Until the recent Menu Foods recall of over 60 million cans and packages of pet food, Canadians were ignorant to the many dark secrets about our pet food industry. Since March 16, 2007, a host of other pet food manufacturers have joined in recalling their products when they discovered their wet or dry pet foods contained the contaminant melamine. Royal Canin has recently been called to task for overdosing our pets with Vitamin D. What will we trusting pet owners be poisoning our pets with next?

There is NO regulation over the manufacture and sale of pet food in Canada.

Canadians need to band together and stand firm in our demand that the pet food industry in Canada is regulated once and for all. We need to make sure not one more pet becomes ill or dies from tainted pet food. We need to know for certain the food we feed our pets lives up to the claims that its ingredients are as nutritionally balanced as the pet food companies say they are.

Now is the time for action. Please take a few minutes to send a letter to your local MP, and to the leaders of our country to let them know that Canadians are calling for the pet food industry to be regulated.

Sample letters are provided in the link to the right of the page, below the flag. Simply follow the link then save the file to your computer. Links are also provided with contact information for various elected officials. Feel free to personalize the sample letters or write your own. Send letters to as many people as possible. We need to get the word out there and let the government know that we mean business!

The moderators of this site – who we are:

Carol:After my cat was diagnosed with diabetes, I learned that the 'prescription' dry food I had been feeding him had likely caused the disease. I changed his diet and he is now nearly off insulin after a few short months. I have joined the campaign for pet food regulation because I believe that our precious pets should be provided with safe, high quality nutrition.

Linda: My cat became severely ill after eating one of the foods manufactured by Menu Foods. Fortunately, after four intensive days of care, my cat is now in good health. Thousands of others were not so lucky. I joined the campaign for pet food regulation because I want to make sure that pet owners and their beloved pets never have to go through this kind of crisis again.

Mel: Since having one of my cats diagnosed with diabetes and the other with inflammatory bowel disease in the past year, both which likely would have been preventable with proper diet, I have become passionate about feline nutrition and the need for regulation of the pet food industry.

In addition, there are many more working behind the scenes who are involved with doing research, providing information, campaigning and getting the word out there.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Link correction

From the post on the pet food forum; the link has been fixed. It was pointing to the wrong article.

The following is a link to a handout of Dr. Hodgkins' talk:Safe Pet Foods and Truthful Labels: Are They Possible? Elizabeth Hodgkins DVM, Esq.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Pet Nutrition Forum Friday May 18: Update

The Pet Nutrition Forum held Friday May 18th was a success. Community response was positive and a lot of useful information was presented. A follow-up forum will be held at a later date, to be determined, so watch here for information.

The following is a link to a handout of Dr. Hodgkins' talk:
Safe Pet Foods and Truthful Labels: Are They Possible?
Elizabeth Hodgkins DVM, Esq.

Also present at the meeting was one of the co-authors of the following article, Cory Haggart:
Pet Food & Nutrition: A Necessary Review For Veterinarians This article offers a Canadian perspective on the pet food industry and the current status of pet nutrition. It's a must-read for pet owners and vets alike.

Olivia Chow, MP, spoke about her Private Members Bill for regulation of the pet food industry in Canada. The bill is currently being drafted and more information will be provided here as it becomes available. In the meantime, she advised to continue writing to your elected representatives, the Minister of Agriculture, party leaders and opposition critics to let your feelings be known about the issue.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Can food safety be solved with testing?

Minister of Agriculture Chuck Strahl (among others) has stated that testing would not have detected the contaminants in the recalled foods. Itchmo.com has some interesting commentary on that thought, pasted below. Click here to go to the original blog post on Itchmo's site.

Can food safety be solved with testing?

Pet food companies have maintained that testing would not have caught melamine spiking since it was so unexpected. But two issues have raised doubts about just how much testing was done in the first place.

  1. Spiking food ingredients with fake-protein was so widespread, there were cases in the US as well as brazen requests for melamine scraps by food makers in China.
    The FDA said pet food makers
    received wheat flour, not wheat gluten. Two substances very different from each other.
  2. Melamine was visible in the tainted foods.
  3. Now, companies are beefing up their testing processes and offering new testing services. We don’t think that testing will catch every possible problem. We believe the industry must escape its “who can get to the bottom the fastest” mentality, and look to raise the bar by finding partners and suppliers they can trust, while giving consumers the most honest, accurate, and up-to-date information to make informed decisions.

