Pet food recalls: looking back at 2007, moving forward

The 2007 pet food recalls marked a watershed moment in how pet owners viewed and interacted with pet food companies, regulators and each other.

(Highway Starz |
(Highway Starz |

March 2007: I can still remember first hearing the reports about dozens of pets becoming mysteriously ill, with some tragically dying. Very shortly, the illnesses were tied to pet food products (most of them manufactured by the now-defunct Menu Foods) and, specifically, one ingredient: contaminated wheat gluten imported from China. The already awful numbers turned into a horrific hundreds of pets and close to 60 million products recalled (see

What really sticks in my mind from that terrible time was the reaction by consumers, media and pet-related organizations. Until then, even the most devoted pet parents didn’t really consider where or how their pets’ food was made or what was in it. Consumers were just starting to think and ask about the same things with their own food and, generally, trusted both human and pet food companies.

No longer, at least not with pet food. The 2007 recalls marked a watershed moment in how consumers viewed and interacted with pet food companies, regulators and each other. As the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) struggled to keep up with events while conducting its investigation into the contaminated products, several recall lists sprang up online, diligently updated by concerned pet lovers. Before long, they were joined by websites (including ones started by people who had lost beloved pets) claiming to hold the industry accountable for its practices and products. Several of those sites still exist today.

If the recalls were a wake-up call for consumers, they were also a call to action for many pet food companies, who invested heavily in new safety and testing protocols and launched websites and awareness efforts to be as transparent as possible. Unfortunately, that was not the case for all pet food manufacturers, and even today, under increased regulations, there are probably still a handful who aren’t up to speed.

This anniversary doesn’t mark the end of this saga; the industry should be on a never-ending journey of continuous improvement and transparency. The 2007 recalls opened the door to a whole new world for pet food makers and purchasers alike, and there’s no going back.

Page 1 of 89
Next Page