SOURCE: American Feed Industry Association

April 06, 2007 14:30 ET

AFIA Addresses Pet Food Recall and Response

ARLINGTON, VA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- April 6, 2007 -- The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) today expressed sympathies for pet owners who have experienced losses during the unfortunate tragedy and encouraged consumers to keep the current recall in perspective, maintaining confidence in products that are not subject to the action. Only a small portion -- less than one percent -- of the overall pet food products were impacted by the tainted ingredients. Although the investigation is ongoing, an abundant supply of safe pet food products remains available to U.S. consumers.

Dr. Stephen Sundlof, director of FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, confirmed in a news conference yesterday that FDA had successfully traced the entire supply of wheat gluten involved in the recall. Based on the thoroughness of the FDA investigation, Dr. Sundlof repeatedly indicated that the agency has the recall under control and that consumers should feel confident in purchasing pet products not subject to the agency's action. All companies involved in the recall have been identified as well as all concerned products.

Tainted products contained the chemical Melamine which was subsequently traced to one pet food supplier in China -- Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. Ltd. (Melamine is approved for use in the U.S. for manufacturing non-food commercial products such as kitchen products, but has also been used as a fertilizer in Asia.). The Chinese government is assisting in the recall investigation.

AFIA commended FDA, pet food companies and Cornell University for their roles in the current recall. Several pet food firms have implemented measures above and beyond necessary requirements in addressing the current crisis. They have acted out of an abundance of caution, conducting their own independent, analytical tests and pulling products about which the slightest question of tainted ingredients might be posed. One pet food company in particular, the Iams Company, was responsible for discovering the link to Melamine and thereby helping expedite the overall response.

AFIA certainly understands why pet owners are anxious for definite answers and assurance of the safety of their pet food supply. Pet owners should understand that the system has worked to identify and isolate the suspected contaminant, and the ingredient carrying it. James Popp, president of the Society of Toxicology, helped explain why this process has taken time to complete, in public statements this week. He noted that normal parts of food contain many millions of molecules. To try to pull out exactly which molecule is the problem can take weeks.

Pet foods in the U.S. are well regulated food products, requiring food grade type of testing, both on the state and federal levels. The industry places great emphasis on manufacturing safe products and adhering to government regulations. A highly responsive system is in place to address any issue involving a less than safe product and the occurrence of such is extraordinary. The current recall is proof that the system works well.

AFIA membership includes both manufacturers and suppliers for the pet food segment of the feed industry. These companies are committed to providing safe products contributing to the ample availability and wholesomeness of pet foods enjoyed by companion animals around the world.

AFIA is the only national organization devoted exclusively to representing the business, legislative and regulatory interests of the animal feed industry and its suppliers. Membership includes nearly 600 domestic and international companies; state, national and regional associations. Firms are feed and pet food manufacturers, integrators, pharmaceutical companies, ingredient suppliers, equipment manufacturers and companies who supply other products, services and supplies to feed manufacturers.

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