Raw pet food company sues to block FDA public health alert

Arrow Reliance Inc. (d.b.a. Darwin’s Natural Pet Products) has filed suit in US federal court in an attempt to prevent the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from issuing a Public Health Alert about possible Salmonella contamination in a cat food product.

Darwin’s, which is based in Tukwila, Washington, filed the their request for a temporary restraining order on July 29, 2022, in the US District Court, Western District of Washington (Case 2:22-cv-01057).

Screen Shot 2022-08-01 at 1.58.32 PMThe lawsuit contends that the FDA “wrongfully” threatened to issue the Public Health Alert if the company refused to issue a recall of its adult cat food.

The FDA’s request for a product recall apparently arose after kittens tested positive for Salmonella.

When contacted by eFoodAlert, a spokesperson for the FDA stated that the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

The background

logo-Darwins-pet-foodDarwin’s is the producer and distributor of a range of raw food products for dogs and cats.

The company was founded in 2002 by Gary Tashjian, who began producing frozen raw pet foods in his own kitchen.

In time, Tashjian moved his manufacturing operations into a facility in Tukwila, WA, just outside of Seattle.

In June 2016, the FDA received a consumer complaint about foreign objects in the company’s products. In response, the FDA and representatives from the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) paid a visit to the Tukwila facility.

During the course of their visit, the FDA and state investigators noted several objectionable conditions in the production plant. They also reviewed the company’s consumer complaint log, including four complaints that mentioned Salmonella.

As part of their follow-up, WSDA inspectors sampled two of the finished raw pet food products for lab analysis. One of those samples was found to contained Salmonella.

In response, the company destroyed its inventory of the contaminated production lot. As none of the product had been shipped, there was no need for a recall.

In December 2017, following a spate of product recalls due variously to Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, and/or E. coli O28 in multiple product samples, the FDA returned to Darwin’s plant to conduct an intensive investigation that lasted until late January 2018.

During the course of its investigation, the FDA became aware of at least six customer complaints about sick pets, including one dead kitten.

On April 2, 2018, the FDA issued a formal Warning Letter, notifying the company of its findings and giving the company fifteen business days in which to respond with a written description of corrective actions.

The company was reinspected in 2018/19, during which time Darwin’s management refused to supply the FDA investigation team with records pertaining to the production, sanitation, environmental testing and distribution of finished product lots using the same protein ingredients as two samples that were identified positive for the presence of Salmonella.

FDA inspected Darwin’s again in June 2021. This time, the company cooperated fully with the inspectors, who noted a few observations of concern. These were corrected by company management before the inspection was completed, and no formal list of Inspectional Observations was issued.

The current situation

At the moment, there is no information available beyond what has been included in the company’s request for a temporary restraining order.

If the request is not granted, the FDA will be free to release additional details, including a Public Health Alert, if it chooses to do so.

In the interim, any consumer who suspects that a Darwin’s product may have caused his dog or cat to become ill should file a formal complaint with the FDA, using the agency’s pet food complaint portal.

For additional information on safety issues surrounding the feeding of raw pet food to companion animals, check out the FDA website


Learn more about a variety of food safety issues in TAINTED. From Farm Gate to Dinner Plate, Fifty Years of Food Safety Failures, now available in digital, print and audiobook editions.

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Albright’s recalls raw dog food due to Salmonella

Albright’s Raw Dog Food of Fort Wayne, IN has recalled one batch of Albright’s Raw Dog Food Chicken Recipe for Dogs, due to possible Salmonella contamination.

The company took this action after learning that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had detected Salmonella in a sample of the pet food.

The recall is limited to the following item, and was distributed in California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee through retail stores, mail order, and direct delivery.

Albright’s Raw Dog Food Chicken Recipe for Dogs, 2 lbs chubs/rolls.- Lot No. C000185, Best By 19 May 2021.

Sixty-seven cases of the frozen raw food were supplied to distributors from 7/8/20 to 8/27/20.

One animal illness has been reported, according to the recall notice. No human illnesses have been reported.

Albright’s was informed by FDA of an anonymous complaint on November 11th, according to a spokesperson for the company. The complainant did not contact the company directly.

After receiving the complaint, FDA tested seven samples of the implicated raw pet food and found Salmonella in one of those samples.

Communication from FDA has been “punctual and straightforward,” and the company is continuing to work with FDA during the recall process.

Albright’s production manager is certified in food safety from Purdue University, according to information supplied to eFoodAlert by the company, and has experience supervising in USDA-inspected plants.

FDA declined to state whether or not the agency is now inspecting the Albright’s manufacturing facility, or whether it has plans to do so in the near future, on the grounds that this is an open/ongoing investigation. The FDA’s Inspection Classification Database does not list any previous inspections of the facility.

