Skip to main content

Mold and Shrinkage or Shortage?

Related News


  1. Ellie

    Can food is just as frightening as kibble to me. The ingredient lists (which apparently no one reads or understands if they do) are enough to turn a person’s stomach.
    I suppose it is possible for the decay process to begin before the product is canned but it seems as though all those preservatives would do something.
    If it is faulty canning it appears that nothing is being done to correct the problem.
    It bothers me that companies like Merrick advertize themselves as healthy and natural pet food manufacturers.

  2. Lisa

    As to the mold – this happens in “people” food as well. I guess we will just have to see how large of a problem it is and if it gets fixed.

    As to the shortage – this is why product is sold by weight. Put the contense on a kitchen scale. If your 5.5oz can is 3 oz then it’s product shortage. I don’t know if you can file a label and product shortage complaint with pet food as you can with “people” food. But you sure can make your problem public and not buy from them anymore.

  3. Lauren

    I stopped buying Wellness Grain free Chicken when the price went up and the formula seemed to change. My cats started to vomit after eating Wellness, so I knew something changed. For just over a year now, I have been buying Evo Ancestral Diet 95% Chicken and Turkey. Not only is there more product in the larger cans, but my cats have not been sick. The price is a lot less, too.

    1. kitkatCC

      I stopped buying big cans (13 oz) when I found out that they have BPA. I don’t know why they can make 5.5 oz (supposedly) BPA-free cans, but they can’t do 13 oz. Other than they make more money from concerned consumers who have to pay more to buy the smaller cans.

  4. Nancy

    The food is cooked in the can? This is awful.

    1. Amee R.

      That was EXACTLY my thought! I mean, I guess I just thought they cooked it and then squished it in there? That sounds especially ridiculous now that I wrote it “out loud”…

      1. Noe Bunnell

        so when you pulled back the seal and the pop top just lifted off with no force, you didn’t suspect an issue? A dent in the can has nothing to do with the top seal being compromised, although if it’s a very bad dent and the side of the can has been punctured, I’m sure the insides would be just as spoiled. And again, I’ve seen can compromises (especially with pop tops) happen with ALL brands of dog and cat food in every store I’ve ever worked at/owned. I’m sure anyone who has worked at a grocery store has seen it often too, with human canned foods. It’s just something that happens. I agree, it’s disgusting, and I agree, it would be better if it didn’t happen. But truthfully, I didn’t notice this kind of thing happening back before pop top cans became the norm. I think they’re just poor design, but since they’re so much easier for consumers, I can’t see it ever going back to the old style of cans.

        If you want the convenience of processed food, you deal with this kind of stuff. I agree with the people above who advocate a home prepared diet… truthfully that’s the closest you can get to perfectly safe and healthy. Although since human food processing isn’t perfect either, I guess we could go even further and say if you are not raising the chickens and growing the veggies yourself, you never know what you’re going to get!! (I mean, if we’re going to bother, let’s go all the way here, right?)

        Also, I’m pretty sure all canned foods are heated up beyond boiling while in the can as part of the sterilization process. This is normal. You may think it’s awful, but I hope you remember that next time you open up a can of soup or beans for yourself. Same deal.

        1. Tracie

          All of us are here commenting on the problems with Merrick’s cans. Their cans are the ones consistently showing issues with the pop-top seals.

          I have never seen the mold issue with any other canned food I have fed – not once, not ever. I’ve also never seen it with human canned food.

          But with Merrick, you consistently get a can with a compromised seal – it is their issue, it is a known issue, and that’s why you see these disgusting pictures of their food with mold growing on the top.

  5. John Huff

    I have had the mold issue with cans that have the pop–top. I never had the issue with cans that require a can opener.
    Thanks again for all the info.

  6. Deb

    I stopped feeding Merrick’s Before Grain canned cat food a couple or so years ago when the tuna flavor began to consistently smell rancid – a notable departure from its normal smell.

    This is a great reminder to visually inspect (and smell!) everything you feed your pets!

  7. Connie

    Mold is preferable to so many chemical preservatives in the food that it won’t mold if the seal is broken..

    and you can tell if you have shortage by weighing the can. Does it weigh the same as other cans? How about dispensing the food and weighing how much food is dispensed..

    In both cases, it is annoying, but no one is perfect, mistakes happen.. if a broken seal is the worst of it and I can obviously see that the food has been compromised (I am betting these people knew there was something wrong with the food before they even opened the cans) then I don’t really think this is that big of a deal.

    Especially considering how much is really wrong with pet food..

  8. Gina Marie

    I buy my 2 adorable cats Weruva in pouches and they love it. Super healthy for them too.

    1. Peter

      I have had the issue of “short-filling” with cans of Weruva. More than once. I’ve opened the cans and the firmly packed food doesn’t come to the rim of the can as you’d expect.

