I received an email over the weekend from Shelby Gomas, owner of Feline’s Pride responding to the recall expansion and contesting the FDA’s finding. Quoted information makes this a long post, but I think a pretty quick and interesting read. I did let him know I would be publishing it for readers:
“Hi Mary[,]my name is Shelby[.] I’m the owner of Felines Pride. I thought I would drop you a line as I am interested in preserving the integrity of my company and my products where I can on the internet.
There has been a lot of questionable publicity and I have been trying to answer questions on the comments on the internet that I feel are adverse and [not]clearly understood. Considering the years of donations of money, food and other articles to no kill animal shelters, I thought maybe I could just grab a quick moment of your time.
I’d like to preface by saying big government doesn’t essentially do the greatest job of monitoring anything except their own comfort levels, paychecks, benefits and other self serving agendas. People have jobs and just do what they are told to do to maintain status quo.
The events that happened here at our company were attributed to the FDA’s lack of diligence to their own procedural manuals for attaining samples. You can catch the sentence where they mandate one pound of refrigerant to one pound of sample to maintain integrity of the sample for overnight shipping. (The link is below the body of this e mail.) They did not do that.
Roughly 8 lbs. to 50 lbs. of samples taken didn’t do the trick. Samples were already contaminated by the time they received them in FDA labs and consequently tested positive for salmonella.
Mind you, we have been in business for five years taking care and due diligence to what we market to the public. I also have 13 of my own “kids” that eat our product before it goes out. They are our professional taste testers and we have always had a 2 paw rating for every batch. Our FDA “swab test” for pathogens of all types, including salmonella came back negative.
If salmonella is in the food at production levels traces will be found by doing this test for pathogens. The remarks from the officiating officers were that they “ have never seen such a clean place “ that makes food. If your readers can fathom being run over by a bus and being left for dead,[that] is basically what happened here.
The FDA has been of absolutely no assistance at all in “ getting to the bottom of the issue.” Emails have not been answered, phone calls not returned, the whole issue has been left to me to solve with further testing using FDA “Elisa” technique for microbiological testing at New Jersey Feed Labs. NJFL is a New York State Agriculture and Markets endorsed lab. Our samples were shipped to them, using proper FDA guidelines. Our product tested negative for pathogens ( i.e. salmonella) and our raw ingredients tested negative as well. Those results are documented on our website.
I hope your readers take the time to understand this company was founded after 6 of my guys died of aflatoxin poisoning and all died within a two-month period. Digging six graves and putting six big holes in my heart…gave me the resolve to start this company, knowing full well, that major, commercials [food companies] could care less about our animals and someone had to do something to be part of the solution… I guess that’s why I jumped in and tried to make a change and give something better for our “guys.” It’s also a reason why I am e mailing you.
There will be more to this story as it unfolds as Senator Patty Murray (D) from the State of Washington has taken interest and is willing to help make changes where changes need to be made. There is more political support on the way to help overturn the wrongdoing done to this company[...] I hope you and your readers follow the story because each of us can make a difference, even if it’s one at a time to help the furry ones that can’t speak for themselves. Thank you for your efforts for what you do and all the other people who are doing the right thing…….one at a time.”
I asked Gomas what proof he had that samples were improperly packed and shipped:
“I am quite sure, under subpoena , they [the three FDA agents] would have to testify to the validity of our concern. After years of shipping food myself, I tried to interject that more refrigerant was needed. The initial sample were 50 lb. lots or ( 20 x 2.5 lb. containers) that were packed. Roughly 6-8 small packages of refrigerant totaling about 8-10 lbs were added to used and dilapidated insulated box. We never ship anything here used… If they had used proper refrigerants the box should have weighed 100 lbs. min.
No way that was done…they would have killed themselves lifting it. Samples were placed in the back of a hot car instead of a refrigerated carrier. I do not know how long [the] product was exposed but I do have the lab report stating the samples were received brown colored.
When we hear, after years and years of shipping perishables nationally and internationally, that product has been received brown, we know it has been exposed to heat and the food is compromised. Our food arrives red in color to our customers unless shipments have been mishandled…”
FDA won’t admit or retract anything. In further email exchanges, Gomas let me know his lawyer had to intercede to get answers as to the condition of the packaging and contents. He said he has written confirmation from the testing facility as to the condition of the samples and the packing inadequacies.
We will be very interested to see what develops. Here’s the kicker: The FDA is not allowed to inspect USDA approved meat as a particular slab of meat, but they can when it’s in the form, or bag, as pet food. Small companies must buy human grade food from the USDA. USDA has standards for meat and assumes that it’s got bacteria on it. FDA does not assume this, so when tests are made of meaty bone type raw food the pet food product will likely show Salmonella and be recalled.
To make matters much worse, while all States are supposed follow the FDA Food Code, it’s not mandatory. All States can have different standards for bacteria allowed! Whatever happened to the idea of a uniform code? I knew of the USDA/FDA conflict, but did not know that without a rewrite of both agencies rules that cover this market, and a uniform code, raw food makers appear to be doomed to recall hell. Check out this interesting post by Susan Thixton . It will either remind you of your dog chasing his tail or perhaps an old Three Stooges episode. Ouch!