By, Katy Cable-TWR
A 4 min. Read
Last year I attended the LA premiere for the documentary film: PET FOOleD, which exposes the unsettling truth about the pet food industry. I prayed it evoked the same positive change the documentaries BLACKFISH and DOLPHIN COVE had on the orcas and dolphins at Sea World. And not to downplay those worthy causes but this crisis is so much bigger, literally affecting every cat and/or dog owner in the nation who purchases commercial pet food.
Currently we are in the throes of a worsening epidemic of obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes and cancer. And guess what, our pets have also been impacted. Current statistics show 1 out of every 2 dogs and 1 out of every 3 cats will succumb to cancer and/or diabetes at far too young an age. Why is this happening? Look no further than our diets. Most pets are being fed a diet consisting entirely of processed foods loaded with sugary, starchy carbs, poor-quality meat by-products, plus a plethora of fillers, additives, and preservatives, -some of which are toxic. And, the sad thing is, most pet-parents and even veterinarians have no idea what is really going on.
So here's the shocking, ugly truth PET FOOleD exposes: Currently there are 5 large food corporations that own 99% of the well-known pet food brands. Nearly every pet food option offered at a grocery store or large retail chain (as well as many featured at independent pet stores) is owned by one of these corporate giants. In addition, the prescription foods sold in veterinary offices, and even the larger chains of those very veterinary clinics also fall under these corporate umbrellas. In regards to pet foods, large food corporations have figured out how to make billions of dollars on the WASTE not allowed to be used in their human products. All the leftover fillers, meat and poultry by-products as well as other unusable cheap ingredients are plopped inside enticing cans and bags featuring beautiful images of fresh meat, fruits, veggies, and healthy pets. A few catchy tag-lines such as "Holistic", "Healthy", "All-Natural", and "Fresh" are added and then, VOILA! These pretty bags filled with garbage are sold for top dollar.
The industry first came under scrutiny when in 2007, thousands of pets became ill or died when Menu Foods, a large corporation responsible for a variety of pet food brands, made a common cost-cutting move, substituting a pricier protein found in the wheat gluten, with melanin, which was far cheaper. -Come to find out, melanin was toxic. To make matters worse, instead of informing the public of the problem, Menu Foods kept their lips tightly sealed denying any wrongdoing. After another two weeks lapsed and thousands more pets unnecessarily died or fell gravely ill, they had no other choice but to come clean.
Over a million of bags of food were recalled in what was the largest pet-food recall in our history, and consumers got scared. The corporations scurried into "damage-control" mode, revamping labels and commercials assuring the public the oversight had been corrected. But was it? Now, 10 years later, one can walk into most large grocery or retail stores carrying pet supplies and find shelves full of popular pet foods that are mislabeled and /or contain lethal ingredients. The slick packaging makes it virtually impossible for the average consumer to detect any difference between a horrible product and a healthy one. -Even price is not a factor. Sadly, NOTHING HAS CHANGED. It's business as usual for the big pet food corporations, and only a few people are on to the game.
One might wonder how this can be? Aren't there regulations on what goes into pet food and truth in advertising? Unfortunately, the answer is an astounding, "No!" While the FDA does have rules and regulations on the processing and handling of pet food, further investigation into what is allowed to be used as ingredients , would turn your stomach. The other main organization, the Association of American Feed Control Officials: (AAFCO), is a self-appointed, self regulated industry that acts only to VERIFY ingredient labels. As long as the active ingredient ratios meet the minimal guidelines to be considered a "balanced diet" for that animal, anything goes. There are NO RULES on quality, sourcing or mixing ingredients with harmful chemicals, additives, and fillers.
As we learned after the 2007 debacle, should these huge companies find themselves guilty-as-charged with sickening and/or killing millions of our pets, the worst case scenario is some bad PR and possibly a few thousand bucks to the distraught pet owner. Because pets are considered property, the legal and financial ramifications for wrongdoing amount to nothing more than a hand-slap and some loose change in the scheme of things for these huge, multi-billion dollar corporations. Certainly nothing serious enough to warrant a change.
