Toonces the driving cat

FDA arrested: Found asleep at the wheel – again!

Toonces the driving cat

 Our trusted servants

So, lets see, it’s been roughly three years since the Menu Food catastrophe and our trusted servants, the FDA still has not implemented the Pet Event Tracking Network (PETNet). Today in the Federal Register the FDA announced it is moving toward that goal at glacial speed and are asking for public comments.

How many more pets need to die before they get their ass in gear? I mean, the pet food industry just had another huge pet food recall. Because the system is still broken the public, and even the government itself, has no idea how many pets have been affected by this latest recall.

Communication is key

So far, there are at least 19 states involved in this particularly nasty pet food recall and they’re not talking to each other. The federal government is no better, FDA still has not posted the Kroger recall on their own New Pet Food Recall Products List. In fact, the FDA list has not been updated since November, 2010. How pathetic is that?

A broke that needs fixin’

Because of the Federal government’s systemic failure to implement and employ an effective method of notification of contaminated pet food, it will be impossible (once again) to ever calculate the number of dogs and cats affected. How many companion pets and their parents could have been spared the agony of seeing their dog or cat suffer with liver disease and possible death because of this delay in notifying the public of yet another potentially deadly pet food.

How many pets have already been euthanized, cremated or buried without the pet parent ever knowing the true cause of death? How many pet parents would think to order a necropsy? How many millions of dollars did Kroger save in legal fees and payouts because that many fewer consumers will know where to place the blame for their pet’s illness or death?

The conception of PETNet

In one of the multitude of FDA working groups, the Outbreaks/Food-Borne and Feed-Borne Investigations Workgroup, a subgroup was concieved consisting of veterinarians, animal feed regulators, and others involved with animal health issues. This subgroup developed an ambitious proposal for an early warning system to identify, track, and report disease outbreaks in companion animals or contamination incidents concerning pet food or animals feed, which they named “The Pet Event Tracking Network” (PETNet).

The PETNet proposal was developed in response to the 2007 outbreak that occurred in companion animals that was associated with the deliberate adulteration of pet food components, such as wheat gluten, with melamine.

Share and share alike

One of the main problems is the sharing of vital information. For example, during the 2007 melamine incident many States provided information to FDA, but the information reported by the States to FDA and other information in the possession of FDA was not shared by FDA with the other States. States believed that if they had received more information about what was going on in a timely manner, they could perhaps have taken appropriate action to safeguard animal and the public health by using their own regulatory authorities and resources.

The Agency agreed with the States, and thus decided to focus PETNet on being a system for sharing information between FDA, other Federal Agencies, and the States about food-borne illness outbreaks in companion animals. By the end of a meeting in November 2009 they hammered out a revised vision of PETNet that firmly established many of the details about the system in place. Whew!

Best laid plans

The FDA has been in the planning stages for two years so far on PETNet. The agency makes all sorts of noises about how PETNet is going to be so fabulous, bla bla bla, but really, coming from the perspective of a consumers who’s pets died in 2007 the waiting for the plan to finally be implemented can be like waiting for a glacier to melt.

When and if it ever gets off the ground, the use of the system, including the reporting of incidents by States to FDA, will be entirely voluntary and will be accessible only to members via password.

 OK, that sounds great FDA, but I have a few thoughts:

  • OK, so WTF is taking so long?
  • Get off your #@% and implement it already!
  • Oh and yes, the public should definitely have access to this information. Why? ‘Cause I don’t trust you, that’s why!
  • Voluntary, shmoluntary. You should make it mandatory that all 50 States participate.

Comment Request; Pet Event Tracking Network-State, Federal Cooperation To Prevent Spread of Pet Food Related Diseases

dog cat poisoned pets safe food warnings news recalls alerts

Poisoned Pets | Pet Food Safety News remains free (and ad-free) and takes me many, many hours of laborious work to research and write, and thousands of dollars a year to sustain. Help keep Poisoned Pets alive by making a donation. Thank you.




Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, the author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and consumer advisor. Help support her work by making a donation today.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.