More pentobarbital-contaminated dog food reported

Two varieties of Party Animal canned dog food may be contaminated with pentobarbital, according to a test report from Texas A&M University released this week.

The report was provided to blogger Susan Thixton of Truth About Pet Food by a consumer who arranged for the testing after a family pet became ill. The consumer has not been identified. The test report was supplied by Thixton to the Food and Drug Administration April 17.

“The FDA has received test results of this food and is aware of the public statement from Party Animal, and is following up as appropriate,” according to a spokesperson with FDA.

A statement posted on the Party Animal Pet Food website confirms that it was informed by a retailer of the problem on April 13. The company has contacted the two Texas retailers who may have sold the food to the customer, and has requested that all remaining cans of the implicated production lots be isolated and returned for independent third-party testing. Party Animal also will be retrieving all remaining nationwide stock of the two production lots.

Party Animal Inc. is incorporated in California and is headquartered in West Hollywood, CA. Its principals are Chief Executive Officer and Secretary Daryl Alan Abrams and Chief Financial Officer Shawna Denae Abrams.

The implicated products, which the company reports were manufactured in 2015, are:

  • Cocolicious Beef & Turkey, Lot #0136E15204 04
  • Cocolicious Chicken & Beef, Lot #0134E15 237 13

In 2015, Party Animal canned pet foods were manufactured by Evanger’s Dog & Cat Food Co. according to an interview published in Pet Product News. Earlier this year, Evangers recalled several months worth of three beef-based canned dog foods after samples from two different products were determined to contain pentobarbital. The recalled products were manufactured in 2015.

According to the statement on its website, Party Animal has “… submitted many recent lots of [its] beef flavors for testing and all have tested negative for any pentobarbital.”

“We have also had extensive discussions with our manufacturer regarding the potential cause of the reported contamination of the 2015 lots,” the company states, “and we will continue with such discussions even as we await testing results for the 2015 lots. In order to ensure adherence to our commitment to the safety of pets, we are also actively re-examining our manufacturing processes.”

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

Evanger’s and Against the Grain Recall additional products

Initial recalls expanded to include 13 months’ production and a third product

Evanger’s Dog & Cat Food on March 4 announced a voluntary expansion of its earlier dog food recalls due to potential adulteration with pentobarbital.

The expansion of the company’s February 3rd recall of five production lots of Evanger’s Hunk of Beef canned dog food and its February 14th recall of one production lot of Against the Grain Pulled Beef canned dog food is being carried out ‘Out of an abundance of caution,’ according to today’s announcement.

Evanger’s first advised the U.S. Food and Drug Administration(FDA) of its intention to expand the product recall on February 20,2017 and announced the planned recall in a letter to its distributors and retailers on February 28, 2017.

The recall encompasses all 12-oz. cans of the following hand-packed products manufactured between December 2015 and January 2017 and bearing expiration dates of December 2019 through January 2021. The numbers listed below represent the second half of the barcode for each product.

  • Evanger’s Hunk of Beef: 20109
  • Evanger’s Braised Beef: 20107
  • Against the Grain Pulled Beef: 80001

The recalled products were distributed online and through independent boutique pet stores nationwide.

FDA initiated an investigation of Evanger’s manufacturing facilities in early last January, after receiving word that a dog had died and four other dogs had been sickened following ingesting food from a can of Evanger’s Hunk of Beef.

Lab testing revealed the presence of pentobarbital, a euthanasia agent, in the stomach contents of the dead dog, in the remnants of food from the opened can, and in food from unopened cans of the same production lot of Hunk of Beef obtained from the owner of the dogs and from the retailer. Additional lab testing, carried out by FDA, detected pentobarbital in a can of Against the Grain Pulled Beef canned dog food.

Against the Grain Pulled Beef is manufactured by Evanger’s.

In an advisory to consumers, released on February 17 and updated on March 3, FDA reported that a bill of lading from Evanger’s supplier, which the pet food manufacturer had claimed was “USDA approved”, referred to “Inedible Hand Deboned Beef – For Pet Food Use Only. Not Fit For Human Consumption.”

Investigation of a certificate number displayed on the bill of lading determined that it referred to an export certification number that had been issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS). The certification, according to a spokesperson with USDA-APHIS, had expired in the mid 2000s.

FDA has received ten additional complaints from consumers who believe their dogs have been affected adversely after consuming by Evanger’s Hunk of Beef dog food. Five of the complaints mention symptoms that are consistent with possible pentobarbital poisoning. The agency is following up on four of the complaints, which provided veterinary and product lot number identification.

FDA continues to encourage consumers to report problems with Evanger’s products through the Safety Reporting Portal or by contacting a Consumer Complaint Coordinator. Empty cans or partially used cans of food to facilitate collection of specific lot number information may be retained.  Additional information is available on the FDA web page, “How to Report a Pet Food Complaint.

This article first appeared on Food Safety News and is reposted here with permission.

