Vet programme sparks pet food controversy

The Pet Food Manufacturers Association says a BBC2 programme which claimed many pet foods failed to meet regulatory guidelines was an “unbalanced and inaccurate portrayal of the industry.”

Trust Me, I’m a Vet, fronted by small animal vet and TV celebrity Steve Leonard, was broadcast on 3 May and looked at research from Nottingham University into pet food mineral contents. Dr Mike Davies analysed the mineral content of 200 pet foods and tested them against 11 European guidelines.

Dr Davies reported a “significant difference” between wet and dry foods. He said that only 7% passed all guidelines and that “93% of the worst offenders did not meet with six out of 11 guidelines.” He said that of dry foods tested, 38% passed all the guidelines and added, “We were surprised that we found so many were out of normal reference ranges.”

He said that wet foods usually have animal or fish derivatives according to what was on the open market and said manufacturers should test more batches, more frequently to ensure they were within the guidelines.

“The biggest question is who is policing this marketplace,” he said. “It doesn’t appear that anyone is actually checking pet foods on the market are complying with guidelines.”

In a statement issued after the programme was broadcast, the PFMA said: “Conversations with representatives of Nottingham University have led us to question the research methodology and testing regime used in this study, which does not meet the strict legal requirements our members routinely follow when testing their own products. We also note that the Nottingham University laboratory is not accredited to carry out tests on pet food.

“We are disappointed that Nottingham University have to date failed to provide requested details of their study and the products tested so that manufacturers can investigate this matter further.  We are also disappointed that despite discussing our concerns in detail with the BBC, they have broadcast the piece despite the obvious shortcomings in the research, which has led to an unbalanced and inaccurate portrayal of the industry.

“PFMA members regularly test their own products to ensure compliance with industry standards using recognised, validated methods which are set in EU legislationThis is done either internally or with external labs that are accredited for pet food testing. The results recorded by our members report a very high level of compliance. In the unusual event of non-compliant results, they have robust procedures in place to address and rectify any formulation issues.

It said that the PFMA has “good contact” with the veterinary profession and monitors all issues related to animal health. “If vets were seeing widespread problems because of mineral deficiency in dogs and cats, we would be aware of this,” it added.


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