Not Defamation, Truth
TruthaboutPetFood.com received a letter from Evanger’s Pet Food attorneys; claiming TAPF’s post was “defamation” and “is damaging to Evanger’s reputation”. Post removed – because this website is not about “defamation”, it’s about the Truth. Here is the Evanger’s attorney letter and some truth about Evanger’s Pet Food.
My sincere apologies to Evanger’s Pet Food that you perceived the post (removed) titled “Evanger’s Pet Food Caught Again” had intentions to ‘defame’ the Evanger’s reputation. That is farthest from the truth. The truth is…this website is about legal and honest labels, legal and honest websites, and of course – legal and safe ingredients. For ten years Susan Thixton has reported the facts to consumers – as example the fact that pet food manufacturers often violate law and regulatory often ignores law. I absolutely comply with your request – the post was removed.
Consumers can read the two page letter from Evanger’s attorney’s by Clicking Here.
Gregory Bedell – representing Evanger’s – stated in the letter received 10/21/17 (bold added): “Your statements are false and misleading to consumers and defame Evanger’s. First, Evanger’s did not “lose” its Oregon Tilth organic certification. Rather, Evanger’s informed Oregon Tilth that it ceased its canning operation and filed to “surrender” its license. As a result of this, Oregon Tilth considered the certification “surrendered.” In addition, Evanger’s could not have “surrendered” this certification under Oregon Tilth’s rules unless Evanger’s was in good standing with Oregon Tilth at the time. Your statement, therefore, is patently false, is misleading to consumers, casts Evanger’s in a false light and is damaging to Evanger’s reputation and business.”
My Response to Evanger’s and their attorney:
From the Oregon Tilth website is the “Basic Information and Contract Agreements” page for the exact certification that Evanger’s “surrendered” to Oregon Tilth on August 16, 2017. (Source: https://tilth.org/certification/forms/processors-handlers/) The form titled “Operation Information” can be downloaded from this webpage. On the “Operation Information” form, Section D, is a significant question…
“Has this operation ever surrendered certification with outstanding points of non-compliance?”
In other words, it appears that organic certifications can be “surrendered” due to non-compliance, thus certification can be surrendered by a company that actually is NOT “in good standing with Oregon Tilth”. My statement that Evanger’s “lost” it’s organic certification was not “patently false”.
Another document from Oregon Tilth titled “Certified Organic Procedures Manual” includes this paragraph (bold added)…
“Exclusion from Organic Sale Under the USDA NOP
When residue testing detects prohibited substances at levels above 5 percent of the EPA tolerance level, or the actual FDA action level, the agricultural product must not be sold, labeled
or represented as organically produced. OTCO, the state organic program’s governing state official, or the USDA may conduct an investigation of the certified operation to determine the
cause of the prohibited substance’s presence.”
Dated June 29, 2017 (approximately six weeks prior to Evanger’s organic certification being “surrendered”), the FDA issued a Warning Letter to Evanger’s Pet Food. Excerpts from this FDA Warning Letter…
“As a result of inspectional evidence collected during the investigation, including supplier traceback, facility inspection, and samples collected by FDA, we found serious violations of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and its implementing regulations.“
“FDA analysis of your canned chunk meat dog foods, including “Evanger’s – Braised Beef Chunks,” “Evanger’s – Hand Packed Hunk of Beef in Au Jus,” and “Against the Grain – Grain Free Pulled Beef with Gravy” chunk meat products revealed that the products were contaminated with pentobarbital. This substance causes your animal food products to be adulterated under section 402(a)(1) of the FD&C Act [21 U.S.C. §342(a)(1)] because they bear or contain a poisonous or deleterious substance which may render them injurious to health. Furthermore, the introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce of an adulterated food violates section 301(a) of the FD&C Act [21 U.S.C. §331(a)].”
FDA found “non-compliance” of federal law at the Evanger’s Pet Food plant that held organic certification from Oregon Tilth, pet foods were found to contain prohibited substances above “the actual FDA action level”.
