Mollie the dog-and-the-Bone

Blue Buffalo recalls dog bones due to Salmonella contamination

Blue Buffalo announced yesterday that they are recalling a production lot of Cub Size Wilderness Wild Chews Bones. This recall is being done as the product has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.

How did this happen?

Routine testing at the manufacturing site revealed the presence of Salmonella in the product. But, meanwhile the product was already shipped to PetSmart Stores in 9 States.

Obviously, Blue Buffalo didn’t think to test the product before they distributed it across the United States. A critical element of good manufacturing practices is a procedure called “Test and Hold,” a step they decided to skip.

Safety measures skipped

While Blue Bufallo is not required to employ such safety measures, the USDA, however, requires “official establishments and importers of record to maintain control of product tested for adulterants by FSIS and not allow such products to enter commerce until negative results are received.”

Meanwhile, FDA guidance on Salmonella testing recommends, but does not require, that food facilities “maintain control of a food that is being tested for the presence of Salmonella, pending the final outcome of that testing.”


For two reasons:

One, it is important to ensure that adulterated foods don’t go into commerce, but also because, the FDA can take enforcement action if a sample it takes tests positive, even if a previous manufacturers test of the food obtained negative results.

Secondly, because the most common bacterial cause of death among the pathogens tracked by CDC’s Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet), Salmonella is cited as being responsible for the largest number of hospitalizations and deaths.

The problem with Salmonella

Salmonella can affect animals eating the product and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Salmonellosis in humans

Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare provider.

Salmonellosis in animals

Essentially, Salmonella can cause similar if not identical symptoms in pets as it does in humans: Pets with Salmonella infections may have decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Other clinical signs may include lethargy, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, and vomiting. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

Recalled product details

The product was distributed starting November 19, 2015 in PetSmart stores located in the following 9 states: California, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.

The recalled product comes individually shrink-wrapped in plastic with the UPC number 840243110087 printed on a sticker affixed to the product, and an expiration date of November 4, 2017, printed as “exp 110417” on the shrink-wrap. Consumers should look at the UPC Code and expiration date on the product package to determine if the product is part of the recall.

The recall is limited to the following product and production lot:

Product Name: Cub Size Wilderness Wild Chews Bone   UPC Code: 840243110087   Expiration Date: November 4, 2017

Consumers who have purchased the product subject to this recall are urged to dispose of the product or return it to the place of purchase for full refund.

Consumers with questions may contact Blue Buffalo at: 888-641-9736 from 8 AM to 5 PM Eastern Time Monday through Friday and the weekend of November 28, 2015, or by email at for more information.

Just a tip for Blue Buffalo

The FDA published a handy Guidance document, Testing for Salmonella Species in Human Foods and Direct-Human-Contact Animal Foods that pet food companies, like Blue Buffalo, should familiarize themselves with.

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Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, the author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and consumer advisor. Help support her work by making a donation today.

Comments (8) Write a comment

  1. You are right to comment on the danger to dogs themselves: too many consumers think that “Salmonella recalls” are unimportant, in part because of the frequency. They think the recall is just owing to the FDA’s “zero tolerance” stance against the pathogen because of the danger to humans. But in dogs, Salmonella infection can become chronic, (then regarded as a disease), leading to pronounced fever, weight loss, blood loss, non-intestinal infections, and repeated unpredictable/ spontaneous diarrhea (with attending organ-threatening dehydration) that can last for weeks. The infection can progress to septicemia (bacterial infection of the blood), which can be fatal. Consumers don’t realize that their dogs can die from Salmonella poisoning. And you correctly remind that BB simply decided to skip the “test and hold” preventive measure. I looked in the press release and was surprised that BB skipped their usual step of blaming someone else. That’s a switch.


  2. It’s possible that your cats are adjusting to their new diet with you. If their previous situation was cheap poor quality cat foods that usually have “flavor enhancers”: such as MSG, corn syrup, it could be the reason. I’ve read that these ingredients cause “finicky eater syndrome”. Cats are already fussy eaters, so it’s possible they are coming off an addiction.

    Mollie’s suggestion to augment the B.B. with other forms of protein is a good idea. Imagine eating the same thing day after day without some variety. You often have to trick them with a goody in the middle.

    I am stranded in the countryside as well; my car has been in the shop for a month. Do you have UPS delivery out where you live? has a selection of dehydrated raw pet food and their delivery is speedy.

