FDA finds Salmonella in Aunt Jeni’s raw pet food sample

FDA is cautioning pet owners not to feed a specific lot of Aunt Jeni’s frozen raw pet food after finding Salmonella in a retail sample.

The contaminated product is described as: Aunt Jeni’s Home Made All-Natural Raw Turkey Dinner Dog Food, 5 lb. (2.3 kg), lot 175331 NOV2020.

FDA obtained a retail sample of this product in January 2020 and has confirmed the presence of Salmonella Infantis in the sample.

Aunt Jeni has not recalled the contamination product.

Salmonella can cause illness and death in humans and animals, especially those who are very young, very old, or have weak immune systems. Common symptoms include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. Most people recover without treatment, but in some people, the diarrhea may be so severe that they need to be hospitalized.

Infected pets may show symptoms that include vomiting, diarrhea (which may be bloody), fever, loss of appetite and/or decreased activity level. Although pets do not always display symptoms of a Salmonella infection, they can shed the bacteria in their feces and saliva, contaminating the environment and potentially spreading the infection to other animals and to people.

This is the second time in less than a year that FDA has reported finding pathogens in products from this company. In August 2019, FDA reported the presence of Salmonella and/or Listeria monocytogenes in two samples obtained during an inspection of the company’s premises. The contaminated products were not recalled.

What Consumers Need to Know

  • The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires that all animal food, like human food, be safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled. Without an effective control for pathogens, such as cooking, animal food is more likely to contain pathogens such as Salmonella. Refrigeration or freezing does not kill the bacteria.
  • If you think you have symptoms of Salmonella infection, consult your health care provider.
  • People who think their pets have become ill after consuming contaminated pet food should first contact their veterinarians. Veterinarians who wish to have pets tested for Salmonella may do so through the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (Vet-LIRN) if the pet is from a household with a person infected with Salmonella.
  • FDA encourages consumers to report complaints about pet food products electronically through the Safety Reporting Portal. This information helps FDA further protect human and animal health.

JBS knowingly distributed pentobarbital-adulterated products

This story by Phyllis Entis first appeared in Food Safety News and is reposted here with permission.

JBS Souderton Inc. continued to distribute pentobarbital-adulterated products to customers even after receiving formal notification of pentobarbital contamination, according to a warning letter issued on April 23 by the Food and Drug Administration.

The warning letter to JBS Souderton Inc., which does business as MOPAC, was sent more than one year after pentobarbital was first discovered in beef tallow from the company’s Souderton, PA, facility.

Pentobarbital is a barbiturate used by veterinarians to euthanize animals, including companion animals, horses and cattle. According to the FDA, pet foods containing even a trace amount of pentobarbital are considered adulterated. It is against federal law to release “adulterated” products into the stream of commerce.

JBS was the supplier of beef tallow to Big Heart Pet Brands Inc. and to Champion PetFoods, among others.

Big Heart is a wholly owned subsidiary of The J.M. Smucker Company Inc. Champion is a Canadian pet food company whose U.S. production facility is in Auburn, KY. It manufactures Acana and Orijen brands of dry dog food.

In February 2018, a media outlet reported having found pentobarbital in several samples of Gravy Train canned, wet dog food. Smucker initiated a product withdrawal of the implicated products pending the outcome of its internal investigation. 

Concurrently, FDA alerted pet owners about the possible presence of pentobarbital in the several dog food brands, including Gravy Train, Kibbles ’N Bits, Ol’ Roy and Skippy.

Smucker converted its withdrawal into a full-blown recall once company officials had confirmation of the presence of pentobarbital in its finished product and in samples of beef tallow supplied by JBS.

As part of its investigation into the Big Heart, FDA and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture conducted a joint inspection of JBS beginning March 13, 2018.

According to the warning letter, FDA found pentobarbital in four out of nine samples collected at the JBS facility. Upon further analysis, three of the samples were found to contain pentobarbital at levels ranging from 61.8 +/-19 to 277 +/-70 nanograms per gram (ng/g), well above the minimum detection concentration of 4 ng/g.

The four pentobarbital-contaminated products were delivered to customers from November 2017 through March 2018.

