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Did Champion Pet Food use the same ingredient supplier as Gravy Train?

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  1. Lisa Ledet

    I fed my yellow lab/boxer mix dog Acana, Heritage beef for 6 years…He is 9 yrs. old and was diagnosed with kidney disease on Sept. 1, 2018. This is absolutely horrible!!!!

  2. T Allen

    “Wouldn’t it have been better for Champion to come clean with consumers about the pentobarbital contaminated fat right when they learned it?” From Champion’s point of view they just got away with (literally!) murder because the chances of any of that food being around 6 months later is slim and no animals died (outright) so they can claim “no harm, no foul”. Good reason not to feed ANY commercial dog food but especially Champion. Hit them in the pocket book, hard! Thanks Susan, great job as always!

  3. Pari Morse

    I’m puzzled by this because cattle are rarely euthanized by pentobarbital. They are usually shot. It makes me wonder what other animals (including pets) are actually in this dreadful product.

    1. Suzanne Wickham Seidenwand

      It is well known that they use euthanized and dead dogs and cats that die from diseases, cancer, rabies , etc in pet food.

      1. Tyler

        This is true, but the ingredient (should) read ‘animal fat’. IF this is the case there is a much bigger issue at hand.

  4. Ms. B Dawson

    Susan: I’m curious about this statement from the article:
    “…The fat that rises to the top of the rendered euthanized animal mix becomes “animal fat” (when there is a mix of species) or “beef fat” (when only cattle). ..”

    Drugs used for this purpose are supposed to only be administered by vets, not an economical way to slaughter cattle. Farmers I know use a bullet and slaughter houses that I have visited tend to use bolt guns. Are large enough numbers of cattle are being euthanized with drugs to contaminate BEEF fat? Or is the question whether the rendering plant is mislabeling products – intentionally or otherwise? This is often the defense, a la Evanger’s.

    Every piece of literature I’ve ever read on methods of slaughter has clearly stated that using drugs contaminants the carcass and makes the disposal difficult since the meat is not allowed in human or pet food by law. Consequently everyone involved – from grower to render – HAS to know this is illegal and should be keeping euthanized animals separate from the rest to avoid cross contamination.

    I’m just trying to understand where this contamination is getting into the manufacture process. We’ve all been told that named specific ingredients, i.e. beef fat, are one way to ascertain higher quality. I’ve also not found this answer: how many euthanized cows would be required to reach detectable amounts in pet food given that rendered batches are measured in tons. Can a single euthanized cow cause this?

    And I did giggle at the typo a little further on in that cited paragraph (my capitalization) “…When the RAT is removed, the remains becomes meat and bone meal or beef meal pet food ingredients…”. Freudian slip?

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      The issues is that animal fat ingredients in pet food are not required to be sourced from a slaughtered animal (thanks to AAFCO definitions and FDA allowing law to be violated). An issue too – stated to me, Mollie Morrissette and Dr. Jean Hofve by former AAFCO President Marc LeBlanc – AAFCO doesn’t have a legal definition of slaughter. So…anything goes.
      And because FDA has not explained further what Dr. Steven Solomon told industry earlier this year that pentobarbital is a bigger problem than they realized – we don’t really know where it is coming from.
      Yes…I think it was a Freudian slip!

      1. Karin

        I’ve heard that euthanized pets from veterinary offices often end up in commercial pet food. I’ve been hearing that for years, from fairly reliable sources.

      2. Laurie Raymond

        But if euthanized animals are part of the rendered fat product, that product cannot be labeled “beef tallow” or “chicken fat” or any other specific species — right? I have understood that if a fat is labeled “beef” it has to be nothing but beef. NO?

        1. Susan Thixton Author

          Yes. If it is beef fat, it is required to be labeled as beef fat or beef tallow. But if it is a mix of species, then it is called animal fat. At least that is the regulations.

  5. Laurie Raymond

    This also brings into question the veracity of the label “beef tallow” on the contaminated ingredient. Cattle are not euthanized with pentobarbital, and if the rendered fat sold to Champion was so contaminated, it indicates it was almost certainly “animal fat” – from mixed sources – rather than beef tallow.

  6. Andee

    It’s so sad. Money money money. These companies will sell us anything until their caught.

