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Covert recall of moldy KONG dog treats pisses-off pet parents

Reports of a creepy covert op to quietly recall KONG-branded pet treats and chews for mold have consumers worried and upset.

Very little information is known, other than the treats involved are the Kong Aussie Sticks dog treats have been quietly recalled by the product manufacturer JAKKS Pacific due to possible contamination with mold.

According to a letter obtained by another pet food blogger, a JAKKS Pacific company spokesperson said:

The products were not dried properly so a small percentage of finished goods have gone moldy. Majority of the product is fine, and the mold was caught at our DC*, but some product may have made it to PetSmart so we are recalling all the product at PetSmart and destroying all the product we have at our DC.

The products being recalled have the following item numbers:

Item 75559
Item 75560

Along with the “Best Before” dates:

1/30/16
1/31/16

It is unclear which KONG Aussie Sticks are being recalled – the KONG 5″ Aussie Sticks in beef or the  KONG 5″ Aussie Sticks in Lamb? Or both?

It is concerning that the manufacturer seems to be is uncertain whether the affected product “may have made it to PetSmart” or not, leaving consumers to wonder if their uncertainty and confusion extends to whether it was shipped to other retail outlets.

Mums the word

Although the blogger reported the recall on September 25th, no press release by the products manufacturer has been made available to the public. No further store location, online sales or other distribution details have been provided by either company.

I’ve checked the FDA Recalls, Market Withdrawals and Safety Alerts page, Kong’s website, JAKKS Pacific’s website and as far as I can tell, neither has made any effort to post a public notice. But, today the Pet Food Industry news outlet picked up the pet blogger’s report, calling it a recall.

It’s possible the problem extends to other KONG treats, as one customer posted a comment on the report with some more troubling information. User Mindy Bailey claims to have had a similar issue with another KONG product:

I also wanted to make people aware that it’s not just the Aussie treats that have mold. I purchased Farmers Basket Beef Burgers from PetSmart as well and they were moldy. The item number was 12814 and the expiration date was 6/9/2016. I called KONG customer service and they said someone from JAKKS would return my call but they never did

The kiss of death

Companies hoping to avoid the bad publicity of a faulty product, run the risk that it will eventually become public information and not in a good way.

Silent recalls are the kiss of death, reputation wise, because they make a company look sneaky and dishonest, two things a company should want to avoid like the plague. Because, lets face it, silent recalls are just that: sneaky and dishonest.

The proper way to conduct a recall is to publicly notify consumers that they might have purchased an affected product, should it cause their pet to become ill. Because if there’s one thing worse than a faulty product, that’s a pissed-off pet parent with a sick pet who should have been told the product was defective.

Consumers shouldn’t have to find out about a defective pet food product from a blog; Pet food companies should know by now, when they behave badly, consumers will take to the internet and spread the message like wildfire.

Business Ethics 101

Pet food companies, take heed; if you didn’t learn these basic lessons in business school, let me remind you of a few rules to live by:

1. Care about your consumers, or give them the appearance that you do.

2. Be transparent about ingredient sources, country of origin, and, of course, defective products.

3. When your product is defective, pretend to care, even if you don’t; notify the FDA, notify your outlets, and notify your consumers, at the very least.

4. Lastly, if you can’t understand why these rules are critical, then maybe you’re in the wrong business.

What to do if you have the product

Consumers are advised to return the products to PetSmart to receive a full refund. Customers can contact JAKKS Pacific at (877) 875-2557 (toll-free, North America only) or (909) 594-7771, Monday – Friday, 7:30 AM – 5:00 PM Pacific Time (GMT – 8), excluding holidays. To contact the Kong company in Colorado call (303) 216-2626.

Who to contact if you’ve had a problem with the product

Consumers can report complaints about FDA regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area or go to http://www.fda.gov/petfoodcomplaints. Canadians can report any health or safety incidents related to the use of this product by filling out the Consumer Product Incident Report Form.

*Note: It is assumed that “DC” refers to distribution center.
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Mollie Morrissette

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

Comments (3) Write a comment

  1. Companies are afraid to have their names associated with a recall… so they conduct a “silent recall” which can be even more damaging to their reputation. As you mention, they haven’t even posted anything on their own websites. Smart consumers would logically conclude that there isn’t any reason to trust this company at all, and stop buying their products altogether.

    Reply

    • The risk they take is that the information will get out there in a way they have no control over. To me, that is a risk no company should ever take in the age of the internet. Negative reports travel farther, faster and wider than positive reports, therefore companies that depend on consumer confidence should always take a proactive approach when dealing with a defective product. Their bad.

      Reply

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