Pet food okayed despite misgivings

An article appeared in the Vancouver Sun on Saturday May 12 reporting that Tri-Natural Products Inc. of Manotick, Ont, who has Canadian distribution rights for "gourmet" food produced by Fromm, has imported pet food from China. The food is slated to hit stores this summer.
"Despite serious misgivings about the credibility of China's veterinary system, Ottawa gave approval earlier this year to allow a Canadian company import "gourmet" pet food from two Chinese plants that produce food only for human consumption."

Click here to read the full article.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Great Pet Food Scandal

Maclean's magazine published a very interesting article this month "The Great Pet Food Scandal" "How one supplier caused a huge crisis, and why it's just the tip of the iceberg..." The article covers the history of Menu Foods and how it came to be such a huge influence in the pet food industry, talks about the problems with the current system in Canada, and tells the stories of some of the families affected.
"Sometime in the next couple of years, when the public gaze has drifted from the tainted pet food epidemic and we've all forgotten what melamine is, a judge in Ohio or California or Ontario will take up the daunting question of what a dog or cat is worth. There was considerable legal debate on this topic even before the current uproar. But if an animal's curative effect on the human heart plays any part in the calculation, the courts might start at a small house in Floral Park, N.Y., where the wounds wrought by the poisoning epidemic will stay raw for a long time to come...."

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Ontario MPP Rosario Marchese hosts Community Forum on Pet Nutrition

Rosario Marchese, Ontario MPP for Trinity-Spadina is hosting a Community Forum on Pet Nutrition.
Note: Seating is limited. Please call to register at 416-603-9664.

Date: Friday, May 18, 2007
Location: Cecil Street Community Centre, 58 Cecil St, Toronto(Cecil and Spadina, just south of College)
Time: 7:30 pm

Guest speakers include:

Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins, DVM, ESQ.
Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins has over 30 years of experience as a veterinarian. Her book, Your Cat: Simple Secrets to a Longer, Stronger Life takes on the pet food industry and advises pet owners how to provide safe pet nutrition. Dr. Hodgkins recently testified as an “expert witness” at the US Congressional Investigation into pet food in Washington, DC.

Olivia Chow, MP Trinity-Spadina
Olivia Chow will be discussing her proposed Private Members Bill on pet food regulation.

Click to view downloadable pdf of flyer here

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Keep those letters coming!! Some progress.

This out of the Canadian Press today:

"Strahl chomps down on pet food problem, launches regulatory review"

Global News Story

We have their attention, now we need to keep the pressure on. Keep writing letters and emails...the CFIA needs to know that this is an important issue to Canadians!

Hearing on Pet Food Safety

On April 12, the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations held a hearing on Pet Food Safety. This is of interest to Canadians because much of our pet food is manufactured and tested to current US standards only. Of note, according to this story on ctv.ca, Menu Foods was asked to attend the hearing, but they requested that the Pet Food Institute, an industry trade association, appear instead.

For a limited time, the 2 hour hearing can be seen here (requires RealPlayer)

Transcribed testimony of all the participants can be found here.

Of particular interest was the testimony of Duane Ekedahl, of the Pet Food Institute. A clip of his testimony can be found on here

In addition, the Pet Food Institute issued a statement following the hearing. The statement, along with a rebuttal by Dr. Hodgkins can be found in the post below. A must-read for anyone feeding commercial foods. She also submitted supplemental testimony, which can be found on howl911.com

Rebuttal to Pet Food Industry Response to Hearings Held April 12, 2007

Today, April 13, 2007, the pet food industry has issued a broadly published statement and Q & A to counter testimony and questioning that occurred yesterday in Washington DC before the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee investigating the recent pet food contamination recalls. Much of what has been published is incorrect and the industry’s way of trying to do damage control. The following is the text of the industry’s message and my rebuttals to that message: (pet food statements are in italics, my rebuttal in bold):

The pet food industry remains a partner in the investigation with the FDA and has cooperated with state and federal regulators since evidence leading to the recall first surfaced. The industry will continue cooperate fully with any other official investigations relating to this incident.

