After dog food company Evanger’s voluntarily recalled dog food, the FDA has rejected its request to donate the product to shelters.
Between January 10, 2017 and February 14, 2017, five dogs became sick and one dog died after eating Evanger’s Hunk of Beef in Au Jus chunk meat product.
Consequently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspected the Wheeling, Illinois-based company and uncovered some serious violations.
It found that some of the varieties of Evanger’s canned chunk meat were contaminated with pentobarbital — the drug used to euthanize dogs.
Some of the varieties contaminated included Evanger’s Braised Beef Chunks, Evanger’s Hand Packed Hunk of Beef in Au Jus, and Against the Grain – Grain Free Pulled Beef with Gravy.
The FDA hasn’t established any “residue tolerance” for pentobarbital (thank dog!). Any dog food containing any amount of the drug, no matter how small, can cause serious injury or even death. Evanger’s executed a massive recall of several flavors.
The voluntary recall was announced on February 3, 2017. Evanger’s statement said, “All Evanger’s suppliers of meat products are USDA approved. This beef supplier provides us with beef chunks from cows that are slaughtered in a USDA facility. We continue to investigate how this substance entered our raw material supply.”
The FDA determined that this claim was apparently false. It reviewed a bill of lading from the company that listed “Inedible Hand Deboned Beef – For Pet Food Use Only. Not Fit For Human Consumption.” It also determined that the supplier does not have a grant of inspection from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service), according to
In fact, the meat supplier, Bailey Farms, used meat from a dead animal carcass processor. This includes horses that were euthanized. This is not unique to this company — there are more companies throughout the U.S. that remove dead animals from farms and use the meat for pet food.
However, federal law states that it is illegal to use meat from any animal that was not slaughtered, including animals that died from disease or other reasons. Unfortunately, the FDA does allow this kind of meat in canned pet food products. So, the recall came only after dogs got sick and died.
Recently, Evanger’s spot-checked several cans from recalled lots and didn’t find any pentobarbital. So the company wrote to the FDA and asked to donate some of the recalled dog food to animal shelters. The FDA declined this request, stating Evanger’s had to destroy all recalled food.
When asked about this, Evanger’s replied to This Dog’s Life, stating, “It is important to note that no product that would pose any safety risk would ever be donated,” Brett Sher, the company’s corporate secretary. “Only product from different meat supplier that has also been tested and verified would be eligible.”
Other Issues the FDA Has With Evanger’s
The FDA letter, which they titled a “Warning Letter,” was addressed to Ms. Holly N. Sher, president, and Mr. Joel A. Sher, vice president of Evanger’s. In it, the FDA cited several other concerns including:
Evanger’s determined that the contaminated meat came from a specific supplier, but they didn’t offer any documentation or evidence to prove that the contamination was limited to that single supplier.
Evanger’s stated in a letter dated 5/18/17 that the amount of pentobarbital found in the ground loaf dog food would be “in an amount that a laboratory would deem as being within the possibility of error and well within the range that FDA had previously deemed not be a health or safety concern in pet foods.” The FDA disagreed that the process of grinding would dilute the drug to negligible or safe levels.
The FDA does not agree that the process of testing random cans is sufficient. They found that the contamination was not “homogeneous throughout all units in a lot.” Because of this, random testing would not be representative of all the cans.
While Evanger’s states that all current and new suppliers must supply a letter of guarantee for their product, the FDA believes that relying on the suppliers’ word does not ensure the safety of the product.
Evanger’s recently posted a recall update, stating: “Upon receiving the FDA’s response, we complied 100% and began working with our distributors to have the product disposed of immediately.”
The company is also facing a $5 million class action complaint.