A Freedom of Information Act request provided by FDA seems to disclose Gravy Train Pet Food and Champion Pet Food used the same ingredient supplier.
When the lawsuit against Champion Pet Food was updated to include the risk of pentobarbital in Orijen and/or Acana pet foods, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request was sent to FDA. The FOIA request was just provided, and although it was heavily redacted – it seems to indicate that Champion Pet Food and Gravy Train Pet Food used the same ingredient supplier.
And as it turned out, even though both pet foods contained pentobarbital – FDA forced Gravy Train to recall yet allowed Champion to silently pull products from store shelves.
A little background information:
- Gravy Train Pet Food initiated a pet food withdrawal on February 14, 2018 after television station WJLA of Washington, D.C. found pentobarbital in 9 of 15 cans of Gravy Train dog food.
- On February 23, 2018, Smucker’s Gravy Train releases a statement that the source of the pentobarbital was “animal fat” ingredient in the pet foods.
- About two weeks later, FDA reclassified Smucker’s Gravy Train withdrawal into an official recall.
Gravy Train did not disclose the name of the pentobarbital “animal fat” supplier, but a lawsuit against the company did. Quoting the updated lawsuit complaint against Smucker’s Gravy Train (bold added for emphasis):
“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”).”
Quoting the FDA Establishment Inspection Report of Champion Pet Food (bold added for emphasis):
“A for-cause inspection of this pet food manufacturer was initiated per the request of CVM in reference to adulterated beef tallow containing pentobarbital that was distributed by [redacted], received by the firm.”
“On 5/16/2018, Investigator Caitlin L. Almonrode and I arrived at Champion Petfoods USA, Inc.“
“I (FDA) informed management their firm was identified as a recipient of at least two contaminated shipments of beef tallow containing pentobarbital that was purchased from [redacted]. Ms. Flowers (Champion Pet Food) explained they received notification in person from [redacted] on Tuesday, May 8th, 2018 that three lots of beef tallow were contaminated.”
“Ms. Flowers (Champion Pet Food) provided copies of shipping documents including COA (Certificate of Analysis), Tank Cleaning Verification, and Bills of Lading for Beef Tallow lots 20, 21, and 22 (Exhibit 1). Per Ms. Flowers [redacted] included Lot 22 in their notification because laboratory results were still pending and it was top loaded on lot 21 when received at the firm. [redacted] also provided a list of beef tallow shipments received at the firm from [redacted] since January 2017-present (Exhibit 2). The firm did not receive the notification letter from Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture per Ms. Flowers (Attachment 1). I provided a copy of the letter to her for their purposes.”
There is the connection…“notification letter from Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture”. JBS USA Holdings, Inc. rendering facility that sold pentobarbital contaminated “animal fat” to Smucker’s Gravy Train was located in “eastern Pennsylvania.” When that pentobarbital contaminated pet food issue was investigated, regulatory authorities required JBS USA to disclose all companies that received the illegal fat ingredient. We can assume – from that investigation, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture notified Champion Pet Food they too received pentobarbital contaminated “beef tallow”.
Note the above quote from the FOIA Champion Pet Food inspection report states the contaminated fat ingredient was “top loaded” at the Kentucky Champion Pet Food facility. This means the contaminated fat was unloaded onto the “top” of the container of existing fat. Thus, the known pentobarbital contaminated fat contaminated the existing fat in the storage bin.
Also note the above quote from the FOIA states Champion Pet Food had been purchasing fat from this supplier – the same supplier that sold to Gravy Train – “since January 2017.”
Quote from FOIA:
“Per Ms. Flowers, the firm received its tallow solely from [redacted]. She provided an Ingredient Specification Form-Fats and Oils for Beef Fat that outlines specifications for the beef tallow (Exhibit 3). Ms. Flowers explained the beef tallow obtained from [redacted] is received on a COA and is supposed to be sourced from [redacted] and therefore, pentobarbital was not identified as a potential hazard. Ms. Flowers admitted that while [redacted] is fully aware of this requirement there is no written agreement. She stated this is something they have overlooked and will be a requirement for future shipments of beef tallow.”
