Today’s Update on the Pet Food Recall—6/6/2007

Thie summary from the American Veterinary Medical Association should give you a pretty fair idea of where we’ve been to date on the pet food recall and where we’re going in terms of legislative remedies. IMO pending legislation is still too tepid. There’s no substitute for mandatory country-of-origin labelling requirements for all ingredients in foods. It’s information that will allow the market to work—consumers would be able to vote with their feet and, implicitly, motivate producers and brand names to do due diligence with respect to their sources for ingredients.

Speaking of due diligence, this article by NYT writer David Barboza has been around for a little while but is worth reading if only for information like this:

The American and South African middlemen say that they found Binzhou Futian through online advertisements and commodity-trading Web sites. The companies did not bother to visit Binzhou’s factories or to investigate its background or its export record.

“I’m not sure of the introduction, but I think it was through Google search,” said Leon Ekermans, a marketing director at Bester Feed and Grain, a South African grain trader. “We were told by an intermediary that they were once a government company and made good feed.”

Asked whether Bester had researched the supplier’s record or visited China, Mr. Ekermans acknowledged that the answer was no. “We tested samples,” he said, “but it was very difficult to test for melamine.”

That would seem to support my speculation that the entirety of what wholesalers saw was price lists. There was no due diligence. That’s one thing when dealing with a U. S. company—at least there’s legal recourse. But China simply doesn’t have the legal or societal infrastructure to warrant that sort of trust of invisible, anonymous companies half a world away.

Still no word from the FDA or USDA on acetaminophen-contaminated pet foods.

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