Skip to main content

Lawsuit Filed Against Big Heart Brand Gravy Train

Related News


  1. Carol Stuart

    This practice has of using dead pets has been in effect for decades. The problem now it that Sodium Pentobarbital is used to euthanize the animals large and small. It is a law in many states that the only legal method that can be used to kill an animal is using Sodium Pentobarbital. Which the slow witted pet food industry seemed to overlook, even when the EPA gave them permission to use the bodies of animals dispatched with the drug. This methodology is a very poor practice for large animals as it takes such a large dose of the drug to try to subdue the animal. The large animals do not die a peaceful death, they suffocate under their own weight. And it may take an hour or more for a horse to die. A far kinder and more efficient method is well placed small caliber bullet to the brain and the animal dies so quickly it doesn’t even know it is dead. Dogs and cats are a little different, though a skilled veterinarian is deeply appreciated for a quick and painless death. All that aside, back in the days prior to the 1990’s, many animals in shelters were killed en masse in decompression chambers or CO2 chambers which were horrible, cruel, and beyond your imagination. I still hear the crying, fearful dogs. I still see the mommy dogs curled around their puppies trying to save them from impending death. But the saddest were the dogs whose mouths were taped closed so their fearful screams couldn’t be heard out front at the desk. But the dead bodies were not contaminated with any additional drugs aside from what may have been in the bodies from treatment. So essentially the “meat” was safer and clean and could be used to add to the stock of “protein” that was added to commercial pet food. The rendering truck would arrive once a week and the animals were picked up and sent to the plant to be turned into more dog food. But now, with the use of drugs, that practice has consequences. Nothing is wasted in agriculture. If it can’t be fed to humans, the waste is fed to all the species below, dog, cats, chickens, pigs, fish, and even some large animals. I find it amazing we have any pets considering how poor their diets have been the past few decades.

    1. Pet Owner

      This has never happened before, but I vehemently OBJECT to your comment!! In fact I consider it an insult.

      Let’s start with clarifications. I’m guessing there are 2 methods of ending the lives of animals? One pertains to livestock agri-business (death by slaughter) to supply the human food industry. And the second, Is not.

      “The EPA gave them permission to use the bodies of animals dispatched with the drug.” – Please explain how? Where is the permission in writing? And let’s identify those sellers/disposers of material, and to which rendering plants they’re doing business, and who is supplying protein to the PF Industry.

      THAT might be a decent start to cleaning up this PFI mess.

      Because, as is the case you’re citing, those identified sellers/users need to be prosecuted – correct? Last I heard, adulterated food is defined by using (for commercial food supply purposes) animals killed NOT by slaughter. That also includes diseased animals, and those dying by natural means.

      Just not sure in which specific examples, animals intentionally, or unintentionally, are being allowed into the food chain.

      I’m not saying this doesn’t happen. But would like to see the “permissions” anyway, as you’ve cited above. And WHERE the loopholes EXIST.

      In this thread, on this website, the subject is about FOOD FOR PETS. And we (already sensitive towards animals) do not need to READ how large or small animals die. I’m not sure what your point is, except shock value. You sound like an ex- hunter and rancher. “Thank you” also for your additional point about Shelter “decompression chambers.” That comment means you probably belong to PETA now. And (hopefully) have become a Vegan too.

      I think this is perhaps THE _ MOST disturbing, upsetting comment I’ve ever read on this site. Especially for people (like myself) who’ve had no other choice than to end the life of my dog. IF I wanted to be reminded about all these details (of which I am cursory aware), I would research the subject independently. Others have cited book titles on the subject.

      So rather than trying to SHOCK people (I can’t imagine for what purposed because you’re not going to stop those who feed Gravy Train, Ol’Roy, Beneful, etc.) because they don’t care anyway!

      So instead why not do something actually constructive!

      I invite you to refer to this TAPF link where you could join folks in a protest. Albeit by hitting a business and a company in the pocket book! Because, until people UNITE their impact, through using economics and publicity as a resource, then nothing is going to change.

      The reality is, people will complain here all day long. Few will actually put their protest into writing … or collective action!

      1. Peter

        Upsetting, perhaps, but remarks about why a drug is chosen and how it is used don’t seem off-topic in the way that you suggest.

        The “1990s” are still “alive and well” despite what we may want to wish or acknowledge. “Gas chambers” are still used in some localities of the US. This horrific practice (I’d say, well described above: but hardly touching on the extent of suffering) has certainly been minimized, but not eliminated. The ways that animals are “euthanized” in many areas doesn’t necessarily even follow federal or state law, and may also unfortunately linked to finances. In some locales there isn’t even money for the drugs, or even, for the “gas” or for bullets, etc. The lack of funding for municipal animal “shelters” is a societal phenomena that speaks to our values as a nation. That we decide to dis-acknowledge this reality is simply a willful ignorance.

        In the interest of keeping this page from being consumed by a debate, I will not comment further or engage follow-up. But I will condition that by stating that my information is first-hand, and can further be confirmed by police reports and official legal filings, not the result of brainwashing by any animal welfare/advocacy group.

