Culprits Responsible for 2007 Pet Food Recall Plead Guilty

by Mary Haight on June 3, 2009

Dog food at a supermarket in Brooklyn, New York.
Image via Wikipedia

Stephen and Sally Miller, Las Vegas-based ChemNutra company principals, and two Chinese companies will plead guilty in a June 16 hearing to the deliberate tainting of pet foods with melamine, according to court documents, alleged to have killed thousands of dogs and cats, inciting in 2007 the biggest pet food recall in history.

David Twiddy at AP reports “ChemNutra, which imports ingredients from China to the U.S. for the feed and food industries, and the Millers were charged with 13 misdemeanor counts of introduction of adulterated food into interstate commerce, 13 misdemeanor counts of introduction of misbranded food into interstate commerce and one felony count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.  Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. and Suzhou Textiles, Silk, Light Industrial Products Arts and Crafts I/E Co. were also indicted.”

The question left on the table is why no felony charges regarding the lives of the animals? When did ignorance (of toxicity) become a defense? And who actually believes that putting plastic and all its toxins in dog food would not make dogs sick or worse? All this leads to still another question: how long had this practice been going on? It does not seem at all likely that this practice arose overnight.

Christie Keith at PetConnection connects the dots, asking what has been done to ensure this does not happen again? Not much as she relates; dog food companies have stepped up their own testing, but what about testing at the shipping docks? Any change in inspection practices? And what about labeling laws, any changes there? No to all of the above. [country of origin labeling instituted in 2008 does not include processed foods, like pet food].

I would continue this line of thinking by asking what of the changes requested by the FDA that would allow them to be proactive, rather than reactive? Anything of significance happening there? As I blogged back in February, the boundaries of FDA authority are not conducive to creating material changes in the system they are presumed to protect–they have no mandate to go after problems and fix them–and authority is dispersed among other agencies like the USDA: “The FDA … doesn’t have the legal tools or the resources, the staff and inspectors to prevent these outbreaks,” according to Caroline Smith DeWaal of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Congress needs to get to work on this.

Unless and until something is done to fill this gaping food security breach–let’s not lose sight of the lead in toys, repeatedly introduced to retailers, melamine in baby formula, and other cheap materials from China found to contain toxic chemicals–I suggest sticking to what was once the guidelines of our FDA which taught Europe how to keep their food supply safe(where it still works just fine, thanks): the regimen of following the product from farm to table. There are plenty of dog food companies that do a great job of ensuring quality with all US origin ingredients, and say so on the label.

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  1. […] From Keith’s report, when Nestle and Nesheim signed the contract for the book in 2007, the historic pet food recall followed. “They had no idea one company in Canada was making 70+ brands of pet food.” […]

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