FDA Investigating NUTRO Pet Food Following Pet Deaths, IllnessesApr 22, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP Following an ongoing spate of pet deaths and illnesses, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has admitted it is investigating NUTRO Pet Food. ConsumerAffairs.com said the investigation follows two years of consumer complaints.
Although the makers of NUTRO foods assert its products are not responsible for the illnesses and deaths, many consumers claim their pets recovered once the food was switched, said ConsumerAffairs.com. The FDA’s Division of Freedom of Information just confirmed the NUTRO investigation is ongoing and could be criminal or civil, said ConsumerAffairs.com.
ConsumerAffairs.com reported that the investigation was revealed when the FDA denied a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by ConsumerAffairs.com, which was looking for a list of complaints and lab results the FDA had concerning NUTRO pet food. ConsumerAffairs.com said that the FDA refused the request stating, “The document(s) constitute record(s) compiled for law enforcement purposes, the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings,” according to FDA’s assistant commissioner for public affairs, George A. Strait, Jr.
NUTRO is a global company acquired in 2007 by Mars, Inc., the company that was fined about $5.8 million in 2008 by German Federal Cartel Office (FCO) for not following the mandated waiting period prior to concluding the financial transaction, said ConsumerAffairs.com. Mars divested NUTRO’s Austrian and German businesses.
Mars Petcare recalled Salmonella-tainted pet food twice since 2007 and shut down the Pennsylvania factory responsible for the contamination. Salmonella in pet food can cause serious infections in dogs and cats and can also cause illness in people if they come in contact with tainted food or sick animals. Pet food manufactured at the Southwestern Pennsylvania Mars Petcare factory sickened 66 people nationwide in 2006 and 2007. About 40 percent of those infections involved infants.
ConsumerAffairs.com filed its Freedom of Information request for NUTRO records last year after learning of nationwide pet illness outbreak, noting that the common factor in all the cases was NUTRO pet food and that in the majority of situations, the conditions improved once the food was stopped. Complaints continue to pour in to ConsumerAffairs.com about NUTRO, with 500 complaints received last year alone. ConsumerAffairs.com said pets experience vomiting, diarrhea, and digestive problems.
Sadly, the ConsumerAffair.com investigation confirmed six canine deaths in 2008 following consumption of NUTRO pet food. Two other deaths, last April revealed dogs allegedly sickened from NUTRO died from antifreeze poisoning; however, said ConsumerAffairs.com, in both cases, there was no antifreeze in the dogs’ home and the NUTRO dog food was not tested.
Dr. Steven Hansen, a veterinary toxicologist with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), advised consumers who believe NUTRO’s food is responsible for their pet’s sicknesses to have their pets illnesses treated and documented by their veterinarian, said ConsumerAffairs.com. Dr. Hansen also told ConsumerAffairs.com, “I would also recommend that if they suspect the food is the problem, they should take a freezer bag full of it—along with the label information that has the product’s name and lot numbers—to their vet. If the vet suspects the food is the cause, the vet should then contact the company and FDA. If there’s a problem, we need to document it and get supporting lab results.”