      2. Jill

        To “pet owner”, I am confused as to why you attacked “Carol Stuart” so strongly, unless I am misunderstanding you. Much of what she said of how animals have been treated is true. Seems to be she is just relaying some facts and not trying to “shock” anyone. She said she “is surprised we have any pets based on their diets” and I agree. I am amazed that any dogs and cats are still around after eating tainted food for so long. But then, I remember being raised on a farm and back then it was normal for a dog to hit 20, and now people are amazed when a dog or cat turns 15. I also dont agree with what you said “The reality is, people will complain here all day long. Few will actually put their protest into writing … or collective action!” I think most people that come on hear DO do something to help. One, they are feeding their own pets better, and two they most likely pass what they learned to other pet owners.
        The sad truth is that even when people hear how bad dog food is, for money or convenience they (some) will still feed it, Just like everyone on the planet knows smoking is bad, yet how many still do it? Heck, people dont feed their human children correctly.
        Unfortunately so many people get a dog, and while they say they love him or her, they dont do what is right. Look how many get a dog and dont take the time to properly socialize or train it, or take the time to bend over and pick up that dog poo, but you want them to take the time to cook for their dog every day, or participate in protesting? As long as there are pet owners who claim to love their pets, but dont treat it as anything more than an accessory, big pet food will stay in business.
        I for one am very thankful for what Susan does, as I dont have the means to investigate. I do cook for my dog. But I pass along this site to all the pet owners I know. Hoping they will do SOMETHING to improve their dog and cats diets. Whether its cooking for their pet, or just picking a “less evil” commercial food, or adding some real food into their bagged garbage, what matters is they learn from this site, and make better choices for their animal. In the end, they have to answer to God for their treatment of their animal.
        What I do hope and pray, is that with Susan’s efforts, the government will get the FDA and these other groups that are supposed to “police” dog food companies to actually DO THE JOB THEY ARE BEING PAID TO DO by our tax money. This would help all dogs, because then the people who dont know about this site will be getting what they THINK they are supposed to get in the bag of food.
        The flip side of this:
        NOTE: understanding an issue does NOT mean you agree!
        So now that that’s clear, I also understand why the FDA allows this. Where would they get rid of all that dead meat? I was raised on a farm. and all our “surplus” veggies were fed to the pigs. We never fed them anything harmfull, but on a farm rotten veggies happen. and tablescraps were always fed to the dogs. So on a grander scale, I do understand what the FDA is doing. But there has to be a better way, and people should be TOLD in TRUTH what is in the bag of food. Believe it or not, when I tell people there is dead diseased decayed animal meat in their dog food, they DONT CARE. So print that on the bag. Some people will still buy it.

    2. radbola

      I am glad I have kept my life and my animals far from anything like that. Many people do have an absent regard for thier pets. The pet is supposed to like them? Human ignorance is willful, the stupidy is learned too.
      But smucker bought this place up after the scandal broke. Got to find a list and boycott every nasty smucker company.

  2. Darlene Brabant

    I would say it horse meat from race horse that get put down every day maybe as many and 20 a day die on the track

  3. Cannoliamo

    This is actually a little surprising, … Big Heart is about 5 miles from my house in Decatur, AL, and I’ve spoken with the Al Dept. of Agriculture inspectors a number of times (They even came to my house to get a sample of a pet food that none of my 6 cats would eat). They seemed very professional and conscientious and even told me they regularly came to Decatur to inspect Big Heart. I’m guessing that since Smucker bought Big Heart 3 years ago, some of their regular inspections may have diminished, but euthanized animals???

    “No pathogenic organisms, drug or pesticide residues, harmful parasites, mycotoxins, heavy metals, or other toxic or deleterious substances above levels permitted by Alabama or Federal Laws and regulations, or which may result in residue in the tissues or by­products of birds or animals at a level determined to be illegal by Alabama or Federal statutes or regulation shall be permitted in any processed animal waste products used as commercial feed or feed ingredient.”

    I hope Smucker enjoys the financial fruits of their carelessness.

    1. radbola

      Smucker bought it after this was happening. They are doing this now very late on, so they could sell as much of it as possible first.

  4. Reader

    Animal cruelty in every form is a subject unto itself and should be directed to those sites featuring the practice of abhorrent ignorance! In fact, knowingly feeding a risky (dangerous PF) could be categorized as “animal cruelty.” I certainly respect that connection.

    One site addressing the issue of animal cruelty includes the “Care 2…” petition initiative, where they call out very specific incidences. Participating once, puts a person on their mailing list, to be informed about many issues. It certainly helps to educate the public. Disturbing, but they are trying to do something. I could also go into the subject Upton Sinclair wrote about in “The Jungle” And link it back to PF as well, because the word “meat” is used in both instances. But it’s off topic.

    This kind of writing, when we’re trying to attract readers (and create followers) will turn them off. Instead, I refer them to DOING something such as withholding their business from companies and explaining why. And sharing the GT debacle with local media outlets. Let’s not get (easily) sidetracked here). Especially when the website is owned by someone else.

    It’s presumptuous to “remind” people about any animal’s suffering, thank you. Especially here!

