Left: Bargain-basement prices and suspect quality; click for larger image
(Toledo, OH) While passing through a flea market today I noticed a vendor selling - among other consumer goods like laundry detergent and toys - a variety of cut-rate pet foods. I snapped a photograph and moved on, initially a bit curious about the type of people who would feed their pets the absolute cheapest food they could get.
Some of the canned pet foods were marked down to $.20 per can, while the 50-lb. bags of pet food were as little as $4.00. Quite a deal, right?
It later dawned on me that the reason this pet food might be so inexpensive is that this merchandise represents items rejected even by the discount stores. The DG brand, for example, is Dollar General, and I am making the assumption that if Dollar General will not stock the food on their shelves, this flea market merchant is selling food rejected by the discount outlets.
Several of the brands pictured are also on the list of recalled pet food products due to contaminants in vegetable proteins imported into the U.S. from China that have been used as ingredients in pet food.
In some cases cats and dogs have died from suspected melamine poisoning, and the FDA noted that over 14,000 complaints have been filed from pet owners with pets they believe to have been sickened by the tainted pet foods.
My suspicion is that some merchants are pawning off rejected pet foods in under-regulated settings like flea markets as a means of profitting from the glut of recalled merchandise. I also would not be surprised to learn that there is a considerable underground market in reselling this recalled pet food.
At any rate: I urge pet owners to exercise caution before feeding their dogs and cats "bargain" pet foods, as they may be saving a few dollars at the expense of the health of their beloved companions. Be sure to check expiration dates on the packages, and compare the production lot numbers on containers with the FDA list of recalled pet foods.