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Tag: drug

After euthanasia drug found in dog food, Smucker recalls Gravy Train and more

gravytrainThe J.M. Smucker Co. is withdrawing some shipments of dog food amid reports that it could be tainted with traces of a drug used to euthanize animals.

The company said Thursday it is pulling back shipments of 27 of its brands, including canned Gravy Train, Kibble ‘N Bits, Skippy and Ol’ Roy brands.

It said it is investigating how the euthanasia drug pentobarbital got into its supply chain and is focusing on a single supplier of a minor ingredient used at one manufacturing facility.

The recalls come after WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C., said it tested 15 cans of Gravy Train and found nine cans, or 60 percent of the sample, tested positive for pentobarbital.

Smucker pointed out that the low levels of the drug cited in the report do not pose a threat to pets.

“However, the presence of this substance at any level is not acceptable to us and not up to our quality standards,” the company said in a statement.

The company, based in Orrville, Ohio, said it does not use meat from euthanized animals in its pet food.

A consumer-level product recall has not been initiated, and neither Smucker nor any government agencies has said if any of the implicated dog food made it to retail shelves.

Smucker has requested retailers remove the potentially affected brands from their warehouses.

Read on for the full list:

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Why does the drug we use to euthanize animals keep showing up in dog food?

Pentobarbital, part of the cocktail administered to dogs, cats and sometimes horses to euthanize them, continues to show up in dog food.

How that happens — and why it is allowed to — are questions raised in an investigative report last week by WJLA in Washington.

The station teamed up with Ellipse Analytics, a lab that specializes in testing food for contaminants,

gravytrainIn testing 62 samples of wet dog food, across more than two dozen brands, one brand came back positive for for the euthanasia drug pentobarbital. Nine of 15 cans of Gravy Train showed non-lethal levels of the drug.

Under federal law, no concentration of pentobarbital is permitted in pet food. WJLA reported the FDA didn’t initially seem too interested about its findings.

The agency declined requests for an on-camera interview, and referred the station to the Pet Food Institute — the trade organization that represents the pet food industry. Further requests for information from the FDA were met with the response that it will “investigate the matter and take appropriate enforcement action.”

It’s not the first time pentobarbital has been found in dog food.

About a year ago Evanger’s recalled some lots of its “Hunk of Beef” canned dog food after it was found to contain the sedative.

The company said at the time that the meat in question came from a cow rendered by a supplier, but, as WJLA reported, federal law does not allow use of the toxin to kill animals that are part of the food supply.

Gravy Train is made by Big Heart Pet Foods and owned by Smucker’s.

Big Heart Brands is also the maker of Meow Mix, Milk Bone, Kibbles’n Bits, 9 Lives, Natural Balance, Pup-Peroni, Gravy Train, Nature’s Recipe, Canine Carry Outs, Milo’s Kitchen, Alley Cat, Jerky Treats, Meaty Bone, Pounce and Snausages.

Dr. Nicholas Dodman, chief scientific officer for The Center for Canine Behavior Studies and former director of the Animal Behavior Program at Tufts University, said even non-lethal amounts of the drug should be a concern.

“Whether it’s doing something or nothing, what’s it doing there? Where did it come from? If they don’t like the explanation that it’s coming from animals that have been euthanized, what is their explanation as to how it gets in?” asked Dodman.

Smucker’s declined WJLA’s request for an on-camera interview, but issued a statement saying, “We launched and are conducting a thorough investigation, including working closely with our suppliers, to determine the accuracy of these results and the methodology used.”

Most believe pentobarbital, when it shows up in dog food, is a result of euthanized animals being blended into food by those who render the carcasses.

That, in itself is against federal laws that prohibits the use in both dog and human food of any animals that have not been slaughtered. Using euthanized animals is prohibited.

As Susan Thixton, a pet food consumer advocate told the station, “Billion dollar a year companies are making profit selling illegal adulterated products to unknowing consumers in the U.S. every day.”

She added, “The FDA tells industry ‘Yeah, it’s a violation of law, but go ahead, we’re not going to do anything,'” said Thixton.

Metal fragments lead to Blue Buffalo recall — the fourth canned food recall this month

Blue buffaloBlue Buffalo is recalling some of its “healthy” and “holistic” canned dog food because it might contain pieces of metal.

It’s the second company this week to recall canned dog food due to concerns about metal fragments, and the third canned dog food recall this month.

Blue Buffalo’s CEO said in a statement on the company’s website that it is recalling the food as part of its “mission of bringing transparency to pet foods.”

(That from a company that paid $32 million last year to settle a lawsuit about its deceptive advertising.)

It’s kind of hard to find the “transparent” company’s statement on the company website, so here is the link.

“My father, brother and I founded Blue Buffalo with the mission of bringing transparency to pet foods, and so, even though it is highly unlikely that you will have a product affected by this problem, we felt that we needed to voluntarily withdraw the product from retailers and let you know that we were doing this,” CEO Billy Bishop says in a letter to customers.

