Compared to other causes of poisoning in dogs, food-borne illness is much less common than other sources such as drugs, insecticides, plants, rodenticides, and cleaning products. However, pet food problems such as contamination, nutrient deficiency or other causes of health problems do occur. It is not uncommon for pet owners to implicate the diet of their animal as the cause of an acute onset of intestinal illness. It is important to rule out other potential causes of sudden illness in pets before concluding that diet was the cause. Collection of food samples and laboratory analysis is often indicated to prove pet food as a cause of illness.
Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act (FDAAA).
The United States Congress signed a law in 2007 called the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act. Only a small portion of the act pertains to pet foods. A key part of the legislation was the establishment of a Reportable Food Registry that became active in 2009. Pet food companies must electronically report any incident of adulteration when there is a potential for serious adverse effects to human or animal health. It receives reports only from industry and regulatory officials, and not from veterinarians or the general public. However, there are other methods that consumers and others may report pet food problems to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Reporting potential adulteration of pet foods to the FDA.
The FDA created an electronic reporting system to allow complaints from consumers and veterinarians about pet foods. This system is separate from the system the FDA established to report problems with drugs and devices and the system for vaccines and pesticides.
In addition to the link above, the safety reporting portal can be accessed by going to the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine’s home page, clicking on the link How to Report a Pet Food Complaint, and then selecting Safety Reporting Portal.
An additional contact method is the district office consumer complaint coordinator.
An additional contact method is the blue pages of the local telephone directory.
Reporting potential adulteration of pet foods to the pet food manufacturer
The pet food manufacturer or distributor should be contacted immediately any time a problem with the quality of a pet food is suspected. By doing so, the pet food manufacturer may be able to identify a significant problem if it receives multiple complaints about a product. This should be done in addition to, not instead of, direct reporting to the FDA. However, if a significant problem is identified, the pet food company should report the problem to the FDA’s Reportable Food Registry. The pet food company can be contacted by the toll-free telephone number on the product label or through the company website.
Reporting potential adulteration of pet foods to the state government.
In the case of locally made products, it is important to notify local state officials. The state feed official is usually found in the state department of agriculture. Contacts can be located through the Association of American Feed Control Officials state directory. An additional contact method is the blue pages of the local telephone directory.