H.R. 875 'Food Safety' Act... No Protection for Pet Food!

Submitted by SadInAmerica on Wed, 04/08/2009 - 6:27pm.

The Food Safety Modernization Act, currently being considered by Congress as the answer to the many food safety concerns in the U.S., blatantly gives pet food manufacturers carte blanche opportunity to dump risky garbage into your pet's food bowl without accountability. If this bill is approved, pet food can easily and legally get far worse than it is today.

It is crystal clear the existing FDA needs an overhaul. Just as clear, the existing FDA has shown no genuine concern for the safety of pet food; the FDA has allowed pet food to be the dumping ground for useless waste of human food processing for many years despite Federal laws that should prohibit it. Over recent years, Congress has made a few half hearted attempts to improve the safety of pet food, especially after the deadly 2007 recall; seemingly just to quiet their pet owning constituents. However, the truth continues to clearly show Congress has no intentions to initiate responsible legislation demanding the safety of pet foods and the FDA has no intention of enforcing existing laws that would improve pet food safety.

To provide you with a little history, in November 2008, pet owners from across the U.S. wrote their Representatives in Congress politely demanding the FDA enforce existing Federal laws. The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act laws clearly defines food to include pet food and clearly defines adulterated foods (thus prohibited by Federal law) to be foods containing sick, diseased, or euthanized animals; many of the most popular pet foods sold in the U.S. could contain ingredients, determined by the FDA, known to include sick, diseased, and/or euthanized animals. The FDA website itself states that although some pet foods appear to be in violation of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, they will not enforce the laws with pet food.

Every single member of Congress who received a letter from their pet loving constituent, ignored the point. Not one Representative addressed the FDA's violation of Federal laws. Some spoke of "˜hope' to improve the FDA with H.R. 875 Food Safety Modernization Act.

The "˜hope' that Congress is trying to pass off as the answer to U.S. Consumers prayers, completely ignores pet food safety.

www.govtrack.us, the text of H.R. 875 Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 (http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h111-875) states the purpose of the Act is to establish a Food Safety Administration which will "regulate food safety and labeling to strengthen the protection of the public health"; and " ensure that food establishments fulfill their responsibility to process, store, hold, and transport food in a manner that protects the public health of all people in the United States."

If you notice, there is a complete absence of animal feed safety in the "˜Purpose of the Act' section. The only mention is "˜public health'.

Under Section 3 Definitions, Animal food gains a small mention. The term "˜food' is defined as "a product intended to be used for food or drink for a human or an animal and components thereof." However, in the same section providing a definition of a food contaminant, "The term "˜contaminant' includes a bacterium, chemical, natural toxin or manufactured toxicant, virus, parasite, prion, physical hazard, or other human pathogen that when found on or in food can cause human illness, injury, or death." Again, there is NO mention of a pet food or animal food contaminant; only a contaminant that can cause human illness, injury or death.

If no definition of a pet food contaminant is provided in the bill, legally there will be no contaminants of pet food. Thus, there could be NO future legal means for pet owners to hold a pet food manufacturer responsible for a contaminated pet food killing or injuring their pet. Without legal resources to hold a pet food manufacturer responsible for a contaminated pet food, the absolute worst can and probably will happen.

Section 3 Definitions drives the point home one more time with the definition of Hazardous Contamination; "The term "˜hazardous contamination' refers to the presence of a contaminant in food at levels that pose a risk of human illness, injury, or death or are capable of reaching levels that pose such risk during the shelf life of the product." No mention of a contaminant in an animal food that poses a risk to animal illness, injury, or death. Again, without a legal definition of a contaminant or hazardous contamination of a pet food, pet owners will be left defenseless.

For those in Congress (or elsewhere) who perhaps might feel dog food or cat food isn't as important as human food, consider this…

Sixty three percent of homes in the U.S. own a pet. http://americanpetproducts.org/press_industrytrends.aspSixty three percent of all voters, own a pet.

The American Pet Product Manufacturers Assn projects U.S. pet owners will spend over $45 billion dollars on their pets in 2009. Based on a conservative 6% sales tax, pet owners will pay over $2.7 billion dollars in sales tax on their 2009 pet purchases. $2.7 billion dollars in revenue in one year provided to state government and our Representatives in Congress don't bother to demand pet food is safe.

