Tag Archives: forum

Pesky Educated Pet Food Consumers Pose a Risk To The Protected Pet Food Industry!

By Susan Thixton. The Truth About Pet Food

More information regarding the denial to attend the Petfood Forum and follow up information on our Citizen Petition to the FDA.

I take detailed notes when I speak with anyone in the pet food industry.  I want to be sure, should I need to report on what I’m being told, to get things accurate.  Well…yesterday I found the notes of my original conversation with Steve Akins (Watts Publishing, Petfood Forum – that told me no I cannot attend their industry conference) requesting a pass to the forum and workshop.

My conversation with Steve Akins, Vice President of Watt Publishing took place on February 3, 2011.  I called him to inquire about a press pass for the 2011 Petfood Forum to be held in Chicago in April.  I introduced myself and asked how I could go about getting a press pass for the event.  I told him that I wanted to attend the event to report to Pet Owners.  Mr. Akins was quite pleasant, and told me he’d have to consult with others including business partners – those that his company caters to – before he could respond.  Regarding my attendance to the event, they would have to discuss “what kind of risk does it pose”.  When I assured him that my intentions were to provide Pet Owners with further education on the industry he made a very telling statement (which I wrote down word for word).  I quote, “No matter what your intentions are, they are very protected.” ‘They’ being the ‘business partners’ that participate at these events; such as pet food manufacturers, ingredient suppliers, importers, and the like.

When I ran across these notes yesterday – “no matter what your intentions are, they are very protected” jumped off the page at me.  I felt it was significant at the time, but not until after I was denied access to this event – even if I paid their $1095 admission to the Petfood Forum and $655 admission to the Petfood Workshop – did I realize just how significant these words were.

THEY ARE VERY PROTECTED.  Yes…they certainly are.

The only reason they could need to be “very protected” is because they have a great deal to hide.

So then I wondered, was it just me being denied entrance into the Petfood Forum and Workshop or would any Pet Owning Consumer be denied?  I sent this question to our friend Steve Akin at Watt Publications – his response….

No Response.

That’s a significant message too isn’t it?

An update from our Citizen Petition to the FDA.

In August of 2010, over 500 pet loving citizens signed a petition to the FDA.  Note that this petition is not a typical petition.  An FDA ‘Citizen Petition’ is the protocol required to request FDA issue, amend, or revoke a regulation or order.  In our case, we were simply asking FDA to enforce existing law.  Yes, it’s a bit crazy to have to ask the FDA to enforce the very laws their government organization is designed to enforce…but it’s what we had to do.

Well…I just received a response from the FDA.  The following is what they replied, received this week…

January 28, 2011

Re:  Docket No. FDA-2010-P-0416

Dear Ms. Thixton:

This is a tentative response to the Citizen Petition (FDA-2010-P-0416) filed with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on August 5, 2010.  This petition requests the FDA to: enforce all Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) laws with respect to pet foods and pet treats; require the removal from store shelves of pet foods and treats containing certain ingredients until such time that the manufacturer provides evidence that those ingredients are within the guidelines of the FD&C Act; and consider certain pet food and pet treat manufacturers sourcing ingredients from specified sources adulteration to be high risk, thereby requiring frequent FDA inspection and burden of evidence of compliance from the manufacturer.

Pursuant to the administrative regulations at 21 CFR 10.30, FDA is required to respond to your petition within 180 days.  FDA currently is considering the issues raised by your citizen petition.  However, the agency will require additional time to issue a final response due to the existence of other agency priorities at this time.  FDA will issue a final response to your citizen petition after completing the analyses of all the issues raised in the petition.

Sincerely yours,

Bernadette M. Dunham, D.V.M., Ph.D.
Director, Center for Veterinary Medicine

How significant a problem is it when ordinary citizens have to ask a Federal agency to enforce the federal laws they are supposed to enforce already?  And I can share with all that from what I know of FDA’s history of providing a final response to a citizen petition, it will probably be sometime in next decade that we’ll hear from them, if ever.

So…there ya have it.  We pesky educated pet food consumers pose a risk to protected industry and are causing the FDA to spend time analyzing why they should enforce federal pet food safety laws.

Wishing you and your pet the best,

Susan Thixton
Truth about Pet Food
Petsumer Report

We’ve Been Denied Access to Pet Food Industry Forum By Susan Thixton


I requested a press pass to the Petfood Forum and Petfood Workshop to be held in Chicago in April 2011; I was denied access to report on this pet food event to Pet Owners. Industry doesn’t want a consumer advocate to see and report on what they do! Do they have something to hide?

Yes – they told no. No, a consumer advocate is NOT allowed to attend an industry forum. No, a consumer advocate is NOT allowed to “arm yourself with knowledge” and meet “key contacts” in the pet food industry. No – go away kid, you’re bothering me.

The following email was received from Steve Akins, WATT Vice President/Publisher this morning. This email was in response to a phone conversation I had with Mr. Akins two weeks ago requesting a press pass for the 2011 Petfood Forum and Workshop.

Hi Susan,

After consulting with our owners, advisors, and business partners, I’ve decided it’s in the best interest of our conference and exhibition to deny your request for a press pass to Petfood Forum 2011 and Petfood Workshop 2011.

I do appreciate your request and hope we can work on other ways to communicate with you appropriately.


Steve Akins
WATT – Vice President/Publisher
Global Petfood/North American Agri-Food
Cell – 815-209-6444 sakins@wattnet.net

I sent Mr. Akins the following response…

Ya know Steve, I’m quite shocked. It proves to me Petfood Forum definately has something to hide from Pet Owners. I’m confident my readers will feel the same! This attitude furthers the lack of trust and confidence consumers have with industry.

Susan Thixton

And then I sent Mr. Akins the following question…

Would I be allowed entrance to the forum if I paid your attendance fee?

His response…

“I’m sorry Susan, but the answer is still no.”

The strange thing is, two pet food companies (that I respect) suggested I attend this conference (actually they more than suggested – they said ‘you HAVE to go’). These two pet food companies wanted pet owners to learn more about the industry and ingredients – both felt it would be in the best interest of consumers to learn more. Both felt this show was the best way to learn and share with Pet Owners. I shared this information with Steve Akins; I told Mr. Akins that while I would be representing consumers the suggestion was originally from industry (those in industry that have nothing to hide). But it appears Pet Food Industry.com doesn’t care whose suggestion it was; they don’t want consumers to know what goes on at their get together.

I’m shocked and quite angry. Pet Owners support this industry, yet the industry wants Pet Owners to know nothing about what’s going on inside. The Pet Food Industry doesn’t want me to speak with ingredient suppliers (exhibitors at the Forum), doesn’t want me to report to all of you about what is really in those ingredients you are feeding your dog and cat. The Pet Food Industry wants your money at the pet store, but forget about learning detailed information about pet food ingredients!

So our truth is that they want to keep us quiet. Go away Pet Lover, you’re messing with my profits. Forget about it! Just continue to buy our product and stop asking questions. I’m appalled.

If you feel the same, here is the contact information for the executives of Watt Publishing (corporate entity responsible for this decision)…

Corporate staff

Greg Watt
President, CEO
Phone: 815.966.5517
Fax: 815.734.5649

Bruce Plantz
Vice President – Director of Content
Phone: 815.966.5425
Fax: 815.734.5649

Joyce Neth
Vice President – Director of Research & Insight
Phone: 815.966.5500
Fax: 815.734.5649

Steve Akins
Vice President, Publisher North America
Phone: +1.919.387.7961
Fax: +1.815.968.0941

Wishing you and your pet the best,

Susan Thixton
Truth about Pet Food
Petsumer Report