The FDA’s investigation is ongoing and has not reached any conclusions about how any foreign substances entered the process. I think it’s presumptuous to additional regulatory measures at this time. Only when we have this information can we make an accurate and informed decision.

The industry representative insisted that the industry is cooperating fully in this investigation, yet when asked how long it had taken Menu Foods to report to the FDA about the toxins in their food, he admitted that he did not know. The time to report, which is well documented at 3 weeks, would have been something he would have known had the industry been fully involved and cooperating with this investigation. The industry wants this to go away, not be fully investigated so that better quality control measures can be implemented.

How Pet Foods Are Regulated
Pet foods are one of the most highly regulated food products. They are required by law to provide on their labels more information than most human foods. State departments of agriculture provide standards and enforcement policies for regulation of manufacture of pet foods resulting in safe foods. Ingredients in pet food must be acceptable to state authorities. In the March 23 press conference Sundlof also stated that regulation of pet foods is the same as human foods.

Pet foods are far from regulated as human foods are. 4D meat (meat from dead, dying, diseased or disabled animals) CANNOT be used for human food, but it CAN be used in pet foods and is used routinely by at least some manufacturers. Other ingredients that would not be allowed in human foods, such as rendered tissues, are allowed in pet foods. Further, human food health claims are very difficult for human food makers to get. Virtually ALL pet foods contain unsubstantiated claims for safety, completeness and balance that NO HUMAN FOOD in the world would ever be able to get. While some pet foods are likely to be adequate food for pets, many are not, yet there is no testing done to differentiate the good from the bad in this self-regulated industry. FDA has delegated the responsibility of pet food regulation to an association known as AAFCO. AAFCO itself ADMITS it has NO regulatory AUTHORITY or enforcement capabilities, so although there are several layers of APPARENT regulation, there is actually no regulation of pet foods today.

Pet food manufacturers are responsible for producing safe products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and state governments provide the rules, guidance and oversight under which safe pet food is produced. FDA requires pet food to be wholesome, contain no harmful or deleterious substances, and to be truthfully labeled.

Yes, pet food companies are responsible for producing safe products, and they have failed many times in the past, at least 3 times in the past 18 months. To say they are responsible for doing something is quite different from saying they are ACTUALLY doing it. The facts speak for themselves on this point. The pet food industry has breached the FDA’s mandate of them because they are self-regulated!

How Ingredients and Finished Pet Foods Are Tested
Pet food ingredients undergo significant testing for safety and quality assurance including screening for mycotoxins (including aflatoxin), bacteria (including Salmonella and E.Coli) and nutrient content. Furthermore the finished product is analyzed to ensure appropriate nutrient levels, evaluating protein (including 11 amino acids), fat, fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

This is an untruth. Many if not most pet food ingredients undergo no testing whatsoever. If this statement were true, we would not have repeated pet food aflatoxin toxicity problems as we do. We also would not have had a recent and very serious toxicity problem in a major pet food from excess Vitamin D supplementation. This statement merely describes what is SUPPOSED to happen, not what really DOES happen. The facts speak for themselves.

A Consumer's Guide to Pet Food: Valuable Information for Pet Owners Veterinarians agree that pets are living longer, healthier lives since the use of commercially prepared pet foods became widespread. Decades of research have gone into the development of pet food to make sure the special nutrition needs of pet dogs and cats are met.

