Guest Post! Originally posted by Jonny Payne on JonathonScottPayne: Mighty Little Man, 7 November, 2015, and re-posted here with permission.
If you are anything like me, you didn’t know about this. It’s time to change that.
Over the last few months with the help of Susan Thixton of the Association for Truth in Pet Food, I have worked very hard in support of a Bill I have proposed, which I call the Federal Pet Food Labeling and Advertising Act, also known as “Little Man’s Law.” The following is the text of the letter I wrote, originally written as a speech, and sent to four members of Congress in an effort to garner sponsorship for the Bill (once a Bill is passed by Congress and signed by the President, then it becomes law). I believe it explains the situation very well:
Dear (Senator/Congressman ____________),
My Name is Jonathon Scott Payne, and I’d like to tell you a story; a story about a member of my family. His name was Little Man. In his younger days, he was a mascot for my unit in the US Air Force. Later, he would find himself connected, albeit in a minor way, to the last space shuttle mission. Yes, he was an extraordinary creature, and the best friend I ever had.
But then, when he was ten years old, something terrible happened.
You see, Little Man was my cat. On September 3, 2012, he suddenly found himself at death’s door. But after more than two weeks in the hospital, he returned home—alive and well. His survival was remarkable. In fact, I wrote a book about his ordeal. But it would be another two and half years before I would come to understand just how important it was that he survive. And that was no small feat. In fact, it took three world records and some would say a down-right miracle to do it.
But he did survive, and if he hadn’t, I never would have known the truth. He survived long enough for something else to happen on April 23, 2015, an event that would steer me on a road to discovery.
When it became obvious to me that there was something very bad in the so-called pet food I had been feeding to Little Man for years, I tried to have some of it tested. I contacted laboratories I knew had the capability to perform such testing, but I was refused. Their reason for refusal? A “conflict of interest.” I had hit a roadblock.
But thanks to Little Man and his incredible survival, my road to discovery eventually led me to cross paths with Susan Thixton of the Association for Truth in Pet Food. I was horrified by the truth.
Susan Thixton was able to assemble a select group of individuals committed to the truth and willing to conduct their own series of tests, and what they found is simply heart-breaking. They ran tests on over a dozen pet food samples of various brands and manufacturers. For example, there are published, acceptable levels of mycotoxins in all food products. However, the team at the Association for Truth in Pet Food found levels as high as seven times what is considered “safe for consumption.”
But there’s more. Some pet foods contain adulterated ingredients. This sounds harmless enough, that is until we understand the definition of the term “adulterated.”
Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, a food shall be determined to be adulterated if it contains poisonous or insanitary ingredients, if it consists in whole or in part of any filthy, putrid, or decomposed substances, or if it is the product of a diseased animal or of an animal which has died other than by slaughter. Under this act, it is illegal to use adulterated ingredients in ANY food product.
So how is it possible to find any adulterated ingredients in the food we feed our pets?
The answer is fairly simple. Even though pet food prepared using parts of a diseased animal or of an animal which has died other than by slaughter is a violation of Section 402, Paragraph (a), Subparagraph (5), the Compliance Policy Guidance from the Food and Drug Administration states that such a violation, “will not ordinarily be actionable, if it is not otherwise in violation of the law.” The compliance policy then specifically states that pet food prepared in this way “will be considered fit for animal consumption.”
In other words, the FDA has made it clear that as long as the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act is violated only with regard to pet food, that’s ok. After all, they’re just animals, right?
This is unacceptable. We have watched our pets suffer illnesses and die because of these products. I can point you to a list over a thousand complaints against one pet food manufacturer alone that horrifically describes the suffering experienced by pets after eating these products. I’ve read countless heart-wrenching stories of people who lost their entire household of multiple pets due to contaminated pet foods. The question is, what do we do about it?
It is not our intention to change the pet food industry, at least not directly. No. What we want is much simpler than that.
We seek enactment of the Federal Pet Food Labeling and Advertising Act, also known as “Little Man’s Law.” Little Man’s Law will require that the truth be made known.
Simply put, Little Man’s Law will require a label be included on the packaging and advertising of all pet food products containing adulterated ingredients. It’s all about disclosure. The label will make no claim to any specific disease. It will merely state the truth. So when Fluffy’s mommy goes online, to the grocery store, the pet store, her veterinarians’ clinic, or anywhere else pet foods are sold, she will see a label in its own box, in a font no smaller than that used to list the product ingredients, which will state in the law’s own graphic terms:
“WARNING: This product contains adulterated ingredients and may have been prepared using insanitary, filthy, putrid, and/or decomposed animal parts or vegetation possibly resulting in abnormally high levels of mycotoxins or other poisonous substances.”
This label will inform pet owners of the truth. They’ll know what they’re really feeding the four-legged members of their households. They will be empowered to make informed decisions regarding the care and feeding of their fur-babies. And when Fluffy’s mommy sees that label, she has the knowledge and the right to buy something else.
Little Man and all the pets who have suffered because of these so-called pet foods are most certainly NOT “just animals.” They are family, and they deserve better.
Please sponsor Little Man’s Law.
Jonathon S. Payne
I signed the letter and provided my contact information. I also included some supporting documentation including links to current law and compliance policies, some draft text for the Bill, and answers to some anticipated questions. I sent all of it to Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Congressman Mo Brooks (R-AL). Hopefully, one or more of them will agree to sponsor (introduce to Congress) the Bill. We have a long way to go, but nothing will happen if we don’t try.
If you wish to keep informed as to the progress of these efforts, please click on the button labeled “Follow” on the left side of this screen to receive updates via email, or click “Like” on Little Man’s Facebook page.
Most importantly, help me spread the word. Tell every pet owner you know about Little Man’s Law, and that includes those with cats, dogs, ferrets, and just about any other kind of pet imaginable. Please, it’s that important.
Keep your paws crossed!
The tests that Jonny is referencing can be found here: Pet food test results come up short: The details and what you can do about it.
My personal choice is to control my cats’ diet by feeding only whole prey and fresh, whole meat, organ and bone-in meals I purchase locally. But not everyone can do that, and we shouldn’t have to be worried about the safety of feeding commercially produced cat food products in the first place.
We need to band together and demand transparency from pet food manufacturers. Sign Jonny’s petition calling for “Little Man’s Law” requiring a warning label on pet food products containing illegal (but FDA allowed) and unsafe, adulterated ingredients.
Contact Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Richard Shelby (R-AL), and Congressman Mo Brooks (R-AL) and ask them to sponsor this bill. Write to your state representatives and tell them of your concerns. Jonny has kindly provided addresses and letter examples to make this easy for us!
Start attending AAFCO’s annual meetings (there’s one coming up in January!). Educate yourself on the pet food manufacturing processes. Call the companies and ask if their products contain any of these unsafe and unsanitary ingredients. Ask for their ingredients sources, quality levels, and transportation policies (there is, for instance, no requirement and little incentive for companies to keep their meat and produce ingredients refrigerated during transport to and from the rendering facilities).
Most of all, feed only those products you know will provide your cats with the safe, quality nutrition they need and deserve to live happy, thriving lives. You are your cats’ first and only line of defense – if you don’t stand up for them, no one will!