FDA Inspection Report at the same plant “certified organic” pet food was manufactured – dates of inspection 1/10-11/2017, 2/1-2/2017, 2/8/2017 – included the following statements…
“The following observations were found to be adulterated under The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act:”
“Your low-acid canned dog food product labeled in part “Evanger’s Hand Packed Hunk of Beef Aus Jus…was found by chemical analysis to contain the barbiturate drug pentobarbital.”
“condensate dripped throughout your processing facility from the building framing, ceiling, walls, and from tarps suspended above food processing areas, including condensate dripping directly into open cans of the in-process canned dog food…”
“The floors throughout your processing facility are pitted, cracked, and otherwise damaged causing pooled water in areas where food is exposed including where open cans of in-process HUNK OF BEEF dog food are staged…”
“peeling paint and mold on walls throughout the processing facility including areas where food is exposed…”
“You lack operating refrigerated storage facilities or other means of controlling the temperature exposure of raw meats during thawing, storage, and processing.”
One has to wonder…
Would an FDA Warning Letter (sent 6 weeks prior to ‘surrendered’ certification) confirming Evanger’s “non-compliance” of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and pet foods containing a “prohibited substance above FDA action levels” be grounds for the Oregon Tilth certification “surrender”? Is Evanger’s in “good standing” as the Evanger’s lawyer claims or is the “surrendered” certification due to “non-compliance”? If Evanger’s is in ‘good standing’ – will they provide evidence of such from Oregon Tilth?
Should Oregon Tilth supply this website with evidence/confirmation that Evanger’s Pet Food is indeed in “good standing” – that no non-compliance issues played a role in the ‘surrendered’ certification, I will publish that evidence, sharing with consumers.
A concerned pet owner – the pet owner who originally reported to TruthaboutPetFood.com the “surrender” of the Evanger’s organic certification – emailed Evanger’s asking about the “surrendered” status of the Oregon Tilth certification. Bret Sher responded to this pet owner: “We surrendered our organic cert for our Wheeling location as we have closed that facility. We opened our new canning facility in Markham and are in the process of being certified for this facility.”
Bret Sher stated Evanger’s “closed” the Wheeling location. Is it possible that FDA has required this Evanger’s location (Wheeling) to close due to conditions reported in the inspection report; “condensation dripping into open cans, peeling paint and mold, and lack of refrigerated storage facilities”? Yes, it is possible (though we have no confirmation from FDA). Or did Evanger’s voluntarily decide to close this active manufacturing plant for no reason what so ever? Yes, this is possible too (though we have no confirmation of this either).
The FDA investigation into Evanger’s Pet Food continues to present day. Since the beginning of the pentibarbital contaminated pet foods manufactured at Evanger’s (January 2017) – every couple of weeks I contact FDA asking for an update to their investigation into Evanger’s. And every request receives the same response from FDA. The most recent response – dated October 20, 2017 – FDA told me “Regarding Evanger’s, there’s nothing we can share right now.” FDA investigation remains open with Evanger’s and the agency will not respond to questions during an open investigation.
Bret Sher also stated to this pet owner “We opened our new canning facility in Markham…” Actually, that plant has been “open” since 2013 (per PetFoodIndustry.com) – it is not “new” at all as Bret Sher claimed. The recalled Against the Grain pet food was manufactured at the “new”/open since 2013 Markham facility which contained pentobarbital. And, FDA found serious evidence of “non-compliance” of federal law at this Evanger’s location too. Quoting the FDA Inspection Report of the Evanger’s Nutripack plant, 221 W 162 St, Markham, IL, dates of inspection 1/10-12/2017, 1/31/2017…
“The following observations were found to be adulterated under The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act:”
“Your low-acid canned dog food product labeled in part “Against the Grain”…was found by chemical analysis to contain the barbiturate drug pentobarbital.”
“…condensate dripped throughout your processing and storage facility…”
“Frozen raw meats for processing are prepared while having direct contact with the insanitary, bare, paint peeling and unprotected concrete floor of the processing facility.”
“…employees were observed cutting raw chicken parts on untreated wooden building construction lumber.”
