After contaminated pet foods killed more than 8,500 U.S. cats and dogs in 2007, the Food and Drug Administration and its federal and state health partners decided they needed improved vigilance in watching for defective products, and to communicate more effectively during outbreaks of foodborne illness affecting companion animals.


The result of their collaboration is PETNet — the Pet Event Tracking Network launched this week — which the FDA describes as “a secure, web-based information exchange system” for government officials to share information about pet-food related incidents and recalls.

According to the news release, the system will be used by PETNet members. They are about 200 officials from four federal agencies, 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, who are responsible for the regulation of pet food products and the investigation of disease outbreaks.

This is how the FDA says the system will work: “Members will enter ‘events’ into the system when they have identified a trend or a suspicious incident associated with pet food products, as well as pet food product defects within their own jurisdiction that should be communicated to their regulatory counterparts. Once entered on the standardized form, the information will be immediately available to all other PETNet members. This will enable PETNet members to track the emergence of such data and to evaluate the need for action within individual jurisdictions.”

PETNet was developed by the Partnership for Food Protection, a group formed in the aftermath of the massive 2007 melamine pet food illnesses and recall. Melamine, an industrial chemical that can artificially boost protein content, was found in pet food ingredients imported from China and linked to severe kidney damage in pets. In China, a melamine scandal involving dairy products and baby formula sickened 300,000 people and killed six infants. 

  • Ann Quinn, consumer

    At least get it right.
    PetNet was mandated by the amendments to Title X of the 2009
    FDA Act to deal with the pet food recalls, what became Public Law 110-85, not some noble pet food group sponsored by the Pet Food Industry. You will note, of course, that only select “officials” get to screen this material, instead of the no good group that should be reporting on this daily, the American Veterinary Association, the vets who actually treat our foodborne illness pets.
    As to the number of victims of 2007, there was just finally in
    July 2011 payment made to 22,000 owners, representing God knows how many actual pets — in my case three dead victims — of the pet food recalls of 2007. This was after the natioanl class action litigation eliminated God knows how many claims that were not well enough documented, because we all know when your pet is dying of acute kidney failure that the first thing on your mind is keeping careful, legal records; and God knows how many pet owners who lost their pets and never made a claim;
    and God knows how many pets who were seriously damaged by poison commercial pet food and had to be treated for years and years after 2007.
    Banfield, the largest group of pet hospitals in the country, you know, the vets in PetsMarts, estimated in 2008 or 2009
    based on their 2007 records that there were at least dead 50,000 pet victims in 2007 and God only knows how many damaged
    survivors. Let’s quit quoting the supressed and minimized garbage put out by the pet food companies, who control the press on deadly pet food incidents so well.
    Sorry, Mary, but the pet owner scars from 2007 are deep and the
    knowledge that nothing has been done to improve the quality of the by in large garbage ingredients of commercial pet food to improve the health and life of the nation’s pets just plain horrifying. Industry control of the press surrounding the
    wonderful “feed the senses” prettily advertised awful commercial pet food continues. Do your pet a big favor. Keep
    your vet from having to constantly treat your pet’s food induced illnesses: Make homemade pet foods.

  • Gilbert Held

    You also need to track bad treats. We purchased Veternarian Select Treats (Chicken & Rice) for our pet Shitzu. This product from Sunshine Mills was within the expiration date yet had literally tons of weavals in it. We notified the company as well as Riverside Animal Hospital where my wife bought the treats. The company recalled the product in July 2013 but claims it is harmless. If true, why did they recall the product?