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Shocked But Not Shocked By Newest FDA-CVM Admission Re: Salmonella

A recent FOIA request has forced FDA-CVM to admit facts many already suspected. In 2020, records were requested from FDA-CVM for "all records from FDA for cases where dogs or cats are confirmed to have died from salmonella after eating raw dog or raw cat food." The date range for the request for records was January 2017 through December 2019. Three years later in May 2023, FDA responded stating, "The Center For Veterinary Medicine has conducted a search and did not locate any records responsive to your request." 


FDA-CVM has conducted an outright war against the raw pet food sector over the past five years. There are several issues with FDA-CVM's approach with a "zero tolerance policy." First, FDA-CVM considers even "non pathogenic" salmonella to be an "adulterant" for pet food. This means that even if the salmonella serotype is benign or known to be a serotype that will likely never cause a health issue to humans or pets, FDA-CVM still considers it to be fair game to try and force companies to recall their products. For smaller companies producing ethically sourced and organic food, this can be a challenge and even spell death for the company financially. 

Secondly, FDA-CVM is deeply involved in the private corporation AAFCO. This corporation is a umbrella where FDA-CVM and their state regulatory partners come together to create "model regulations," with the sole purpose of FDA-CVM "recognizing" those regulations as acceptable for use in pet food products. State regulatory partners also adopt these "regulations" into their state laws. The issue? The public isn't provided public rule making rights for each ingredient being created, a right afforded by the federal Administrative Procedures Act law as well as many state Administrative Procedures Act laws. FDA-CVM has been super defensive about their involvement with AAFCO and is doing everything in their power to continue ensuring pet food ingredients and definitions are created under this private umbrella scheme. In summary, they're choosing their own interest and the interest of industry over the interest of the people they claim they serve to protect. They've collectively cut the public out as much as they possibly can and make the process of making these "regulations" as confusing as possible. FDA-CVM could hold public meetings and conduct this business in full view of the public. They simply refuse to do so. It's beyond shocking and a slap in the face to the public that a federal agency wishes to proceed in such a private manner instead of a public forum. 

Thirdly, it was reported on via this Pet Fooled blog how this private corporation AAFCO hired an attorney by the name of John Dillard. This attorney is the same attorney that represents the largest grain based lobbying group, AFIA. When the South Carolina state regulator Austin Therrell was questioned about this, he admitted it could be a potential problem. Austin has since left his job as a state regulator and is now the executive director of AAFCO. Eric Nelson previously represented AAFCO before Congress. Eric Nelson is now an employee at FDA-CVM and is one of the few "federal regulators" who oversee federal regulation of the pet food industry. State and federal regulators continuously refuse to engage in answering basic questions for members of the public, while simultaneously attending AFIA events and speaking to them. FOIA requests even show that FDA-CVM members regularly communicate with AFIA and FFI (Pet Food Institute) lobbying groups while ignoring questions from citizens. 

I don't think I'm off or wrong for even saying this. FDA-CVM hates the public. Charlotte Conway is now in charge of FDA-CVM, and she is big with AAFCO and when it comes to pet food ingredients, she is showing she is against regular public meetings that comply with the APA and provides opportunities for the public to be involved in an open forum. She doesn't want the meetings recorded and available to the public to access in an archive. She and others at FDA-CVM appear to not want the corruption that happens at AAFCO to end or be in the public eye. They wish to get away with it as long as they can. 

FOIA is an incredible tool to try and find the truth and that is displayed in this latest FOIA request. On one hand, we have FDA-CVM....their deep ties to AFIA and dry pet food, and their zero tolerance policy screaming how awful raw pet food is. On the other hand, we have the request asking for "all records from FDA for cases where dogs or cats are confirmed to have died from salmonella after eating raw dog or raw cat food." And for the date range of January 2017 through December 2019, we have confirmation from the agency itself that "The Center For Veterinary Medicine has conducted a search and did not locate any records responsive to your request." 


Kohl Harrington


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