NUTRO Products Inc. denies it's under investigation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — even though an official of that agency told ConsumerAffairs.com on Monday that the pet food maker is the focus of a probe.
An FDA official who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed that ongoing investigation is the reason the FDA’s Division of Freedom of Information denied a ConsumerAffairs.com request for a list of complaints and lab results the agency has collected about NUTRO pet food. The FDA did not elaborate on the focus of its investigation, saying only that it could be criminal or civil in nature.
Hundreds of pet owners nationwide have told ConsumerAffairs.com their dogs and cats have experienced sudden and recurring bouts of vomiting, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems after eating various flavors of NUTRO. In many cases, the animals recovered after their owners switched them to another brand of pet food. Others died.
NUTRO has repeatedly defended its products, saying they are 100 percent safe, and also denies that it is being investigated.
“We've been in contact with officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding your April 20th posting that claims there is an ongoing FDA investigation into NUTRO pet food,” spokeswoman Monica Barrett wrote in an e-mail Tuesday night. “This is not true. We have confirmed with officials of the FDA division responsible for regulating pet food, the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), that there is no current or ongoing investigation of Nutro Products, Inc.”
The FDA had not previously commented on complaints regarding NUTRO pet food. News of its investigation came to light only after the agency denied a request filed by ConsumerAffairs.com under the Freedom of Information Act for a list of all complaints and lab results the FDA has collected since 2007 about NUTRO.
The FDA said the release of those records could interfere with law enforcement proceedings.
“The document (s) constitute record (s) complied for law enforcement purposes, the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to interfere with law enforcement proceedings,” the FDA’s George A. Strait Jr. wrote in a letter denying the FOIA request.
In a follow-up telephone call, an agency official confirmed that the request was denied because of an ongoing investigation. The official requested anonymity because he or she was not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation.
NUTRO defends its products and insists its food is safe. Many NUTRO customers also tout the food, saying their pets have had no problems. And veterinarians say several factors can cause gastrointestinal problems in dogs and cats, including changes in diet, newly developed sensitivities to pet foods, and viral infections.
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