Samples collected from JBS and from its customers’ facilities and analyzed by Pennsylvania officials found levels of pentobarbital as high as 680 ng/g.

The list of Inspectional “Observations” in the FDA’s Form 483, provided to JBS management on Oct. 17, 2018, contained two items:

  1. JBS did not visually verify loads of raw materials with what the hauler stated that they brought in. This led to tallow, manufactured at [the JBS] facility, to be adulterated with pentobarbital.
  2. JBS did not have an effective system for evaluating incoming raw materials to ensure that these ingredients are suitable for use in human products and animal feeds.

JBS officials informed the FDA on April 17, 2018, that the company had completed cleaning all of its conveyances, conduits, cookers and centrifuges, and some of its storage tanks to remove any pentobarbital-contaminated product. In a May 30, 2018, letter, JBS management indicated the company would complete the cleaning process within an additional 30 days.

The company officials also reported having identified and talked with all of its suppliers that may have presented a risk for entry of euthanized animals into the rendering plant, and obtained a guarantee from each supplier that they would not provide euthanized animals. JBS also indicated it would continue to conduct random tests of tallow products for pentobarbital.

On July 27, 2018, the FDA took a follow-up sample from one of the JBS storage tanks. Upon analysis, the sample was found to contain trace amounts of pentobarbital.

On Aug. 8, 2018, the FDA inquired what actions JBS planned to take in response to the pentobarbital finding. 

The company declined to recall the product. Instead, JBS offered to ask animal food producing customers that received animal food products to remove any products deemed positive for pentobarbital and to have their tanks cleaned.

JBS described its product withdrawals and attempted withdrawals of pentobarbital-contaminated product from its customers in a Nov. 26, 2018, letter to the FDA. 

In its warning letter, the FDA noted that it was unable to asses the effectiveness of the corrective actions in the absence of a voluntary recall or other documentation demonstrating all contaminated products were removed from the marketplace.

As reported by Food Safety News in November 2018, Champion PetFoods retrieved pet foods the contaminated tallow from its third-party distributors. The company declined to initiate a retail-level recall, even though some of the product had reached the store/consumer level. The refusal was based on laboratory test results on retained samples of those finished products that did not reveal pentobarbital.

JBS was given fifteen working days to notify the FDA in writing of the specific steps it has taken to correct the violations listed in the warning letter, or to provide a time frame within which the corrections will be completed.

Miscellaneous Recalls and Alerts: March 1-24, 2013

Here are some miscellaneous recalls and alerts from around the world. The live links will take you directly to the official notices or company news releases that contain detailed information for each item.

