Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The amount of pet food made in the United States

This week the news broke that a certain brand of pet food seems to be causing kidney failure and killing pets. Here's a typical story:

Pet owners nervous over the fallout from tainted food

It's an interesting story from several different angles. There is the emotional angle, obviously - no pet owner wants their dog or cat dying. There's the mystery angle - the fact that pets are dying and no one quite knows why. There's the branding angle - the "hey, I thought this was special!" angle - when you find out a single company manufactures the food that is labled as Iams, America's Choice, Eukanba, etc. (50 brands total). There's the animal testing angle, as exemplified by this paragraph:I doubt PETA is real happy about that. It is also interesting that, apparently, the company is not testing its food on a regular basis. Doesn't it seem like you would take X samples from the assembly line every day and feed it to animals to make sure its OK? It seems like that would be part of a normal quality assurance program.

But here is the angle that amazes me - the sheer mass of this company. This single company (Ontario, Canada-based Menu Foods) is recalling 60 millions cans/pouches of pet food in this recall. According to this page, Menu Foods is "the leading North American private-label/contract manufacturer of wet pet food products sold by supermarket retailers, mass merchandisers, pet specialty retailers and other retail and wholesale outlets. Menu currently produces more than one billion containers per year." That means that they are producing nearly 3 million cans of food every day.

And then there is this: "Although Menu Foods sells its food under numerous brands, the FDA's Sundlof noted that the company's recall affects only about 1 percent of the total pet food supply." If that is true, it means that there are the equivalent of 300 million cans of dog food getting produced every day. Just think of the logistical system that handles that much pet food every day - never mind the thousands of other products that get consumed. It is amazing when you think about it...

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