Question: I was in Canada last week and looked in the supermarket at cat food. One brand was imported from Thailand, and another imported from the U.S. In 2007, ingredients imported from China killed pets. Knowing where products come from might prevent a tragedy and offer consumer a best chance at making informed choices. Don't you agree? — E.H., Clemson, S.C.
Answer: This is an excellent and far more complex question than perhaps it should be.
To begin with, melamine and cyanuric acid were illegally added to foods to mimic increased protein. This was a criminal act, and the pet food companies affected were as horrified as consumers. We'll never know how many pets perished; the number doesn't really matter if your pet succumbed as a result of tainted food.
In 2007 and into 2008, I interviewed Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin for this column and on radio. Durbin serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee overseeing food safety, and he called for the hearing on the pet food recall. Repeatedly, he expressed concerns about our own food safety because of ingredients and products we import from China and elsewhere, and it turned out that he was correct.