Pet food recalls: Are they on the rise or are we just more aware of them?

Pet food recalls: Are they on the rise or are we just more aware of them?

Natura Pet has expanded a recall of all dry food and treats for dogs, cats and ferrets due to concerns over salmonella.

Pet food recalls seem to have become increasingly common as Natura Pet Foods has expanded its voluntary recall to include all dry pet foods, treats and biscuits due to the possibility of salmonella contamination that could pose a risk to both animals and people. According to NBC News, the recall applies to the dry foods, biscuits and treats with expiration dates of March 24, 2014, and earlier.

Pet food recalls: Are they on the rise or are we just more aware of them?

Pet food recalls seem to be more common, and are often due to salmonella. If you think your pet is sick, call your vet immediately.

Patrick Mitchell

Many, many brands of cat food have been subject to a recall at some point in the last several years due to everything from the more recent recalls for bacterial contamination to the well-publicized melamine contamination in 2007 that caused the deaths of many pets across both American continents.

Last year, Diamond Pet Foods issued a recall that never seemed to end due to potential salmonella contamination. Upon inspection of their manufacturing plant in Gaston, S.C., the FDA found multiple issues with their equipment and procedures, including a lack of easy access to means of washing hands in places where people came into direct contact with the finished food, and that pieces of equipment had food residue on them, which could harbor harmful bacteria and contaminate subsequent food batches.

In 2011, Purina recalled a limited number of bags of their Purina ONE Vibrant Maturity 7+ Dry Cat Food, also due to potential salmonella contamination. Purina has also been under fire for some time for its Beneful brand dog food; many dogs have become sick and died after eating the food. As of April 17, 2013, there are 533 complaints about Beneful on the Consumer Affairs website, but as of yet, Purina has not issued a recall.

At least 13 brands and types of pet food have already been recalled in 2013, and salmonella appears to be the biggest concern since the melamine contamination problems, though other problems such as antibiotic contamination, sharp pieces of plastic, and issues with vitamin levels (too high or too low) have also been reported.

It's difficult to be absolutely certain whether pet food recalls are actually on the rise because of deteriorating practices and cost cutting, because pet food companies are trying harder to ensure the safety and quality of their foods, or if it merely seems that way because awareness and reporting of such recalls is on the rise.

According to the AVMA's website, Dan McChesney, director of the Office of Surveillance and Compliance at the Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine, says that the number of companies recalling food is pretty consistent from one year to the next, though the number of actual recalls issued can vary. However, he believes the apparent rise in recalls is because of increased public awareness and wider reporting in the press.

Regardless, it's important to pay close attention to your pets and seek veterinary attention immediately if they appear sick. Make sure you know exactly what you're feeding them so that your vet can make an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan, and tell you of any known dangers and recalls that you may not have heard about.