Veterinarians DO NOT agree about this, they can’t, it is totally unproven. Evidence about changes in the life span of pets over the past several decades is sparse, and no scientist would dare draw the conclusion that pets today live longer on average than pets 30-40 years ago because of commercial pet foods, for example. What does seem clear is that today’s indoor pets live much longer than those that live outdoors. The evidence for this conclusion is strong. Those who would give commercial pet food even partial credit for this increase in life expectancy in the indoor pet, however, have absolutely no evidence to back up this conclusion. There are many factors that affect the life span of pet animals under indoor and outdoor circumstances. Indoor pets are more protected from death due to automobiles and predators, they are more protected from exposure to infectious disease and often receive more medial care than outdoor pets, to name just a few of the important differences between these two groups. It is easy to sweep commercial food consumption right along with all of these other factors as contributing to longer life in today’s pets. Unfortunately for this particular factor, there is no reason to believe it has anything to do with the longer life of house pets. Let’s look at an analogy to understand how this might be so.Humans in the US enjoy longer life expectancy today than they did fifty years ago. During those decades of improving average life span, those same people have consumed ever-increasing amounts of fat-laden, sugary, carbohydrate-rich “fast” food and other types of over-processed “convenience” foods. We are far more obese today than in decades past, and human nutritionists nag us endlessly about changing our diets to include better quality, fresh whole foods. Imagine anyone believing that this increasing consumption of highly processed “fast” foods and increasing obesity is the reason, or even makes a positive contribution to our increasing life spans! We are living longer in spite of our diets, not because of them. Many other factors, such as less tobacco smoking, the use of seatbelts, better prenatal and postnatal care, and astonishing high-tech medical advancements for defeating disease and injury account for our increasing life spans. Our convenience-oriented diets are actually working against longer life, but cannot defeat all of these other strong protective factors in our lives.So it is with our pets. When they live indoors, they live longer than if they lived outdoors, but commercial foods likely have no part in adding those extra years. Like our own “overprocessed” diets, they may even be depriving our pets of even greater health and longevity. If you hear anyone make the flat statement that pets are living longer BECAUSE of commercial foods, demand to see the scientific data for that statement!

What does "complete and balanced" mean?

Unlike most foods for people, many pet food products are designed to be the sole source of nutrition for a pet dog or cat. Products that are labeled "complete and balanced," as defined by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), have been tested to make sure they meet the complex nutritional requirements of a healthy dog or cat.

No, they have NOT been tested to make sure they meet the requirements of healthy pets! Only a very few “sample” diets have even been tested on any animals for even 6 months. Considering that cats have a natural lifespan of 20 years or more, and dogs can live 10-20 years depending on breed, 6 months is NOT long enough and 6 animals is not anywhere close to a statistically valid number to even prove a 6 month claim. This is one of the most serious and most misleading of the untruths that pet food companies make about their foods.

What does it mean on a pet food label that a product has been tested using animal feeding trials?

There are two ways a pet food company can test the nutrition of its products. One method is the use of standardized animal feeding trials, designed by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), to make sure their products meet the complex nutritional requirements of dogs and cats. The animals in these tests are fed the food for six months and are closely monitored to make sure they stay healthy. A product using this test will have language similar to the following on the label - "Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that Nancy's Food for Dogs provides complete and balanced nutrition for all life stages."

This is almost a completely truthful answer, because it admits that this “study” only last six months. This answer omits two important factors: there are only a handful of animals tested, and only a few sample diets are even tested on those few animals for those few months.

Are fillers used in pet food?

Every ingredient used in pet food is there for a reason. Decades of research have gone into making pet foods that meet the nutritional needs of dogs and cats. The makers of pet food do not put in anything that's not needed.

There is almost no research on any pet food anywhere that can be considered scientific by any genuine scientist. Whether reused vegetable oil and rendered animal scraps and wood cellulose is “needed” by any dog or cat is very highly questionable by intelligent and well trained experts. The cat has absolutely no need for carbohydrates, for example, yet all dry cat food has PLENTY of this cheap ingredient that is required for dry food processing. Further, the acids that pet food companies put into “urinary tract diets” can and do even cause other diseases, proving that those acidifiers are not only not needed, but are even harmful to many cats. Pet food companies absolutely DO put things in pet food that are not needed and that can even cause harm.

What is ingredient "splitting?"

Some people incorrectly believe pet food makers split up ingredients to give the illusion that some ingredients are at higher concentrations than others. Pet food makers are required to carefully label their products according to stringent government regulations. Just as the case with food for people, pet foods must clearly state what ingredients are included in the product. Each ingredient in pet food is there for a reason and to serve a nutritional purpose.

