Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Full Disclosure

A Feline's Pride distributor, Stephanie Hatfield received this comment about the recall from her customer, when Stephanie provided her the information about the recall:
Thank you for full disclosure, but here is my 2 cents:  He is a small business and successful.  He provides top quality pet food that could not be duplicated by the Purinas of the world because they have to give their offerings to the Gods of profit and capitalism.  Sad to say that certain elements of our US government are in bed with the big corporations and if people still don't believe that after witnessing the disaster that has occurred with the BP oil spill, then they are most certainly asleep.
The way the food was transported was no accident.  That it tested positive is no accident.  I'm in Shelby's corner and will not be frightened off by this incident.
I will be on my way to you shortly.  See you soon.
No need to elaborate on that.  Thank you Stephie and Kate!


In our timely conversations, by phone or email, Shelby Gomas keeps us up to date on the progress made with the FDA.  It's not easy, as he's a small operation, and it appears they just don't really care.  Here's a bit of an update from Shelby from yesterday:
I have made a commitment to reflect the neglect we have received by completely adding everything that will add to our defense.  We have left e-mails with the FDA, phone calls…unanswered and have literally been left for “ dead .”  Thanks to the support of our customers and the intelligence they have accumulated.. their support still continues and overwhelms me with their loyalty for what we have done over the last 5 years.  
I will do whatever I have to do overturn the damage that has been done.  It is totally unforgivable.  
Do you realize that for every 100,000 people in the United States, they [FDA/USDA] expect 15 people to die of salmonella?  They are literally allowed to statistically die from something this government is totally capable of eradicating out of the USDA processing practices. They are literally allowed to murder 15 people out of 100,000 without question…..unbelievable!

And yet, the FDA requires that Shelby use USDA certified source materials to make our kitty food.   

But hey, go figure.  Cue the chorus in 3...2...1... 

Monday, July 26, 2010

I Found What I Wanted to Know

Lori Findlay of Florida sent this to Shelby yesterday:
I'm a new customer as of last month, but just heard about your recall.  As I was preparing to write and ask for more info, I found what I wanted to know on your website.  I just finished reading your explanation of what’s happened to you & your company so recently.  Pardon my French, but that sucks.....  it really sucks. 
I'm a small business owner as well.  I have a Master's in Nursing and was in the health care for twenty some years, before my husband & I went into business for ourselves.  I empathize with what you must be going through and understand how you must feel.  The FDA is a complete & total farce.  I knew someone years ago who's MD spouse left his practice to work for the FDA and became immediately disillusioned by the corruption.  I wish I could recall some of the stories she told, but I don't.  I just recall determining that it was clear there was little integrity in the organization.
Well, it's late and time to get to bed.  But just wanted to offer a voice of support and tell you to hang in there.  Don't let the bastards get you down!
Thank you Lori, your comments have echoed many others we've heard, and it's just so sad to hear it said again.  But then again, your "voice of support", is greatly appreciated, because, in the end, it's all about the cats, no?  

Simply put, we just want a quality raw cat food for our cats, and we have that in Feline's Pride!   

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Please Stop Wasting the Taxpayer's Money

Here's a straight comment, coming from Amy Stockman, a PhD Candidate in Biology at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.  Amy writes this to the FDA:
Please desist your investigation into Feline's Pride Cat Food.  A raw meat diet is what is best for cats' biology.  They are able to withstand small amounts of pathogens.  Furthermore, the investigation was not based on any complaints from consumers.  Indeed, cats who regularly consume a raw meat diet are some of the healthiest cats around.  It is a shame that companies are allowed to sell carbohydrate and meat by-product based cat foods, and that for most Americans, this is their only option when shopping.  That is not healthy food for a cat.  Feline's Pride provides a healthy, natural alternative. 
Please stop wasting the taxpayers' money into this unwarranted investigation.  You are supporting corporations who produce horrible products, and placing obstacles in the path of career growth to a small business who sells a very high quality product to grateful customers with healthy, happy cats.

Thank you Amy!  It appropriate to suggest that a PhD Candidate in Biology has more at her fingertips in terms of technical data and understanding of the greater issues here than many.  Thank you so much for your support Amy!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Greatest Confidence in Your Product

Lance Edelman from Atlanta, Georgia was most direct in his compliments and commentary:
I am most sorry to hear of your challenges with the FDA. I am no fan of federal government. They are for the most part incompetent and as with any gov agency it is generally all about looking for something to do in order to expand their power and control. I wish you had communicated this information to me much earlier as I must admit having been frustrated with past shipping delays that were most certainly a result of this FDA witch hunt.
I have two cats who are thriving on your food for several years now. My wife and I have the greatest confidence in your product. If there is anything that we can do to support you and help get them off your back, let me know. Perhaps a letter/email campaign or something?
Thank you Lance, for your years of support!  We are working on campaign right now, so if we do need your help, we'll be letting you know!  Thank you so much!

