How disappointing. I asked the incoming AAFCO President Robert Waltz for an on camera interview; I wanted all of you to see and ‘meet’ the faces that make the decisions about pet food. I was told “No”.
Last year, incoming AAFCO President Chad Linton kindly provided me some time to respond to pet food questions. Because I wanted to accurately report on this interview, I brought along a small tape recorder (which he was aware of) and laid it on the table between us during the interview. After the interview, I documented our entire conversation – word for word – (thanks to the recording) to report to pet parents. This year I won’t be provided the same opportunity.
Here is the email I sent to incoming AAFCO President Robert Waltz…
Hello Robert and congrats on becoming the new AAFCO President. I’m writing to request a few moments of your time at the upcoming meeting in Reno for an interview. And this year, I’d like to video the interview. I think it is important for pet owners to ‘meet’ AAFCO members. Video will be a way for pet owners to feel a little more involved in the pet food regulatory decision making process; seeing and hearing directly from AAFCO members.
I am also requesting an on camera interview with Dr. Dan McChesney of the FDA. As well, if you have any suggestions for me of other AAFCO Members or FDA officials that pet owners would like to/should meet, I’d appreciate that too.
And, I’m not sure if you are the person to ask – but…I’d like to film little snippets of the meeting. Again, to provide pet owners the opportunity to see how an AAFCO meeting works. So my question is – do I need any special permission for this? And are photographs acceptable too?
And this was his response (which he copied to outgoing President Chad Linton, Secretary Sharon Krebs, and two other AAFCO members)…
Thank you for your invitation to interview regarding pet foods. At this time I am declining any on-camera or audio recorded interviews and can share with you that any unauthorized filming or other recordings of any portion of the AAFCO meeting is prohibited. No filming or audio recording of AAFCO proceedings has been in fact a long term practice in AAFCO for the reasons indicated below. If you would like to interview with AAFCO specialists off camera and off tape, we can possibly arrange a time. Please let us know.
I am sure, having seen the AAFCO process in person, you can appreciate that the candor of industry, academics, state regulators and others working through issues needs to be held confidential. The discussions are often deliberative and therefore subject to change, major modification, or withdrawal of concept. This frankness among attendees is a reason for AAFCO’s successes, and is part of the dialogue process that can not be adequately captured on film and may be easily misunderstood by some who are not experiencing the full context of the discussion.
We look forward to seeing you in Reno.
Robert D. Waltz, Ph.D.
AAFCO President, 2012
Sharon Krebs, Assistant Secretary-Treasurer
Sent from my iPad
And sent just this morning, my reply to the AAFCO decision…
I would still like an interview with you, but I have to say I am very disappointed about not doing this on film. You shared with me AAFCO’s perspective on recording and/or video taping – allow me the same privilege to share with you the pet owner perspective – why pet owners deserve to know more of those who make the decisions effecting the lives of their pets and how the process works.
Without pet owners – there would not be a need for pet food. We are the reason there is a pet food industry. We (pet owners) have no say in the safety or quality of the commercial pet foods we purchase for our pets, yet industry is provided (by AAFCO and FDA) a huge influence. Pet owners, as a whole, have no trust of any AAFCO member or FDA representative. As a whole, pet parents believe AAFCO (and FDA) is closely tied to industry and could care less about pets. I met many of the AAFCO members last year and found some to really care about their job at AAFCO and the responsibility involved. I wanted to show that to pet parents. I wanted to show them that some really do care and that we could possibly work together to make some real and necessary changes in pet food.
Without film or audio recording – you and any others I speak with – will be left to only interpretation of the conversation or interview. My interpretation. If you are comfortable with that, I am too. However, I am puzzled that you would not want a more accurate representation of what we speak about known to pet parents. Despite what you might believe, accurate is what I was looking for.
Please let me know of a time for our interview. Looking forward to the meeting.
That’s a shame, but it is AAFCO rules so I will abide by their decision. I have yet to hear from the FDA on my interview request.
It looks like I could use all the help I can get…Would any of you out there be interested in attending the AAFCO meeting with me in January? The meeting is January 17-19, 2012 in Reno, NV held at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino. To give you an estimate of what it will cost…AAFCO charges $250 to attend (before January 4, 2012), hotel rooms are $49 and $69/night. If you can or would like to attend, please let me know. The AAFCO Meeting page is here: http://www.aafco.org/Meetings/UpcomingMeetings.aspx (this is the second meeting listed on the page – 2012 AAFCO Midyear Meeting). Hotel reservation link and Registration link are provided on this page as well. Hurry – you need to register before January 4 to avoid late fees.
I’d love to have more pet parent representatives attend. Again, let me know if you are attending; I’ll bring extra capes (Caped Crusaders!).
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author, Buyer Beware
Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
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