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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Texas A&M veterinarian serves on pet food contamination committee

When pet food contamination was discovered in spring 2007, the Pet Food Institute implemented actions to insure the problem did not reoccur.
In March 2007, the Pet Food Institute established the National Pet Food Commission. The NPFC was charged with giving recommendations to the pet food industry, pet food retailers and the Food and Drug Administration. The commission reported findings to PFI and the American Association of Feed Control Officials.
The mission of the NPFC was not directly related to discovering the cause of the food contamination, however itt has been determined that the compound melamine was the cause of the poisoning. The Chinese companies producing the pet food added a crude product instead of pure melamine, leading to 226 documented deaths of pets from kidney disease.
Dr. E. Murl Bailey, veterinarian and toxicologist at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine, was asked by PFI to serve on the commission. Bailey worked previously with and advised the institute.
The commission consisted of seven members selected from a range of the animal nutrition and pet food industry positions to provide the most in-depth knowledge.
“We looked at the whole industry because we had to teach each other about the industry,” Bailey said. “We each individually developed background papers to share with each other to make sure we were on the same playing field.”
The FDA became involved in the commission because if the contaminants had proceeded to the human food chain, similar adverse health effects would not happen in humans.
The NPFC conducted several phone call meetings and three face-to-face meetings in Washington before completing its study in October. Its recommendations were then reported to PFI and AAFCO.
The report highlighted several areas in the pet food industry in need of improvement or fine tuning. The commission first stressed the need to know the supplier.
“Our whole point was you need to have quality control steps at each level, which means you need to test it,” Bailey said.
The commission suggested improving communication between diagnostic labs around the country. By setting up an intercommunication process, these labs can work together with greater ease and speed.
Student opinion about the speed of industry reaction was split.
“I don’t think they reacted quickly enough,” said Kandice DelGuzzi, a senior animal sciences major. “I worked at a vet clinic, and the clients would come in and know about it a day before we did.”
Others, however, still hold total confidence in the reactivity of the industry to internal problems.
“The industry made a mistake in letting it happen, but they alerted the public quickly and handled it well,” said Kristen Wolling, freshman biomedical sciences major.
The NPFC said that their recommendations will prevent further issues of contamination in the pet and human food chain. It does not, however, foresee a reoccurrence of this particular contamination.

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