Helen Santoro-100 Reporter
In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, acting on the opinion of a group of veterinary researchers, said that the growing popularity of grain-free dog food suddenly caused dilated cardiomyopathy, a potentially deadly heart disease in dogs. We have begun investigating whether it has led to an increase in the number of dogs.
Four years later, the FDA found no firm link between diet and dilated cardiomyopathy. Also, the investigation is ongoing without rejecting such links. Nonetheless, the propaganda surrounding this issue has shrunk the once promising market for grain-free dog food.
In addition, FDA internal records indicate that an intertwined network of industry funding and interests has influenced the origins, data collection, and courses of FDA research.
6 months survey by 100 reporter Veterinarians who urged the FDA to consider diets found that they had economic and other relationships with major sellers of grain-containing pet food. In addition, government records indicate that in the first study, some veterinarians will only submit cases of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) associated with grain-free “exotic” or “boutique” pet food. Was instructed by. Ingredient suppliers for grain-free dog food are also putting pressure on the FDA to protect the market.
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As a result, the conversations about DCM and grain-free foods are broadly divided, claiming that each prioritizes industry relations over scientific integrity and pet life.
“This has become a very emotional issue,” said Danablex, CEO of the Pet Food Institute, whose members produce most pet food in the United States. “We are struggling to even determine what is happening.”
Grain-free pet diets became popular in the early 2000s, relying heavily on legumes, which are the seeds of legumes such as legumes, legumes, and lentils. By 2019, grain-free kibbles accounted for 43% of all dry pet food sold.
Until 2017, the FDA saw one to three DCM reports each year. However, between January 1st and July 10th, 2018, 25 proceedings were filed. According to an FDA spokeswoman, the seven reports came from Lisa Freeman, an animal nutritionist at Tufts University’s Cummings Veterinary School. However, FDA records obtained under the Information Disclosure Act indicate that these reports may not fully represent the cases seen at the Tufts Clinic.
In a June 2018 email to FDA Veterinary Officer Jennifer Jones, Freeman attached a document instructing the veterinarian to report the case to the FDA. Ingredients or grain-free (BEG) diet. “
When asked if this could be recognized as the cherry-picking data that shapes the survey, Freeman said through Tufts media relations: Between diet and dilated cardiomyopathy. “
“I shared the protocol with the FDA to share clinical recommendations for patients at the time,” Freeman wrote. They say they are “continuing to study” diets that contain ingredients related to DCM “regardless of manufacturer.”
An FDA spokesperson wrote in an email: We welcome all DCM reports with suspected links to food, regardless of diet type. “
according to PubMed.govSince 2002, Freeman has been funded by leading distributors of grain-containing foods such as Nestlé Purina Pet Care, Hills Pet Nutrition and Mars Pet Care. Her recent declaration of conflict of interest states: She receives research funding from Aratana Therapeutics, Elanco, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Nestlé Purina Pet Care, P & G Pet Care (now Mars), and Royal Canin to give sponsored talks and provide professional services. “
In animal nutrition, industry funding is common. Freeman said he was behind his research and “transparently disclosed the sources of funding for the work I’m doing on this topic.”
Two veterinary cardiologists, Darcy Adin of the University of Florida Veterinary School and Joshua Stern of the University of California, Davis Veterinary School, also worked with the FDA.
In April 2018, Jones talked about Freeman, Stern, Adin and grain-free dog food and DCM and requested a spreadsheet of clinical case data, according to an email from a request for public records.
Adin has been involved in research funded by Purina since 2018 and by the Morris Animal Foundation since 2017. This charity is a non-profit animal health charity founded by Mark Morris Sr. It will be Hill’s Pet Nutrition.
A University of Florida spokeswoman said neither Adin nor the university received direct financial support from companies for these studies.
Stern has been writing research funded by the Morris Animal Foundation since 2011 and is currently funded by the Foundation.
“I fully understand the concerns of conflicts of interest with people funded by the pet food industry,” Stern said. “It’s hard to find a veterinary nutritionist who hasn’t done research on pet food companies.”
Purina, Hill’s, and Mars did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
In July 2018, the FDA released a study, noting that many of the 25 dogs diagnosed lacked a genetic predisposition to DCM. It said that the common thread appeared to be a grain-free diet.
A year later, the FDA took the unusual step of naming 16 dog foods, almost all grain-free, which appear most often in DCM case reports. “I’ve never seen anything like that before, unless the cause is clear,” Brooks said.
Joseph Bartges, a professor of animal nutrition at the University of Georgia, wasn’t surprised to find that the FDA had flagged grain-free foods early on. “When you look for just what you want to see, you see only what you are looking for,” says Bartges. By July 2020, DCM reported 1,100. This may be the result of the FDA encouraging people to report their illness, “Brooks said.
Suppliers of grain-free food ingredients have mobilized to protect their market share.
In its 2019 annual report, the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council said, “We have persuaded the FDA to clarify the wording of concerns and minimize damage to the industry.”
In a 2019 letter to FDA authorities, Senator Jon Tester of Montana, a major legume growing area, complained that the authorities’ “unfounded warning” had hurt legume farmers. The following year, seven senators signed another letter to the FDA, pointing out the possibility of “prejudice about the cause of the disease.”
The FDA continues to state that DCM involves multiple factors. Immediately after the letter, Stephen Solomon, director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), emphasized this point and described DCM as a “scientifically complex and multifaceted problem.” We do not currently consider this a regulatory issue. “
“Ultimately, all FDA decisions and work are guided by science, data, and our public health mission,” an FDA spokesperson wrote while meeting with stakeholders. I am.
Despite the final results of the survey, sales of grain-free dry dog food have declined since June 2018, down $ 60 million between 2021 and 2022. Meanwhile, sales, including grain, surged in 2019, rising $ 700 million from 2020 to 2021.
Marion Nestle, author of pet food politics, says it will be difficult to get an answer about DCM because of the complexity of science and industry influence. “They are all trying to protect their market share.”
This article is a summary version of the survey produced by. 100 reporterA non-profit investigative journalism agency, with financial support from the Investigative Journalism Fund and legal guidance from the Press Committee for Freedom of the Press.
This story was first published on July 20, 2022. Updated on July 23, 2022, the founder of the Morris Animal Foundation created the first line of dog food produced by the company Hill’s Pet Nutrition, but corrected that it did not. Start a company. Remove false references to Foundations chaired by Hill’s Pet Nutrition employees. It is not.
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How Dog Heart Disease Linked to Grain-Free Dog Food | Latest News
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