The recalled product is Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Healthy Weight Chicken Dinner with Garden Vegetables. The cans have a “best by” date of Aug. 3, 2019 and the UPC is 8-40243-10017-0

PetSmart this week announced recalls of both the Blue Buffalo product and cans of Grreat Choice chicken and rice dog food.

In both cases, the companies said there had been no reports of illness or injury as a result of the possible contamination.

In both cases, the lots came from suppliers not identified by the companies or in news reports. Dog food companies commonly outsource their manufacturing to multiple manufacturers.

Also this month, Evanger’s announced a recall of its Hunk of Beef canned dog food after some of it was found to contain a sedative used to euthanize animals.

That contamination led one dog to die and at least four more to become ill in Washington state.

recalled-Against-the-Grain-dog-foodYesterday, the FDA announced another dog food brand, Against the Grain, was recalling some cans of its Pulled Beef with Gravy Dinner for Dogs amid concerns it contains the same sedative.

Against the Grain appears to be a sister company of Evanger’s.

Food Safety News reported they may share manufacturing facilities and ingredients, and that the founders of Against the Grain are listed as the son and daughter of Evanger’s owners Holly and Joel Sher.

Chelsea Sher, who serves as vice president for exports at Evanger’s, is listed as owner of the Against the Grain trademark.

Evanger’s recalls Hunk of Beef dog food

ct-evangers-pet-food-recall-0209-biz-20170208-001Evanger’s is recalling some lots of its “Hunk of Beef” canned dog food after it was found to contain a sedative used to euthanize animals.

Four dogs in Washington state became sick on New Year’s Eve after eating the food, and one died, the Wheeling, Illinois-based company said.

Tests on a deceased pug named Talula found the drug pentobarbital, a sedative, in the dog’s stomach. The owner’s other pugs were sick after consuming the food, but survived.

It’s the first recall in the company’s 82-year history.

Evanger’s has ended its relationship with a beef supplier and promised to guarantee the safety of its products in the future, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The pentobarbital was detected in one lot of Hunk of Beef Au Jus, and company officials are stumped on how it got there.

Pentobarbital can affect animals that ingest it by causing drowsiness, dizziness, excitement, loss of balance, nausea and death.

On the family-owned company’s website, a video has been posted in which members of the Sher family, which owns it, explain that pentobarbital can be found in other dry pet foods if they are made with euthanized cow meat.

“We were unaware of the problem of pentobarbital in the pet food industry because it is most pervasive in dry foods that source most of their ingredients from rendering plants, unlike Evanger’s, which mainly manufactures canned foods that would not have any rendered materials in its supply chain,” the owners said.

They added that once an animal has been euthanized there are no regulations requiring veterinarians to tag the meat as such, allowing the meat to find its way into the food chain.

Although only one lot was found to be affected, the company has recalled five lots, distributed to retail locations and sold online in Washington, California, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. They were manufactured the week of June 6 – June 13, 2016, and have an expiration date of June 2020.

The recall applies to lot numbers starting with 1816E03HB, 1816E04HB, 1816E06HB, 1816E07HB, and 1816E13HB, The second half of the barcode reads 20109, which can be found on the back of the product label.

Evanger’s says all of its meat suppliers are USDA approved, and that it is still investigating how the substance entered their raw material supply.

Consumers who still have cans with the lot numbers should return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-847-537-0102 between 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM Central Time, Monday – Friday.

Evanger’s has apologized on its website, promised transparency and posted several updates for customers.

“We are sorry we let you down, but we will make a better pet industry because of it,” Evanger’s owners wrote. “First and foremost we are pet parents,” they wrote.

The Sher family said they paid veterinary bills for the four pugs in Washington state and made a donation to a local animal shelter.

Dog found high on meth gets new home


Bubba, a Jack Russell terrier-Chihuahua mix found high on methamphetamine in a seedy California hotel room four months ago, is headed to a new home.

No sooner was he pronounced healthy, drug free and available for adoption Wednesday than a couple walked into Orange County Animal Care and adopted the seven-month-old dog.

The couple, who had been following his story, asked not to be identified, though they did allow a photo to be taken of the new happy family.

Bubba had been at the shelter since March after being rescued by animal control officers from a drug-infested motel room in Tustin. He was only eight weeks old at the time.

Tests later show he had ingested methamphetamine and heroin.

His owner, Joshua West, 40, of Mission Viejo, was arrested on an outstanding warrant and suspicion of possession of methamphetamine, heroin and drug paraphernalia and booked into Orange County Jail.

Another southern California man was arrested last week after his Chihuahua, named Jack Sparrow, was found to have ingested methamphetamine.

After months of treatment, Bubba’s test results came back clear for the first time, prompting the shelter to put him up for adoption, according to Jennifer Hawkins, shelter director and chief veterinarian.

