Here is a letter written to consumer reports by Susan Thixton on their recent article on cutting dog costs (including purchasing cheap pet food):
Dear Mr. McKean,
Your August 2011 edition of Consumer Reports magazine is providing pet parents with misleading and incorrect information. If Consumer Reports truly is a publication wishing to provide accurate and beneficial information to consumers/petsumers, I urge you to read the following...
In your August 2011 Consumer Reports article titled 'Tame Your Pet Costs', specifically the 'Don't pay a premium for premium pet food' section, your publication has provided pet food consumers with inaccurate and damaging information. You state there is no 'real' premium pet food and suggest to pet parents that Walmart's Ol' Roy Dog Food at $0.34 cents a pound is just as good as any higher priced pet food.
Please allow me to explain your misunderstanding of the pet food industry. Although all food, including dog and cat food, should be protected by federal food safety law (the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act), you should know that the FDA has provided the pet food industry with special provisions (known officially as Compliance Policies) to avoid prosecution should a pet food not abide by federal law.
FDA Compliance Policy CPG Sec. 675.400 allows pet food to contain diseased animals rejected for use in human food and/or euthanized animals to become pet food ingredients. (CPG Sec. 675.400 Rendered Animal Feed Ingredients)
FDA Compliance Policy CPG 690.500 allows 4D animals (dead, dying, disabled or diseased) to be processed as pet food ingredients. (CPG Sec. 690.500 Uncooked Meat for Animal Food)
FDA Compliance Policy CPG Sec. 675.100 allows rodent, roach, or bird excreta infested ingredients to be processed as pet food ingredients. (CPG Sec. 675.100 Diversion of Contaminated Food for Animal Use)
And last but not least, FDA Compliance Policy CPG Sec. 690.300 states "Pet food consisting of material from diseased animals or animals which have died otherwise than by slaughter, which is in violation of 402(a)(5) will not ordinarily be actionable, if it is not otherwise in violation of the law. It will be considered fit for animal consumption." (CPG Sec. 690.300 Canned Pet Food)
Consumer Reports should be aware that (thank heavens) there are some pet food manufacturers that would never consider sourcing meat ingredients from diseased or euthanized animals; some pet food manufacturers source pet food ingredients from USDA Choice or Prime meats. However, what Consumer Reports should inform pet parents of is that AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) do NOT allow any reference to grade or quality of ingredients on pet food labels. In other words, an uninformed pet parent (and uninformed Consumer Reports researcher) can walk into a pet store and upon brief examination of hundreds (thousands) of pet food labels, all of them look similar. Regulations require them to look similar. An uninformed pet parent (and uninformed Consumer Reports researcher) could assume that because all the labels seems to say the same thing (healthy, choice, premium) why pay $50 or more for a bag of dog food or cat food when you can purchase Walmart's Ol' Roy at $0.34 cents a pound? But, as you now know, all of these pet foods are far from similar.
Many if not most pet parents consider their pets family; would you feed your family meat from a diseased animal? Would you feed your family meat from a euthanized animal; including the lethal drug used to kill the animal? I assume your response would be no. Then why/how can you suggest feeding the same to millions of pet parents.
Common sense does apply here. A food to sustain quality life, day in and day out that costs $0.34 cents a pound? In this day and age? Seriously?
Your publication and website states you provide "Expert Unbiased Product Ratings & Reviews". Are you aware that Dr. Sarah Abood, the veterinarian Consumer Reports consulted for this pet food savings segment, is a paid advisor for Purina Pet Food? Does Consumer Reports believe a pet food manufacturer advisor would be unbiased?
Mr. McKean, the ball is in your court. If Consumer Reports truly is looking out for consumers, then you will promptly publish a follow up article properly informing pet parents of the real quality (and lack of quality) of pet foods. If Consumer Reports truly is an advocate for consumer/petsumers, then your Consumers Union will help pet parents end the horrendous FDA Compliance Policies and force pet food labels to provide clear, concise label information to petsumers. But, on the other hand, if Consumer Reports is a publication and organization that is solely interested in profits (selling magazine subscriptions), you'll do nothing. We anxiously await your response.
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Very well written....
Tsk tsk. That's all I have to say. Oh, and how utterly disappointing.
Great letter, if more people knew what actually was in the food some may change their minds. But then again some won't, because they just don't care.
Have a Great Bully Day.
Member of The Bulldog Club of America, The Bulldog Club of Texas and French Bulldog Club of America.
Bully hugs from - BeBe, Hazel, Lucy Lu, JLO, Hillary, Henri & Katie
I am sending that letter to the "friends" I have that feed their dogs junk!!!! Maybe that will help to open their eyes....
Amen to that!!!!
Kim, Lord Sebastian, Sir Oliver, Remy Le Beau, and Gracie Lou <3
GREAT letter! Am curious to see what comes out of it.
Wow...shame on consumer reports.
Here is their response, and Susan's response:
Dear Ms. Susan Thixton:
Thank you for writing us regarding our August 2011 report, "Tame your pet costs."
We appreciate and understand your feedback concerning our pet food advice. Please know that we value the knowledge and experience consumers like you share with us. For that reason, your e-mail has been shared with Mr. McKean and other Consumer Reports' staff members.
Our pet food buying advice is grounded in pricing and nutrition, specifically on nutritional standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials. As we note, pet foods meeting the AAFCO's minimum standards should be "adequate for the vast majority of healthy pets." Of course, individual pet owners are the final authority on the food their pets eat, and will make decisions based on multiple factors, including their pets' needs.
Thank you again for taking the time to write. Consumer Reports is committed to making your experiences positive and informative.
Customer Relations Representative
And this is what I followed up to CR - Patrick Burns Customer Relations Representative...
You state "our pet food buying advice is grounded in pricing and nutrition, specifically on nutrition standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials." I have to ask, does CR even have a copy of the AAFCO Official Publication? If not, how can you advise pet parents on 'standards' you have not read or do not understand? Has CR even read the FDA Compliance polices related to all animal food?
I don't mean to be harsh, yet I am very frustrated with your original advise to pet parents and your response to me. I would like a response to above questions.
Wow. Although still new to this forum (and getting closer in my search for my Bullie pup), I have to again say Thank You All!
Not being new to true AKC dog breeds, I have discovered myself fortunate to find owners who actually care not just about what affects themselves, but others, as well as the breed and are willing to share their knowledge and experience.
Yet again... Thanks!
I'd also be interested in consumer reports final response. Thankfully someone with enough knowledge called them out!