Thursday, March 3, 2011

Reporting A Pet Food Complaint to the FDA

Taking a serious turn here, folks. What with the Wellness recall, a very nice person on my Devon Rex mailing list has documented how she contacted the FDA and how it went.

She graciously agreed to have this cross posted.


When I stumbled across this info on March 1 on fda website, I had just sent
helper to pet store to buy wellness cat food: 
" February 28, 2011 - WellPet LLC announced today it has voluntarily
recalled certain lots of WellnessR canned cat food.... WellPet discovered
the lower thiamine levels during independent testing conducted together with
the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in response to a single,
isolated consumer complaint received by the FDA. Although WellPet has
received no other reports concerning thiamine in its products, WellPet has
taken additional steps with the manufacturer to ensure that this does not
happen again." 

When seeing that only a single complaint triggered this discovery, I decided
to call the fda about two separate problems I've had in last couple months
with two different brands. I've never reported to fda before, so didn't know
the process or whether it was a waste of time.

Today I got to speak with our regions coordinator. She spent 58 minutes!!
talking with me, taking down details. I'm severely disabled with
neurological Lyme disease as well as several other conditions that have
affected my cognitive function as well as short-term memory. So  I keep a
journal for myself and for my 2 cats and dog that records foods and all
changes and any signs of illness. She was impressed with the info I shared,
saying it was very helpful.

I was impressed, favorably. She said every complaint is entered with all
detail into national database, and at minimum is "tracked and trended." Most
are also investigated.

So, if you ever have problem you think is caused by pet food, I strongly
encourage you to call your regional coordinator and report the problem.
Also, it's helpful to know BEFORE you have a problem, the type of info the
fda needs. For instance, I now always keep the original packaging until sure
there is no problem. 
Consumer Complaint Coordinators
To report adverse reactions or other problems with FDA-regulated products,
contact the FDA district office consumer complaint coordinator for your
geographic area.

 How to Report a Pet Food Complaint
You can report complaints about a pet food product electronically through
the Safety Reporting Portal1 or you can call your state's FDA Consumer
Complaint Coordinators2. 

Please have as much of the following information available when submitting
your complaint: 

Consumers often transfer dry pet food into other containers for easier
handling.  If possible, please save the original packaging until the pet
food has been consumed.  The packaging contains IMPORTANT information often
needed to identify the variety of pet food, the manufacturing plant, and the
production date.  

Exact name of the product and product description (as stated on the product
Type of container (e.g. box, bag, can, pouch, etc.)Product intended to be refrigerated, frozen, or stored at room temperature
Lot number - This number is often hard to find and difficult to read.  It is
stamped onto the product packaging and typically includes a combination of
letters and numbers, and is always in close proximity to the best by/before
or expiration date (if the product has a best by/before or expiration date).
The lot number is very important as it helps us determined the manufacturing
plant as well as the production date.
Best by, best before or expiration date
UPC code (also known as the bar code)
Net weight
Purchase date and exact location where purchased.
Results of any laboratory testing performed on the pet food product
How the food was stored, prepared, and handled  

Description of the problem with the product.  Examples include:
Foul odor, off color
Swollen can or pouch, leaking container
Foreign object found in the product.

If you think your pet has become sick or injured as a result of consuming a
pet food product also provide information about your pet, including:
Species (dog, cat, rabbit, fish, bird, other)
Age, weight, breed, pregnant, spayed/neutered
Previous health status of pet
Any pre-existing conditions your pet has
Whether you give your pet any other foods, treats, dietary supplements or
How much of the suspected product your pet normally consumes
How much of the "suspect" product was consumed from the package?
How much of the product you still have
Clinical signs exhibited by your pet (such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy)
How soon after consuming the product the clinical signs appeared
Your veterinarian's contact information, diagnosis and medical records for
your pet
Results of any diagnostic laboratory testing performed on your pet
How many pets consuming the product exhibited clinical symptoms
Whether any pets that consumed the product are not affected
Whether your pet spends time outdoors unsupervised
Why you suspect the pet food caused the illness

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