An independent investigation, conducted by ABC7, looking into what’s in your dog’s food was followed by recalls from a major pet food company.
According to ABC7, the ABC-affiliate launched the deep dive into dog food after the death of a Washougal, Washington, dog named Talula. Nikki Mael’s four dogs all became ill after eating a can of Evanger’s pet food on New Year’s Eve 2016. Distraught, the owner rushed all of her canines to the vet for treatment; all but Talula pulled through.
Mael sent the remainder of her dogs’ food to a lab for testing. The lab uncovered that the dog food contained pentobarbital, “a lethal drug, most commonly used to euthanize dogs, cats and some horses.” The use of pentobarbital is not permitted in animal meat used for food supply, so it should not show up in any pet or human food. The FDA later cautioned pet owners against feeding their pets Evanger’s shortly after Talula’s death, but Susan Thixton, a pet food consumer advocate, told ABC7 that unusual substances can end up in your pets’ food regularly.
“Consumers have no information,” said Thixton. “A consumer has to become a private detective to learn what’s really in their food.”
To save pet owners the aforementioned detective work, ABC7 partnered with Ellipse Analytics, a lab specializing in food testing, to test pet food.
The station tested 62 samples of wet dog food from over 24 brands for pentobarbital multiple times over several months. Only one brand of food, Gravy Train, repeatedly tested positive for trace amounts of the euthanasia drug. Sixty percent of the Gravy Train samples came back positive.
And while the amount of pentobarbital found was not a lethal level, any trace of the drug is not permitted in pet food.
Gravy Train is made by the company Big Heart Pet Foods, which is owned by Smucker’s. Big Heart Brands is also responsible for the production of Meow Mix, Milk Bone, Kibbles’n Bits, 9 Lives, Natural Balance, Pup-Peroni, Nature’s Recipe, Canine Carry Outs, Milo’s Kitchen, Alley Cat, Jerky Treats, Meaty Bone, Pounce and Snausages.
The question still remains how the drug made its way into the food, since it is often only found in the systems of cats, horses and dogs put down by the drug. Some worry this means these animals are being put into pet food, reports ABC 7, while others are more concerned that the drug is there at all and what its presence means about the quality of the food we are feeding our pets.
Shortly after ABC7 shared its findings, Smucker’s announced Wednesday that it is voluntarily recalling shipments of Gravy Train, Kibbles ‘N Bits, Ol’ Roy, and Skippy dog food over concerns about the presence of pentobarbital, according to WebMD.
“Veterinarians and animal nutrition specialists, as well as the FDA, have confirmed that extremely low levels of pentobarbital, like the levels reported to be in select shipments, do not pose a threat to pet safety,” J.M. Smucker Co. spokesman Ray Hancart told WebMD in a statement. “However, the presence of this substance at any level is not acceptable to us and not up to our quality standards. We sincerely apologize for the concern this has caused.”
The products affected by this recall are listed below. Customers with questions or concerns about their pet’s food can call 800-828-9980 or email the company through its website.
• 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 canned/wet dog food
• 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)