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Customer Review

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The story of the pet food recall of 2007, August 21, 2008
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This review is from: Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine (Hardcover)
Marion Nestle's book "Pet Food Politics" is about the pet food recall of 2007. For those of you who don't remember, there was a massive recall of pet food last summer. The recall began with cat food manufactured by Menu Foods (but sold under many other brand names including Iams, Nutro, and Hill's), but expanded into a large number of cat and dog foods under many different brand names. It became clear after the recall that the problem occurred because an unscrupulous Chinese supplier sold a mixture of wheat flour, cyanuric acid, and melamine as wheat gluten. As a pet owner, the recall inconvenienced me (I had to change my cats' foods). As a parent, I became greatly concerned about what I was feeding my daughter and began seriously looking at where the food I bought was produced. I bought this book because I wanted to better understand what happened.

I knew the basic story here, but did not know about the total number of pets who died (likely in the thousands), the reasons why melamine was substituted for the wheat gluten (cheap melamine looks like expensive protein when tested using standard industrial tests), nor what happened to the contaminated pet food (it was fed to livestock and made it into the human food chain).

This book is a fast read and is clear, well written, and very interesting. Unfortunately, it is too brief. I wish that Ms. Nestle had taken this opportunity to explain more about the pet food industry: its history, the major players, the processes used to make pet food. The story is fascinating, but it feels more like a New Yorker article than a book.

I would recommend this book to someone who was interested in the pet food recalls, though I think that most readers should start with other books about food production. Specifically, I would recommend Michael Pollan's excellent The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals or Marion Nestle's own What to Eat before reading this book, to get a feel for how food is produced and to understand some of the politics involved.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 26, 2008 12:13:26 AM PST
Gamer091 says:
I read both books (Pollan's and Nestle's What to eat) and I couldn't agree more with your recommendation. As a cat owner I will definetly buy the Pet food politics.

Posted on Aug 30, 2009 10:34:30 PM PDT
Elle Meme says:
I have not read this book, but the real issue is not that their was tainted wheat gluten that made its way into pet food but that the pet food industry is making their products out of what pure garbage (literally). The pet food industry has become the garbage bin for other industries. Dogs and cats should not be eating wheat gluten of any kind! They are carnivores and are often highly allergic to wheat and other grains. Do your research. I did and am convinced that all commercial pet foods are inferior to fresh high quality raw food. If you insist on feeding your pets commercial pet foods, buy the best that you can afford (not the big name brands).

Posted on Dec 27, 2009 7:57:28 PM PST
GW Alumna says:
I wound up bursting out crying in a Petsmart store when I found that Blue Buffalo had been recalled. It takes a lot to make me cry. I can afford the very best in cat food for my babies. But which food would that be? I went from Blue Buffalo to Innova brands because innova makes its own products. Then went to Wysong because I liked their ideas of switching foods. Tossed in there somewhere was Wellness. My 20-year-old got sick a couple of weeks ago and refused to eat the Wysong after coming home from the emergency hospital. So, my husband and I went out and bought anything that we thought he might eat. Turns out he really likes the Blue Buffalo Salmon dry food. The one thing I cannot do is cook for my cats. My husband and I are vegans, and the smell of cooked flesh is just not tolerable. Never, ever did I think I would be driven to the brink of madness by cat food.
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Joseph Adler

Location: Mountain View, CA

Top Reviewer Ranking: 537,223