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United States

  • The Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Ohio Department of Health alert consumers to the risk of lead poisoning associated with eye-area cosmetics (e.g., pencils and eyeliners) called Surma (also known as Kohl or Kajal), a powdered eye area product manufactured and used in the Middle East, India, Pakistan and some parts of Africa.
  • The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has revoked the food processing license of Chu Minh Corp., which produces tofu and other soy products, after several inspections found on-going sanitation problems with the Seattle business.
  • CDC issues final update for its investigation of a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium infections linked to ground beef. The contaminated ground beef was linked to 22 illnesses (including 7 hospitalizations) in six states.
  • CDC is investigating an outbreak of vomiting and diarrhea that sickened 118 passengers and 3 crew members on Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas during a February 25 to March 8, 2013 cruise.
  • CDC is investigating an outbreak of vomiting and diarrhea that sickened 266 passengers and 10 crew members on Princess Cruises’ Ruby Princess during a March 3-10, 2013 cruise.
  • Green Planet, Inc. (Riverside, CA) recalls Night Bullet after FDA finds that the product contains trace amounts of undeclared Sulfohydroxyhomosildenafil and Aminotadalafil.
  • Med Prep Consulting, Inc. (Tinton Falls, NJ) recalls all lots of all products compounded at its facility. The level of recall is to the user, that is, regional hospital pharmacies and related departments, and physician’s office practices. The recall resulted from the pharmacy being notified by a Connecticut hospital that it observed visible particulate contaminants in 50 ml bags of MAGNESIUM SULFATE 2GM IN DEXTROSE 5% IN WATER, 50ML FOR INJECTION intravenous solution confirmed to be mold.
  • Clinical Specialties recalls All Lots of All Sterile products repackaged and distributed by the pharmacy due to lack of sterility assurance.
  • Cargill’s animal nutriton business recalls certain brands of its ruminant mineral products because they were deficient in vitamins A, D and E.
  • Diamond Pet Foods (Columbia, SC) recalls limited production codes of Premium Edge Finicky Adult Cat Formula dry cat food, Premium Edge Senior Cat Hairball Management Formula dry cat food, Premium Edge Kitten Formula dry cat food, Diamond Naturals Kitten Formula dry cat food and 4health All Life Stages Cat Formula dry cat food. Tests conducted by the company indicated the products might have a low level of thiamine (Vitamin B1).
  • Steve’s Real Foods (Murray, UT) recalls 5 lb. bags of Turducken Canine Diet – 8oz. Patties due to potential contamination of Salmonella.
  • Bravo! recalls 2 lb tubes of Bravo! Raw Food Diet Chicken Blend for Dogs and Cats, product code: 21-102, batch ID code 6 14 12, because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.
  • Diggin’ Your Dog™ withdraws Strippin’ Chicks™ Pet Treats produced on 8-30-12 because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.
  • Natura Pet Products recalls specific lots of California Natural, Evo, Healthwise, and Innova dry pet food because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. The affected products are sold in bags through veterinary clinics, select pet specialty retailers, and online in the United States, Canada, Korea, Malaysia, Japan, Hong Kong, and Costa Rica.
  • Jones Natural Chews Co. (Rockford, IL) recalls 245 boxes of Woofers (beef patties) because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.
  • Procter & Gamble withdraws certain lot codes of Iams Shakeables Turkey Dog Treats and Iams Shakeables Lamb Dog Treats due to potential for mold growth.

Canada

  • Natura Pet Products recalls specific lots of California Natural, Evo, Healthwise, and Innova dry pet food because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. The affected products are sold in bags through veterinary clinics, select pet specialty retailers, and online in the United States, Canada, Korea, Malaysia, Japan, Hong Kong, and Costa Rica.

Asia, Africa and the Pacific Islands

  • Natura Pet Products recalls specific lots of California Natural, Evo, Healthwise, and Innova dry pet food because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. The affected products are sold in bags through veterinary clinics, select pet specialty retailers, and online in the United States, Canada, Korea, Malaysia, Japan, Hong Kong, and Costa Rica.

Australia and New Zealand

  • Australia: The Therapeutic Goods Administration has tested Paiyouji Natural Slimming Capsules and found that it contains the undeclared prescription substance sildenafil and the undeclared substance phenolphthalein which was previously used as an oral laxative, but is no longer available in Australia due to serious safety concerns.
  • Australia: The Victoria Department of Health is investigating a four-fold increase in Cryptosporidium notifications since January 2013. While initially focussed on metropolitan Melbourne, an increase in notifications is now affecting regional Victoria.
  • New Zealand: The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is warning that drought conditions in some parts of the country could lead to higher than usual levels of tutin in honey. Tutin is well known as a natural toxin in honey in some parts of New Zealand.
  • New Zealand: Hawke’s Bay’s water operators are checking the region’s supplies for contamination of Cryptosporidium. The New Zealand Herald reports that 45 people have been diagnosed with the parasite over the past two months.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Natura Pet Products recalls specific lots of California Natural, Evo, Healthwise, and Innova dry pet food because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. The affected products are sold in bags through veterinary clinics, select pet specialty retailers, and online in the United States, Canada, Korea, Malaysia, Japan, Hong Kong, and Costa Rica.

Some supermarket chains post recall notices on their web sites for the convenience of customers. To see whether a recalled food was carried by your favorite supermarket, follow the live link to the supermarket’s recall website.

*The Kroger umbrella encompasses numerous supermarket, marketplace and convenience store chains, listed on the Kroger corporate home page.
**Includes Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Dominick’s, Genuardi’s, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Carrs and Pak N’ Save.