Surprisingly, Champion Pet Food admitted to FDA they had no “written agreement” with the fat supplier to assure quality of the ingredient.
Quote from FOIA:
“I (FDA) asked corporate management if a Reportable Food Registry (RFR) had been filed and in response [redacted] explained that one had not been filed because the firm didn’t feel the reported levels of pentobarbital was high enough to cause a health risk and based on previous FDA cases and reports.”
Champion pet food did NOT report the pentobarbital contaminated fat to FDA.
Quote from FOIA:
“On 5/23/2018, a close-out meeting was held with firm management. Mr. Wagner reported [redacted] pounds of affected dog food was further distributed to the store/consumer level.”
Shockingly – pentobarbital contaminated Champion Pet Food was distributed to “consumer level” – but no recall was issued.
To read the full FDA FOIA request, Click Here. Note – the Exhibits and Attachments mentioned on page 5 were not provided by FDA.
FYI: An email was sent to Champion Pet Food 12/2/2018 asking about their supplier. As of publishing this post – Champion Pet Food has not responded.
The pentobarbital contaminated fat sold to Gravy Train Pet Food and Champion Pet Food was a rendered ingredient. This means the fat was obtained by grinding and cooking euthanized animals. The fat that rises to the top of the rendered euthanized animal mix becomes “animal fat” (when there is a mix of species) or “beef fat” (when only cattle). When the fat is removed, the remains becomes meat and bone meal or beef meal pet food ingredients. The meat and bone meal and the beef meal produced at the VERY SAME time the contaminated fat was produced would be just as contaminated with pentobarbital.
But there have been no recalls or notifications from FDA or Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture about pentobarbital contaminated meat and bone meal or beef meal ingredients?
Quoting the JBS USA “rendering” webpage (confirmed supplier to Gravy Train and suspect supplier to Champion Pet Food): “JBS USA also has a full rendering facility, MOPAC®, located in eastern Pennsylvania. MOPAC is one of the largest renderers on the East Coast, with more than 125 years of industry experience.” How many pet foods have been contaminated with pentobarbital in meal ingredients with NO WARNING to pet owners?
Why did FDA force Gravy Train Pet Food to recall of their pentobarbital contaminated pet foods – when they did not force Champion Pet Food to recall? Champion pet food admitted to FDA “affected dog food was further distributed to the store/consumer level.” Why would there be such a double standard for pentobarbital contaminated pet food?
Why didn’t Champion Pet Food alert consumers to the potential risk when they learned of it in May of 2018? Champion only admitted to the pentobarbital contaminated pet food AFTER an updated lawsuit was filed in November 2018 citing the pentobarbital contamination. Wouldn’t it have been better for Champion to come clean with consumers about the pentobarbital contaminated fat right when they learned it?
What other pet foods purchased fat or rendered meat meal ingredients from JBS USA Holdings, Inc?
Is the FDA ever going to stop this? A pentobarbital euthanized animal in pet food (any food) is a direct violation of federal law? When will law be enforced?
How many pets have to die from contaminated illegal ingredient pet food?
AssociationforTruthinPetFood.com – our pet owner stakeholder organization – is still waiting for response from FDA to a Citizen Petition submitted in October of 2016 asking FDA to finally enforce law in pet food. Click Here to view our documents sent to FDA. FDA has never responded.
AssociationforTruthinPetFood.com asked FDA on October 18, 2018 for a public meeting with pet owners. We want to give pet owners the opportunity to speak with FDA directly. But…FDA has never responded.
Something has to change. The insanity of dangerous illegal pet food ingredients – the insanity of the system of illegal pet food ingredient definitions and law making (pet owners denied public access) – has to stop.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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