FDA wants stricter rules for pet food manufacturers

THOUSAND PALMS, Calif. - Lynne Lockwood owns three dogs and sometimes takes care of a fourth. She knows pet food. 

"The days of buying in bulk are done. Now you read labels and the first ingredient needs to be protein. I don't want any corn in the dog food. We know dogs are living longer because they're getting better quality dog food," Lockwood said. 

Not always, though. The Food and Drug Administration wants to make the rules for pet food manufacturing tougher. It would require them to clean up their act and prevent food-borne illness. There are safeguards to protect human foods, but there are currently no regulations for the safe production of most animal foods.

"Part of me says it's about time. I know the government is overloaded with a lot of issues trying to work on food for humans. But when I read statistics that 75 % of pet owners sleep with their pet in the bed with them, these are not just animals you put in the backyard you forget about. They're part of families," she said. 

This announcement comes as the FDA continues to investigate a widespread outbreak of illness linked to imported jerky. About 3,600 dogs and some cats got sick after eating the chinese-made pet treats. Nearly 600 pets died. 

"What the FDA is trying to do is become proactive in taking care of these things, making sure equipment is clean and sterile rather than reactive and a pet dies and it's turned over to them, 'Why did this pet die?'" veterinarian Dr. James Sheltraw said. 

New rules would give FDA inspectors more power to crackdown on pet food makers - something Lockwood thinks is necessary. 

"I sure do when it's my dogs. I would guess every other pet owner is saying, 'This isn't just my dog, it's a member of my family.' You do care greatly for their welfare and you want what's best for them," she said. 

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