Evanger’s escalates war of words, challenges FDA investigation

Pet food maker blames weather for problem in facility; claims no flies in Chicago in winter

A family-owned pet food company under investigation after a euthanasia drug was found in its canned dog food has taken its dispute with the FDA to the public.

On March 2, FDA reported on its website that, based on a preliminary assessment, none of Evanger’s Dog & Cat Food suppliers were USDA-FSIS registered facilities.

In response, the Wheeling, Il, company owned by Holly and Joel Sher posted the following notice on its website:

“The FDA recently stated it believes that Evanger’s does not purchase any edible beef, yet in its investigation never asked a simple question, ‘does Evanger’s purchase edible beef.’ Evangers does, in fact, purchase edible beef, and did purchase edible beef around the same time as the recalled beef was supplied.

“Our intention was not to start an online war with the FDA, but the FDA has taken unprecedented actions specifically against Evanger’s. We will continue to post information in regards to FDA’s recent actions, but meanwhile are sharing this with our loyal customers now.”

“This” refers to a redacted invoice dated July 14, 2016, that shows the delivery of a shipment of edible beef bones, frozen organic beef product and edible beef livers to Evanger’s.

The Evanger’s statement replaced all previous website communications from the company to its customers on the subject of its dog food recalls due to contamination with pentobarbital. Several dogs have become ill and at least one died after eating the dog food that was later recalled.

The latest salvo in an ongoing effort by Evanger’s to challenge some components of the Inspectional Observations Form 483 report issued on Feb. 14 at the conclusion of Food and Drug Administration inspections of the company’s Wheeling and Markham production facilities.

It is standard operating procedure for FDA inspectors to present to the “highest management official available” a completed Form 483 immediately on the completion of an inspection and before leaving the premises. It is not uncommon for management or owners of a facility to respond in writing to the observations listed on a Form 483.

An FDA spokesperson has confirmed that the agency has received and is reviewing Evanger’s response to the Inspectional Observations Form 483 reports for the Wheeling and Markham production facilities.

In addition to its formal reply to FDA, Evanger’s used a Feb. 28 letter to its distributors and retailers to take issue with certain of the observations listed in the Form 483 report for the Wheeling facility.

FDA’s observations

On Jan. 10 and 11, condensate dripped throughout your processing facility from the building framing, ceiling, walls, and from tarps suspended above food processing areas, including condensate dripping directly into open cans of the in-process low-acid canned dog food product Hunk Of Beef, and also into multiple open totes of raw meats including beef intended for your canned dog food product Hunk Of Beef.

The floors throughout your processing facility are pitted, cracked and otherwise damaged causing pooled water in areas where food is exposed including where open cans of in-process Hunk Of Beef dog food are staged on a wooden pallet immediately upon the damaged floor.

Additional sanitary conditions observed on the same dates included peeling paint and mold on walls throughout the processing facility including in areas where food is exposed, a live fly-like insect in the Hunk Of Beef hand-packing area during processing, and an open sanitary sewer within approximately 25 feet of two food storage trailers and one food processing trailer at the rear exterior of the facility.

Evanger’s responses

In some instances the investigators made observations without full knowledge of the operations of the firm, and other observations were made which are not true. An example of an untrue observation is that an inspector saw cracks in our floor. The “cracks” were actually expansion joints that are put into all new floors to prevent cracking.

There was condensation in areas of the plant because the temperature in Chicago was 35 degrees, then jumped to 57 degrees the following day. Since we manufacture using steam, the steam combined with the extreme temperature swing caused condensation. However, no condensation would have or could have entered any of our raw materials or in-process product because all materials are covered and protected at all times.

We use over 20,000 gallons of water per day and water is never stagnant in our facility. Water is frequently used and flowing during cleanup and sanitation procedures which happen throughout the day.

There are no flies in Illinois in winter.

Photographic evidence

Taking photographs during an inspection is standard procedure, according to Chapter 5 of FDA’s Inspections Operations Manual, and could help rectify these competing statements from the company and FDA inspectors. Inspectors are instructed to take a camera “… into the firm and use it as necessary just as you use other inspectional equipment.”

In some cases, company management objects to the taking of photographs. FDA has declined to comment on whether or not inspectors of the Wheeling and Markham facilities were permitted by management to take photographs inside the manufacturing plants during the January inspection.

What’s next?

The investigation is ongoing. According to an agency spokesperson, FDA is investigating all of Evanger’s suppliers of meat, and is following up on four consumer complaints for which veterinary and product identification information are available.

FDA continues to encourage consumers to report problems with Evanger’s products through the Safety Reporting Portal or by contacting a Consumer Complaint Coordinator. Please retain empty cans or partially used cans of food to facilitate collection of specific lot number information. Additional information is available on the FDA web page, How to Report a Pet Food Complaint.

This article first appeared on Food Safety News and is reposted here by permission.