Evanger’s has operated two pet food plants for four years (since 2013), it is unknown exactly why one of those manufacturing plants would close; the very pet food plant that was certified organic by Oregon Tilth. Though not confirmed by anyone (FDA or Evanger’s), the possibility currently exists that the closure of the Wheeling facility was due to conditions at the plant discovered during FDA investigation. Thus again, though not confirmed by FDA, Evanger’s or Oregon Tilth, Evanger’s organic certification of the Wheeling facility COULD HAVE been surrendered (lost) due to non-compliance. Until FDA releases details of their investigation, until Evanger’s releases details as to why the Wheeling plant closed and why the organic certification was “surrendered” – we all have no option but to speculate.
A very simple preventative to this would have been the Evanger’s website to have stated (something like): ‘We have closed our Wheeling facility that held up till August 2017 organic certification by Oregon Tilth. We are currently not manufacturing organic pet food. Pet foods manufactured with a Best By date of XXX and before, were manufactured under an current organic certification.’ I found no statement like this on the Evanger’s website. Instead I found the statement the organic pet food was “temporarily out of stock” – which implied to me (and to many consumers), the pet food was still being manufactured…it was TEMPORARILY ‘out of stock’ – NOT production of the pet food was completely stopped. Transparency…that’s all we are really asking for.
To Evanger’s Pet Food and their attorney Mr. Gregory Bedell:
You probably don’t believe this, but with 100% sincerity, it is NEVER my intention to ‘defame’ any pet food company. I honestly have NO vendetta against any pet food manufacturer. Instead, it IS my intention to share violations of law in pet food with consumers – and you are well aware FDA found multiple violations of law at both of your pet food plants (FDA: “adulterated under The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act”). Your website previously claimed “Human Grade” ingredients when you certainly knew your company was purchasing beef labeled as “non-edible“. Most significantly, a beloved pet died because of your adulterated (per FDA) pet food.
I am aware of multiple (documented) instances where Evanger’s communications to pet owners and pet retailers that included “numerous inaccuracies that rise to the level of actionable, per se defamation.” Consumers and retailers have shared with me for years communications between Evanger’s Pet Food where my name and this website’s name was discussed in a very disrespectful (defaming) light. Besides my own collection of Evanger’s “inaccuracies that rise to the level of actionable, per se defamation“, should I need it – I’m confident a slew of consumers/retailers would send me more communications they received from/had with Evanger’s that contain even more ‘inaccuracies’ and more communications that would be considered an attempt to mislead consumers and defame me/this website that I can add to my current file. You see, many people appreciate learning of violations of law in pet food. Many people appreciate learning about lack of enforcement of law in pet food. More people than you probably realize want to protect their pet from potential risk pet foods.
With certainty, Evanger’s Pet Food is not the only violator in pet food. Unfortunately, your pet food is not the only adulterated pet food that has killed a pet. What manufacturers, their attorneys, and regulatory perceive as attacks by this website, is not that at all. This website wants pet food manufacturers to abide by ALL laws and produce safe, nutritious pet foods. This website wants regulatory authorities to enforce all laws governing pet food. No meats from diseased/euthanized/non-slaughtered animals, no ingredients sourced from companies utilizing slave/forced labor, no pictures of roasted chicken on the labels when inside the bag/can contains condemned chicken, and so much more. This website and consumers want manufacturers to tell consumers the ‘truth’. If your plant is closed and you are currently not manufacturing an organic pet food – regardless if the certification was lost due to non-compliance or in good standing willingly surrendered – consumers want to know. Consumers have a right to know.
Until pet food abides by law – until law is enforced, myself and violators/regulatory will be on opposite sides of the fence. I will continue to adamantly fight for the rights of pet food consumers to purchase an honestly labeled, legal, safe pet food and I will continue to share with consumers all violations. I certainly hope Evanger’s is not written about on this website again – but that outcome is in your hands, not mine.
If any pet owner would like to read a very detailed and documented history of Evanger’s pet food, read Mollie Morrissette’s post “As Evanger’s Scandal Unfolds, a Look Back at Their Troubled History”. Click Here to read.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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