Archive for the ‘Product Recall’ Category

Pet Food: What You See May Not Be What You Get

Sunday, May 17th, 2015

Many regulations exist for pet foods, but some recent research questions whether such regulations are adequately protective against pet food mislabeling. A study, conducted at Chapman University’s Food Science Program, suggests that pet food mislabeling is relatively common.

The researchers evaluated 52 commercial pet foods and treats marketed for dogs and cats. They used DNA analysis to look for eight meat species (beef, goat, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, goose, and horse) within each product. They then determined if the protein species identified within each product matched up with the species identified on the product label.

Results

Here’s what the Chapman University researchers learned. Of the 52 products tested 20 were mislabeled. Thirteen contained meat from a species not listed on the label, four lacked one or more meats listed on the label, and three had both problems. One wet cat food product contained a non-specific meat ingredient that could not be clearly identified.

Chicken was the most common meat species identified, followed by pork, beef, turkey, and lamb, respectively. Goose was the least common species, and none of the products tested contained horsemeat.

Of the 20 mislabeled products, seven were cat foods and 13 were dog foods. Pork was the most common undeclared species (existed in the product, but not on the label) and occurred in seven out of 52 samples.

This study did not look into why some pet foods are mislabeled or where in the manufacturing chain of events the errors are arising. Perhaps the problem occurs within the factory itself. Perhaps it originates from the source of meat products delivered to the factory from who knows where.

By the way, the various brands of pet foods and treats included in the study have not been revealed.

Questioning the results

Pat Tovey, director of technology and regulatory compliance for the Pet Food Institute, has questioned the Chapman University results based in part on his belief that pet food companies would never risk their reputations by committing fraud. Tovey has stated,

Our member companies want to comply with the regulations, and we feel that it’s important and companies feel it’s important that customers buying the products get what they’re paying for.

Tovey has theorized that small amounts of protein in a product would be sufficient to comply with FDA standards yet be too small to be detected by the methods used in the study. For example, beef needs to make up only three percent of a pet food labeled as “with beef” to comply with AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) standards.

While Mr. Tovey’s theory sounds logical, it is likely not applicable. Tara Okuma, one of the Chapman University researchers, stated that there was a one percent minimum detection limit for turkey in two of the three products in which turkey meat was on the label, but was undetected in the food product.

Additionally, beef was listed on the label, but was not detected in four products. In three of these products, beef was listed as the first or second ingredient suggesting that detection should have been possible if the species was indeed present.

Why is this important?

Does it really matter if a pet food label misidentifies the source of protein within the product? After all, isn’t it the amount rather than the type of protein that’s important? (Can you tell that it is difficult for me to play devil’s advocate here?)

There are a few reasons the results of the Chapman University matter to me. To begin with, the results beg one to wonder if misidentification of the source of protein within a pet food product is only the tip of the iceberg. What other label inaccuracies might be flying “under the radar” that just might adversely impact the health of the dog or cat consuming the product?

Secondly, food allergies are a relatively common occurrence amongst dogs and cats, and proteins are the most commonly incriminated cause. For example, a dog that is allergic to beef might do fine eating a purely lamb or turkey based diet. Someone who purchases a “hypoallergenic” or “novel protein” diet for their allergic pet has the right to feel confident that the product’s protein labeling is accurate.

Lastly, pet lovers who spend beaucoup bucks on high quality nutrition for their four-legged family members are entitled to product label transparency. What they are seeing on the product label is exactly what they should be getting.

What is your reaction to this news?

Best wishes,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

 

A Heads Up About Novartis Products

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

Boy, oh boy, am I glad I am not the CEO of Novartis Pharmaceuticals right now. On January 9th of this year the company issued a voluntary recall of some of their over-the-counter human products including Excedrin, NoDoz, Gas-X Prevention Products, and Bufferin. It seems that these medications contained stray tablets, capsules, or caplets from other Novartis drugs including prescription painkillers manufactured at the same facility.

Now veterinarians are involved in the ruckus with the announcement that the following drugs are/soon will be on back order:

Interceptor Flavor Tabs® (heartworm preventive)

Sentinel Flavor Tabs® (flea control product)

Program Tablets and Suspension® (flea control product)

MilbeMite® (medication to treat ear mites)

Deramaxx® (pain relief medication)

The explanation for the backorders is closure of a Novartis manufacturing facility in Lincoln, Nebraska. The details are murky as of yet, but interruption of the manufacture of such top selling drugs typically means one thing and one thing only. I suspect that Novartis has been busted for being sloppy, perhaps as related to the recent recall of some of their big-name over-the-counter human products.

Such sloppiness seems to have spilled over to the Novartis animal health division as evidenced by the following letter recently delivered to veterinarians about Clomicalm®, a medication to treat separation anxiety in dogs:

Dear Doctor:

Novartis Animal Health US, Inc. is committed to delivering safe and efficacious veterinary products, and would like to inform you about a recent development involving CLOMICALM® (clomipramine hydrochloride) tablets.

Due to potential packaging issues at our manufacturing facility, there is a rare possibility that a wrong tablet may be found in bottles of CLOMICALM. Novartis has not received any reports where a patient experienced a product mix-up, nor has Novartis received any adverse events attributable to a product mix-up. However, as a precautionary measure, we would like to extend the following recommendations.

  1. Before dispensing CLOMICALM, open each bottle and examine the contents for tablets that are broken or incorrect in color, shape or size (visual guide included).
  2. Post a copy of the Dear Valued Customer letter issued by Novartis Animal Health in your clinic (copy included).
  3. Distribute copies of the Dear Valued Customer letter to affected pet owners. Novartis Animal Health will send your clinic extra copies upon request. If you publish a clinic newsletter, please consider using the provided notice.
  4. Report any abnormal findings to Novartis Animal Health at 800-637-0281.
  5. Return affected product to Novartis Animal Health; call the aforementioned number for full details.
  6. Inform your clients who have already received CLOMICALM® to examine tablets and refrain from administering any that are questionable in color, shape or size; and to contact Novartis Animal Health to discuss product return of affected bottles.
  7. Keep records of communication with pet owners in patient files.
  8. Ensure that any re-packaged tablet bottles are labeled with the product lot number.

Novartis Animal Health requests that you complete and return the enclosed Response Card reflecting that you have read and understand these points, and have discussed them with your clients.

Canine separation anxiety is a complex disorder that has great bearing on patient quality of life and the human-companion animal bond. Uninterrupted treatment is essential for successful management of this condition. Our veterinarians are prepared to discuss best practices with you in the event patients require alternative therapies, in order to minimize the risk of adverse events and potential relapse of signs.

We thank you for your attention and cooperation regarding this important issue. If you have any further questions, please contact Technical Product Services and Pharmacovigilance at 1-800-637-0281.

My response to a letter like this is, “Oy vey!” although I admit to being excited about adding the word “pharmacovigilance” to my repertoire!

So, what does this mean for you and your pets? If you are treating your dog or cat with a product manufactured by Novartis Animal Health, I strongly encourage you to call or email your veterinarian to plan a course of action. If need be, he or she may recommend an alternative so as to avoid any interruption in your pet’s therapy.

Is your dog or cat currently taking a Novartis product? If so, which one?

Best wishes,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.