It is sad to report that the credibility of our results has been attacked. And by someone who knows nothing of the two scientists who oversaw the testing for us. There were no questions asked prior – just bashing. Makes one wonder.
Phyllis Entis is probably known to many readers here — she was known as “The Food Bug Lady” when she had a blog about food safety. She just came out of her retirement from blogging to call our pet food test results “junk science.” You can read her unflattering response to our testing here.
So — for starters, in response to the “junk science” claim — the scientists who oversaw our testing project were Dr. Gary Pusillo and Dr. Tsengeg Purejav of INTI Service Corp. For any doubters to the credibility of our testing, below is a bio of INTI Service:
INTI Service Corp. provides animal and agricultural forensic science services to companies all over the world. Dr. Gary Pusillo, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, has more than 300 professional forensic investigations to his credit, in addition to personally reviewing and evaluating hundreds of cases that never made it into the judicial system. Dr. Gary’s investigative and expert reports are peer-reviewed, scrutinized and analyzed by the some of the best minds in science and the legal system. Dr. Gary has been an associate member of the American Academy of Forensic Scientists (AAFS) since 2012 and has presented two papers at national meetings. In Washington, D.C., in 2013, Dr. Gary received the AAFS General Section Achievement Award. This was the first an animal professional ever received the award since 1948.
Those who know me and my consumer advocacy work know very well that I would not have trusted our very serious pet food testing project to anyone other than the absolute best. We had the best with Dr. Gary Pusillo and Dr. Tsengeg Purejav.
Ms. Entis calls our testing “a wild goose chase after low-level pathogens of minimal risk to either humans or their pets.” Interesting perspective — but incorrect.
The information provided in the full report was quoted from FDA, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. I am by no means a scientist, so I relied on information from these well-known organizations to provide risk information to consumers.
As an example, Ms. Entis states that Acinetobacter (found in 8 pet foods) is a “low-grade pathogen that is mainly associated with hospital-acquired infections … .” FDA, on the other hand, has classified Acinetobacter as a “Qualifying Pathogen” – it is listed in the Federal Register as a qualifying pathogen. As for this bacteria mainly being associated with hospital-acquired infections, yes, I’ve read that, too. But why was a bacteria mainly associated with hospital-acquired infections found in pet food?
Ms. Entis states about Pseudomonas bacteria, “These bacteria are present in the environment, in our water, and in food. It is a cause of ‘swimmer’s ear’… .” However, specific to meat (such as meat in pet food), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations lists Pseudomonas as “microorganisms causing microbiological spoilage of meat,” and states specifically that Pseudomonas is a bacteria that causes “putrefaction” of meat. Again, why was this bacteria — linked to swimmer’s ear AND putrefaction of meat — found in pet food?
Ms. Entis discounts the risk of Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and Bacillus. On the other hand, FDA discusses these bacteria and their risks to humans — at length — in its “Handbook of Foodborne Pathogenic Microorganisms and Natural Toxins.” Note the word “foodborne.” Not even to mention the risk to pets consuming the bacteria.
Ms. Entis states, “the study organizers decided to troll through the foods for a long list of other irrelevant microbes.” The bacteria testing on the pet foods was performed at Baylor University. The results they provided were for full bacteria content of pet foods tested. There was no “trolling” for microbes. What was found, was found. What wasn’t, wasn’t. We did not “select” what bacteria to look for — our testing searched for all bacteria in each pet food. Salmonella and Campylobacter were not found in our testing — we didn’t avoid them as Ms. Entis suggested. Had she bothered to ask me prior to her post, she would have learned this. As for species identification, my apologies. Consumers didn’t have the funding to perform this for you.
Ms. Entis also took offense at how our mycotoxin results were provided. She suggests that we (me) intentionally changed the results from parts per million to parts per billion to make “the data appear more shocking.” Wrong again.
The results were provided to me as parts per billion, and, in turn, I provided them to consumers as parts per billion. Ms. Entis suggests that FDA states mycotoxin levels in parts per million. But, as you can see in this FDA Guidance document, FDA states aflatoxin levels in parts per billion — just as we did.
Ms. Entis states, “I am appalled at the way in which this study was designed and carried out. The portions of the study relating to bacterial analysis and presentation of the mycotoxin results are the epitome of junk science.”
Junk science? You call a board-certified veterinary nutritionist and a member of the American Academy of Forensic Scientists junk science? You call science performed by a leading university junk science? I beg to differ.
It does NOT matter if bacteria found in our test results are known to be found in hospital-acquired infections — they were found IN PET FOOD. They are linked to serious human illness. They are linked to spoilage of meat.
If doubters wish to question Baylor University and the results they provided us, go right ahead. No one — to our knowledge — has ever tested pet food at this level before. So perhaps the shock and disbelief from doubters should be expected. But I must say I was disappointed that Ms. Entis never bothered to reach out to learn more from me prior to her publicly discounting our testing. She not only insulted pet food consumers, she insulted numerous professionals. That is a shame.© Food Safety News