      Weruva uses a different shaped can of 6 oz,., and I have wondered if they were planning on reducing to 5.5 oz (or less) but continue to use the existing cans. This is common in “people food” manufacture: you open the box and the inner wrapped “bagged” contents (such as crackers or cookies) don’t fill the box. But you don’t know that until you get home. One must ask also, why they have to import food from Thailand…

  9. Anna

    I have posted pictures of Wellness canned food “shrinkage” on their FaceBook page before …..when you pay a good price you expect to get what you pay for, not 3/4 of it.

  10. Mary

    Why guess whether it is shrinkage? Use a kitchen scale and weigh the contents in an extremely lightweight plastic bag…

  11. Mary

    Stop buying this Merrick garbage. Why would you keep feeding it after experiencing these issues?
    If you have an animal that is diabetic you can certainly go online and find recipes for dogs and cats. Cook their food, once weekly. You can use a crock pot if you think you are too busy. We cook regularly for our 26 rescue dogs, in the crock pot. It is easy, easy, easy…..and they BEG for that food.
    We can all afford a crock pot, can’t we? We can all throw the ingredients into it before we go to bed at night. In the AM we have breakfast, and the leftovers are for their dinner.
    Actually, put the crockpot on when you clean up your dishes in the evening. Put in lots of veggies of various types. You can also throw some lentils in and a bit of tomato sauce, a pich of garlic…..tiny pinch just for flavor! Your dogs will be healthier than you ever imagined.
    When I was a child we ate well on home grown food. Our dog always had the scraps from the plates of us kids……11 kids. Our dogs lived to be 16-17 years old and never once saw a vet and never once were sick. They were large dogs that we had….German Shepard and collie mixes…always, or purebred collies.

  12. Tracie

    No surprise that Merrick cans continue to have compromised seals – an issue I experienced on a regular basis when I was feeding Before Grain.
    They do their canning in-house, and apparently haven’t taken any steps to correct this known issue.
    Don’t even get me started on Wellness…

  13. Tracie

    No, this consumer couldn’t have “(known) there was something wrong with the food before they even opened the cans).”

    With Merrick, it’s Russian roulette every time a new can is opened – you never know if the food will have mold on the top, smell rancid, or be okay to feed,
    -until- you pop the top and visually inspect (and smell!) the contents.

  14. Paul

    My (large) Wellness cans have also shown what appear to be shortages; and, lately, they appear to be adding more liquid to the food to the extent that they could market it as a substitute for Hills CD prescription diet.

  15. Susan Thixton Author

    Still haven’t found it in the AAFCO Official Publication – but I’m wondering if weight statements on canned foods are pre-cooking weight – not post cooking weight (since the food is cooked in the can). Kibble would be post cooking weight because the kibble is made prior to packaging. Same is not true for can.

    1. Marg

      Unbelievable that someone would say that you “condemn” any pet food. Some people are like these monkeys – hear no evil, see no evil! They’d rather not hear the true because then they’d have to do something about it. Thanks Susan – I am glad that you care and appreciate all you do to inform the public! Sometimes – it’s hard to tell the truth and much harder for some to hear!

  16. Luther

    Wellness is a good food – my question is: do you disrespect every company, for any slight irregularity you might see?
    It seem on your sight, no company is free from your condemnation.

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      I don’t “condemn” companies. But this website is here for consumers – to inform consumers – not in protection of any manufacturer.

    2. Allison

      No commercial pet food is a good food. Quality control is just not up to par. Pet food is made as quick and cheap as possible for companies to profit….just like any consumer good. The only way to avoid these issues is by making your own food from the best quality sources you can find. This website brings light to the truth about the pet food industry and no company should be left out. If there’s something wrong we want to know about it and Susan lets us know. We should appreciate her for what she does. Consumers deserve to know the truth about what they’re buying. Thanks again Susan 🙂

    3. Mirel

      A company is not a person. A company is a business whose aim is to make money. So a company cannot be disrespected. It has no feelings.

      People, animals, living creatures, deserve our care and concern and that means talking honestly and sharing knowledge about the profit-driven companies that produce pet food. This website is the only one I know that has taken on the role of the “media”–investigating and sharing issues about pet food companies–since our “media” and our government have no desire to give us any useful information. Thank goodness for this website! And thank goodness no company gets any special treatment by it!

    4. Peter

      What? Disrespect? This food costs $1.86 a can. That is as much as any prime steak.

      I have had this issue with Wellness many times. Not just once. And across many different “flavors” of cat food. I do not consider this a “slight irregularity,” and there should be NO instance where “irregularity” is accepted, EVEN ONE TIME. These so-called “premium” foods are marketed as developed from superior recipes and ingredients. Production is advertised as being of the top order. Irregularity means problems. Why would you defend shortage or “irregularity” under ANY circumstances? If this was baby food, would anyone defend production “irregularities”?

