The TV station that disclosed the presence of the euthanasia drug pentobarbital in canned dog food — leading to the recall of 107 million cans — is staying on the case and reporting that the manufacturer was aware of, and remained silent about, even higher levels of the drug.
A recall was later announced for Gravy Train and three other canned dog foods — Kibbles ‘N Bits, Ol’ Roy and Skippy, all of which, like Gravy Train, are made by Big Heart Brands, a subsidiary of Smucker’s.
Any levels of pentobarbital in dog food are concerning, as is the use of any drug-euthanized animal as a source of either human or pet food are outlawed.
The FDA (maybe recognizing a TV station was doing its job, maybe not) launched its own investigation into Smucker’s just hours after the report aired.
Big Heart Brands — saying its top priority is the “safety and quality of its products” — has maintained that the levels of pentobarbital detected in tests by the WJLA were far too low to be concerned about.
But WJLA reported last week that even higher levels — 80 times higher — have been found by the FDA.
According to a class action lawsuit against the company, the FDA found pentobarbital in the company’s fat supply, at levels at least 80-times higher than what the TV station discovered in products on the shelves.
And the company apparently had been alerted to that. It retained a sample of that fat from a full year earlier, in 2017, with levels of pentobarbital more than 50-times higher than the results that prompted the recall.
“It is an important fact because they retained it, yet they didn’t test it,” said attorney Rebecca Peterson, one of the attorneys handling one of the class action lawsuits against Smucker’s and its subsidiary, Big Heart Pet Brands “Or they did test it and they still went forward by including that tallow in the contaminated dog food.”
At issue is a rendered fat ingredient — the boiled byproduct of carcasses that contained the euthanasia drug pentobarbital.
In a statement, Smuckers said it has “robust quality assurance procedures in place, we are committed to enhancing sourcing and supplier oversight procedures to help ensure this does not happen again.”
Court documents allege the source of contaminated fat was the company’s supplier JBS.
JBS is also the subject of investigations related to E.coli contaminations and the inhumane treatment of animals.
In a statement, JBS stated it has modified it procurement process and “will divert all third-party sourced materials to non-edible production until the company can ensure these materials meet its high standards for quality and safety.”