Lesson to Learn from the Ainsworth Nutrish Pet Food Recall
Nutrish Pet Food provided additional information regarding their recent recall that is a good reminder for all pet food consumers – something else we need to pay attention to.
First, I want to say thank you to Nutrish Pet Food for being open to discussion with me. I’m sure many pet foods hate to get that call from me asking questions on behalf of consumers. This pet food company didn’t hesitate to speak with me and responded fully (even to a follow email). So – thank you Nutrish.
My question to Nutrish Pet Food was regarding the press release of their recent recall. The statement in question: “After conducting a number of product tests, Ainsworth confirmed that the affected products have elevated levels of vitamin D. The high levels result from the natural levels of vitamin D that are found in some of the fish ingredients that were used in these specific formulas.”
The concern (and the foundation of the lesson for us to be reminded of) was that one of the cat foods being recalled did not list a fish ingredient on the label. How can a fish ingredient cause the elevated levels of vitamin D when no fish ingredient was listed on the label?
The Paw Lickin Chicken and Liver formula cat food – one of the cat foods recalled – listed the following ingredients on the label: “Water, Chicken, Liver, Vegetable Oil, …(all the rest of ingredients are supplements or gums).” No fish ingredient.
So again, how did the above chicken and liver formula cat food get recalled due to elevated vitamin D levels from a fish ingredient (no fish ingredient listed)?
The answer came from Nutrish. The ‘liver’ ingredient used in this cat food (and the other recalled cat foods) was ‘tuna liver‘. The Nutrish representative told me:
“Yes the issue was the fish liver, specifically tuna liver. Although tuna liver has some positive qualities such as it’s a good source of protein, contains omega 3 fatty acids and is very palatable, it is also high in vitamin D. Since it was mistakenly added, the levels of vitamin D were not accounted for in the formulation.”
“We have processes and protocols in place to prevent this kind of thing from happening, but obviously, they were not enough in this instance. We immediately implemented an improved and even more rigorous set of protocols to ensure this does not happen again and we have already re-reviewed all of our existing formulas.”
Add to your list of things to look for when reading ingredients on pet food labels…look for generic ingredients such as ‘Liver’. Look for ingredients with no stated species source. Other examples would be ‘Meat’, ‘Meat and Bone Meal’, ‘Poultry’, ‘Animal Fat’. It can easily be assumed by consumers that when ‘liver’ follows ‘chicken’ in the ingredient panel, the species source of the liver would be chicken. But as proved with this pet food recall, that’s not necessarily so.
This is a good reminder. Look closely at the ingredients listed on the product label. If any non-species source ingredients are listed, call the manufacturer and ask if multiple species sourcing is allowed and what the manufacturer does about different nutrient values for each type of species.
Just as example, the following nutrient values are from the USDA Nutrient Database for beef liver and chicken liver (no tuna liver option available)…
[one_third]Nutrient [/one_third][one_third]100 g Beef liver raw [/one_third][one_third_last]100 g Chicken liver raw[/one_third_last]
Vitamin D[/one_third][one_third]20.36 g
49 IU[/one_third][one_third_last]16.92 g
Pet food says they provide exact nutrition to our pets, but there is little exact with food. Especially when one ingredient is used to base added supplements on and a different ingredient (with different nutrient values) is used instead.
Keep asking questions.
Additional note: In looking for an ingredient listing of the Chicken variety of recalled Nutrish cat food I found the product still offered for sale on the Pet 360 website. Plus I found the product listed as “Made in the USA” – this product was manufactured in Thailand. I have sent Pet 360 a message about this.
Another good reminder for pet food consumers, verify everything with the manufacturer. Don’t assume any website has all the current information (this site included). Things can change in an instant with pet food/pet food ingredients. The manufacturer is the best source to ask.
Know your pet food manufacturer. It’s worth the effort.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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