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Tag: fda

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.

FDA warns consumers about feeding dogs cooked bones, or bone treats


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning dog owners to steer clear of bones — not just those inside your turkey but those packaged as dog treats and sold in pet stores.

“Bone treats,” such as those pictured here, can be just as dangerous for your dog and can lead to choking, other emergencies and death.

Bone treats are real bones — but unlike those you can get from your butcher they have been been processed, sometimes flavored, and packaged for dogs.

They include a variety of commercially-available treats for dogs, such as “Ham Bones,” “Pork Femur Bones,” “Rib Bones” and “Smokey Knuckle Bones”.

86874_MAIN._AC_SL1500_V1476881391_The products may be dried through a smoking process or by baking, leading to splintering, and they may contain other ingredients such as preservatives, seasonings, and smoke flavorings.

In the FDA warning, 68 reports of illness and 15 deaths are mentioned.

According to Carmela Stamper, a veterinarian in the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) at the FDA, “Giving your dog a bone treat might lead to an unexpected trip to your veterinarian, a possible emergency surgery, or even death …”

Illnesses reported to the FDA included gastrointestinal obstruction (blockage in the digestive tract), choking, cuts and wounds in the mouth or on the tonsils, vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding from the rectum and death.

The reports, sent in by pet owners and veterinarians, involved about 90 dogs. In addition, the FDA received seven reports of bone treats splintering when chewed or appearing to contain mold.

Blue Buffalo recalls another dog food

bluewildernessBlue Buffalo has issued another dog food recall — the third in the last two months.

The company says its Blue Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe Red Meat Dinner Wet Food for Adult Dogs has the potential to contain elevated levels of naturally-occurring beef thyroid hormones.

The voluntary recall applies to one production lot (840243101153). The cans have an expiration date of June 7, 2019,

The FDA said in a press release that affected products were distributed nationally through pet specialty and on-line retailers.

Dogs ingesting high levels of beef thyroid hormones may exhibit symptoms such as increased thirst and urination, weight loss, increased heart rate and restlessness. These symptoms often resolve themselves when the use of the impacted food is discontinued, the FDA said.

With prolonged consumption, though, the symptoms may increase in severity and may include vomiting, diarrhea, and rapid or difficulty breathing. Should these symptoms occur, contact your veterinarian immediately.

The company says its customer care resource team has not received any reports of dogs exhibiting symptoms from consuming this product, but it was advised by the FDA that a consumer reported symptoms in one dog. The dog recovered.

Blue Buffalo in February issued a voluntary recall of one production lot of its Homestyle Recipe Healthy Weight Chicken Dinner with Garden Vegetables in 12.5 oz cans after metal fragments were found in some cans.

Earlier this month, the company issued a voluntary recall of 17 varieties of its Blue Divine Delights and Blue Wilderness Trail Trays due to quality issues with the foil seals on the top of the cups.

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.

PetSmart recalls some cans of Grreat Choice

great-choice-chicken-and-rice-dog-food-recall6PetSmart has issued a recall on cans of its Grreat Choice dog food after a manufacturer informed the company of consumer complaints about finding pieces of metal that could cause a choking hazard to pets.

The product is sold nationwide at PetSmart retail stores and online at PetSmart.com, Pet360.com, and PetFoodDirect.com.

The dog food was sold between October 10, 2016 and Feb. 7, 2017 and has a “Best By” date of 8/5/19.

PetSmart said in a press release that only one lot of Grreat Choice chicken and rice dog food is affected by the recall.

No injuries or illnesses have been reported, the company said.

The cans have a lot number of 1759338, and a UPC code of 7-3725726116-7.

Neither the manufacturer or PetSmart have given any indication of how the metal pieces ended up in the food.

Customers who have purchased the recalled food are advised to stop feeding it to their pets and bring any remaining cans to a PetSmart store for a full refund or exchange.

For more information, consumers can contact PetSmart customer service at 1-888-839-9638 between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. CST

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.

Dollar store dog treats are subject of recall

goodnfunA brand of chicken dog treat most commonly sold at dollar stores is being recalled by the manufacturer due to possible Salmonella contamination.

According to the FDA, Salix Animal Health has expanded its earlier recall of Good ‘n’ Fun Beefhide Chicken Sticks.

The initial recall pertained only to the lot in which Salmonella was discovered during sampling by the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

Now, the company, out of what it calls an abundance of caution, is recalling other lots made around the same time.

The recalled Good ‘n’ Fun – Beefhide Chicken Sticks were distributed nationwide to Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar retail stores. The recalled product is packaged in a 2.8 ounce bag stamped on the back side with an item code number of 82247 and with an expiration date ranging from 02/2018 to 07/2018.

Salmonella can affect animals eating the product and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated products.

Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever.

No other Salix product is affected by the recall. Customers who have purchased the recalled product are urged to dispose of it or return it for full refund.

For more information, contact Salix Animal Health’s consumer affairs team at 1-800-338-4896.