    5. Ellie

      Why would you think that Merrick is a good company with a good product? Is it because you have looked into where they get their meat and other ingredients and how they are processed or is because of what Merrick has told you about the company?
      Pet food companies do a good job of putting nice pictures of healthy looking pets and foods on their labels but the truth is far from the media blitz campaign they put out for the public. Low grade ingredients highly processed and packaged so they can sit on a shelf for a year or more is not healthy to my mind and certainly not “good” for my pets.

    6. dennys

      “Disrespect”? These are companies, not people. Consumers don’t owe companies deference. And there was nothing condemning about the original post, unless you count light snark about the seals Merrick uses on their cans (seals that seem not to be working well).

      I switched from Merrick Before Grain because of mold/strange pellet-shaped objects embedded in the food. I’ve been feeding my cat Wellness Healthy Indulgences Grain-Free for about 9 months, and she is healthier and more active than ever.

    7. Lauren

      I personally saw changes in Wellness Grain Free Chicken, (the only one I used) to the point where I stopped purchasing it. I even sent a can back to the company for testing. The quality was not the same and the price increased dramatically. My cats began to vomit after eating it, causing low potassium. I switched to Evo Ancestral Diet 95% Chicken and Turkey. My cats have since been very healthy.

      I thank Susan for looking out for consumers.

  17. Lyn

    Maybe I am wrong, but it seems to me that if you are cooking food in a SEALED can, the weight of the uncooked food you put in the can is going to be the same weight after it is cooked. There is no way for anything to escape, after all!

  18. PTW

    Your new site is TREMENDOUS, thank you!

    Another reality point: Be careful where you put your logo, Susan. “Answers” is shorting their consumers as well. I noted the problem and brought it to the attention of the warehouse distributor Dec./2013, who in turn, contacted J.H. at “Answers”. I received a voice mail from J.H. in Feb. stating their product is packed by hand and the small shortage is to be expected but was willing to arrange a credit of product to keep me happy. I declined. “Answers” solution is now distributing coupons in lieu of correcting the problem of falsely selling a volume product that falls short of the marked weight on the carton. A “keep ’em happy” coupon is not my acceptable standard of quality. “Answers” had their time & chance…I’m moving on. (When I choose to buy 2# premiere pet food, that’s what I expect to receive, not 1.96#, which, by the way, includes the carton weight.) That is your logo on the carton, right? Sooo sad to see it there.

  19. Jean-Pierre Ruiz

    Well, I’m sure the FDA is right on top of this issue, right? Their scientist are no doubt poring over years of data to find a solution and make sure it just never happens again because they care about our health and that of our pets!

    OK, I’ll get off my high horse. One way to figure out if you are short-changed in the weight of your pet food is simply to weigh it. While you will have to allow a minimal variation for the amount of food that you will not be able to get out of the can, you should come very close (plus or minus 0.1 ounce) to the weight listed on the label.

  20. Sydney

    anytime there is a pop top can the risk of compromise is greater…even in handling if the cases are stepped on this occurs???I know because I am a pet food retailer.

  21. JosiesMom

    One more reason why I love feeding raw and whole prey diets! I raise my own mice and feed human grade raw “frankenprey”. My ferrets health has absolutely bloomed since converting to raw!

  22. Noe Bunnell

    I’ve seen Merrick cans with this issue before. I’ve also seen Wellness cans, Weruva cans, Verus cans, oh, and Campbells soup cans, too. This has nothing to do with the quality of the food, it has to do with the way the cans are handled during shipping. I am a pet food retailer, and I do know quite a bit about Merrick’s quality, and I don’t fault them if a lazy distributor dropped the case at some point. In my opinion, they handled the problem appropriately.

    (Oh and by the way, there’s no way they didn’t know something was wrong before opening the can – you can tell when a cans’ seal has been broken prematurely because they REEK. Not because the quality of the ingredients are bad, but because when air comes into contact with any natural food that’s not chock full of preservatives, it goes bad.)

    No real comment on the Wellness “shrinkage/shortage”, but I agree, this is a dumb debate. Measure the weight of the food if you care that much.

    Mistakes happen in food production/distribution all the time. Once I got a dog food can that was completely empty! As consumers, we just need to be aware of these kinds of things, and it’s always a good idea to contact the manufacturers when they happen, so that they can work on constantly improving their practice.

    This whole post is silly. We should all focus on the things that really matter, like quality of ingredients, etc, not human error.

    1. Tracie

      Regarding your statement: “there’s no way they didn’t know something was wrong before opening the can”.

      I have opened many cans of Merrick Before Grain where the can seal appeared to be intact and there was absolutely no way to tell it wasn’t until removing the pop-top.