“They were a really nice couple and told us that Bubba would have a sister,” Katie Ingram, assistant director of OC Animal Care, told the Orange County Register. “Bubba bonded with them immediately.”

“It made it more meaningful that they were able to help him out because of his rough start in life,” Ingram added. “We were happy they are home quite a bit. It’s what he deserves.”

(Top photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register; bottom photo courtesy of Orange County Animal Care)

A drug to make your dog live longer?

antiaging

Two University of Washington scientists think it might be possible to slow the aging process in canines and are launching a pilot study with 30 dogs to see if the drug rapamycin significantly extends their lifespans.

The researchers, using $200,000 in seed money from the University of Washington, plan to use pets, not laboratory animals, for the initial study, and recruit volunteer dogs — or at least dogs whose owners volunteer them — for larger scale studies in the future.

Daniel Promislow, an evolutionary geneticist, and Matthew Kaeberlein, a molecular biologist, say the study is aimed at determining whether rapamycin could lead to longer lives for dogs — as studies have shown is the case when it’s used on yeast, fruit flies, worms and mice.

“We’re not talking about doubling the healthy life spans of pets,” said Kaeberlein. “But at a minimum I would predict that you would get a 10 to 15 percent increase in average life span, and I think bigger effects are possible.”

In the pilot study, 30 large, middle-aged dogs will be involved — half receiving low doses of rapamycin, half receiving placebos.

The researchers say that subsequent studies will seek to enroll pet dogs from across the country.

Kaeberlein and Promislow hosted a meeting in Seattle last week where experts from across the country discussed the drug rapamycin and its possible effects on the health and longevity of dogs, the Seattle Times reported.

Currently used along with other medications to prevent rejection in organ-transplant patients, rapamycin has been called a promising anti-aging drug — though there have been no studies involving humans.

But almost 50 laboratory studies have shown that the compound can delay the onset of some diseases and degenerative processes and restore vigor to elderly animals, extending life spans by 9 to 40 percent.

Rapamycin functions, in part, by inactivating a protein that promotes cell growth. As a result, cells grow more slowly, which retards the spread of cancer.

Promislow, who has two elderly dogs of his own, noted that even if the drug doesn’t increase the life span of dogs, it could serve to keep them healthy longer. “We’re trying to understand why some dogs age better than others, and help all dogs age in a better way,” he said.

The drug has been shown to have serious side effects, including poor wound healing and an increased risk of diabetes, when used at the high doses required for organ transplant patients.

But the low doses used in anti-aging research with mice and other lab animals cause few side effects.

There have been no large-scale human trials. Studying how the drug affects dogs — who suffer many of the same old-age ailments as their masters — makes it possible to explore the possible benefits of rapamycin both more quickly and at a lesser cost.

If it does turn out to be a sort of  fountain of youth — for dogs, humans, or both — the potential profits would be enormous.

“I think it’s worth a go, not just from what it can teach us about humans, but for the sake of the animals themselves,” said University of Alabama Biology Department Chairman Steven Austad, an expert in aging research who is not involved in the project. “It may not work in dogs, but if it did, boy, it’s going to be huge.”

According to the Seattle Times article, drug companies aren’t very interested in rapamycin because it’s no longer under patent.

But the researchers are hoping dog lovers, dog-food companies and some foundations might be willing to contribute to further research.

They’ve set up a website, dogagingproject.com,where people can donate and sign their dogs up to take part in the research.

“Given how I feel about my pets, I see this as a unique project where there’s a real potential for citizen science,” Kaeberlein said. “I think it would be great if pet owners who are really interested in improving the health of their animals would help fund this work.”

(Photos: UW scientists Matt Kaeberlein, with his dog Dobby, and Dan Promislow, with his dog Frisbee; by Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

Human poop poses problem for Berlin dogs

biodegradable pet waste bagsThe health hazards that unscooped dog waste in public places can pose to humans has been well-established, well-documented and well-hollered-about.

So — yucky as it is — it’s only right to share some news that shows the reverse side of the equation can be true, too.

According to a report from the German newspaper Tagesspiegel, dogs in Berlin are being sickened by human feces left in some public parks frequented by drug users.

Veterinarians say they’ve seen an increase in such poisonings.

Dogs who ingest the waste show symptoms that include shaking, dehydration and difficulty walking. Tests on dogs have found heroin and other illegal drugs present in their systems.

Vets say most cases took place in parks the city’s Treptow and Kreuzberg areas, where drug users are known to gather, especially at night.

Berlin-based veterinarian Reinhold Sassnau told Tagesspiegel that the poisonings are rarely fatal. Most dogs recover if they quickly receive treatment, which includes inducing vomiting. Otherwise, prolonged treatment might be required.

Just something to keep in mind next time you (or your dog) step in a  pile of dog poop (or is it?) at the park.