Tuesday, March 27, 2007

More Dirty Secrets Revealed

If a company claims that their food is "unaffected" by the recall and that they don't test on animals, but they use Menu Foods to make some of their products, does that mean that they belong on PETA's "do not test" list?

I'm looking right now Petsitusa's up-to-date list of companies and where their foods come from. There are even more companies that use Menu Foods on here than I ever imagined. What is really disturbing is that some of these companies appear on the "do not test" list even though they do business with a Menu Foods, a company with a reputation for vicious animal testing. Maybe PETA isn't really taking that hard a look at these companies.

For example, both Wysong and Nature's Variety appear on the PETA list, but they also both appear on the list of companies that use Menu Foods to make canned food for them. Is it ok not to test on animals yourself if you do business with a manufacturer that tests?

I feel particularly duped by Wysong. I bought some Wysong Au Jus this past weekend b/c I was under the belief that Wysong didn't use Menu Foods. In fact, according to Petsitusa, the Au Jus is made by Menu Foods. In the garbage it goes! Apparently, you just can't win. It seems like, with a handful of exceptions (Merrick and Blue Buffalo come to mind), everybody uses Menu Foods for something.

Does the pet food industry have no shame?


Riley & Tiki said...

Are you finding any new foods the boys particularly like? I am throwing out a lot of wet food right now that Riley & Tiki won't touch. They aren't thrilled with the New Balance dry, but will eat it. I got them some Solid Gold Katz-N-Flocken last night, so we'll see how that goes. I see that Solid Gold makes a 2nd wet flavor on their website, but haven't seen it in stores. I worry about feeding them too much tuna (sometimes they'll eat it, sometimes not.) Unfortunately they really loved the Nutro pouches and I can't find anything similar.


socidoc said...

Just a comment here for RTM, above. You say you are "throwing out" a lot of food? Can you find a pet food store that will take returns if your cats don't like the food? My local "natural pet" store (not a chain) guarantees that pets will like their food, and they will gladly exchange any unopened cans/bags for another brand, as long as it's before the expiration date. Look for a store that will do this!

Rick James said...


A variety of misleading claims and myths have emerged from the Menu Foods recall, particularly on the Internet. All problems are best addressed with full information and reason—not hysteria—and this situation is no exception.

The claims are listed followed by a rebuttal:

1. Since it was discovered that a variety of brands have been manufactured at Menu, including so-called “generics,” the assumption is made that all brands made at Menu are of “generic” quality.
**That is not true. A manufacturing plant can make a Ferrari or a tricycle. The value of products has to do with the knowledge and engineering that goes into them, not necessarily the location where they are made. The real problem in the pet food industry is not so much the manufacturing, per se, but that the brand companies themselves are generic in that virtually all of them—except Wysong—are headed by business people, not experts in health, nutrition, and food technology.

2. It has been a secret that a variety of brands of pet foods can be made at one manufacturer, like Menu.
**The fact that any person off the street can go to any number of contract manufacturers and have a product made has been explained by Wysong for the past 20 years. Thus the expertise of the heads of brand companies who dictate to these manufacturers how their products are to be made must be evaluated.

3. Finding a brand not made at Menu will solve the “generic” food problem.
**By this definition of generic virtually every food would be generic since most of them are made at private label packers. Again, the issue is not so much where the product is made, but whether those who dictate to the private label manufacturer the formulation and processing have true competence and principle.

4. Menu Foods is said to support inhumane animal testing because animals died from being test fed the suspect food.
**The details of this are not clear. If they fed a known toxin to animals, that is not excusable. If this test result was inadvertent or forced by regulators to determine what was causing the problem, that is another matter. Before condemning all the facts need to be known.

5. No company that deals with Menu should be supported since that would mean supporting inhumane animal testing.
**That reasoning is not fair. Some feeding studies for nutrition are relatively harmless. Before being too critical of the ethics of others, pet owners must understand that when pets are confined to a home, yard, or leash and then fed what the owner selects, that is like a caged animal experiment. The cage is just bigger than in a laboratory. Every food other than an animal’s natural raw whole prey is experimental. It can be argued that for pet owners to be totally ethical, pets should be set free in nature so that they can eat their natural diet from nature. Until one does that, they must be careful about drawing arbitrary ethical lines and sitting in judgment of others. (None of this is to suggest that Wysong does any caged animal experimentation, nor has it ever seen the need to.)

6. Since Wysong has had a few of its products produced at Menu that means Wysong supports inhumane animal experimentation and should be boycotted like Menu.
**Wysong produces about 100 nutritional products for pets. We have our own manufacturing facilities. Those 2 or 3 that were made at Menu (and not a part of the recall) were designed by Wysong doctors and were never tested on animals. Menu was only used because it has production facilities that Wysong has not finished yet. No company can control every ethical decision that every company it deals with makes. Wysong, or any company or person, can only control what they are directly responsible for. If people were to judge the ethics of every person in every company supplying products, utilities, government, and so forth they would have to go live alone in the woods somewhere to be clean of any unethical tainting. This is not to say that companies that truly behave unethically as a matter of practice should not be avoided. The question of what is or is not ethical is a more difficult challenge if one does not wish to be a hypocrite.

7. Reports as of this writing attribute the deaths to rat poison in the wheat gluten used in processing.
**That does not make Menu a villain? Every food company is vulnerable to such a disaster. It would be impossible to test for every conceivable toxin. Also, who knows whether this may have been sabotage by a competitor or enemy. What a sure way to destroy a company, particularly when the public then attacks the victim company as Menu is being attacked. We must keep in mind that Menu is not a “company,” it is hundreds of people and their families. What is the ethics of destroying these people’s lives because of an accident?

