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Why Pet Food Gets Recalled

Posted by Dr. Roth on

dog with food, why pet food gets recalled
For most pet parents, cat or dog nutrition is just as important as human nutrition. They want to feed their pets the highest quality food available. But because most pet parents don’t make the food they feed their animal companions, they must place trust in pet food manufacturers. 

‌There are dozens of pet food manufacturers and even more pet food brands on the market. Just as there are recalls for human foods, there are also sometimes recalls on pet food. ‌

Why Pet Food Gets Recalled

Companies may issue a recall for a variety of reasons. Pet parents should note that these recalls don’t just occur with lower quality foods. They can also happen to companies known for excellent practices and ingredients. 

Here are some of the common reasons why pet food manufacturers issue recalls:

A Nutritional Imbalance

While many pet food manufacturers do their best to ensure optimally balanced foods, sometimes, a pet food may get too little (or too much) of a certain nutrient. That imbalance could lead to a nutrient deficiency or overdose, both of which could lead to illness. 

Pet Food Contamination

Manufacturing equipment can sometimes become contaminated with bacteria or mold, which can then contaminate the food. These issues may arise if the plant doesn’t clean the equipment properly. Likewise, chemicals can contaminate processing equipment. Melamine contamination of dog food led to a massive recall in 2007.

Possible Foreign Materials in the Food

In some cases, manufacturing equipment can break apart. In such cases, bits of metal or plastic could get mixed in with the food, which could tear or damage a pet’s digestive tract. In 2019, Nestle voluntarily recalled one of its Muse wet cat food products due to the possible presence of rubber.  

Issues with Packaging

A packaging issue, such as an improperly sealed pop tab, could compromise a pet food. Moisture could get into the product, leading to mold or bacterial growth.  

Who Issues a Recall on Pet Food?

In many cases, it’s the manufacturer that issues a voluntary recall. They’ll often do this following the discovery of an issue such as broken equipment or mold. They may also issue the recall after the FDA expresses concerns due to pet parent reports. 

The FDA can also issue involuntary recalls. In such instances, the pet food manufacturer needs to comply.

Whether the recall is voluntary or involuntary, it’s usually for one specific flavor or batch of food. Pet parents can learn about recalls from the FDA or the American Veterinary Medical Association.  

What Can Pet Parents Do to Ensure Pet Health?

Pet parents might not have any control over what happens at the pet food manufacturing plants, but they can still take steps to ensure the health of their cat or dog:
  • Check the expiration date on pet food products before buying them
  • Inspect the bag or can for signs of moisture, damage, or broken seals
  • Note the appearance and odor of the food after opening it
  • Monitor the FDA’s website for recent pet food recalls 

If a pet parent notices their cat or dog becomes ill after starting a new food, they should contact their primary vet or speak with an online vet as soon as possible for advice. In many cases, a trip to the primary vet can help to get to the bottom of the issue and determine if it’s food-related or not. 

Stay Informed for Optimal Pet Health‌

While most pet food companies take care to ensure they produce quality products, problems can sometimes arise. In such cases, the manufacturer may issue a recall to protect their customers. Pet parents can help ensure the health and safety of their cats and dogs by paying attention to the foods they purchase and by staying updated on recent recalls. Should a pet parent suspect something’s wrong, they should contact their primary vet and report the issue right away.

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