Dog Foods in the News: Recalls for Salmonella, Listeria and Illegal Drug

In February a number of dog food brands were recalled.  The recalls were due to bacterial contamination (Salmonella and Listeria) as well as the presence of an illegal drug.

Recalls due to Bacterial Contamination

In February, Salmonella contamination appeared in four different dog food products, prompting the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to announce the recall of these products.   Salmonella can cause illness in pets, but it can also cause the pets to become carriers infecting humans.  The companies recalling dog food include:

Raws Paws(Minneapolis, MN)

On February 8th the FDA announced the recall of ~ 4,000pounds of 5 lb. and 1 lb. sealed plastic tubes (chubs) of Ground Turkey Pet Food, due to Salmonella.  The product was distributed throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa directly to consumers and through online mail orders.

The contamination of some packages of Turkey Pet Food was detected in testing by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA). Two illnesses (in the same household) have been reported to date in connection with this problem.

Smokehouse Pet Products, Inc. (Sun Valley, CA) 

On February 8th the FDA announced the recall of 4-oz bags of dog treats labeled as “Beefy Munchies”, due to Salmonella. The recall wasexpanded on February 15th to include all sizes of Smokehouse’s Beefy Munchies.

The products were distributed in Washington, Michigan, North Carolina and Colorado through distributors selling to various retailers. No illness has been reported to date. The contamination was detected in two packages of 4 oz. Beefy Munchies in routine testing by the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

Redbarn Pet Products, LLC (Long Beach, CA) 

On February 9th the FDA announced the recall of Redbarn’s 7-inch Bully Stick packs 2.4 ounce, green plastic bag due to Salmonella. The recalled products were distributed in pet specialty retail stores.

According to the FDA, the company President Jeff Sutherland explained: “On 2/5/2018, we were notified by the Colorado Department of Agriculture that a single sample collected from a retail location detected Salmonella. At Redbarn, we test every product lot before it leaves our manufacturing plant. This lot code was tested both at our Redbarn lab and by a third-party testing facility. Those tests were negative for salmonella or pathogens. Despite not being able to replicate these test results or receiving any negative reports from customers regarding these chews, we feel the best course of action is to recall this lot code of the product and keep our customers safe”.  No illnesses, injuries or complaints have been reported.

Darwin’s Natural and ZooLogics pet foods (Tukwila, WA)

On February 13th the FDA investigated a pattern of contamination in raw pet foods made by Arrow Reliance Inc., which produced products for Darwin’s Natural Pet Products and ZooLogics Pet Food. From October 17th, 2016 to February  10th, 2018 there were four recalls of Darwin’s Natural Pet Products and ZooLogics Pet Food due to Salmonella and/or Listeria monocytogenes in samples of their raw pet food products.

The most recent recall (February 10th, 2018) was due to Salmonella in Duck with Vegetable Meals for Dogs and Chicken with Vegetable Meals for Dogs.  The FDA is investigating six complaints of illness and death of animals due to the consumption of the product. The dog food products were sold only online, and the customers were notified by email about the recall.

The recent recall was triggered by a dog owner complaint. The dog had consumed the product and had recurring diarrhea over a nine-month period and tested positive for Salmonella.

Dog Food Contaminated with Pentobarbital

Pentobarbital is a sedative barbiturate drug that slows down the brain and the nervous system activity and used to euthanize animals. The presence of pentobarbital at any level in pet food is a violation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

On February 16, 2018, The J.M. Smucker Company announced the recall of various canned dog food (Gravy Train, Kibbles ‘N Bits, Ol’ Roy, and Skippy canned products), since they contained an extremely low level of pentobarbital. The Company claims that it has identified the root cause to be a single supplier and a single minor ingredient used at a single manufacturing facility.

Barry Dunaway, President of Pet Food and Pet Snacks said: “We take this very seriously and are extremely disappointed that pentobarbital was introduced to our supply chain. We will continue to work closely with our suppliers and veterinarians to ensure the ingredients used in our products meet or exceed regulatory safety standards and our high-quality standards.”

The discovery of the product’s contamination was due to a study conducted by Clean Label Pet Food Project that tested 1,084 pet food products from 80 brands, screened for over 130 toxins including heavy metals, BPA, pesticides and other contaminants causing cancer and other health conditions in both humans and animals. In this study, the contamination was discovered in Gravy Train.

Clean Label Project Executive Director Jaclyn Bowen explained in an email: “One possible way [the drug got into the food] is through the use of contaminated ingredients, rendering plants take slaughterhouse animal tissues and convert them into stable, usable materials like purified fats such as lard or tallow… It is possible that animals exposed to pentobarbital were included in the rendering process.”

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