    Good luck.


  3. Thank you Mollie for your reply, I appreciate all your suggestions. Thank you:)

    I can’t order during the winter snow/ice as no one can get up to my place (and I can’t get out). I’m 300′ up on the side of an ozark mountain. :) Only check on my mail at the bottom of the hill once a week if possible:)

    I will contact Honest Kitchen at some point to see if I can get a ‘test’ sample to see if my cats would or could eat their products. They aren’t finicky, they were abused and one was in kitty cat icu for a month due to abuse and severe depression. One had kidney failure and the other was actually afraid to eat and was starving. It was a miracle they survived as the surgeon said there wasn’t anything else they could do. The animal shelter was not aware of how sick they were when I adopted them.

    When pet food RECALLS are announced because of negligence, I think that company should be shut down. All manner of pets, including horses who have died due to poison laden grain, fed in good faith, leaves a permanent scar on the person who fed their beloved pet yet lost it to death because of lack of quality control. No excuses.

    I understand when you say it’s just the dog bones….

    Decades ago, I stocked up on 100 lbs. of a different brand of dry cat food for winter and in the middle of that winter that brand of what I’d bought was recalled. I had never been prepared for a recall of a brand I had used for some 20 yrs. I hadn’t even kept the receipts. The last four months of that winter my cats learned to eat soup broth. The two rescue cats I have now do not like meat but they do like gravy or ‘soup’ made from chicken. I could buy range chicken if I can get there before the snow comes. Waiting for the 1st for obvious reasons.

    I have, for my health, gone vegan, and gluten free so a lot of what I used to eat 20 years ago I no longer buy. I’m allergic to preservatives and chemicals in processed foods. I do use the farmer’s market during summer but it is 26 miles away. Thanks for your help. I appreciate that you care so much.

    One last thing. If there is a recall on a pet product that one uses, find out the code # because not all stores pull that product. I found that out at a big box store once. I went to buy the pet food and it was still on the shelf to sell and the product had been recalled two weeks previous and I had the print out to check on it for myself. I went to talk to the manager and he seemed ‘surprised’ at the info. on the recall. I didn’t believe him. I think he still wanted to just sell the product. We need to check out these recalls for ourselves if it effects our pet family. They might still be on the shelf. Never assume anything. We are their voice and a right to a long and healthy life. Blessings:)


    • I’m vegan too, so I understand your concerns. I too was very ill. Had to cut out many products.

      My cats won’t eat regular meat or chicken, and will only eat organic meat and poultry.

      Yes, bone broth is great. But just be sure the chickens weren’t fed an arsenical – it stays in their bones and then the arsenic leeches into the broth.


  4. I am very disappointed in hearing about this on Blue Buffalo for dogs for all the above reasons. I’ve had dogs most of my life, but I rescued two grown cats who had been abused and went through 175.00 of cat food to give them a choice to eat. They threw it all up or wouldn’t touch it. I finally tried Blue Buffalo for Cats. It cost a fortune and takes a 2 hrs. drive to get it. I have stocked up on 5 large bags of it for winter as when it starts snowing I am snowed in until middle of May. I can’t just “run” out and get anything during winter. What if their cat food is bad? I can’t buy and replace it, can’t return it, can’t do anything until the spring thaw. What are they supposed to do, starve to death if that food turns bad?? I am sick to death of all this trash pet food that puts our pets lives at risk. If they can’t follow safety standards then they should be shut down. I’m also on a fixed income. I can’t afford to pay for their mistakes…………I am especially upset about this because back during the time that all the plastic and metal and glass was being found in pet food from China, I had 6 cats, 4 dogs and 2 wolves and I made homemade pet food for all of them every day for 5 months so they wouldn’t die. It was not easy, it cost a fortune. Money is an issue as well as pets lives. They are our family. I’ve been wanting to say this for years, so now I’m done. Thank you for the opportunity to speak.


    • Brin, don’t worry – it’s just the dog bones. Their food isn’t “bad,” it’s just not great. That’s all.

      You might want to add human food to their diet – like eggs, poultry, meat. Just don’t serve them raw egg whites.

      Can you order food online?

      I live out in the middle of nowhere too and live on a fixed income and somehow manage to feed all my cats (six of them) and buy them raw, organic organs and eggs from the local farmer’s market.

      Just a suggestion…



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