Responding to the recall

Responding to the recall

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May 01, 2007

NATIONAL REPORT — As confusion, outcry and updates continue to grow on pace with the pet food recall, several key organized veterinary associations stepped up to help calm the frenzy and restore pet owner sanity.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) all opened their doors to receive questions and help restore calm to harried pet owners, veterinarians and media outlets.

FDA consumer complaint coordinators recorded more than 12,000 reports of animal illness in the three weeks following the initial recall announcement, more than twice the amount typically received in an entire year. Dedicating each of its 20 district offices and more than 400 employees to the investigation, FDA's efforts were joined by AVMA, who focused on continuously updating its recall page with the newest information available.

"The AVMA's recall Web page has been cited by many sources as the most comprehensive source of information for veterinarians and the public," says Sharon Curtis Granskog, AVMA's assistant director of media relations. Page views have averaged 59,000 per day from the beginning of the recall, with April 2 marking the record for page visits at more than 122,420.

With a 24-hour hotline already in service, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center allocated all 42 employees — including 27 DVMs, nine of which are board certified in toxicology — to respond to recall inquiries.

"Tragic as this crisis is, it has shown how well medical experts can work together with communication experts to provide valuable information to the public," says Shonali Burke, ASPCA senior director of media and communications. But the organizations remain just as frustrated as the public in trying to handle the recall.

"I think we all agree that still not knowing what exactly the link is between the contaminant(s) in the food and the cause of illness or death is extremely frustrating, because we would really like to be able to give some definitive answers to the public," Burke says.