Do you suspect a problem with your pet’s food? Foreign objects, mold, bugs, a strange odor or appearance? Is your dog suddenly refusing to eat or showing signs of illness that you believe are a result of his food? As pet parents, we expect our pet’s food manufacturers to ensure the quality of each and every bag of food that leaves the factory. As a second line of defense, we expect the Food & Drug Administration to monitor pet food and initiate recalls when a product doesn’t live up to standards.
Unfortunately, we can’t always rely on manufacturers and the FDA to make sure every bit of food we feed our pets is safe. That’s why, as pet parents, we have a responsibility to inspect food before feeding and monitor our dog’s health. If something about your dog’s food is not right, it needs to be reported.
1. To report pet food (or treats, chews, or other type of consumable food product) to the FDA, you will need the following information:
- Exact name of the product and product description (as stated on the product label)
- Type of container (e.g. box, bag, can, pouch, etc.)
- Product intended to be refrigerated, frozen, or stored at room temperature
- Lot number – This number is often hard to find and difficult to read. It is stamped onto the product packaging and typically includes a combination of letters and numbers, and is always in close proximity to the best by/before or expiration date (if the product has a best by/before or expiration date). The lot number is very important as it helps us determined the manufacturing plant as well as the production date.
- Best by, best before or expiration date
- UPC code (also known as the bar code)
- Net weight
- Purchase date and exact location where purchased.
- Results of any laboratory testing performed on the pet food product
- How the food was stored, prepared, and handled
2. You will need to describe, in detail, the problem with the food. For example:
- Foul odor, off color
- Swollen can or pouch, leaking container
- Foreign object found in the product.
NOTE: Pet food can be reported for ANY reason, regardless of whether your animal has become ill or was harmed. Something doesn’t smell right, the color of the food is “off,” the package is swollen or leaking, etc.
3. If you believe your pet has become sick as a result of consuming the food being reported, you’ll need additional information including:
- Species (dog, cat, rabbit, fish, bird, other)
- Age, weight, breed, pregnant, spayed/neutered
- Previous health status of pet
- Any pre-existing conditions your pet has
- Whether you give your pet any other foods, treats, dietary supplements or drugs
- How much of the suspected product your pet normally consumes
- How much of the “suspect” product was consumed from the package?
- How much of the product you still have
- Clinical signs exhibited by your pet (such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy)
- How soon after consuming the product the clinical signs appeared
- Your veterinarian’s contact information, diagnosis and medical records for your pet
- Results of any diagnostic laboratory testing performed on your pet
- How many pets consuming the product exhibited clinical symptoms
- Whether any pets that consumed the product are not affected
- Whether your pet spends time outdoors unsupervised
- Why you suspect the pet food caused the illness
If you do not have all of the information requested above, report the problem anyway, providing as much detail as possible.
TIP: Many dog owners transfer their pet’s food to airtight containers or other food storage bins. If you store your pet’s food outside of it’s original packaging, save the package until all of the food has been consumed and you’re certain there are no issues with your dog’s health that may be food related.
Even if you have already contacted the manufacturer, or returned your pet’s food to the store where it was purchased, you may still report a problem to the FDA.
Every report submitted to the FDA is important. The more reports filed pertaining to a particular food, the more likely that food is to be investigated more quickly and thoroughly.
Pet food can be reported here: http://www.safetyreporting.hhs.gov/
For frequently asked questions or more information, click here: http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/ReportaProblem/ucm212664.htm