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FDA Investigation into Evangers Pet Food is Ongoing

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  1. Midge Kelly

    Susan, I’m one of your many warriors, behind you for years, and will continue to be there with you and all you do to protect us and our pets. When the recall was not yet a recall but a rumor, I called the Evangers company and talked to the owner. Email also. I have fed the Evangers canned products to my Danes for years and have promoted my Dane rescue adopters to do the same, always seeking quality foods to recommend vs the junk that is so pretty in bags and terrific commercials. He said it was not protocol or good PR for the company to do any questioning of the person complaining about the food that she feels hurt her dogs. That was in answer to my own question to him about side issues that could also be considered, like was the owner also feeding other food that could contain harmful ingredients? We know kibbles that contain pentobarbatol (sp?) and canned might also contain it, maybe. How about recent vaccinations that might have been given producing an adverse effect? How about suspect dog treats? I mean, so many questions should be asked before this company is considered for condemnation, IMHO. This Hunk of Beef in question is really that, a hunk of real beef which smells, feels, and looks like it would if I roasted it myself. I know that vets sell the dead animals to processing plants for dog food. We’ve know that for over 10 years. My question today is how many vets put how many cows to sleep with this drug? I mean, this hunk of beef does not appear to be from dogs! Do vets inject a lot of cows and then sell the dead cow bodies to the processing plants in order to get the drug into the Hunk of Beef? There are so many unanswered questions here that I’d like to see the details about before I condemn this dog food. I’m not attacking the lady with the sick dogs, just lack of more evidence possibly unknown to her to provide. But in my many years of Dane rescue, I know everything is in the details and so many folks just take for granted that the ads are speaking the truth about what is in each dog food brand of kibble and cans because it is sold on store shelves. And vets promote not so great quality foods as well. I am not a scientist or an expert but I find a lot of uninformed people in our dog world that are blown away when we try to explain why some foods wrapped in pretty colors can be very harmful to their dogs. So, I’d like to see that investigators are really looking into the accusation for the sake of a food that I have held in very high regard for many years. Many thanks for all your hard work that you constantly do for us. It’s so appreciated and necessary! Very sincerely, and hoping I’ve put my words together with some sense….Midge Kelly with Great Dane Angel Network in Fort Worth, Texas.

    1. Margarat

      Well said.

      1. Midge Kelly

        Whole Dog Journal is talking about this case. Some have said that the lady with the small dogs put the Hunk of Beef “over” the dogs’ kibble, which is another detail to be considered. We know from previous reports that kibble processors HAVE used euthanized pets bought from vets. Wondering what brand of kibble she was using. Another remarked that the one dog already had seizures. Another questioned if her dog had been PTS with Pentobarital (sp? Can’t get this drug’s spelling in my memory yet). I think if you go to Whole Dog Journal, you can click on a lab test…..it has the lady’s name on it. I think a big suspect is the meat source, although as someone has pointed out…few cows are euthanized with Pento. My instincts are leaning in favor for Evangers. They appear to be trying to do everything correctly, and I understand this is the first recall for their record all because of an accusation. So many questions and opinions….it’s hard to know what to believe, but I still would not like an innocent company to be branded before trusted proof is found. JMHO. Midge Kelly at Dane Angel Network/Fort Worth

    2. Susan Thixton Author

      It is rare that a cow would be euthanized. If the animal was at a slaughter facility – most likely it would not be euthanized with pentobarbital. I have been told by numerous veterinarians that it takes a lot (they all emphasized a lot!) of pentobarbital to take down a large animal such as a cow or horse. Thus the euthanasia is very expensive and rarely is this done – especially to cattle.

      I have been told that pentobarbital was found – at high levels – in unopened cans (FDA testing). So nothing else to my knowledge (treats, vaccines, kibble) is being considered to my understanding. It is my opinion the FDA is confident the Evangers food is the cause. Now they have to determine how this happened. Was it the rare euthanized cow? Or was it another species? We just don’t know at this point and we will all have to wait for the results of FDA investigation.

      1. GG

        How are you getting information from the FDA prior to it being released? Was DNA testing done on the unopened can samples to verify that it was beef? For it to be found in high levels in that lot, would it have not killed more than 1 dog? Where are the other cases? I note the necropsy shows the stomach had an assortment of things in it.

