Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Pet food recalls: They happen often (and you may never hear about it)

Liam the pug with an empty food bowl

In 2007, when a significant amount of pet food was recalled after it began to sicken and even kill pets around the country, news outlets rushed to cover the story. I heard about it on the radio, on the web and in the newspaper, all in the same day. In addition, when I went in to my neighborhood pet store, I saw a huge sign indicating that the food had been recalled.

At the time, I thought this was how all pet food recalls were handled. As it turns out, this isn't quite true.

Today, I stumbled articles about yet another pet food recall. The list of banned items includes some low-cost brands such as Kirkland, but it also includes some high-end pet foods that I've used in the past, including Wellness, Natural Balance and Canidae.

While the state I live in is not impacted by this recall directly, this is the first time I've heard about the recall. Pets are being sickened, but it seems that the news about the danger lurking in food bags isn't being shared extensively. And, I'm almost positive that some people who feed high-end pet foods may think they're safe from manufacturing problems, due to the price they pay for the food. It seems they're sadly mistaken.

What is a responsible pet owner to do?

For starters, it pays to search for information on your pet food on a regular basis. A quick search, performed several times per year, can help you spot recalls in the making, and allow you to make good decisions about the food you provide for your pets.

In addition, it pays to develop a close relationship with one pet food provider. People who buy products from grocery stores, or who scour the web looking for good prices and therefore make purchases from multiple sellers, may be solely responsible for tracking recalls. By using the same sales staff, who knows what you buy and how often you buy it, you can share the load for recall awareness. When you come in to buy food, you can share any recall information you've found. And hopefully, your sales staff will do the same and notify you directly if any food you've purchased there is later recalled.

In 2007, Maggie ate some of that contaminated food on a regular basis. While she didn't develop any long-term problems, she did develop urinary problems at the time, likely due to the contaminants in the food. It just takes one episode like this to make an owner leery of recalls and food safety. I know I'm wiser as a result of the incident. Here's hoping this latest recall will not cause any long-lasting problems in any of the pets (and their owners) who have been exposed to the tainted food.