The list goes on and on. We kick off 2021 with this massive recall by Midwestern Pet Foods, Inc.

Many are common brands familiar to pet owners. Now, seemingly harmless pet treats have made the list! It’s important to understand these recalls are ‘an after the fact’ warning. The family cat or dog becomes mysteriously sick or worse, dead. Veterinarians can often be puzzled to explain illness in an otherwise healthy pet. These pets will often present with common symptoms we call food poisoning: fatigue, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea. Bacterial pathogens are the usual suspects. Many will recover with supportive veterinary care. You get the bill and no solid answers.  And it gets even more alarming.

I was a UC Davis graduate in the 1980’s learning about the deadly mold – aflatoxin. Found on peanut shells and corn, this toxin is produced by Aspergillus flavus. Why is this mold a topic for a veterinary toxicology class? Simple answer – this deadly toxin had made its way into livestock feeds and pet foods. Peanut shells? Corn? I will explain. Peanut shells are used to increase fiber content – can you picture your dog or cat wanting to eat a peanut shell? Corn is added to animal feeds as a cheap source of protein. Now, ask the family pet if they would rather have a steak or corn on the cob for dinner. This toxic mold, at certain levels, will cause liver disease and even death. Pet food companies that do not screen for toxins and common bacterial pathogens should come with a package warning: Feed at your own risk!

How Pet Food Companies and AAFCO Mislead Consumers Making Pets Sick

The pet food industry enjoys a disturbing lack of quality control and oversight. These cost saving measures will be the fuel for future recalls and deaths. In contrast, the foods we eat are under the watchful eye of the FDA. Pet food is not safe – it never was. Permission to cook for your dog is granted (see feeding chart). Adding the family canine to your weekly grocery list will be your most cost-effective option. Otherwise, expect to pay more for pet food from companies not likely to be targets for scandalous recalls. My personal favorite (when I’m not cooking) is ZIWi Peak. Here’s a little taste:

Unlike conventional dry foods that are mass produced and cooked at high temperatures, our foods are handcrafted and gently air-dried in our kitchens. Air drying technology locks in the goodness of our raw ingredients, without artificial preservatives.

I consider this company to be a gold standard. Study its label of ingredients and cooking method. Measure it against other products before you buy. Also, Google companies for past recalls – consider that a red flag.

Note: Here are the number of recalls dating back to 2009. Thousands of name brands that you will recognize and have no doubt put your trust in. Let this be your wake-up call.