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Rumors About Exotic Nutrition Diets

CONTRADICTING TEST RESULTS FOR FOOD

Facebook groups: In 2017 a redacted lab report was posted to a private Facebook group stating that an Exotic Nutrition (EN) food, Instant-HPW, was tested for nutritional content and the results did not match the nutritional content stated on the bag. 

Where did this testing come from? The individual who submitted the sample for testing was Peggy Brewer, owner of Critter Love and direct competitor of Exotic Nutrition. The sample did not come directly from our manufacturing facility, it did not state a lot number or expiration date, we are not sure where it was sampled.

How does testing work? Any individual can submit a food sample to a lab for testing- it does not have to be in the original packaging, sealed, or untampered. The name/description of the sample listed on the lab report is chosen by the individual who submitted the sample. For example, someone can send a sample of Bisquick into a lab and tell them they want the test results to be labelled "Instant-HPW".

Exotic Nutrition's Response: Due to the conflict of interest and the incorrect test results for the food, we are led to believe that the sample that was submitted for testing had either been tampered with or did not contain Instant-HPW at all. You can find the original unredacted test results for the new Instant-HPW diets listed here. All the nutritional content stated in the test results directly match the information stated in the product description online and on the product packaging. 

More Information About Product Packaging: Product labeling is highly regulated both on a federal and a state level. All our diets are tested by independent laboratories that perform guaranteed analyses in order to comply with AAFCO labeling requirements. Also, all our diets are registered with the department of agriculture in our state of Virginia and many other states across the country where our products are sold in retail stores.  

Furthermore, our manufacturing facility is registered and regularly inspected by the FDA and the USDA to ensure good manufacturing practices. The most recent USDA inspection took place on August 7, 2020 and included supplementary (non-mandatory) testing for salmonella bacteria as a preliminary measure, which produced negative results found here. Exotic Nutrition is the only sugar glider diet manufacturer with these high quality standards and procedures.

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BUGS IN FOOD

Facebook groups: In the past, a small percentage of people have found bugs in their Exotic Nutrition food. Sometimes this is within a few days of delivery, sometimes this is months after storing the product.

What are these? These are Indianmeal Moths, more commonly referred to as "pantry bugs".

How do they come about? Pantry bugs can be found in any dry grain product like flour, cereal or pet food that is stored at room temperature. They are usually seen as white worms (larvae), the webbing of the larvae, or the adult moths. These insects can be killed with pesticides, but for the safety of your pet, we do not use pesticide or preservatives in our diets. 

Exotic Nutrition's Response: While pantry bugs are completely harmless, we understand the ick-factor in seeing them in your pet food and we offer free replacement bags for any customer who notifies us about this issue. Earlier this year (Feb 2020), based on the recommendation from the USDA, we installed a pet-safe fogging system in our facilities to help prevent pantry bugs in our grain products. This is the same type of system that is used in large baking plants such as Little Debbie and Pepperidge Farm. This preventative measure has been successful in virtually eliminating the insects without the use of pesticides in the foods, although we still advise that grain-based foods to be stored in the refrigerator (below 45 degrees) for maximum freshness.

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GLIDER DIED WHILE ON AN EXOTIC NUTRITION DIET - JESSIE'S VERSION

Facebook groups: A handful of people have posted that their glider died, and when asked what diet they fed, they responded with EN diets. This claim has occurred with gliders who had spent a lifetime eating EN diets, and this claim has occurred with gliders who had just started an EN diet. 

Facts: Out of the approximately 800,000 bags of EN glider diets distributed since EN opened in 1998, and the millions of gliders fed, a select number of owners stated their gliders passed away while on an EN diet. These owners announced the diet was what killed their gliders, which was all personal theories proclaimed without facts or reasoning. Out of any necropsy done in these situations, zero reported the diet being the cause of death. Out of any vet visits that occurred, zero reported the diet being linked to the death.

It is estimated that about 40 owners made these false proclamations over the years. So why does it seem like such a large number of people have had bad experiences with EN diets, when in reality it is only 0.005% of users (40 people out of 800,000 bags distributed)? This is a prime example of hearsay and a phenomenon known as the illusory truth effect. Illusory Truth Effect - the tendency to believe false information to be correct after repeated exposure to that false information. Or in other words - "I heard it before, so it must be true".

Therefore, only 1 owner reports this suspicion every 6 months, but they get the other owners to repeat this theory. Although it was originally 1 owner, it now seems like thousands of owners have experienced this scenario themselves because of the repetition. And again, it is not that 0.005% of EN diets have been linked to deaths, it is that 0.005% of users proclaimed death without any evidence.

Some owner's mindset is - "Even if it is only 40 claims, no other food company has that many, so there must be a link". Take into consideration that looking at the number of claims is not an accurate representation, you need to look at the percentage of claims compared to the amount of food distributed. Based on the info that we've distributed 800,000 bags of glider food, and that we are the main distributor to pet shops, rescues, and other institutions, we conclude that we feed the majority of sugar gliders in the country. When you have such a scenario, it only makes sense that our company would be discussed the most.

20,000 bags of food distributed with 1 claim (0.005%) < Other companies
800,000 bags of food distributed with 40 claims (0.005%) < Exotic Nutrition

As seen in the numbers above, although no other food company has as many claims, it is because no other company feeds the volume of gliders that we do.

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GLIDER DIED WHILE ON AN EXOTIC NUTRITION DIET - SARAH'S VERSION

Facebook groups: A handful of pet owners have posted that their glider had an unexpected death with no history of ongoing disease at the time of death; this would be referred to as a sudden death. When other members ask what diet was fed, some pet owners had fed a diet from Exotic Nutrition. Of those pets, some had spent many years eating Exotic Nutrition diets and others had just been introduced to an Exotic Nutrition diet.

Is the diet relevant? In some cases, diet can be attributed to a pet's death, but in the case of a sudden death, the diet is very rarely the cause. 

Why did these deaths occur? A necropsy (veterinarian examination of a dead animal in order to learn why the animal died) is the only way to determine a cause of death. In these cases, there are no necropsy reports that concluded that the Exotic Nutrition diet was the cause of death.

After reviewing dozens of necropsies submitted to the GliderCentral forum (unaffiliated with Exotic Nutrition), some reported causes of sudden death were concluded to be: lung disease (pneumonia), pyometra (infected reproductive system), necrotizing peritonitis (infection), tumor, hernia, trauma (not observed by the owner), staph infection, kidney failure, liver disease, parasite (Spironucleus), respiratory issue, stomach ulcer or UTI, enlarged colon (birth defect), gallbladder failure, and cancer.

Exotic Nutrition's Response: Based on the few claims reported over our 20+ years in business, it is estimated that less than 0.005% of pet owners who have fed Exotic Nutrition foods have experienced an unexpected sudden death of their pet. As the largest sugar glider food distributor in the U.S., it can only be expected that some pets eating these foods will incur a sudden death. When this does happen, it is quite easy for a pet owner to automatically assume that the food is to blame. This claim is then repeated as hearsay ("I heard gliders died from this food") and many people have the tendency to believe false information to be correct after repeated exposure to that false information ("I heard it before, so it must be true"). In reality, the food was never proven to be the cause of death. The death of any pet is heartbreaking, and an unexplained sudden death is difficult to accept. We encourage anyone whose pet passes from an unexplained sudden death to obtain a necropsy. 

Exotic Nutrition
270 Enterprise Drive
Newport News, Virginia 23603

+ 757.988.0301

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