal notice to all shoppers: I vividly take note the total assembly with FDA. I vividly take note Dr. Karen Becker, our lawyer buddy and myself leaving FDA places of work feeling we simply accomplished one thing nice for shoppers. Feeling that FDA used to be in any case keen to paintings with shoppers. None people had the slightest clue FDA would betray us so dramatically. We took them at their phrase.

I’m disenchanted in myself for taking FDA at their phrase. I’m extra of a trusting soul than a non-trusting soul. I’m greater than disenchanted in FDA – for betraying our agree with in one of these public way (in entrance of 400 attendees at AAFCO). I must have recognized higher. Lesson realized. All have my phrase – this error received’t occur once more.


Still indignant however somewhat bit smarter about coping with regulatory government.


Wishing you and your puppy(s) the most productive,

Susan Thixton
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
Association for Truth in Pet Food

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The 2017 List
Susan’s List of relied on puppy meals.  Click Here


Have you learn Buyer Beware?  Click Here

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