The Real Problem with Dog Food Recalls



These days, dog food recalls have become far too common.  And when you also consider “people food”, the notices appear almost daily.

And that’s no exaggeration.  If you don’t believe me, just follow the FDA’s Twitter feed.  Or try searching Google for the word “recall”.

I can assure you… the bad news is endless.

Yet it’s not the dog food recalls themselves I find so alarming.

No.  After all, with the manufacture of any food product… the threat of accidental contamination is a constant concern.

Mold, insects, chemicals… you name it.  They’re all a real challenge.

You know, considering the size of the market itself… plus all the mass production systems out there… it’s truly amazing we don’t hear more about dog food recalls than we do.

Yet whether we like it or not, problems like these must be expected.

The Real Problem with Dog Food Recalls…
A Lack of Corporate Integrity

What really frustrates me is the covert and evasive manner in which so many dog food companies choose to conduct themselves during the recalls themselves.

For example, during the past few weeks there have been no less than two voluntary dog food recalls… both of them improperly handled.

The first company announced the possibility of plastic fragments in some of its dog food products.  But look how the news was handled.

The Wrong Way to Announce
a Dog Food Recall

Now, check this out…

In its press release, the manufacturer avoided using the word “recall” altogether… thereby flying under the radar of the Internet’s search engines.

Instead of using the more familiar term, “recall”… it disguised the event itself by referring to it as a “voluntary retrieval”.

As a matter of fact, nowhere in the company’s official press release was the word “recall” ever mentioned… not even once!

So, why should you care about this?

OK… say you’d heard through the grapevine about a possible dog food contamination problem.  To confirm the news, would you really go to Google and search for the phrase “voluntary retrieval”… or would you more probably have chosen to look for the words “dog food recall”?

Was this an oversight?  Or was it a deliberate attempt by the company to deceive shoppers and shield its corporate image?

Now, in all fairness, it appears the firm acted commendably to quickly contain the spread of the affected products.

Talk about a wasted opportunity!

Wouldn’t this have been the perfect time for the company to enhance its long term reputation by highlighting their prudent actions by making it easy for us to find this critical information?

Uh-Oh!  Here We Go Again

Now, the second company had a different problem.  It discovered mold contamination in some of its products.

This is an unfortunate (but not a particularly uncommon) problem with many kinds of packaged foods.

However, the manufacturer elected to issue its recall notice to distributors only… bypassing consumers (at least, in the beginning).

I believe this was a huge public relations blunder.

A Clever Way to Make Any Dog Food Recall
Virtually Disappear from the Internet

The error was compounded when the company published the notice as a page on its website… with no conspicuous link to that page… basically rendering it completely invisible to the public.

The only way I personally became aware of the recall itself was when I found a link to the hidden page on another website [link deleted by moderator due to presence of malware].

Now, think about it… what good is posting a recall notice on the Net if there’s no visible link to it?

Bowing to a rash of public criticism, the company (a few days later) went on to issue a more lengthy notice… but now the firm spent much of its time defending its actions.  You could almost hear the frustration in their words.

As my dad used to say… when you tell somebody something before it happens… it’s “information”.  But when you wait to tell them after it’s a problem… it becomes an excuse.

Like the first company, this manufacturer had also passed up a terrific opportunity to turn a lemon into lemonade… to build integrity.. and enhance its long term corporate image.

The Right Way to Announce a Dog Food Recall

To dog food companies everywhere, I say…

The days of insider information in your industry are over.  This is the Age of the Internet… of global community… of sharing information openly… and honestly.

Today, dog owners talk… and talk a lot.  We read blogs and meet in online forums.  We join social networks.  And we spread the word… everywhere we go.

What would you like for us to say about you the next time you have to deal with a recall one of your products?

You know, we don’t love it when they happen.  But we really do understand that sometimes product recalls are necessary.

All we ask is that when they are necessary that you act with integrity.  We expect…

  1. Speedy notification for each and every dog food recall
  2. Accessible public posting of all recall details on the Internet
  3. Use of the search-friendly term “recall” in all communications

In the long run, responsible pet food manufacturers are more quickly forgiven of their “sins”… than thoughtless ones.

So, remember… in the unpleasant world of dog food recalls, integrity pays.

Visit our Dog Food Recalls summary page for an index of links to all the Advisor’s most recent product recall reports.

  • JR

    I strongly believe it is totally unrealistic to expect corporations, of any type, to be honest and forthright with the consumer/public in today’s M.O. of corporate greed. Not conscience, not ethics or morality, and not even good for business considerations will persuade the CEOs and owners of big business, dog food or others. Make as much profit as possible, now, under any circumstances, and to hell with the consequences. Don’t know what the answer is, except to depend on a website and its founder like Dog Food Advisor. A light in the darkness of greed.

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  • Mia B

    Just also want to say that my dogs became sick after having their canned products, and I’m lucky that when they were ill, I have decided not to feed them any more of it. At the time the public was not yet aware of the problems later announced, and then I found out shortly thereafter about the recall after many pets were reported as ill and/or dying.
    I think companies have a responsibility to make the public aware about problems with food that could be circulating for a long time, due to slipping up of pulling it off shelves. It’s pathetic that they have to play a game of cat and mouse regarding vital information. Not all retailers are aware of having to remove products off their shelves, especially small stores that don’t have the infrastructure to keep on top of all the information.

  • Mia B

    I called IAMS after their recall and dogs that were poisoned by their food, and they did not continue to make the public aware of the specific details of their contaminated products on their website in an open way. They were highly disrespectful and evasive about being responsible about providing information related to old cans still sitting on retailers’ shelves. They made a comment about other negative issues concerning their company stating not to believe everything one reads. I believe they are all about profit and little about the care of animals, based on evidence I have seen posted online as well as how they dealt with me and apparently other people. I think companies like Target and other big retailers should not support them by buying their product at wholesale, nor do I think pet owners that love their pets, should buy the products to give to their pets. It’s my opinion and also one that other people can see where it could be formed, by doing their own research.