In response to eFoodAlert’s request for a statement, Albright’s released the following:

“We produce our food utilizing only human grade ingredients. It is raw and therefore must be handled as such following food safety handling practices as our packaging and website indicates. Although our suppliers and ourselves follow all necessary steps to prevent food contamination our food should be handled under the assumption it may contain pathogenic bacteria. No different than the meat you purchase for human consumption.

We stand by our firm commitment to produce healthy dog food. We feel our food contributes to a dogs overall health. Our food does not contain synthetic vitamins, food by-products, grains and other ingredients detrimental to dogs health. That being said pathogenic bacteria is a hazard to human health and all steps should be taken to avoid contact with them.”

What consumers should know

  • Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans.
  • If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.
  • FDA encourages consumers to report any pet food complaints through the agency’s Safety Reporting Portal or by contacting the Consumer Complaint Coordinator for their state.
  • Consumers who have purchased Albright’s Raw Dog Food Chicken Recipe for Dogs are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. 
  • Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-260-422-9440 Monday – Friday, 8 am – 4 pm, EST.

Recalls and Alerts: June 14 – 17, 2020

Here is today’s list of food safety recalls, product withdrawals, allergy alerts and miscellaneous compliance issues. The live links will take you directly to the official recall notices and company news releases that contain detailed information for each recall and alert.

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United States

Food Safety Recall: La Bodega Meat LLC recalls approximately 83,038 pounds of raw beef products that were not presented for import re-inspection into the United States. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products.

Food Safety Alert: The Illinois Department of Agriculture is issuing a public health alert due to an undetermined amount of ground beef product prepared under custom exemption at David B’s Custom Meats. The ground beef may be contaminated with non-O157 shigatoxin-producing E. coli.

Canada

OUTBREAK ALERT: The Public Health Agency of Canada reports that cases of E. coli O157 infections in British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba are linked to exposure to Carnivora brand frozen raw pet food products. Two of the four outbreak victims have been hospitalized.

Food Safety Recall: G. Brandt Meat Packers Ltd. recalls three Mini Smoked Farmer Sausage products due to Listeria monocytogenes contamination. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products.

Food Safety Recall: Fruiterie Krazy Kris recalls Saumon fum – smoked salmon (variable weights; All units sold up to 16 June 2020) because the item was not prepared and packaged in a manner that would ensure safety for consumption.

Pet Food Safety Recall: Riveriene Farm Ltd. o/a Carnivora Pet Foods recalls several frozen raw pet food products due to potential E. coli O157 contamination. The company’s products have been linked to an outbreak of E. coli O157 illnesses. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products.

Europe

Allergy Alert (Denmark): Normal A/S recalls Nusello Choco & Nut (100g; Best before 15/08/20) and Nusello Caramel & Nut (100g; Best before 15/08/20) due to undeclared wheat.

Allergy Alert (UK): Tesco recalls Tesco Free From Beef Lasagne (430g; Use by 21 June 2020) due to undeclared milk.

Food Safety Recall (Austrla): Sennereigenossenschaft Hatzenstädt recalls Almbauernkäse / Alm farm cheese (Sale date of May 1, 2020 to June 8, 2020) due to Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

Food Safety Recall (France): Carrefour recalls Carrefour brand Flageolets Extra Fins (720ml; Lot #4819L J2M248 D08 /hh:mm; Best before 30/09/2023) due to foreign matter (pieces of glass) contamination.

Food Safety Recall (France): Carrefour recalls Carrefour BIO brand Mortadella Bio / Organic mortadella (70g; Lot 209136; Best before 14/06/2020) due to Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

Food Safety Recall (France): GéantCasino recalls Casino brand Lardons de saumon fumé atlantique / Atlantic smoked salmon (90g; various lot numbers and Best before dates) due to Listeria monocytogenes contamination. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products.

Food Safety Recall (Ireland): Primula Ltd. (UK) recalls all Primula Cheese tubes produced from 25 December 2020 up to and including 28 January 2021 due to risk of Clostridium botulinum. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products.

Food Safety Recall (UK): Primula Ltd recalls all Primula Cheese tubes produced from 25 December 2020 up to and including 28 January 2021 due to risk of Clostridium botulinum. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products.

Asia, Africa and the Pacific Islands

Food Safety Recall (Israel): Karl Berg Sausage & Meat Manufacturing and Sales (2000) Ltd. recalls Rubinstein Delicatessen brand Smoked Beef Tongue (Expiry date 30.7.20) due to Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

Australia and New Zealand

Food Safety Recall (Australia): Simplot Australia Pty Ltd recalls Leggo’s Tuna Bake with Spinach & Garlic (500g; Best Before 1 05 22 and batch code of 12164) due to the incorrect pH level being detected in the sauce which has the potential for microbial growth that might result in illness.