Monday, April 02, 2007

More info on Dog Food

Ok, I'm not defending Menu Foods, I think their response to this tragedy is shameful. They are making decisions based on the bottom line, and trying desperately to cover their collective asses about this whole thing because it wil cost money to fix it.

However, even human food producers don't test every product they use. They don't test each load of ingredients, regardless of where they come from. THey might test samples now and then, but each new shipment is not checked before dumping the bag into the hopper of the machine. That doesn't happen. While I feel Menu Foods needs to step up and take responsbility for their actions, the tainted wheat was not something that would have normally been tested for, even if it was used in your wheaties.

Even if they did test, what do they test for? It doesn't seem reasonable to expect testing for "everything" -- our food producers rely on existing laws and regulations to ensure that the food they receive is "good". By choosing to import food from an unregulated country, Menu Foods made a huge mistake; but we import billions of dollars of foodstuffs from countries that do not follow our FDA rules. And even if they did follow those rules, only about 1.3% of the food imported into the US is ever inspected or tested at all. 1.3%. Scares the hell out of me, I tell you. Less than five percent of US beef is inspected. We risk eating contaminated food every time we eat something we didn't grow ourselves. And even then.

What I can't figure out is why Menu Foods and the related companies didn't approach this like the Tylenol case -- "Holy Crap! THis is awful! Something happened and we're going to get to the bottom of it. We were following the laws about food safety and apparently that wasn't enough. Here's what we're going to do...."

Instead, we get protestations that they don't really see a clear correlation, that it's someone else's fault, that they aren't liable because it was tainted when they bought it, etc. Shameful. I'm waiting for one of hte high-end dog foods (SD, Euk, etc) to start advertising that they are making food NOT at Menu Foods, even if they have to open their own plants to do so.

By the way, the shipper of the tainted wheat gluten is ChemNutra, sourcing from Xuzhour Anying. ChemNutra’s shipments commenced November 9, 2006 and ended March 8, 2007. [snip] ChemNutra shipped to supplies wheat gluten only to pet food manufacturers.

The total quantity of Xuzhou Anying wheat gluten shipped was 792 metric tons.

Wikipedia is keeping up with the story -- perhaps not as fast a breaking news, but they seem to be well fact-checked.

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