    3. Peter

      I couldn’t disagree, more. The length of time that elapsed between the initial report, investigation, toxicological analysis (to which, we understand, the toxicologist remarked about “… an urgent matter”) is serious. Poisoned food is just that. Poisoned. And we also understand that the “voluntary” recall was not really “voluntary,” but prompted by an FDA request subsequent to their testing. And Evanger’s has pulled a move from the Blue Buffalo playbook, “blame the supplier,” when the simple fact is that they are not monitoring their supplier, who is clearly incorporating rendered products into the Evanger’s product.

  2. Jane

    Thanks for keeping us updated on this, Susan!

    An article in this morning’s Chicago Tribune says that, while pentobarbital was found in the affected dogs, it hasn’t been found in the food (“Testing has not been completed”). I could’ve sworn that I’d seen elsewhere that they had found it in unopened cans from the same lot (unfortunately, I don’t remember where). The article also quotes Evangers as saying that “there are no regulations requiring veterinarians to tag the (cow) as such” after an animal has been euthanized. Is that really true? I know the FDA doesn’t always enforce them, but it seems like that would just be common sense.

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      Yes – to my knowledge pentobarbital was found in unopened cans by FDA testing (but again we have to wait for confirmation of that directly from FDA).
      No – Evangers is mistaken with this information. There are very strict regulations for a euthanized cow to be clearly marked so it would not enter the human food chain. Lots of ‘ifs’…If the meat is beef, if the meat actually did come from a USDA inspected slaughter facility – there is a HUGE problem. Huge violations of law occurred (if that is what happened). Rumor is USDA is involved in this investigation now too – so who knows where that might lead. For a meat to be deemed human grade – as the Evangers website claims – it must pass USDA inspection; fit for human consumption. A euthanized animal carcass would never be deemed fit for human consumption.

  3. Stacie Oehlerich

    I’m wondering how the FDA, which openly admits it does not enforce pet food laws, can be trusted for an accurate investigation? Why do we assume that other laws regarding any food are, in fact, enforced? I hope that it’s true that USDA is getting involved. I’d like to eventually know what really happened, and be confident that one company isn’t being the scapegoat for multiple system failures. Yes, there are many, many unanswered questions.

  4. Jane Eagle

    This makes it clear (to me at least) that feeding a commercial pet food is literally risking your pet’s life. I’m sticking to homemade, human grade food. How about the poor people who also eat canned pet food??

    1. Jeri

      It’s particularly chilling to me when I see apologists and fans of certain brands, like this one, claim they have eaten it because the COMPANY claims they are “human grade”. UGH!! Do they even know what a “human grade” claim MUST have behind it? Given that the FDA looks the other way and allows adulterated ingredients into the pet food process, how can ANYONE believe such a claim is being met? To my knowledge, only Honest Kitchen has gone to the trouble of legally proving their right to make such a claim. There may be others, but one should make SURE they aren’t just being given a slick marketing slogan rather than the truth before they give it to their pets…much less pick up that spoon or fork and dive right in!

      1. Lisa M.

        Susan’s well researched list of approved pet foods are all human grade, not just Honest Kitchen, although they may have legally won the right to claim HG. I only feed foods from Susan’s list for my cats, in addition to homemade raw.

        1. Jeri

          No, not all. They make the list for a variety of reasons – because they have made a promise, but LEGALLY, they must meet certain criteria. Also, to my understanding, no raw food can be called “human grade” legally because it’s uncooked. Susan can correct me if I’m wrong on that. Here are the criteria which must be met for a food to legally label itself as “human grade”: http://talkspetfood.aafco.org/humangrade

          1. Susan Thixton Author

            The regulation for human grade claim is manufactured in a human food certified facility, ingredients are human edible, supplements are human edible and final product and ingredients are transported and warehoused according to human food regulations. The problem with a raw food is USDA – they will not get involved in the AAFCO process. If they did, raw foods that are made under USDA inspection would meet the requirement for human grade. These pet foods actually do meet the full requirement – but because USDA will not get involved in the AAFCO process – these types of raw pet foods are left in human grade limbo. To confuse matters for consumers – there are raw foods that are NOT made under constant USDA inspection. These types of raw foods would not meet the requirement of human grade. But I can say there are numerous pet foods that are officially human grade – meet all criteria. Honest Kitchen was the first.

