Did Smucker’s Know?
An updated lawsuit complaint against Smucker seems to state the pet food manufacturer knew for over a year their pet food contained pentobarbital yet continued to sell adulterated pet food. This lawsuit is a glimpse into the real world of pet food.
The “Consolidated Complaint” dated 5/1/18 includes some damning information against pet food manufacturer Smucker.
It was recently revealed that Defendant was knowingly, recklessly and/or negligently selling Contaminated Dog Foods containing pentobarbital (bold added for emphasis)…
Moreover, the testing results showed alarmingly high levels of pentobarbital in the tallow. Specifically, the current supply tested showed levels ranging from 801 ppb to 852 ppb, and the retained sample from 2017 contained pentobarbital at the level of 529 ppb.
Though the lawsuit does not disclose where this information was obtained, the above excerpt appears to say that Smucker retained a sample of the fat used in pet foods manufactured last year (2017) – that tested positive for the euthanizing drug pentobarbital. As well, the excerpt appears to say that the current supply of fat at the Smucker manufacturing facility also tested positive for pentobarbital.
Did Smucker pet food know they were selling adulterated pet food – pentobarbital contaminated pet food?
As alarming as the thought might be – that a pet food manufacturer would have knowingly sent into the marketplace a pet food contaminated with the euthanizing drug pentobarbital – (opinion) chances are they did know. Or at the very least, they should have known. The safety of a pet food is ONLY as safe as the ingredients used to make it. The safety of those ingredients is directly linked to the pet food company due diligence of verifying the quality.
The updated lawsuit complaint shares that Smucker claimed to have audited suppliers. “We regularly audit our suppliers and have assurances from them about the quality and specifications of the materials they supply us.”
But, lawyers discovered the ‘audit’ wasn’t too complete…
Defendant claims that the source of contaminated tallow comes from one supplier—JBS USA Holdings, Inc. (a subsidiary of JBS S.A.) and its rendering facility MOPAC located in eastern Pennsylvania (collectively, “JBS”).
JBS knowingly works with meat by-product recycling, including animal byproducts not suitable for human consumption. Moreover, JBS has been plagued by investigations, recalls, and other red flag situations that should have alerted Defendant it needs to confirm the safety, quality, and reputation of JBS and the products purchased from JBS for inclusion in the Contaminated Dog Foods.
Yet Defendant chose to utilize JBS as a supplier even though it maintains that it keeps rigorous quality and supplier standards from “start to finish” and performs three-tier auditing that includes third party auditors, to ensure pure ingredients and fair labor are used in its products, including the Contaminated Dog Foods. Given this rigorous auditing process, Defendant knew or recklessly chose to ignore that the Contaminated Dog Foods were adulterated pet food as it retained samples of the tallow that should have been tested based on the claimed practices and standards by Defendant.
From years of discussions with pet food manufacturers, employees of Big Pet Feed and regulatory authorities – the above is a common concern of pet food. Audits of pet food ingredient suppliers, testing of ingredients for safety and quality are mostly to support a paper trail…little to no true quality control testing is ever performed.
Truck drivers delivering ingredients to pet food facilities have been instructed to carry in the truck cab “clean” samples provided for testing; not a sample of what is actually delivered to the plant. Drivers have also shared that when a load of pet food ingredients is actually tested and fails, lot numbers are changed and the delivery is then accepted without question. It has been shared multiple times from multiple individuals – the main goal is to keep the pet food plant in production…not the quality of ingredients.
During an AAFCO meeting several years ago (2015), FDA director of Surveillance and Compliance shared with the audience that verification of ingredient quality is a significant concern urging manufacturers and regulatory to pay close attention to the verification process. However, shared by multiple employees, many pet food manufacturers have a standard ‘stash’ of clean samples ready for regulatory authorities and auditors should anyone ask to test ingredients. Rarely – if ever – are the actual ingredients used in a pet food tested by regulatory or auditors.
Continued from lawsuit…
THE STAGGERING REALITY OF THE EXTENT OF THE CONTAMINATION COULD HAVE BEEN PREVENTED IF DEFENDANT FOLLOWED ITS OWN TOUTED QUALITY AND SUPPLIER STANDARDS
In the end, over ninety million cans of food manufactured and distributed by Defendant were recalled because of the inclusion of pentobarbital.
