Sunday, September 21, 2008

Pet Food Politics - just out

Just finished reading Pet Food Politics: the Chihuahua in the Coal Mine - rather horribly topical in view of the current tragedy in China over babies dying of kidney failure due to adulteration of milk formula with the chemical melamine.

Pet Food Politics is a serious documentary which really does read like a thriller and explains how a combination of greed, dishonesty, incompetence and sheer inability to trace the complexity of global markets in food products led to the death of pets in Canada and the US. The villains of the piece used the same adulterating chemicals that caused the deaths of babies in 2008.

Fortunately pet food companies in the UK were either more careful, or just luckier.

Evidently it was "luckier" (update 5th Oct. 2008).

One very interesting observation which Marion Nestle makes is the potential value of the animal health data which pet insurance companies collect as a side effect of their business. One of the first pieces of real evidence that there was a problem with US pet food was the observation of one insurance company that claims for treatment of kidney disease in cats had soared in March 2007. Clearly there are all kinds of other posible ways similar information collecting could benefit pets - for example we could get unbiased evidence of the real extent of the problem with pedigree dogs.

Marion Nestle has her own blog at

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