Simply from a revenue producing perspective, in 2006 the US received over $5 billion dollars in alcohol tax

revenue, $36 billion in fuel tax revenue, and almost $15 billion dollars in tobacco tax revenue. In 2009, conservative projections are that pet owners will provide $2.7 billion dollars in tax revenue. We pet owners are in the ballpark with many other high revenue consideration products, yet we get the bottom of the bowl when it comes to protection of our pets.  http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/listdocs.cfm?topic3id=92&topic2id=90

H.R. 875 Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 is no safety modernization for pet food. H.R. 875 Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 is the same old story and worse; forgetting the concerns of our pets yet looking out for the interests of industries that earn billions in profits re-selling waste. If H.R. 875 is passed as it is currently written, it appears caring pet owners will be completely without resources to hold a pet food manufacturer accountable for their actions. This is not something to let others be concerned about and act on; every single caring pet lover needs to take immediate action.

Please write your Representative in Congress and ask them to go back to the drawing board with H.R. 875. Ask them to include direct and specific language that will assure the safety of pet food. Remind them that even if they cannot manage to consider a pet as important as a human when designing legislation, to please consider that $2.7 billion dollars a year in tax revenue deserves their proper attention. Also, remind them pet owners are 63% of the population strong; remind them that although our pets cannot vote, their owners can.

Below is a list of the Sponsor and Co-Sponsors of H.R. 875.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro [D-CT]
Cosponsors [as of 2009-03-07]
Rep. Timothy Ryan [D-OH]
Rep. Gwen Moore [D-WI]
Rep. Fortney Stark [D-CA]
Rep. Bob Filner [D-CA]
Rep. Timothy Bishop [D-NY]
Rep. André Carson [D-IN]
Rep. Joe Courtney [D-CT]
Rep. Jerrold Nadler [D-NY]
Rep. Mark Schauer [D-MI]
Rep. James McGovern [D-MA]
Rep. John Tierney [D-MA]
Rep. Betty McCollum [D-MN]
Rep. Raul Grijalva [D-AZ]
Rep. Barbara Lee [D-CA]
Rep. Chellie Pingree [D-ME]
Rep. John Hall [D-NY]
Rep. Maurice Hinchey [D-NY]
Rep. Louise Slaughter [D-NY]
Rep. Eliot Engel [D-NY]
Rep. Nita Lowey [D-NY]
Rep. Janice Schakowsky [D-IL]
Del. Eleanor Norton [D-DC]
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz [D-FL]
Rep. Robert Wexler [D-FL]
Rep. Sam Farr [D-CA]
Rep. Marcy Kaptur [D-OH]
Rep. Kathy Castor [D-FL]
Rep. Mazie Hirono [D-HI]
Rep. Betty Sutton [D-OH]
Rep. Anna Eshoo [D-CA]
Rep. Eddie Johnson [D-TX]
Rep. Diana DeGette [D-CO]
Rep. Shelley Berkley [D-NV]
Rep. Linda Sánchez [D-CA]
Rep. James McDermott [D-WA]
Rep. Christopher Murphy [D-CT]
Rep. Sanford Bishop [D-GA]
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords [D-AZ]
Rep. Peter DeFazio [D-OR]

Below is my personal letter sent to Rep. Kathy Castor of Florida. Feel free to use the same letter, edit it to your own liking, and or use your own letter to your Representative.

Representative Kathy Castor,

I am aware that you have co-sponsored H.R. 875 Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009. I have read the bill, and as a caring pet owner, it was apparent to me the bill completely neglects issues regarding safe pet foods.

I wrote you in November 2008 regarding the FDA allowing pet food manufacturers in the U.S. to violate the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act laws. Your response did not address the content of my email. I am hopeful you will not ignore me again.

Although H.R. 875 defines food as "a product intended to be used for food or drink for a human or an animal and components thereof" - there is no mention of or definition of an animal/pet food contaminant. The bill you co-sponsor only mentions a contaminant that can cause human illness, injury or death. Without a clear and concise definition of an animal food/pet food contaminant, that would cause animal/pet illness, injury or death, H.R. 875 would leave pet owners (by the way, we make up 63% of the population) defenseless.

I am requesting a response from your office if you will or will not work to include direct language in H.R. 875 that will assure pet owners pet food will be protected under the law. If you choose to support the bill as it currently reads, which leaves pet owners defenseless, it will be duly noted and shared with every pet owner I know.

By the way, it is estimated that sales of pet products in 2009 will provide the U.S. with sales tax revenue in excess of $2.7 billion dollars this year. If you cannot validate spending some effort to improve pet food safety simply as the right thing to do, consider it as a protection of valuable State assets.

I will be waiting for your response to my question…are you still in support of H.R. 875 as it currently reads? Or will you work to include direct language in H.R. 875 that assures pet food safety?

Please take a few moments and tell your Representative you do not support H.R. 875 as it is currently written.  If this bill passes, all of our pets could be in danger.

Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Truth about Pet Food
Petsumer Report

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Susan Thixton - April 5, 2009 - source TruthAboutPetFood

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Submitted by SadInAmerica on Wed, 04/08/2009 - 6:27pm.