8. There is therefore no reason to trust or believe that anything Menu produces is safe.
**There is no food anywhere that can be totally trusted. The most sure bet is to grow all your own food in your own yard. If that is not possible there is no choice but to trust. Every person and animal is at risk every time they consume a food from a package. Such risk is the price of modern food dependence.

9. Menu foods should be boycotted and blackballed.
**But that is like saying any company or person that ever makes a mistake, or is the victim of sabotage, should be boycotted. Attacking Menu means destroying the company and the living of hundreds of people. That does not seem to be the fair or appropriate response at this point. No company is more careful in its production or selection of ingredients. We must also keep in mind that life is filled with dangers. The way to protect oneself is with intelligence and information, not myth, emotion, and hysteria.

10. Pet foods should not contain wheat gluten, corn, or any other grain for that matter because that is not what they would eat in the wild.
**Wysong has taught this for 25 years. However, if people want the convenience of packaged foods, starches (grains, potato, tapioca) are necessary in dry food extrusion and as binders and thickeners in wet foods. They also provide some nutritional value.

11. The pet food industry is an outlet for what is left of a carcass that has been stripped for human consumption. They grind up almost anything and then use fillers like corn and cheap sources of protein like wheat gluten.
**This reflects a lack of understanding of food processing. Wheat gluten is not a cheap source of protein. Neither it nor corn (a mythological boogeyman ingredient of epic proportions, without one bit of scientific evidence proving it is any worse than any other starch source) is used as “fillers” in order for evil pet food companies to rip off the public.
With regard to “stripped carcasses,” that is what carnivores eat in the wild, not just prime chicken breast and filet mignon. They eat the entire carcass, and especially relish all those nasty “by-products” that are demonized. Moreover, ethics should not end with pets. Should everything but a food animal’s prime muscle meat cuts go to a landfill when in fact all the “by-products” are where most of the nutrition is? When there are people starving in the world should we divert human foods to pets? Ethics does not begin and end with quick and easy sound bites that make us feel good about ourselves.
(To get a food as close to the wild prototype as possible follow the Wysong Optimal Health Program, read the How To Apologize To Your Pet brochure and feed Wysong Archetype and Dream Treat products.)
See link “The Myth of 100% Complete Processed Pet Foods”


See link: “By Products”

12. Excessive carbohydrates like wheat gluten are giving pets the same degenerative diseases humans have.
*Agreed, except that wheat gluten is not a carbohydrate. Controlling carbohydrate and its role in degenerative diseases has been the Wysong mantra for 25 years. It is not, however, the call from other manufacturers now being recommended because they have never been associated with Menu.

13. People should switch to a raw diet and avoid companies like Menu.
**But that does not eliminate dangers. Anybody can produce a raw food in their kitchen, freeze it and sell it.
See link: Dangers Of Raw Frozen


14. Use freeze-dried food instead of products like those from Menu.
**Freeze-dried is not necessarily raw. Wysong is the only manufacturer that holds their raw foods to under the critical 118 degrees and incorporates features that help prevent the possibility of food pathogens. Everyone else (to our knowledge) heats their “freeze-dried” to speed production and takes no measures to prevent food-borne pathogens. Do not fall into the trap of thinking “freeze-dried” means raw.

15. An alternative to Menu and all the companies that are guilty by association is to mix supplements up with some quality canned foods, raw meat, plain yogurt, eggs, cottage cheese and the like.
**Those are good basic ideas that, again, originally came from Wysong—not brands now being recommended because they never used Menu. But a person is still not out of danger nor have they taken the high road. The ethics of the yogurt, meat, and cottage cheese makers must be checked. Do they make it in their own plants? Is there any animal testing, cruelty, or food recalls in their history or in any of their suppliers’ history? Is there certainty that those foods contain no toxins or never will? Can we really be sure such companies are not as “evil” as Menu?

16. There are several canned foods not produced by Menu and they should be used.
**But almost none of them are made by the companies with their names on the labels. None of them are led by health, nutrition, or food processing professionals. All of them promote pet health and feeding myths. Some of their products are made out of the country, like in China. Do the sweat shops in China (people every bit as caged as animals in U.S. experiments) regulate food better than the U.S.? It could be like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Blackballing Menu is not the key to pet health.

17. The best source of information on pet health and feeding is on Internet chat rooms and blogs.
**Only if the writers are competent, are not simply spouting off myths, and are backing up what they say with science and reason. The best source of information on pet health and nutrition comes from Wysong, hands down. Our extensive website is like no other and cuts through all the mythology and baseless claims. We even teach people how to feed without using any of our products whatsoever! How can it get more selfless and honest than that?

18. Above all, do not support Menu foods in any way, shape, or form. Send your message with your wallet.
**Yes, by all means. Let’s lynch Menu, their employees, and all of the thousands of companies that have ever done business with them. In other words, “string ‘em up,” react with emotion, not with fairness or intelligence.

That is, of course, sarcasm. The world is not perfect or conveniently defined by good and evil. It is best negotiated with reason, looking at all the evidence, using foresight, and being open minded. That is how the Menu situation needs to be addressed.

socidoc said...

So, Rick James, to summarize (at the risk of being called a sound-bite monger)... you are saying: Wysong=GOOD, all others=DO MORE RESEARCH. Is that the essence?