Smucker Co. downplays phenobarbital amid ‘withdrawal’ of four dog food brands
The J.M. Smucker Co. has voluntarily withdrawn certain shipments of 27 different pet food products following media reports of pentobarbital contamination in some of its Gravy Train dog food.
Pentobarbital is a tranquilizer that is often used as a euthanizing agent to put down sick or fatally injured animals.
A consumer-level product recall has not been initiated. As of Wednesday afternoon neither Smucker nor any government agencies had revealed whether any of the implicated dog food made it to retail shelves where the public has access to buy it.
Smucker’s spokesperson provided Food Safety News a list of the recalled dog food, which it has requested retailers remove from their warehouses. The list of recalled dog food provided by Smucker is as follows:
- Gravy Train 13.2 oz. with T-Bone Flavor Chunks – UPC: 7910052541
- Gravy Train 13.2 oz. with Beef Strips – UPC: 7910052542
- Gravy Train 13.2 oz. with Lamb and Rice Chunks – UPC: 7910052543
- Gravy Train 13.2 oz. with Beef Chunks – UPC: 7910034417
- Gravy Train 13.2 oz. with Chicken Chunks – UPC: 7910034418
- Gravy Train 13.2 oz. Chunks in Gravy Stew – UPC: 7910051933
- Gravy Train 13.2 oz. Chicken, Beef & Liver Medley – UPC: 7910051934
- Gravy Train 13.2 oz. Chunks in Gravy with Beef Chunks – UPC: 7910034417
- Gravy Train 22 oz. with Chicken Chunks – UPC: 7910051645
- Gravy Train 22 oz. with Beef Chunks – UPC: 7910051647
Kibbles ‘N Bits 13.2 oz. Burger Bacon Cheese and Turkey Bacon Vegetable Variety 12-Pack – UPC: 7910010377; 7910010378
- Kibbles ‘N Bits 13.2 oz. Beef, Chicken, Vegetable, Meatball Pasta and Turkey Bacon Vegetable Variety Pack – UPC: 7910010382; 7910048367; 7910010378
- Kibbles ‘N Bits 13.2 oz. Beef, Chicken, Vegetable, Burger Bacon Cheese and Beef Vegetable Variety Pack – UPC: 7910010380; 7910010377; 7910010375
- Kibbles ‘N Bits 13.2 oz. Wet Variety Pack – UPC: 791001037; 7910048367
- Kibbles ‘N Bits 13.2 oz. Chef’s Choice Bistro Tender Cuts with Real Beef & Vegetable in Gravy – UPC: 7910010375
- Kibbles ‘N Bits 13.2 oz. Chef’s Choice Bistro Tender Cuts with Real Turkey, Bacon & Vegetable in Gravy – UPC: 7910010378
- Kibbles ‘N Bits 13.2 oz. Chef’s Choice Homestyle Tender Slices with Real Beef, Chicken & Vegetables in Gravy – UPC: 7910010380
- Skippy 13.2 oz. Premium Select Cuts in Gravy with Beef & Bone Marrow – UPC: 7910071860
- Skippy 13.2 oz. Premium Select Cuts with Burgers & Cheese Bits – UPC: 7910050243
- Skippy 13.2 oz. Premium Chunks in Gravy with Smoky Turkey & Bacon – UPC: 7910050246
- Skippy 13.2 oz. Premium Chunks in Gravy with Beef & Chicken – UPC: 7910050247
- Skippy 13.2 oz. Premium Chunks in Gravy 3 in 1 Chicken, Beef & Liver – UPC: 7910050248
- Skippy 13.2 oz. Premium Chunks in Gravy Chunky Stew – UPC: 7910050249
- Skippy 13.2 oz. Premium Strips in Gravy with Chicken – UPC: 7910050244
- Skippy 13.2 oz, Premium Chunks in Gravy with Beef – UPC: 7910050250
- Skippy 13.2 oz. Premium Strips in Gravy with Beef – UPC: 7910050245
- Ol’ Roy 13.2 oz Turkey Bacon Strips – UPC: 8113117570
Smucker initiated the product withdrawal following a Feb. 8 media report of low levels of pentobarbital contamination in some Gravy Train products.
The contamination was detected during the course of a study commissioned by WJLA, a Washington D.C. area station, according to a spokesperson from the Clean Label Project, which conducted the study for the news station. Gravy Train was the only brand of pet food included in the study that was found to contain pentobarbital.
The study was undertaken in response to the 2017 discovery of pentobarbital in brands of canned/wet dog food manufactured by Evanger’s Dog & Cat Food Co. Inc., an adulteration that resulted in illnesses of several pets and at least one death.
Beginning in October 2017, Clean Label Project obtained 99 retail samples of various brands of canned/wet dog food for pentobarbital analysis by Ellipse Analytics, a Denver laboratory.
The samples were analyzed to determine both the presence and the amount of pentobarbital in the dog foods, using test methods consistent with FDA protocols. According to Smucker, the amounts of pentobarbital found in their product “…do not pose a threat to pet safety.”
An FDA spokesperson told Food Safety News that the agency’s “…preliminary evaluation of the testing results of Gravy Train samples indicates that the low level of pentobarbital present in the withdrawn products is unlikely to pose a health risk to pets.
“However, pentobarbital should never be present in pet food and products containing any amount of pentobarbital are considered to be adulterated,” said the FDA spokesperson.
All of the products included on Smucker’s retailer recall list came from the same manufacturing facility. The company has narrowed its investigation to “…a single supplier and a single, minor ingredient…” used at that facility.
Jaclyn Bowen, the executive director of Clean Label Project expressed a lack of surprise at the pentobarbital findings.
“At Clean Label Project, we believe that sometimes what’s not on the label is what’s most important,” she said.
“Clean Label Project’s 2017 Pet Food Study revealed high levels of heavy metals, BPA, and acrylamide in some of the nation’s best selling pet food. The presence of pentobarbital in Gravy Train does not come as a surprise and the Evanger’s recall was not a one-off, rather the tip of the iceberg of an industry that needs to significantly improve its food safety and quality through testing.”
Smucker encourages pet owners with questions or concerns about this situation to contact the company by telephone 800-828-9980 or via email at: http://www.bigheartpet.com/Contact/ContactUs.aspx.
This story first appeared on Food Safety News and is reposted here with permission.