Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine

Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine

Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine

Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine

Synopsis

Marion Nestle, acclaimed author of Food Politics, now tells the gripping story of how, in early 2007, a few telephone calls about sick cats set off the largest recall of consumer products in U.S. history and an international crisis over the safety of imported goods ranging from food to toothpaste, tires, and toys. Nestle follows the trail of tainted pet food ingredients back to their source in China and along the supply chain to their introduction into feed for pigs, chickens, and fish in the United States, Canada, and other countries throughout the world. What begins as a problem "merely" for cats and dogs soon becomes an issue of tremendous concern to everyone. Nestle uncovers unexpected connections among the food supplies for pets, farm animals, and people and identifies glaring gaps in the global oversight of food safety.

Excerpt

On March 15, 2007, Menu Foods, a pet food manufacturer based in Canada, informed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that the company had decided to issue a massive recall of its products. Something in its foods — later identified as wheat flour laced with melamine — was causing so much damage to the kidneys of cats and dogs that the animals had to be euthanized. The company’s decision, announced the next day, led to what was then the largest recall of consumer products ever recorded in the United States.

I had a special interest in this particular food recall. Just one month earlier, I had obtained a contract to co-write a book about pet foods and pet feeding with Dr. Malden Nesheim, the now retired chair of the Department of Nutritional Sciences and provost at Cornell University. Both of us have had long academic careers in human nutrition and our colleagues were surprised by our interest in writing about something as seemingly inconsequential (in their view, not ours) as pet foods. The Menu Foods . . .

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