    Or to be lectured by a peer.

  5. Deborah Harris

    I ran out of my pet’s food so i ran to the store and got her some GRAVY TRAIN. Gave it to her only once to have a vet bill of $300+. She started vomiting i rushed her to the vet to be told gravy train was a low grade of food compared to the Blue which is what she usually gets. Never again so sorry i put my girl through that pain.

    1. radbola

      I’m sorry smucker puts such a front on and is really much lower quality than is ever acceptable. The beneful tragedy was a complete shock but wake up call. Americans have let the worst become monopolies in our country. Boycotting every smucker product and company i can find

  6. Grace Arroyo

    My dog died in December after I fed him some Gravy Train dog canned food, he started by throwing up, feverish, and then had bruising throughout his stomach that spread, he spent 3 days in hospital, only to come home to die with us surrounding him, he had never had this trash prior to this, as the other person stated we ran out of Pedigree and could only find this shit, doctor could never find exactly what was the reason behind this sudden illness.

    1. radbola

      So sorry to hear that. We have saved several from the “beneful” poisoning and now the “convenia” antibiotic and this poison too? I serve our special needs house, all species, and we have had numerous come and say “the vet said my pet has kidney problems” when it was the antifreeze in the dogfood. Now the barbituates. These people have no souls.

    2. Pet Owner

      I’m heartbroken about your loss. By posting you’ve hopefully saved others from this tragedy. Please share your experience with the FDA. A report needs to be on file. If you do not know how to report, Susan (this website’s author) will provide a link. Thank you.

  7. Pet Owner

    I can be wrong but my dog has had a bad case of diahrea . This could be the reason. If it is anything we can do to be part of this class action lawsuit please comment.

    1. Reader

      I’ll change my screen name (Pet Owner) to Reader, so this conversation doesn’t get more confusing. The lawsuit against Big Heart Brands, contains phone numbers, and the office should be able to provide all the information you need. Please see details at this link:

      Yes, bad cases (atypical) of diahrrea should be acted on, especially if bloody, watery and ongoing (which can lead to dehydration). Change out that food! Be sure to get your dog to a Vet immediately, especially when symptoms are accompanied by vomitting at the same time. If it not in the “News” a bad batch of any PF can make you dog sick!

    2. radbola

      It can be a number of reasons and changing the food is a good idea. Dog probiotics is yogurt, which ours love and I suggest if the animal has had this awhile, a couple heaping tablespoons of yogurt every other day or so helps them rebuild bebeficial flora. In the case of “scien diet” tho, it is usually just the loads of vitamin e they put in, which some dogs (ours) just can’t tolerate.
      In the case of suspected barbituate toxity, make sure vet knows “While it is not known whether Mikedimide is a direct barbiturate antagonist, or whether it is an analeptic, it appears to be a useful drug in reversing the respiratory depression and the cerebral depression produced by harbiturate intoxication and barbiturate anesthesia.”

      And for us herd keepers and mere mortals, essiac tea at a teaspoon for 10-20lbs – a tblsp for 40+lbs helps clear thier organs and blood faster, especially if they can take some cordyceps mushroom in any form, about 5 drops per 10lbs. It is what we do, ours eat it everyday.

      1. Cannoliamo

        If this helps, you’re welcome. If not, please ignore ….

        Yogurt is foreign to the natural intestinal biota of a dog. it can be useful for humans that drink milk and eat cheese and ingest other dairy products well into their adult years, but it is far more consistent with the microbiotic strains found in humans than those in cats and dogs.

        I use “Pro Pet” Hyperbiotics which include strains more common in cats and dogs.

  8. Rose

    My dog has been on gravy train for years along with a good brand of dry food. I only gave her a can a day but she developed cushings disease which is costing me a lot of money to keep her alive. Does anyone think the dog food could have caused the disease?

  9. Kent Yoder.

    I am so made. My dog bear that we raised from a pup. Died after feeding him gravy train and kibbles and bits. We spent a lot of money with the vet trying to find out what was wrong with him. He would throw up and runny butt. Then he started losing weight. The vet check him and gave him antibiotics. They didn’t work. Then bear stopped eating. Vet checked him again said his white blood cells was messed up but could not find out why. Checked for cancer. He couldn’t find any cancer. Or dog got sicker and sicker till we decided to put him down. I am so hurt and pissed off that they would put poison in his food.

    1. Pet Owner

      I am so sorry for your loss, and can’t imagine what you’ve gone through. Heartbreaking. Thank you for making a comment here, because someone else might be searching on the brands (as you did) and see some warning signals. I don’t know why Vets never suspect PF as being a problem. As part of the intake process, mine always asks what food my dog is eating. But I hope some of Vets are following this site, to become better informed.

      For new readers, no one (no matter what they’re feeding) should allow continuous runny (especially bloody, watery, darkened) stools, vomiting, and weight loss to go unchecked. There is information in the above comments, as to the lawsuit being filed. A report should be made to the FDA as well. This is just criminal behavior on the part of Smuckers / Big Heart brands. And as many owners as possible should be warned.

Leave a Reply