Industry-government panel formed to dig deeper

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National Report - The Pet Food Institute (PFI) created a new industry-government commission to investigate the pet-food crisis and make recommendations, its president says.

NATIONAL REPORT — The Pet Food Institute (PFI) created a new industry-government commission to investigate the pet-food crisis and make recommendations, its president says.

Duane Ekedahl indicated the 50-year-old industry organization, while already cooperating with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in its investigation, wanted to take an additional proactive step – bring together a panel of government officials, veterinarians, toxicologists and nutritionists to further "examine and, if necessary, enhance the safety and security of the manufacturing process."

"With respect to the current recalls, neither the investigators nor the industry know the exact reason why animals were sickened," Ekedahl told the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee in mid-April.

"While the FDA continues its investigation, the pet-food industry is taking steps" by forming the National Pet Food Commission.

Members include Dr. Angele Thompson, pet nutritionist who will serve as chair; Dr. Murl Bailey, professor of veterinary medicine at Texas A&M University; Dr. Fran Kallfelz, professor of veterinary medicine at Cornell University; Dr. Rod Noel, Indiana State Chemist's office and the American Association of Feed Control Officers (AAFCO); Randy Gordon, of the National Grain and Feed Association; Christopher Cowell, chair of PFI's Regulatory Affairs Committee; and an adviser from FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine yet to be named.

The panel's two-fold mission:

  • To investigate the cause of the current pet-food recall

  • To recommend steps the industry and government should take "to further build on the safety and quality standards already in place"

The commission will issue a report of its findings and offer recommendations to the pet-food industry and to regulators.

Details about the commission, and its final report, are to be posted on the PFI consumer Web site, www.petfoodreport.com, Ekedahl says.

Ekedahl did not indicate how long the study will take or when the report will be filed.

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