Pentobarbital in an ingredient shipped to Champion Pet Food has been confirmed, yet no recall was required. No uniform enforcement of pet food regulations leaves pet owners confused at what the FDA is actually doing to protect pets from dangerous pet foods.
Confirmed by FDA through a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA), two shipments of pentobarbital contaminated “beef fat” were delivered to Champion Pet Food in March 2018 (as was reported previously via an amended lawsuit against Champion Pet Food). Per the information provided in the FOIA, Champion Pet Food received one shipment of beef fat on 3/26/2018 that tested contaminated with 56 ppb pentobarbital, and received another shipment of beef fat on 3/28/2018 that tested contaminated with 16 ppb pentobarbital.
The FOIA also confirmed what was previously suspected, Champion Pet Food purchased the beef fat ingredient from the exact same supplier that sold pentobarbital contaminated fat to Smuckers Gravy Train Dog Food. The FOIA states (bold added) “On April 11, 2018 the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture conducted an inspection at JBS/MOPAC in Souderton, PA. The purpose of this inspection was to conduct a trace forward investigation to determine distribution of tallow that may contain pentobarbital, a drug not permitted in animal feed.” JBS/MOPAC supplied the pentobarbital contaminated fat to Gravy Train discovered through FDA investigation of Gravy Train, as follow-up PA Department of Agriculture was investigating who else might have received pentobarbital contaminated fat from the same supplier (trace forward investigation).
(Another Freedom of Information Act request has been filed with Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture requesting the names of all other pet foods that purchased pentobarbital contaminated fat from JBS/MOPAC. When that information – if any – is received, it will be published.)
As noted in the FOIA, pentobarbital is “a drug not permitted in animal feed“. Over the past 2 years, there have been pentobarbital contaminated pet food recalls from Evangers, Against the Grain, Party Animal, Gravy Train, Kibbles ‘N Bits, and Skippy pet foods. Why was there not a recall from Champion Pet Foods? Per a previous FOIA filed with FDA, an unknown amount of pentobarbital contaminated Champion pet food “was further distributed to the store/consumer level.” Emphasis ‘to the consumer level‘. In other words, an unknown amount of pet owners purchased and fed their dog or cat pentobarbital contaminated pet food with NO warning or recall. So again…why did FDA not demand a recall from Champion Pet Food when there was evidence pets were consuming the contaminated pet food?
Champion Pet Food was notified on May 7, 2018 – per the FOIA request – they were shipped adulterated (pentobarbital contaminated) beef fat. Champion Pet Food did not notify customers, the pet food did not voluntarily recall. Why? Ignoring an adulteration problem certainly doesn’t guarantee it will go away.
If pentobarbital was considered an adulterant in so many other recalls – just the Smucker’s manufactured Gravy Train, Kibbles ‘N Bits, and Skippy pet foods was over 107 million cans recalled – why wasn’t it considered an adulterant in Champion Pet Food? Did Kentucky Regulatory Services (part of University of Kentucky – same state Champion Pet Foods is located in) give an unofficial pardon to the pet food? Did FDA?
How can pet owners have faith in any pet food when we don’t know the rules of the pick and choose enforcement system currently over pet food? We can’t.
Feel free to send FDA (AskCVM@fda.hhs.gov) an email asking why Champion Pet Food was not required to recall as all the other pet foods were. And ask them when they will enforce existing pet food laws uniformly across all styles of pet food. (If they give you any response, please forward to me.)
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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