'Truth in Labeling' Should Apply to Pet Pharmaceuticals

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Nov 18, 2013 in Rat Answers | Subscribe


November 18,

For Immediate

Truth in
Labeling’ Should Apply to Pet Pharmaceuticals,

Dog Owner Takes NZ
Manufacturer to Task Over Cancer-Causing Ingredients,
Non-Disclosure False Claims

A South
Island resident is taking Bayer Animal Health to task over
deliberately concealing the inclusion of the animal
cancer-causing ingredient, saccharin, in a purportedly
“benign” pharmaceutical product sold through

When North Otago dog owner Jordan Kelly’s
collie cross was diagnosed with a tumour recently, she
decided to further investigate the ingredients of an
inadequately labelled joint mobilisation product.

“I feed
my dogs only raw, organic food and am vigilant about
everything they eat. I don’t let them near anything
sugar-added or artificially flavoured, for example,” she

“About 18 months ago, when the vet first
recommended this particular joint product – ‘Bomazeal
Mobilize’ – I asked what its ingredients were, as the label
only listed its ‘active constituents’.

“The vet was
ignorant of its contents and told me to ring the
manufacturer, Bayer New Zealand, which I did.

“I spoke to
a product manager or similar there, who refused to disclose
anything other than the limited list of ingredients on the
label, saying that the information was ‘proprietary’. She
assured me that the other ingredients in the tablets were
simple, benign tablet-forming materials – and she also
assured me that there were no sugars or artificial
sweeteners or flavours, or any other ingredient over which I
would have concern.

“I was not prepared to accept her
assurance, and pressed for the complete list of ingredients.
She told me I had no right to know. However, when I refused
to let the matter rest, she promised to ‘speak to her
colleagues’ and get back to me with these, but never

Unfortunately, Ms Kelly continued to feed her dogs
the tablets every night ever since.

She said that
following the vet’s diagnosis last week, she decided to
re-visit the issue of the ‘Mobilize’ product. She decided
the only way to find out the truth about the product’s
ingredients was to eat one herself.

“I didn’t exactly
relish the prospect, but since the company wouldn’t disclose
the ingredients, I had no option. I wanted to know for once
and for all what I was feeding my dogs.

“So I ate one. I
couldn’t believe it . . . it was like eating the worst kind
of sugar pill with a bit of seafood-flavoured lacing. I
could tell immediately that it not only contained artificial
sweetener, but a significant amount of it. The taste of the
artificial sweetener stayed in my mouth for hours, even
after brushing my teeth.”

She rang Bayer Animal Health the
following morning, and spoke to another staff member,
persisting until that individual agreed to read out the full
list of ingredients. These included saccharin, at which
point Ms Kelly hung up in disgust, without hearing the rest.
She rang back shortly afterwards and asked for the rest of
the list of ingredients to be read out, but this request was
now refused.

Ms Kelly said she is distraught that,
unbeknownst to her, and against the backdrop of the false
assurances previously given to her by the manufacturer she
has, effectively, been feeding her dogs handfuls of
artificial sweetener every night for the past year and a

“There is a known and direct link between saccharin
and cancer in animals,” Ms Kelly says. “The United States
National Cancer Institute’s website, for example, states
that  studies in laboratory rats have linked saccharin with
the development of bladder cancer. The site states clearly
that, at some point, the United States Congress mandated all
food containing saccharin bear the following warning label:
 ‘Use of this product may be hazardous to your
health. This product contains saccharin, which has been
determined to cause cancer in laboratory

“Yet here you have an animal
pharmaceuticals manufacturer actually putting it in their
products. What’s worse, they don’t disclose it on their
packaging. And worse still, they lie about it when a product
purchaser contacts them asking questions about their
product’s ingredients.

“To deliberately allow pet owners
to unknowingly feed saccharin or any other cancer-causing
ingredient to their animals under the guise of a natural
health food product, is absolutely heinous,” Ms Kelly

She is currently working with specialists at Massey
University’s Veterinary School, and a high-profile cancer
treatment clinic in the United States, to save her dog.

Ms Kelly says that pet food and animal chemical
manufacturers should be subject to the same “truth in
labelling” regulations as all other consumer product
companies. In fact, she says, vigilant monitoring by the
authorities is especially important in the case of food and
pharmaceuticals intended for pet consumption, given the
otherwise inability of owners to know what they’re feeding
their animals.


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