Evangers denied knowledge of horse meat despite its license


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

Even though the owners of Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food Co. Inc. had a state license to process horse meat from Feb. 14, 2016, through Aug. 17, 2017, they denied any knowledge of how horse meat found its way into their products.

The pet food company’s license application submitted to the Illinois Department of Agriculture described Evanger’s operations as “canning of pet food” and indicated the horse meat would be sold as “canned pet food” according to information obtained from the department in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

It is not illegal to use horse meat as pet food in the United States, as long as it’s presence is disclosed on the labeling, a spokesperson for the Food and Drug Administration said.

Evanger’s horse meat processing activities predated the issuance of the state license.

In April 2015, the Illinois agriculture department received a complaint from the Wheeling, IL, fire marshal about improper food storage and disposal, clogged and maggot-filled grease traps, and other unsanitary conditions at Evanger’s Wheeling Road facility. The state initiated an inspection of the facility on May 27, 2015.

During the investigation of the company’s operations, inspectors noted the manufacture of a dog food with horse meat as an ingredient.

As a result of conditions observed during the May inspection, the state of Illinois filed a formal complaint against Evanger’s, charging the company with violations of the Illinois Commercial Feed Act of 1961, the Illinois Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and the Illinois Horse Meat Act.

The complaint stated that Evanger’s “… canned, packed or otherwise processed or prepared for sale a pet food with horsemeat listed as its main ingredient” without having secured a license to do so, and that the company did so under unsanitary conditions.

According to information contained in the report on a follow-up inspection, conducted in January 2016, Evanger manufactured only canned dog and cat foods in the Wheeling facility, receiving raw and frozen pork, chicken, beef and horse meats. The horse meat was imported from foreign countries, the report stated.

One year later, in January 2017, FDA launched an investigation into pentobarbital contamination in a canned, wet dog food manufactured by Evanger’s in June 2016. The investigation was in response to a consumer complaint following the death of a dog who had been fed some “Evanger’s Hunk of Beef au Jus” dog food. 

During the investigation, FDA arranged for lab tests to determine the species of meats present in several samples of the same batch of food eaten by the dead dog. Traces of horse antigens were found in one of the samples.

As reported by Food Safety News in February 2017, those level of horse antigens would be consistent with incidental cross-contamination if horse meat was processed in the same facility as the beef-based dog food.

The owners of Evanger’s denied any knowledge of how horse meat had found its way into their products, and cast blame on their beef supplier, Bailey Farms LLC. On April 25, 2017, Evanger’s filed a lawsuit against Bailey, alleging that it had shipped pentobarbital-contaminated horsement instead of the “pet food quality beef” ordered by Evanger’s.

At the time the lawsuit was filed, and throughout the entire period during which the company manufactured dog food that was later found to be adulterated with pentobarbital, Evanger’s license to process horse meat was active and in force. 

Evanger’s horse meat license expired in August 2017 and has not been renewed.

Gravy Train, Ol’ Roy, other brands recalled for euthanasia drug


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
  • In addition to certain Skippy and Kibbles ‘n’ Bits dog foods, the Smucker Co. is pulling Gravy Train and Ol’ Roy brands.

    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.

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.