All Paws Up in Support!

Carol McCrellias writes today:

In all the years I've been ordering food from Feline's Pride (four or more?), aside from one or two deliveries of "brown," thawed raw food that I suspect occurred due to a problem in the shipping chain, I've never had a problem.  More importantly, my four cats have never been ill nor have they consistently refused to eat it.  I assume if it's pink and the texture and smell is right, it's acceptable for them; they appear to agree.  Sometimes, in fact, they like to leave it set until it starts to turn "less pink," I think because they prefer it at room temperature. If I've forgotten and left food out on a plate for them for too long and it's gone off, or if I'm down to the dregs of the container and it's looking iffy (but still smells OK), they are most capable of letting me know of their displeasure by simply not eating it.  I rely on their instincts.
I ran across a mention of the recall a week or two ago, looked at my receipts to see if I'd gotten any food during the time in question -- I hadn't -- and intend to keep ordering.  It must be very frustrating and embarrassing to have your professional standing, as it were, called into question by an agency that is less than responsive.  I hope the situation resolves to your satisfaction, and quickly.
Thanks for sending the informational link.  All paws up in support from all the felines and their caretakers here.
Thank You Carol and Fam - your support and patronage are greatly appreciated!

My name is Shelby Gomas, I am the owner of Feline’s Pride here in Buffalo, New York. My company has recently been forced into two “voluntary” recalls by the FDA on a product that we have successfully manufactured for the last five years. We are the only company to be manufacturing raw cat food in New York State. 

In June, 2010, after seeking FDA registration for my product and manufacturing facility, FDA investigators came to my establishment. They collected samples to send to the FDA laboratory in Jamaica, NY for testing. I feel it is important to note here,
FDA again visited our facility today,7/19/2010, and informed us that the turkey samples they took tested NEGATIVE for SALMONELLA, as did all of the CULTURE SWABS that were taken from our manufacturing facility!  New samples of the Cornish Hen Formula had to be collected again, because the original samples that were picked up were mishandled during shipping to the Jamaica, NY testing facility and rendered useless.
It is important to understand, at this juncture, that we produce a RAW poultry product. Our product should be handled with the same care as any other raw poultry product. Our product should be kept ON ICE at all times. This product should be kept frozen until it is ready for use. It is easy to determine this products freshness, where it is red in color and has virtually no odor.

Unfortunately, the method the investigators used in collecting and shipping the samples has been contested. We feel that they did not provide sufficient refrigeration to allow the samples to be properly shipped and maintained safely. On that basis alone, I requested an FDA hearing, and to this day I have not received any response, even after contacting the FDA Ombudsman, which still has not returned any emails or answered the phone calls left on an answering machine. 

My concerns were realized when we received the report from the lab in Jamaica, NY. The report indicated the color of the samples they had received were brown in color, indicating exposure to heat which would contribute to deterioration and lead to positive testing for salmonella. Product received by our customers is not brown, but red in color, so long as it’s not allowed to sit out in the sun or experienced some other mishandling during shipping or delivery. 

Sadly, there are many more issues that I cannot properly address. Significantly, there appear to be discrepancies within testing procedures that the FDA uses, questions regarding a common testing method (the ELISA method) and the ambiguous interpretation of FDA testing versus USDA testing. Simply put, USDA testing procedures ALLOWS small amounts of pathogens to pass to the American consumer in products the USDA certifies, but the FDA testing does not. And yet, FDA Guidance for Industry Article #122 directs that all raw food producers utilize USDA guidelines and certified materials in processing, but, by their own guidelines, are already contaminated with salmonella. It is well understood that all poultry is contaminated with salmonella, including the USDA certified source poultry we use to make our products. 

This leaves us in the position that if we are to consistently and fervently follow USDA guidelines, we are assuring ourselves that we test positive for salmonella, specifically for following FDA standards. Incidentally, FDA #122 specifically indicates at the top of the article, “NON BINDING RECOMMENDATIONS”, which obviously leads to the question, how can the FDA force us to recall product, when their own recommendations, which are non-binding, guarantee that we can’t provide for the product that will meet the FDA’s standards? 
The bottom line is that we have five years of integrity as a producer.  No person was injured or sickened.  No animal was injured or sickened.
Interestingly, you would be hard pressed to find a barn cat who adhered to HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points), which is not to say we care not to adhere to them, but it’s ludicrous to take it out to its relevant conclusions as determined for people, because we are not manufacturing a product meant for human consumption. Our product is intended for cats, whose capability for handling certain environmental exposures are superior to humans, and may even constitute a critical function to their ability to synthesize nutrition. This animal’s necessity to ingest raw meat is inherent as a species. In consuming freshly killed animals, they are also ingesting that animal’s recent ingestion, and so on. Salmonella, as well as other pathogens, are most certainly a component of that cycle, and have served them well over the millennia. As it is, we as a company are producing a product in a facility which is proud to limit the amount of exposure to pathogens that already exist in our USDA graded source materials. 