The "stringent" ingredient regulations have been developed by the industry in concert with AAFCO. AAFCO has no real authority over the pet food companies, and goes along with the desires of an industry that, by the admission of the FDA, is a good way for by-products of American agriculture to “dispose” of those by-products of agriculture that are not fit for or undesirable for humans to eat. Many ingredients in pet food serve no nutritional purpose in our pets, but keep farmers and ranchers from having to throw them away.An example of ingredients splitting: Pet food companies who wish to disguise the amount of cereals in their products will list several different cereals in stead of using just one (not top quality cereals either) so that what meat IS in their products will legally be listed as the one of the first ingredients. In many, if not most of these foods, cereal actually makes up the majority of the food, but consumers see “chicken” as one of the top 2-3 ingredients and think that chicken is a predominant component of the food. This is “smoke and mirrors.”The regulations may demand that the ingredients be listed in order of predominance, but there is NO prohibition against the sleight of hand described in this example. The pet food industry is an ineffectively regulated 15 billion dollar industry that produces everything your pet eats, day in day out. This should make you want to know a lot more about what is going into those cans and bags, and into your pet!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Campaign Poster!

We've designed a poster to raise awareness of the campaign. We would be grateful if you could print some copies off and post in your local pet shops, veterinary offices, grocery stores, etc. At the same time, you could print off some copies of MP Olivia Chow's petition and drop them off too. Every little bit helps!

The link for the poster & petition can be found on the right of this page as well.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Some Recent Updates

The Toronto Star published an editorial in support of pet food regulation on April 9th. You can read the article here

The campaign in the US is making some progress. There is a Senate Hearing scheduled for today, April 12, 2pm EST. Speaking in support of improved regulation is Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins. You can read more on her position in her letters to here and here. The hearings will be webcast live; scroll to the bottom of the page to find the Webcast link. It appears that the webcasts are archived so if you miss the 2pm hearings, they should be available after the fact.

Breaking news on Tuesday: the CFO of Menu Foods Income Fund sold nearly half his stock a couple of weeks prior to the recall. ""It's a horrible coincidence, yes . . ." Wiens told The Globe."
Links to the story: Globe and Mail CTV News

Up to 39,000 pets may have been affected by the tainted pet food according to extrapolated data from Banfiield, The Pet Hospital. They have combined data from more than 615 of their veterinary hospitals in the U.S. Link to the story: CTV News

Finally, thanks to julie who posted a link to The Farley Foundation in Ontario; "The Farley Foundation helps sick and injured pets that belong to low-income seniors and people with disabilities." If you know of any other like organizations in Canada, please email us and we will post them on the site.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Reporting Pet Deaths or Illness

Please check the links for a new section on reporting. We now have contact information for reporting pet deaths or illness due to contaminated food in Canada. If you believe your pet became ill or died due to eating contaminated food, please send the report in to the CFIA using the link provided. Please also fill out the form for the Pet Connection Self-report database. Pet Connection has been keeping stats since the beginning of the Menu Foods Recall. Up-to-date Statistics from the database can be found here

Friday, April 6, 2007

Launch of the Canadian Campaign for Pet Food Regulation

Welcome pet lovers!

This site was created in response to the need for regulation in the pet food industry in Canada. Most of us have no idea about the state of pet food regulation until we are faced with illness in our pets. Now, with the recent Menu Foods recall, more and more Canadians – those with sick and those with healthy pets - are questioning the safety and quality of what we are feeding our pets. We need to tell the government that this is not acceptable. Please contact your elected representatives and let them know that you care about this issue. We’ve provided some sample letters you can use in the links to the right, or you can write your own. Personalize them as you see fit. Links to contact information for recipients is also provided for you.

We’ve also provided many links with lots of useful information on pet food regulation, recall info and cat and dog nutrition.

Please email us if there’s a link, article or information you’d like us to consider posting. Share your comments and feedback!

Finally, share this site with everyone you know, whether they have pets or not. Every letter, every email, every phone call counts so please spread the word. We will soon be posting a link to a poster you can print off and post on your local bulletin boards. Come back to the site often for updates – we will post events as they happen to keep you apprised of progress and new developments.