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Darwin’s Recalls Pet Food For Salmonella and Listeria; Pathogen Problems Date Back 17 Months

Darwin’s Natural Pet Food announced another recall this month for its dog and cat food after they tested positive for Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes. The contaminated pet food involves eight production lots, some dating as far back as 17 months ago. In particular, two lots of a dog food made in July 2016 that was contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes was not recalled until October 2017.

It is important to note that at no time has Darwin’s ever made a public announcement of its ongoing problems during the two recalls this month. Instead, they notified customers who purchased the recalled products by email — sometimes two to three months after the production dates of each batch. No recall notices were ever posted for the general public on the company’s website or the Food and Drug Administration’s website. Instead, some – but not all – consumers who purchased the pet food through Darwin’s online store were informed by email. However, some consumers report never having received such an email.

Several of Darwin’s customers report there were product safety and package quality issues that predate the latest round of recalls. In addition to the stories of affected dogs reported on Food Safety News, I have been in communication recently with a consumer whose dog nearly died after being fed Darwin’s dog food. The dog became very ill after consuming the Darwin’s dog food which contained a quantity of “sharp, splintered bone shards” in it. The dog’s veterinarian found a large “ball” of indigestible bone in the dog’s stomach cavity.

Before the dog’s illness, the consumer had complained to Darwin’s that the dog was “off his food” and asked for advice, at which at that point the advice to the consumer was to “lightly cook the dog food.” In retrospect, after learning of the recalls of the foods due to bacterial contamination, the consumer wonders whether food poisoning did not contribute to the dog’s illness.

This most recent complaint reminds me of an earlier case involving Darwin’s dog food in which a consumer with multiple dogs had serious problems with Darwin’s dog food, specifically that there was a large quantity of large sharp pieces of bone fragments, some which were too large for her small dog to swallow. The consumer also found the food to be “off color,” and had found a piece of plastic and a small piece of metal in the food.

DARWIN’S CONTAMINATED FOOD RECALL

Darwin’s recalled products as of Dec. 21, 2017 involve 23,830 packages of contaminated pet food produced as far back as July 20, 2016:

Darwin’s Natural Selections brand, frozen, raw Turkey with Organic Vegetable Meals for Dogs
Package size: 2 lbs.
Number of packages recalled: 1192
Date recall initiated: 10/17/2016
Manufacturing date: 7/20/2016
Lot number: 3142070
Reason for recall: Listeria monocytogenes

Darwin’s Natural Selections brand, frozen, raw Beef with Organic Vegetables Meals for Dogs
Package size: 2 lbs.
Number of packages recalled: 2391
Date recall initiated: 10/17/2016
Manufacturing date: 7/21/2016
Lot number: 3146070
Reason for recall: Listeria monocytogenes

ZooLogics brand, frozen, raw Turkey with Vegetable Meals for Dogs
Package size: 2 lbs.
Number of packages recalled: 1337
Date recall initiated: 10/17/2016
Manufacturing date: 7/25/2016
Lot number: 3155070
Reason for recall: Listeria monocytogenes

Natural Selections Duck Meals for Cats, frozen
Package size: 2 lb. net weight flexible film, partitioned into 4 quadrants
Number of packages recalled: 1560
Date recall initiated: 9/8/2017
Manufacturing date: 06/01/2017
Lot number: 38277
Reason for recall: Salmonella

Natural Selections Chicken with Organic Vegetables Meals for Dogs, frozen
Package size: 2 lb. net weight flexible film, partitioned into 4 quadrants
Number of packages recalled: 6,306
Date recall initiated: 12/4/2017
Manufacturing date: 09/26/2017
Lot number: 40727
Reason for recall: Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes

Natural Selections Duck With Organic Vegetables Meals for Dog, frozen
Package size: 2 lb. net weight flexible film, partitioned into 4 quadrants
Number of packages recalled: 3,924
Date recall initiated: 12/4/2017
Manufacturing date: 09/29/2017
Lot number: 40487
Reason for recall: Salmonella

Natural Selections Turkey With Organic Vegetables Meals for Dogs, frozen
Package size: 2 lb. net weight flexible film, partitioned into 4 quadrants
Number of packages recalled: 7123
Date recall initiated: 12/4/2017
Manufacturing date: 08/24/2017 and 09/20/2017
Lot number: 39937 and 40507
Reason for recall: Salmonella

 

The Darwin’s pet food recalls listed above include the recalls announced earlier this month in Food Safety News after laboratory testing detected Salmonella in samples of the products.

HEALTH RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH CONTAMINATED PET FOOD

The bacteria can cause serious infections in people who handle the pet food. It can also contaminate surfaces, containers and utensils, which can spread the bacteria to foods, hands, and anything coming into contact with the contaminated items.

PET FOOD SAFETY TIPS

  • Do not feed your pet any food that appears to be spoiled, off-color, off-odor, or otherwise defective.
  • Take special care to avoid any drippings from thawed food that could contaminate your work surfaces.
  • If your pet is suffering from diarrhea, be extra careful about washing your hands before handling or preparing food.
  • Be aware that you can infect yourself with Salmonella or Listeria by spreading microscopic amounts of the bacteria from the contaminated food to your mouth.
  • If you get Salmonella or Listeria on your hands or clothing, you can’t see it or smell it, but you can spread the bacteria to other people, objects, and surfaces.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect all surfaces and objects that come in contact with pet food.

SOURCE: Darwin’s Pet Food pathogen problems ongoing for 14 months

RESOURCE: How to report pet food problems

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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 (6) Write a comment

  1. Pingback: FDA Warns Darwin's: Clean Up Your Act or Face The Regulatory Music | Poisoned Pets | Pet Food Safety News

  2. Pingback: FDA Investigates Darwin's Pathogenic Pet Food Problems Following Illness and Death of Pets | Poisoned Pets | Pet Food Safety News

  3. Good reporting.

    Journalistic coverage of the issue of “Silent Recalls,” whereby a manufacturer seeks to avoid public disclosure of potentially damaging information, is so very important. Sadly, companies that pursue this tack are just confirming that, as a marketing policy, that they seek to interfere with consumer awareness.

    Reply

    • Yes, I agree. Darwin’s has had an unfortunate history in this regard as well as a number of quality issues with their food. For example, they have been under investigation by the Washington State Department of Agriculture and the FDA twice in this year alone based on consumer complaints that I told them about. The first one found contaminated product and the second one (still ongoing) they found more contaminated product. This last recall was initiated out of that last investigation.

      Reply

  4. That’s awful. My yorkie was poisoned by treats from China. She past away from it and I still miss her.

    Reply

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