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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

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OSC Helps Develop New Electronic Questionnaire for Pet Food Complaints

By Dr. Melanie McLean, Senior Writer/Editor, Communications with contributions from Nadine Steinberg, Supervisory Regulatory Counsel, and Quynh Nguyen, Regulatory Counsel, Office of Surveillance & Compliance

In May 2010, FDA launched the Safety Reporting Portal, an electronic portal that allows consumers and regulated industry to report information to FDA.  This safety portal includes an electronic questionnaire for consumers to use to voluntarily report complaints about pet food, including pet treats and pet chews.  CVM’s Office of Surveillance & Compliance (OS&C) played a key part in developing the questionnaire. 

Pet owners, veterinarians, and other concerned consumers can use the new electronic questionnaire to report suspected problems with pet food to FDA.  The reported information helps FDA respond to and follow-up on pet food-related consumer complaints.

Before the electronic safety portal was launched, consumers usually reported pet food complaints through the Consumer Complaint Coordinators at FDA’s District Offices.  Now, consumers can also report pet food problems to FDA through the new electronic questionnaire.

By asking a series of questions, the questionnaire is designed to get as much information as possible from the consumer about the pet food.  The more information that FDA collects from each consumer complaint, the easier it is to determine what follow-up is appropriate, and if there is a pattern of problems associated with the pet food. 

Some of the information collected by the questionnaire includes the:

  • Brand name of the pet food involved;
  • Animal species involved;
  • Amount of the food eaten;
  • Packaging of the food;
  • Name and address of the manufacturer or distributor of the pet food; and
  • Name and address of the store where it was purchased.

Also, the consumer reporting the complaint can attach up to five files to the questionnaire, providing FDA with even more information about the pet food.   

There are several reasons why pet owners, veterinarians, or other concerned consumers report a pet food problem to FDA.  Some of these reasons are:

  • The food may have caused a pet to become ill;
  • The food looks or smells different than usual, for example, it has a foul odor or an off-color; or
  • The container the food came in, such as a can or pouch, is swollen or leaking.

The electronic questionnaire, which can be accessed through CVM’s Web site, gives consumers a new way to report concerns about pet food to FDA.  The more information a consumer provides, the more FDA can work to prevent and reduce safety-related pet food problems.