Our products have tested negative for salmonella in a veterinarian lab in Arlington, VA, negative from NY state sanctioned labs in Trenton, NJ, using the ELISA method, but did test positive in FDA labs in Jamaica, NY. Still, there is no accounting for the scientific collection and delivery of the samples prior to their testing. We were also refused copies of the laboratory results until our legal counsel intervened, at much cost to us. 

We have received no answers, regardless of our attempts, with or without counsel from these governmental agencies. We are a small business, and without unlimited resources, and the FDA is aware of that. I have a right to protect my integrity, that of my company, and most assuredly, the integrity and jobs of my employees and distributors. 

As a result of our concerns with contamination, our product has been tested by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets sponsored lab, the New Jersey Feed Labs in Trenton, NJ. Carl Schultz is the owner and president of that lab. Our samples are tested for pathogens and nutrient values. Our negative test results for pathogens, such as salmonella, had delivered my vision of founding a company making raw food for felines. 

The extraordinarily clean facility we run, and techniques we use, has resulted in authorization by permit from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (Est. # 142570). Our labeling for food is also deemed correct by the State of New York and the FDA Regional Office in Buffalo also indicates this, however, we have yet to receive this indication in writing from them. 

The diet we manufacture was preened from a diet found on, of which Anne Jablonski is the author. This diet is a relative re-creation of the nutritional value of a common field mouse, as basically outlined by Dr. Deborah Zoran’s nutritional breakdown of the common field mouse, published in the 2002 Vancouver Journal for American Veterinarian Medical Association. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that they must specifically consume meat. Indeed, we now know, based on much scientific investigation, that cats cannot properly digest carbohydrates, which dominate ingredients in virtually all commercial diets. Interestingly, prior to my efforts, no one had before expended the effort to see if this diet would be a positive, nutritional diet for cats. The species has been predicated on eating small mice and vermin, birds, etc. We have prepared a nutritionally correct raw diet for cats. Without a doubt, the most difficult part of developing, manufacturing and distributing a nutritionally complete and appropriate diet for cats is the extraordinary measures it takes to make a clean product, free of contaminants that could harm those very furry customers that I have striven to protect with this endeavor. 

As a result of my efforts, Feline’s Pride produces an extraordinary product, and has been endorsed by several key professionals involved with pet nutrition. Some of our staunch supporters are as follows: 

Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins DVM, J.D. 
Author of the popular book “Your cat, Simple New Secrets to a Longer, Stronger Life”, and key veterinarian adviser to Tracie Hotchner’s show on Cat Chat Channel (Martha Stuart Living) on Sirius Radio. She endorses our product as being one of the safest and most nutritionally correct diet for cats on the market. 

Dr. Lisa Pierson
Founder of, and adviser to the Feline Diabetes Message Board (FDMB). Dr. Pierson is also a staunch advocate of the product we manufacture, and mentions it generously on her site. 

Anne Jablonski
Founder of, and an educated advocate of appropriate cat nutrition. She is also honored as the 2007 Feline Outreach Paws for Education Award recipient, as a result of her advocacy and outreach, specifically towards the veterinary industry. Feline’s Pride is noted on her site, “one of my personal favorites is Feline’s Pride…”

I have an opportunity to grow and expand, and offer more jobs to an economy that is begging for littlie companies like mine, more commonly referred to as the backbone of this country, to succeed.  It is little companies like mine that the current administration is asking to bail out the economy and provide new jobs and opportunities.

We need answers, and we’re not getting them. We see many discrepancies, and we believe that we may be on the forefront of seeing to it that policies, regulations, guidelines and even laws may need to be re-evaluated based on our case. We are in this for the long haul. Most importantly, we are in this for the cats who can’t speak for themselves, and would, simply put, prefer to eat a darned mouse without human intervention. One that hasn’t been cooked, irradiated and adulterated in any manner, thank you very much. 

For your references, here a number of resources for anyone interested to peruse: 

FDA Guidelines for Industry Article #122: 

“The Carnivore Connection to Nutrition in Cats”, JAVMA Zoran, 2002:


Thank you for your interest in our plight. I am happy to answer any questions you may have.  Your attention to this story is greatly appreciated, and of great importance to us. 

Shelby Gomas 
...and for all the kitties who cannot speak for themselves