          2. Jeri

            Thanks, Susan! I just wanted to clarify that the “list” deals with different criteria: giving place of origin for all ingredients and whether USDA inspected or not. That is a separate list from the AAFCO “human grade” requirement. Thanks again for the clarification on why raw foods are not listed as “human grade”. I know there are great ones out there, but so many people are confused about “human grade” and when a company is allowed to use that term without official legal right to do so, it just muddies the water as consumers often believe it is so when it’s not.

  5. B V M

    If you believe that Evanger’s is such a “forward thinking” company that cares about the “allergy ridden pet”, why did they in 2010 substitute an inferior protein, (beef and ?), for their Lamb and Duck food? The “Lamb and Rice Dog Food”, contained NO lamb, and the “Grain-free Duck Pet Food” contained NO duck. They were busted for misbranding, false and misleading advertising.

    You claim that “Food sources can be unreliable and often the pet food company is caught off guard”, I hope that you are not referring to Evanger’s. They just blame on their suppliers. Evanger’s obviously doesn’t do their own in-house testing, which would catch these pesky ingredients from suppliers. It’s called a PDI, Pre-Delivery Inspection, often done by third party agents.

    Then there is their “human grade” claim. Pure smoke and mirrors. For a product to be human grade the plant must be a human grade facility approved for only human grade food. Evanger’s is only a pet food facility, period.

    1. Jeri

      You are correct, BVM. And let’s not forget that the FDA allows rendered products into canned pet feed as well …via their “compliance policy”. Before praising a company to the hilt, people need to understand what the company is allowed to claim, what the LAW says versus what is ALLOWED, and what is slick marketing vs. actual fact according to law (i.e. “human grade” claims).

  6. Reader

    As has been suggested (in another place) I would hardly call the “silver lining” to this situation, being forced into making homemade pet food! Let’s say the car industry was full of corruption and “shody” workmanship putting drivers at risk. Would the “silver lining” be in forcing people to walk, because it’s healthier? While the logic seems to hold up, it’s hardly a practical reality! And hardly an excuse to avoid dealing with the PFI, in the quest to push transparency.

    So let’s back track a moment. And ask what the motivation would be for a pet owner to suffer through 4 pet illnesses and a death. Did she carelessly leave out a pile of snail bait in her yard. And all four pups eagerly gulped it down. And then (just coincidentally) ate a portion of Evanger’s. So she already had an open can of food sitting around. And then because the owner needed some way to pay her expenses, she made up a story. Which slandered a totally innocent party. And it turns out, that the company felt so “awful” by the accusation, they grabbed at the chance to pay all the bills. Yeah that sounds about right. Completely innocent but totally accommodating. Especially for the “personality” of that particular company.

    Oh wait. But snail bait isn’t the poison the dogs tested for. It was a very specific drug. But maybe the Vet was wrong. Maybe he was in on the scam. And it was just as easy to write his diagnosis favoring the pet owner’s plan, as not. Oh wait. But the can tested for the drug too. And it’s not an easy drug to be acquired. Unless, of course the Vet helped her! So the FDA got involved. Hmmm, and they asked for more cans. And somebody (either the FDA or Evanger’s) still thought it was prudent enough to recall the product. Based on just that poor pet owner’s flimsy story. A very expensive and reputation damaging proposition.

    Oh wait. But wasn’t Evanger’s throwing their Supplier under the bus too. After a 40 year relationship, poof, just called it quits. All done. Except they’re not sharing the name of the Supplier either. But I mean, shouldn’t they be stopped, if they can’t be trusted? Oh wait. Maybe the Supplier knows more than would be in the best interests of the Company (and for that matter, a lot of other parties). But then, as was alluded to (in another place) this report just has way too many questions to be taken that seriously. (Gee that’s a helpful conclusion). So let’s ignore it until somebody goes to jail. With the idea is that these kinds of “stories” gain traction because of fear mongering.

    Oh wait. Except the FDA confirmed the presence of Phenobarbital in dry food (though minimal). But then I’d say, it’s either in there or it’s NOT, and a threshold of it, is not only distressing, but an indication a product might not be all that it seems. And, as has also been suggested, waiting for any lawsuit to manifest (unless it’s Evanger’s suing the pet owner for outright slander) isn’t going to do much good either. Because these suits always (and curiously) get settled behind the scenes. With no admission of guilt.

    But as long as skeptics continue to dredge up their “best logic” for doubting the illogic activity of the PFI, then manufacturers will be guaranteed perpetual and unquestioning business as usual. Good luck with that practice. And congratulations on finding any “silver lining” in a situation that should never be.

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