      The cans where the seal was compromised had a pop-top that simply lifted off once the ring was pulled – it didn’t pull back with any force.

      It was then, and only then, that the smell of the food inside became apparent, and it smelled like feces every time.

      There was no leakage from the can seal or any way to tell until this top came off.

      These cans would come shrink wrapped in case lots with these compromised seals with absolutely no signs of handling damage (like dents), which indicates they were shipped by Merrick in this condition.

      I have contacted Merrick many times about these seals and was always told “we have had no other reports of this problem”.

      Merrick didn’t “(handle) the problem appropriately” – they’ve done nothing to correct the problem.

    2. Allison

      This whole post is NOT silly. Merrick has been contacted numerous times about this issue and it has not been resolved. How about canning the old fashioned way? No easy-open lids that don’t seal properly. What if someone fed their pet that food?! Not everyone has perfect eye sight…many seniors could be at risk of not noticing an off smell or color. Convenience should NEVER outweigh quality! I would much rather buy a can with less chance of losing it’s seal than a convenient easy-open lid. Personally I prefer making my own food as I know I am using the best quality, fresh ingredients…not something that has been sitting in a can for a year. It bothers me when people call Susan’s posts ‘silly’ or ‘condemning’ …would you rather not know about this issue at all? She’s letting us know about everything she can so we can make our own decisions on purchasing these products. Stop sticking up for highly processed pet food companies…that’s not what this site is for!

    3. Ann

      Please post the name,location and address of your pet retail store so I can be sure and never shop there. Thanks, ann

  23. Carly

    This page from Wellness Pet Food may be helpful in addressing some of the questions and concerns regarding Wellness canned recipes: Also, please see the Wellness Guarantee, “If for any reason you or your pet aren’t satisfied with this product, just bring back the unused portion, packaging and receipt for a full refund or exchange.” Wellness addresses customer questions and concerns directly at 800.225.0904, Mon-Fri, 8-5pm ET.

  24. Peter

    I disagree that this post is not worthy. Getting information to consumers is the goal. I’ve had so-called “short-weighting” experience with BOTH Wellness and Merrick. Both these companies have reformulated their products in the last 2 years (Merrick’s line completely changed). The ingredients of Merrick cat food changed, as well as the calorie counts for many “flavors” which rose about 10% (a significant change for those who work to keep their animals at a particular weight range). It has seemed clear to me that the companies are constantly re-working their formulas as they scour the globe to source ingredients more cheaply. But that violates the “agreement” I have with them as a consumer, that I can expect a particular quality and CONSISTENCY in the products. And after all, both of these brands are so-called “premium” and expensive.

    A kitchen scale would be nice. But why should that be necessary? The can is short-weighted and you don’t need to weigh it to see that. When this happens over and over and across different “flavors” of food… do you have a problem? Of course you do. But is that one of manufacturing error or is it intentional? Either way, its unacceptable, and remember, these companies advertise based on consumer expectation of CONSISTENCY as part of their position in the marketplace.

    At least one comment here also draws attention to the issue of moisture content. The maximum moisture for a canned food (if it carries AAFCO “approval”) is 78%. Many of us have noticed that the Wellness and Merrick foods are moving toward a more “aerated” texture– not as dense as they used to be– with a lot more water. I suggest that this becomes an issue of mis-labeling: more moisture (or, too much moisture if this is a “mistake” for a particular can or run) changes the dry matter content of the food. The consumer is paying for this dry matter content, and comparing foods on that basis. These products are not labeled as “in stew” or “in gravy” etc. as AAFCO stipulates they must be for their “approval” based on the 78% moisture threshold.

    Many consumers notice that a can simply doesn’t make the same number of meals as it used to with these foods. I am careful with portion control and I do KNOW how far a can of food ordinarily takes me… when a food is more aerated you are getting less food… I don’t need a kitchen scale.

  25. Tammy Baugh

    In only skimming the article, not yet reading but looking at the pictures, I almost threw up! See as a teenager (until she died) I had a blind friend. She had a little dog. The thought hit me, she might have fed this food to her dog. The dog would have eaten it anyway and become very sick and or died! Blind people don’t see mold. Some mold has no smell either. That’s just gross!

  26. Peter

    I stopped buying Wellness when this happened (the partially full cans of cat food) over and over, across a range of different flavors and lot numbers.

    I just tried again. This time… (since at least one comment here labeled the discussion as “silly” and asked why not just weigh the contents “if you care that much”) I thought I’d go further. Because, yes, I do care. I paid for the product. Wellness can cost nearly $1.90 for a 5.5 oz. can (tuna fish size can). That is a premium price. Again, after several months, the can was partially empty. Using a delicate kitchen scale, I’ve measured new Wellness cans between 3.5 and 4.5 oz.

Leave a Reply