Rebuttal to RCVS 'Pet Nutrition' Statement
29 November 2006
Response to RCVS News November 2006
The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons state:
The RCVS is the regulatory and standard-setting body for the veterinary profession in the UK. This can be summarised by the strapline:
‘Promoting and Sustaining Public Confidence in Veterinary Medicine’
and the mission statement:
‘To safeguard the health and welfare of animals committed to veterinary care through the regulation of the educational, ethical and clinical standards of the veterinary profession, thereby protecting the interests of those dependent on animals and assuring public health;
‘To act as an impartial source of informed opinion on animal health and welfare issues and their interaction with human health.’
There is a requirement upon Councillors of the RCVS:
To act in accordance with the public service principles set out in the Nolan Committee’s First Report on Standards in Public Life, which include selflessness (acting solely in the public interest), integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.
Against this backdrop we can judge the performance of the RCVS, in particular their sometimes passive, sometimes active involvement with the processed pet food industry.
In 1992/3 the RCVS were provided with three monographs detailing the devastating effects of junk food on pet animal health:
Pandemic of Periodontal Disease: A malodorous condition.
Bloodletting, Bar Firing and Veterinary Dentistry: A case for extraction.
Pet Foods' Insidious Consequence: A modern veterinary snafu.
When detailed correspondence and extensive complaints, including complaints to Her Majesty the Queen, Patron of the RCVS failed to produce any remedial action a political campaign was commenced in 1997. Since 1997 at annual RCVS Council Elections about 9% of registered veterinary surgeons have voted for full and thorough investigation of the junk pet-food issue. http://www.rawmeatybones.com/elections.html
In 2001 Raw Meaty Bones, 389 pages of referenced, peer reviewed evidence of the pet food debacle was published. The longtime director of the Sydney University Post Graduate Foundation in Veterinary Science, Dr Douglas Bryden advised: ‘Every graduate and undergraduate veterinarian should read the book.’
In 2004 Raw Meaty Bones was nominated for the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists College Award. http://www.rawmeatybones.com/vetsay.html
In December 2004 a UK Parliament Early Day Motion was tabled:
PROCESSED PET FOODS AND VETS
That this House deeply regrets the professional endorsement of processed food for domestic dogs, cats and ferrets by some members of the veterinary profession; is concerned at the level of incidence of malodorous gum disease and associated diseases of the kidneys, liver and other organs amongst the domestic pet population; recognises that their health and welfare is best served by foods, such as raw meaty bones, that reflect the full range of nutritional need; applauds and recommends the work of veterinary surgeon Tom Lonsdale and others in this field; recognises also that vets in the UK are trusted and independent advisers on the health of our pets; is therefore concerned by the nature of the relationship between some vets and producers of foods that cause illnesses in pets; and calls upon the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons to make a definitive statement on the active endorsement and promotion of processed pet foods by vets.
In November 2005 a second UK Parliament Early Day Motion was tabled:
RAW MEATY BONES GROUP
That this House notes the controversy surrounding the promotion and sale of processed pet foods by veterinary surgeons; acknowledges the evidence and analysis in the book Raw Meaty Bones by Tom Lonsdale; commends the UK Raw Meaty Bones Group's public awareness campaign; and calls for a wide ranging inquiry into that group's serious concerns relating to human and pet health, the economy and the environment and the adequacy of the current veterinary regulatory system to investigate these issues.
After many years of being provided with vital information and detailed complaints the RCVS made no formal investigation nor published any official pronouncements until November 2006 when a statement appeared on page two of RCVS NEWS
Over the last few, years we have received considerable correspondence on pet nutrition. This interest perhaps mirrors a growing preoccupation with healthy eating at large, whether in the form of improved school dinners or initiatives to reduce trans-fats, salt and other additives in human diets.
During discussions with MPs and other individuals, questions have been raised about veterinary surgeons’ responsibilities for pet nutrition.The Pet Food Manufacturers Association has recently launched a new website to provide better information, and individual pet food companies have called for more focus on pet nutrition at undergraduate level.
Meanwhile, an action group called UKRMB (United Kingdom Raw Meaty Bones) has proclaimed its mission: “... to draw attention to the harm that feeding processed pet food causes our pet dogs and cats, and the continuing refusal by the veterinary authorities to acknowledge this.”
We have indicated to this group and others that there is no current evidence to support the allegation that processed pet food causes harm to cats and dogs. We have also suggested that other views should be submitted for peer-reviewed publication in the usual way.
Nevertheless, it is worth reminding members that while the responsibility for pet food sold out of practice premises may be limited to that of a retailer, if specific advice is given on pet nutrition, or particular products recommended, then this is part of professional practice. Veterinary surgeons should be aware that many clients buying pet food from them in either context will assume it carries some veterinary endorsement.
