Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Public Interest in Pet Foods

8 December 2009

Center for Science in the Public Interest
1875 Connecticut Ave. N.W.
Suite 300
Washington, D.C. 20009

To CSPI:

Your analyses of foods and additives provide very important guidance for people to understand healthy and unhealthy diet choices. I write to ask you to look at pet foods from the same perspective. I can provide documentation and scientific information for all of the points cited below.

Problem

More than 90% of companion animals (cats, dogs, ferrets) in the US are fed commercial diets. Kibbles and canned pet foods contain high percentages of cooked starches. Cats, dogs, and ferrets are carnivores that evolved to eat diets of whole prey – raw muscle and organ meats and meaty bones. Carnivorous pets’ health depends on having a diet of raw-meaty-bones to clean their teeth and to provide appropriate nutrition.

Kibbles and canned mush coat pets’ teeth with gummy sludge that harbors bacteria that cause periodontal disease. Veterinary dental authorities admit that 85% of dogs and 75% of cats have diseased mouths by three years of age. Gum diseases pour toxins into the blood stream, infecting major organs and stressing the immune system. Commercial pet foods condemn carnivorous pets to chronic illnesses and premature deaths. Pet owners are victimized by unnecessary veterinary expenses, and pets suffer shorter lifetimes of poor health.

Commercial pet foods are made from human waste products by the same global companies that dominate the human, processed-food market. The Big Three -- Mars, Nestle-Purina, and Proctor & Gamble -- enjoyed $15 billion in 2008 sales in the US alone. Globally, these companies sold more than $40 billion in pet foods in 2008. Pet foods are enormously profitable for these companies, a bright sector in an otherwise stagnant processed-food market.

Collusion

For 50 years, the Big Three have invested in veterinary training, research, and practice. Pet-food companies fund small-animal, veterinary medicine. Vets employed by pet-food companies teach small animal nutrition in vet schools. They write the textbooks. Mars, Nestle-Purina, and Proctor & Gamble provide scholarships, prizes, and research support for veterinary students; research and travel funds, and continuing education for faculty. Pet-food companies teach and fund a large percentage of continuing education courses in small animal medicine. Veterinary buildings, professorships, hospital wings, and pet memory gardens are named by pet-food companies. Once in practice, veterinarians earn up to 40% of their incomes from sales of commercial pet foods.

The Big Three fund animal welfare and purebred pet organizations. Employees of, and consultants for, pet food companies populate pet food regulatory committees in the NRC and AAFCO. There are no appropriate standards or safeguards for pet foods in this country. Advertisements of commercial pet foods are permitted to make outrageous health claims that are simply untrue. Pet-food labels are allowed to be entirely deceptive. Put simply, the pet-food industry funds and controls companion animal medicine, advocacy organizations, and pet-food regulatory bodies.

Information for Consumers

Pet owners do not know that their dogs, cats, and ferrets require a diet of raw meats and meaty bones to stay healthy. They do not know that expensive vet bills for continual allergies, digestive problems, heart, kidney, and liver diseases come from feeding monotonous diets of cooked starches. Most pets today are considered family members. Pet owners do not knowingly feed diets that make their cherished pets sick.

CSPI can make an enormous contribution to the health of some 66 million dogs and cats, and to the finances of their US pet owners, by informing consumers about pet diets. Because the same collusion of veterinarians and animal welfare organizations with pet-food manufacturers exists in all developed countries, CSPI’s investigation and publication of reliable information about pet diets will have worldwide impact.

I have extensive information from FOI inquiries in US veterinary schools on pet-food company influence on training and research. A few veterinarians, who have worked for pet-food companies, have written exposes of pet-food company corruption of their profession. The Internet provides a treasure trove of data on pet-food company control of regulatory bodies and animal advocacy organizations.

Like the pharmaceutical-company scandal in medicine, pet-food companies’ control of small animal medicine is a scandal waiting to be exposed. Of more importance to consumers, commercial kibbles and canned mush must be examined and exposed as the junk pet-foods they are. CSPI has done extensive research and published widely on human foods. Informing consumers about commercial pet-foods is a natural extension of that work. I stand ready to help in that effort in any way possible.

Sincerely,
Sandra Scarr

2 comments:

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