We were lucky enough to have the Times Colonist write a story about what we do here at Growlies on Dec 10, 2011 – http://www.timescolonist.com (PDF). We could not have been happier with the article and the warm response to it. Just to clarify, a mistype in the article stated that we make raw food when, actually, we retail raw pet foods from a variety of Canadian manufacturers.
A few days later one of the people who run the plant at Buddies Natural Petfood contacted us to show us a letter to the editor that detracted from what we do. Here is a link to the letter written by Dr. Chris Collis a Veterinarian in Victoria, B.C. that was published in the Time Colonist – http://www.timescolonist.com/health/food+without+risk/5858502/story.html (PDF)
Needless to say I was surprised by Dr. Collis’ fearful response to our happy little article given that there is a long term ongoing discussion about exactly this topic within his profession. Obviously Dr. Collis has never come by to ask about what we do even though his offices are very close to our store. Yet he presumes an awful lot about what we do without any investigation.
See, Dr. Collis says, and I quote “ All pet foods are made from the discarded waste of the human food industry, including those contaminated with salmonella, e.coli and campylobacter. Commercial diet “cooking” destroys the infectious diseases and additional testing ensures the freedom of foreign material, mould and chemical toxins.” While this is possibly true of the foods that Dr. Collis sells in his Veterinary practice it could not be further from the truth for the food we will allow in our store, to be sold to our community.
None of the foods we allow in our store have ever been considered discarded waste. All of the raw food products we sell are made from human grade ingredients. That means none of them were rejected as diseased, discarded and disgusting things our pets should never be exposed to let alone as a food source, cooked or not. We even carry a line of canned food that is kosher and safe for passover.
So my question to the Veterinarian Dr. Chris Collis is that if you know that all of the food you sell is discarded waste of the human food movement, why do you sell it? Why do you tell people it is healthy? That food does not sound to me like it is something I’d want to feed any of my family members, I don’t care how much you cook it.
If Salmonella is such a concern then he should be advocating the food safe handling of all pet foods, especially the high risk foods he advocates within his letter. We tell everyone that food safe rules apply to all of our products.
You can see how many pet food recalls are current in the US here http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/newpetfoodrecalls/ and in Canada here http://www.inspection.gc.ca/about-the-cfia/newsroom/food-recalls-and-allergy-alerts/eng/1299076382077/1299076493846 in Canada the list is mixed in with human food recalls.
One of the things you will quickly notice that the list is primarily made up of kibble type products and occasionally a canned product and then rarely a raw food product, usually from the largest companies, because as you scale up you increase the risk of contamination. Quickly reviewing these two lists shows anyone interested in looking the risks involved in feeding the foods this Vet recommends. It also shows how few recalls there are for raw pet foods he warns against. Remember that song when you were a kid “One of these things is not like the other”.
We have been retailing raw pet foods for almost five years now and not one of the raw brands we carry have had a single recall. There was a recall for some raw pet food in BC in this time frame for a raw pet food product purchased direct from a meat packing plant in Surrey, BC. while in commercial kibble diets there have been hundreds possibly thousands of recalls in that same time frame.
I agree with Dr. Collis that if a dog or cat eats salmonella they may then shed salmonella. What this list of pet food recalls shows me and this vet fails to mention is that kibble is a far more likely cause of a pet shedding salmonella than any food you recognize when you open that package as simply meat, fat, bone and organ, but also it is reassuring that it is from the same food chain as the food you buy for your family, unlike the kibble ingredients which this Vet was kind enough to point out to us should not be fed to anything.
So please, when using all pet foods, do use all the common sense food safe rules that you were taught in the kitchen when handling all food. Also if you, like me, own a dog that is all jowly and loose faced you may even want to wash their face after eating all pet foods. But to me, unlike this vet, this is common sense everyone should follow for ALL pet foods.
I ask one thing of people. Question authority and make up your own mind. As long as all pet owners are trying to do their best by their pets, well that’s what counts. Just do not accept blanket statements from anyone and hopefully you will have a pet who thrives rather than just survives.
Further to this conversation it is now less than six months since I wrote this response and here we are once again with the CDC investigating 16 people in 9 states being poisoned with salmonella by dry dog foods, not raw / real foods. See http://www.truthaboutpetfood.com/articles/diamond-youve-got-some-explaining-to-do.html