Kudos to the brilliant filmmaker Kohl Harrington who, in the style of Michael Moore, has taken a subject matter that could be as dry and boring as dog kibble and made it quite entertaining. In addition, it's extremely emotional to hear the plight of poor victims who've lost beloved pets at the deceptive hands of these greedy, corporations. The film unveils the real ugly truth and clearly demonstrates how the industry works.
And his campaign is working! Pet parents are getting wiser and demanding better choices. It’s now entirely possible to find high quality, humanely sourced pet foods on store shelves right next-door to those "popular" brands. In addition, most pet food retailers now offer frozen and refrigerated fresh foods. Petco is adding kitchens to their stores nationwide and will be offering fresh-fare made to order by Just Food For Dogs.
These new options have begun to make a dent in the market share of the big giants and they are taking notice. To meet the growing demand of savvy consumers and more holistic veterinarians insisting on "grain-free" higher quality pet foods, the Goliath’s have had to reformulate and offer better options. But are they? It appears to be no more than gimmicky, deceptive marketing.
While the war has gotten underway, it is certainly far from over. Each and every day I consult with pet parent's, rescues, shelters, and veterinarians who are concerned, frustrated and/or confused about what to feed pets for optimum health. After reading labels, showing research, sharing testimonials and photos, many of them are still highly skeptical and return to that "better-known" large pet-food brand because it's a name they can trust.
As upsetting as it is, I get it. After all, I was the same way until I saw my beloved Pug Raisin succumb to health issues caused in large part by a prescription diet pet food.. I too fell for those heartwarming commercials that come on every night. I even appeared in some. These brands sponsor large animal organizations as well as major dog shows, and high profile events. They underwrite most veterinary degree programs. The prescription varieties of food are sold in nearly every veterinary clinic. Recalls and lawsuits are kept quiet and consumers have either long forgotten the horrific recall or assume it has been corrected.
In order to "kill the giants" and not merely "stub their toes" it will take much more. I am asking everyone who cares about this issue to PLEASE TAKE ACTION! Pass this blog on to a friend, your vet, -or both😜! SEE the film PET FOOleD and recommend your vet, groomer, pet retailers, pet-sitters plus anyone and everyone interested in the well-being of pets also watch this film.
Visit pet advocate Susan Thixton’s website: TaPF (Truth About Pet Food) which is dedicated solely to the transparency of pet food companies. It’s a wealth of information containing recall information, lawsuits, “Best and Worst Pet Foods” lists, and must-read articles on issues concerning our pets. Most importantly this site is supported 100% by consumers.
Instead if throwing more money at the pet food giants, support top-reviewed smaller brands such as Nulo, Stella & Chewy, Honest Kitchen, Only Natural Pet, etc. and when you see your pet thriving due to a switch to higher quality foods, share your experiences with others.
Finally, What you put in your pets dish is the single most important thing you can do for their health. -No FOOLIN'! It is a big deal! It's the reason I became a pet blogger and why I am so excited about the opportunity to be a brand ambassador for Nulo pet foods. I hope you will be an informed consumer and see this film. Stop supporting these big companies at your pet's expense. You are 100% responsible for what goes in their bowls. WE are their voice so let's start "barking on their behalf" and get this high priced poison OFF store shelves. Don't be PET FOOleD any longer! 🐾❤👍🏼
PET FOOleD can be seen on VOD, Amazon, YouTube and wherever movies are streamed. http://www.petfooled.com/
🐾Katy Cable is a former actress appearing in “Back To The Future” and starring in the TV series: “Safe At Home” & “ Fired Up!” In addition to her dog health & lifestyle blog/vlog: The Weekly Runt, (https://www.weeklyrunt.com/) she’s a contributing writer to numerous publications including Thrive Global, & The Huffington Post. Cable lives at the beach with her husband, Rick and her rescue Pug, Olive.🐾