Pet Food Safety Concerns & the Dog Food Advisor (part II)
A reader wrote some very hostile and malicious comments. Being that this website is my personal space, I feel that I cannot allow such nastiness in MY home. It’s fine to disagree, but there are ways that are tactful and more productive. My article was NOT meant to be a personal tirade against Mike Sagman at the Dog Food Advisor. I feel that I made legitimate statements throughout my article.
In his rant, my attention was called to a detail that I was unaware of (as he is unaware of as well). He stated, “…I also don’t understand how you can attack his rating system since it uses federally regulated information that has to be on pet food labels before it is allowed for sale in the US.” He was defending the Dog Food Advisor (DFA) by pointing out that the ratings are based government regulations.
How could the DFA report accurate information if the information on the labels are not correctly monitored? “Most states don’t have the budget to enforce the low truth-in-advertising standards in place, and in Canada there is NO mandate in any province to even check these. In the US where the states DO have a mandate, the rules are fairly lax and enforcement is almost non-existent. Manufacturers are allowed a variance of +/- 10% for any of their “guaranteed” nutrients. This means that if the manufacturer is declaring 25% protein they can actually produce it at 22.5% protein and not be illegal. ”
He, like most of us is under the impression that dog food has regulations that are ENFORCED. I am glad he mentioned this so that I could let you know about the facts. Although the DFA accurately posts the label information, it means very little. Therefore, his website is not a bible so to speak. In each category, he doesn’t state anything with regard to regulations or lack thereof or anything about variances.
“…in Canada, where the pet food industry is unregulated, any Quality Assurance program or need for pet food testing is open to the company to do whatever it wants.” Testing methods are insufficient and the standard practice for testing is for tiny samples to be examined by in-house staff as opposed to by third parties. Did you notice that I used the word “staff” in the previous sentence? Much of the testing is automated and doesn’t require trained scientists. I was under the impression that Canadian standards were far more stringent than those of the USA. I was mistaken so I stand corrected on that point. Both countries have insufficient practices in place. More proof that testing practices are inferior is that if testing were to be properly performed, there wouldn’t be so many recalls.
“The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), encouraged consumers to believe that pet food manufacturers would be held accountable for toxic foods and ingredients. Despite the recent increase in recalls, many pet food companies are still playing roulette with out pets’ health.” Not all manufacturers conduct business this way, but I think that the numbers of sick pets speak volumes. It is likely that the few manufacturers that invest the big bucks for testing might be eager to provide that information to their consumers in their advertising campaigns.
I just want to clearly state that I my issues with DFA are neither the result of a sour grapes attitude nor does my communication of facts and/or opinions stem from nastiness or hostility.
I am also glad that the writer who made such vicious comments wrote to me so I could further research and clarify any inaccuracies in the information provided by that website. Based on the information in this article, you can understand that the label information that the DFA provides is likely to be inaccurate because the website is providing label information that is very likely to be inaccurate. I just think that the website falls short. It is just that to make ratings on dog food based on information that is not even being properly regulated is missing the mark. I DO feel that the website is well-intended, but it just leaves too much leg work for the consumer. When the majority of people see star ratings, we get the impression that those ratings are comprehensive. Mike DOES mention that the consumer needs to do their own research. The problem is, that people don’t read the fine print. That is NOT Mike’s fault. He has a bunch of statements on each page regarding the products he rates. That is great. One statement expresses that the DFA is not irresponsible for inaccuracies because products change from time to time. That’s fine. However, he copies the label information without the knowledge of the testing and reporting standards of the manufacturers and without taking regulation (or the lack thereof) into consideration. Again. I think it is just a matter of not being aware. That writer has helped me in finding more issues within the DFA. He could have been a bit more tasteful in his manner, but he sparked my curiosity to explore and do further research. To read my first article about this subject, see Issues with the Dog Food Advisor Website.
*This article is accurate at the time that it was published – August 6th 2014. Website content and products on DFA and Chewy’s might change thereafter.
|Ringo, Maria. “Are We Getting Any Safer With New Pet Food Testing Rules?.” Dogs Naturally Sep. – Oct. 2014: 35, 36, 37. Print.|