  7. P Ramsay

    As a Canadian who has been feeding Acana for close to 8 years, I’d like to know if this is applicable only to the new USA plants or also to the original plant in Morinville, Alberta.

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      It is my understanding this is only the US plant.

      1. P Ramsay

        Thanks, that’s what I thought but one never knows! I’ll continue to feed Acana, both to my dog and cat who are doing well in spite of being seniors!

        1. Laurie Raymond

          I sold Champion products for 8 years. Their customer service to stores was always terrible, and they lied repeatedly about various things not related to food quality. I dumped their stuff once those red flags started to fly, and I should have done it sooner. If a company lied, obfuscates, cheats retailers and refuses to be accountable, they simply aren’t to be trusted. I think they used to make good products. Now I wouldn’t trust them at all.

  8. Marsha

    I quit using Champion Dog Foods when I learned they were moving to the US. So glad I did.

    1. inkedmarie

      Champion didn’t move to the US, some of their food is made here, the rest still in Canada. Am I correct, anyone?

      1. Susan Thixton Author

        Yes there are two Champion pet food manufacturing plants. The original plant in Canada, and a newer plant located in Kentucky.

      2. Zachary Chernik

        Canadian Kitchen is for all customers except in the USA.

        1. Zachary Chernik

          and the USA Kitchen is ONLY for the USA.

          1. Lili

            Taking advantage of FDA not enforcing law?

        2. Bob J

          The Tundra is one exception, still made only in Canada but available in US .

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      Those types of inspections are ‘another story’ that I haven written yet. The short version is these yearly inspections such as the one discussed in the FOIA done by University of Kentucky have absolutely nothing to do with pet food. The inspections are done to protect cattle, and in turn human food – preventing Mad Cow Disease.

      1. Chris

        Susan, those yearly inspections by U of K Regulatory- are they sampling end product (dry Orijen/Acana kibble bags) that would ship to consumers or the cows and feed they consume before they head to the Champion plant? What about the other types of dog food under the Acana/Orijen labels that have lamb and other ingredients but no cow (and no Mad Cow disease)?

        I’m curious what step of the process these inspections are done, does U of K even visit the Champion plant where the dog food comes together to do an inspection at least at the level of the FDA one in the report?

        1. Susan Thixton Author

          No – those inspections are merely a document check to make certain that any scrap pet food that contains a beef ingredient – if sold as scrap – is labeled ‘Do Not Feed to Ruminants’. They do visit the plants, but it is not a inspection of the plant, only the paperwork of what the company does with scrap pet food.

  9. Faith Jones

    Susan, your investigations, knowledge and relentless searching and ability to research and follow information is amazing. Pets lives are saved by your work. Thank you! I wish you worked for FDA.

  10. Karin

    How is Orijen/Acana related to this recall?

  11. Rebecca Leonard

    Have there been any tests that show phenobarbital was found in their food? I’ve found nothing that shows it made it into the food.

    1. Zachary Chernik

      Please re-read the sections directly above and below

      Shockingly – pentobarbital contaminated Champion Pet Food was distributed to “consumer level” – but no recall was issued.

  12. Josh

    I know this appears bad but it’s important not to jump to conclusions.
    These suppliers produce multiple ingredients and some of the same names ingredient but of different grades. It does not mean champion used the same ingredient as gravy train but does raise the possibility.
    The good thing is I’m sure that Champion and other pet foods will start implementing pentobarbital screening on their ingredients now that the issue has been brought to light, nobody was testing for this a few years ago. This may also help keep the ingredient suppliers honest.

    1. Chris

      I’m not sure Josh. Champion did have pentobarbital tainted shipments as noted in the above story. Reading about what was supposed to happen after the melamine poisoning of a decade back you can see a lot of enforcement slack in the system. For pentobarbital, Evangers was part of this several years back. That didn’t seem to push other manufacturers to watch their suppliers or in Champion’s case even bother to put the requirement in writing.

  13. Josh

    My guess is most kibbles have low levels of pentobarbital in them not only champion…

  14. Karin

    Are Champion and Acana/Orijen the same company? The article isn’t clear.

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      Champion Pet Food is the manufacturer of Acana and Orijen.

      1. Karin

        Thank you, Susan. Is there any dry food that you would recommend? The other one I feed them is Fromm’s.

        1. Tyler

          Buy the list

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