What Really Happens When the FDA Recalls My Dog's Food?

What Really Happens When the FDA Recalls My Dog�s Food?

Dog Food Recalls

While many pet parents are alert to when pet food recalls are performed, still it’s not entirely clear what the recalls mean. The first thing to differentiate is the difference between a voluntary manufacturer recall, and when the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) steps in.

It has a scary enough ring to it, but perhaps by learning the different levels of a pet food recall we can take some of the mystery out of why. On their informative infographic which is both viewable on their website and available for download and free distribution on their website, the FDA states that "…recalls are almost always voluntary. Sometimes a company discovers a problem and recalls a product on its own. Other times a company recalls a product after FDA raises concerns.  Only in rare cases will the FDA request a recall. But in every case, FDA’s role is to oversee a company’s strategy and assess the adequacy of the recall."

Now let's take at how the FDA is alerted to a problem and the different classifications for pet food recalls:

1. First Alert

When a problem in a mass distributed product is discovered, the FDA is contacted in order to ensure the problem with the product is remedied via “effectiveness checks.” The FDA defines effectiveness checks as reviewing the distributing company’s corrective actions in order to know when the recall is finished.

The FDA lists several ways in which it first hears about a problem product:

  • A company discovers a problem and contacts FDA.
  • FDA inspects a manufacturing facility and determines the potential for a recall.
  • FDA receives reports of health problems through various reporting systems.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) contacts FDA.

2. Class III

Products recalled under this class are defined by the FDA as “… unlikely to cause any adverse health reaction, but that violate FDA labeling or manufacturing laws. Examples include: a minor container defect and lack of English labeling in a retail food.” In other words, products recalled under this class will most likely not cause any adverse health reactions.


3. Class II

 Pet food products that are labeled under this class are classified as having the possibility of causing a “temporary health problem, or pose only a slight threat of a serious nature.” There is a remote chance the product will cause lasting or serious health consequences.

4. Class I

Pet food products classified under this class pose the most serious and/or fatal health problems including contaminants such as salmonella, botulism or a “food with undeclared allergens.” There is a reasonable possibility that ingestion of the pet food product can result in a serious illness or death.

Along with the recall classifications, the FDA also lists what is termed as a “market recall.” This term applies to when a product is not in FDA violation and that would not be subject to FDA legal action. Examples for this include product tampering where the company is not liable due to internal manufacturing or distribution error.

To stay on top of the latest pet food recalls, make sure you sign up for the Pet360 Safety Meter.