And what is the result of lack of quality control, lack of enforcement of law, lack of proper audits?
Below are just a few of the Plaintiff pet death reports from the lawsuit.
In August 2017, Plaintiff Sebastiano’s dog became weak and confused, began vomiting, had blood in his stool, lost weight, no longer wanted to eat, and had trouble standing and walking. At only seven and a half years old, Samson died, on December 4, 2017.
Plaintiff Johnson purchased the Contaminated Dog Foods (including Gravy Train Chunks in Gravy with Beef Chunks and Gravy Train Chunks in Gravy with T-Bone Flavor Chunks) and fed the Contaminated Dog Foods to his thirteen border collie and Australian sheppard mixes he used as herding dogs for his cattle. Devastatingly, Plaintiff Johnson lost all thirteen dogs, including one pregnant female, on January 14 and 15, 2018. At that time, all of his dogs were showing symptoms of kidney failure so the veterinarian recommended that all thirteen be put down. All of the dogs were fed the Contaminated Dog Foods at the same time and all were sick within hours after eating the Contaminated Dog Foods. They subsequently all died within two days of eating the Contaminated Dog Foods.
Plaintiff Williamson purchased certain lines of the Contaminated Dog Foods (including Gravy Train Chunks in Gravy with Beef Chunks and Kibbles ‘n Bits Bistro Tender Cuts with Real Beef & Vegetables in Gravy) and fed the Contaminated Dog Foods to her two Great Danes, Nova and Sadie. Sadie passed away on Wednesday, September 7, 2016, and Nova passed away on Sunday, January 22, 2017.
Plaintiff Brown purchased certain lines of the Contaminated Dog Foods (including Gravy Train Chunks in Gravy with Beef Chunks) and occasionally mixed the wet food with Gravy Train dry food. She rescues stray dogs and has fed all of them the Contaminated Dog Foods. Several of her dogs have died over the course of the class period, including: Speedy, a two-year-old Chihuahua mix who died in December 2016; Humpty, an eight or nine-year-old lab-chow mix who died in November 2017; Elly Mae, a ten-year-old lab-chow mix who died in December 2017; Sara, an eight-year-old lab who died in October 2017; Red, an eight-year-old lab who died November 2017; Mary, a nine-year-old lab-chow mix who died in August 2017; Duke, a seven-year-old Great Pyrenees who died in August 2017.
Plaintiff Mayo purchased the Contaminated Dog Foods (including Gravy Train with Chicken Chunks and Gravy Train with Beef Chunks) and fed the Contaminated Dog Foods to her dogs, including Cocheese (a lab mix), Glory B (a chocolate lab mix), and Blade (an Alaskan husky mix). Most recently, Glory B passed away on or around February 2, 2018, two days after she consumed a can of Gravy Train with Chicken Chunks on or around January 31, 2018. On February 5, 2018, Plaintiff Mayo’s cat, Midnight, also passed away after having accidentally ingested some of the Contaminated Dog Food fed to Glory B on January 31st.
The following excerpt from the lawsuit sums up the significant problem in pet food…
Historically, the FDA has not aggressively taken action under section 342(a)(1) or (5) of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act, 21 U.S.C. § 301, et seq. (“FDCA”), against the pet food companies that it found to have used non-slaughtered animals and sold pet food containing pentobarbital. Therefore, manufacturers in the pet food industry, including Defendant, have continued their illegal practice of using non-slaughtered animals that may contain poisonous substances, like pentobarbital, in their pet foods.
This IS the problem of pet food – most pet food, not just brands mentioned in this lawsuit. Regulatory authorities – FDA and each State Department of Agriculture – are NOT enforcing law. Pets are dying because tax dollar supported agencies are not doing their job. Had it not been for the investigation of Washington DC journalist Lisa Fletcher of WJLA which initially found the pentobarbital in Gravy Train dog food, all of the above pet deaths and probably countless more would have gone unnoticed by authorities. Nobody cared…until they got caught.
That is the real crime of pet food – nobody cares if ingredients contain pentobarbital, violate law, or pets die…until they get caught.
To read the full updated lawsuit against Smucker pet food – Click Here.
Opinion: I don’t know how some of Big Pet Feed and all regulatory authorities sleep at night.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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