RCVS: Over the last few, years we have received considerable correspondence on pet nutrition.
True: Many concerned pet owners and some veterinarians have tried unsuccessfully to engage the RCVS in discussion. Why are pet owners concerned whilst the official regulator, the RCVS, denies the obvious and defends the indefensible?
RCVS: This interest perhaps mirrors a growing preoccupation with healthy eating at large, whether in the form of improved school dinners or initiatives to reduce trans-fats, salt and other additives in human diets.
Arrogant, demeaning, presumptuous: ‘Preoccupation!’ How dare they? Certainly there’s growing community ‘awareness’ of dietary factors affecting human and animal health.
RCVS: During discussions with MPs and other individuals, questions have been raised about veterinary surgeons’ responsibilities for pet nutrition.
True: The RCVS has had plentiful opportunities to admit and atone for past failings. Instead it has fobbed-off ‘other individuals’ and convened meetings with MPs specifically to deflect MPs’ and community concerns.
RCVS: The Pet Food Manufacturers Association has recently launched a new website to provide better information,
Monstrous dereliction of duty: Would the General Medical Council commend the fast food industry for launching a new website? How can false and misleading junk pet-food industry propaganda earn the description ‘better information’?
RCVS: and individual pet food companies have called for more focus on pet nutrition at undergraduate level.
True and shameful: Not content with domination of the undergraduate ‘nutrition’ curriculum the junk food producers want more. The RCVS, so-called regulator, presents devious, damaging commercial scheming as a worthy objective. Pets, pet owners and young defenceless veterinary undergraduates are betrayed.
RCVS: Meanwhile, an action group called UKRMB (United Kingdom Raw Meaty Bones) has proclaimed its mission: “... to draw attention to the harm that feeding processed pet food causes our pet dogs and cats, and the continuing refusal by the veterinary authorities to acknowledge this.”
True: Pet owners must act when the veterinary and government authorities collude with the producers of noxious dietary products.
RCVS: We have indicated to this group and others that there is no current evidence to support the allegation that processed pet food causes harm to cats and dogs.
Disgraceful betrayal: The RCVS in league with the Pet Food Manufacturers promulgates false and misleading information. Copious current evidence confirms ‘the allegation that processed pet food causes harm to cats and dogs’. To claim otherwise suggests ignorance, incompetence or deceit on a grand scale.
RCVS: We have also suggested that other views should be submitted for peer-reviewed publication in the usual way.
Disingenuous, a smoke-screen:
a.) The RCVS know that the anonymous peer-review system is seriously flawed and under the control of reactionary and commercial interests.
b.) The RCVS know that it is inappropriate to suggest whistleblowers should finance investigations and documentation — especially when no establishment publication will publish the evidence.
c.) Despite the shortcomings of the peer-review system there is nevertheless already copious evidence in the veterinary, medical, dental and other scientific literature confirming the devastating effects of junk food diets.
d.) Raw Meaty Bones: Promote Health represents 389 pages of fully referenced, peer-reviewed information. All veterinary journals refuse to review the book. Why?
e.) Raw Meaty Bones: Promote Health has been peer-reviewed in the open peer review process by five named, independent, eminent veterinary surgeons. The five reviewers were unanimous in their praise. The book has been nominated for high veterinary honours (Australian College of Veterinary Scientists College Award www.rawmeatybones.com/vetsay.html).
f.) The RCVS arbitrarily ignores powerful, comprehensive peer-reviewed evidence — whilst simultaneously endorsing marketing spin published in so-called peer reviewed publications.
RCVS: Nevertheless, it is worth reminding members that while the responsibility for pet food sold out of practice premises may be limited to that of a retailer, if specific advice is given on pet nutrition, or particular products recommended, then this is part of professional practice.
Confidence trickery, abuse of power: Where do individual veterinary surgeons gain encouragement and authorization to sell pet food? Answer: from the RCVS, veterinary schools, veterinary associations and the junk pet-food industry overseen by a compliant Department of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs.
RCVS: Veterinary surgeons should be aware that many clients buying pet food from them in either context will assume it carries some veterinary endorsement.
True and fundamental: Clients rightly assume individual veterinary surgeons can and should be held accountable whether as retailers of goods or providers of services either implied or rendered.
When legal action is initiated by aggrieved clients against individual veterinary surgeons it’s to be expected those veterinary surgeons, in the interests of fairness, will seek to involve (‘join’) the RCVS, veterinary schools, veterinary associations, junk pet-food industry and relevant government departments
Footnote: Some Councillors of the RCVS earn income or other benefits either directly or indirectly from the promotion and sale of junk pet food. There is a requirement upon Councillors to declare their commercial interests and stand aside from discussions involving those interests. In a letter from the RCVS dated 19th May 2005 they stated that no Councillor has ‘declared an interest’.
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