Why is the FDA Regulating Dog Food?

J0403680The FDA has an extraordinarily large mandate.  It covers everything from makeup to pills to – you guess it, pet food.  Over the weekend, (yes, the press office at FDA is open over the weekend), the agency issued a notice about a recall on pet food.  There were kidney problems associated with use of the food. 

The recall reportedly affects 90 brands, according to USA TodayThere is a website that lists the dog food brands that are affected.  That is a LOT of pet food.  This is a list that the FDA has issued of the recall brands.  It raises an important question in that how can one manufacturer affect so many brands of pet food?  But it also raises some interesting questions as to the nature of the agency itself.

Can one agency really oversee all that stuff?  I mean really – my dog’s health is very important to me.  But do I want the same agency that is regulating my blood pressure medications also to be regulating the diet of my dogs? 

And then there is the lettuce scare and the spinach scare.   Should they also be regulating my food?  It seems that drugs alone are a big enough mandate.

The regulation of food, for any of us – be it mine or my dogs (or cats) really belongs in a separate agency that is solely focused on food.  The USDA has jurisdiction over most food – why not all food?  Did you know that things like snake meat and many game meats are overseen by the FDA while the steak you eat is overseen by the USDA?  Why bifurcate the food jurisdiction?  What sense is there in that?  This is particularly true when the FDA is so challenged on the drug front with safety, and efficacy and gene therapies and follow-on-biologics to consider. 

In order to help restore the FDA’s reputation, it is perhaps time to consider narrowing the significant mandate placed on one agency, so that they can focus on one thing and do it well.  This is particularly true  given the fact that during this entire Administration, the FDA has been without a confirmed leader more often than it has been with one.  This agency regulates so much of what we consume – and it has been in trouble.   Food – something all of us consume every day, either by us or our pets, has no business being regulated by the same agency that should solely be focused on protecting the public health through the regulation of drugs. 

My dogs, and I, would be happier if that were the case. 

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