Evanger’s Declares War With The FDA, Denies Inedible Meat Used in Pet Food

In a move that can only be described as reckless, today Evanger’s Dog & Cat Food Company picked a fight with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for exposing the company for using inedible meat in their pet food.

Where Evanger’s previously posted pug family updates regarding the recalls of their pentobarbital laced pet food, today all that information is gone.

Poof.

Instead, the only information you’ll see today are these two short paragraphs (bold added):

“The FDA recently stated it believes that Evanger’s does not purchase ANY edible beef, yet in its investigation never asked a simple question, “does Evanger’s purchase edible beef.”  Evanger’s does, in fact, purchase edible beef, and did purchase edible beef around the same time as the recalled beef was supplied.

Our intention was not to start an online war with the FDA, but the FDA has taken unprecedented actions specifically against Evanger’s.  We will continue to post information in regards to FDA’s recent actions, but meanwhile are sharing this with our loyal customers now:

Edible Beef Billed to Evangers 07-14-2016

Unfortunately, the proof that Evanger’s provides is nothing more four heavily redacted documents: Three redacted invoices for the purchase of “edible beef bones” and one for “edible beef liver”; none of which provide USDA establishment numbers, nor the name of the supplier. Therefore, the information cannot be cross-checked for validity on the USDA website.

EVANGER’S BEEF WITH FDA

The battle between Evanger’s and the FDA began when the FDA posted information on regarding the meat supplier who provided them with the pentobarbital laced beef (which later Evanger’s admitted may contain horse meat as well as beef) which eventually led to the recall of all of Evanger’s and Against the Grain’s “chunk” style canned beef pet foods (bold added):

“In its recent press release announcing a limited product recall, Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food Company, Inc. stated that the beef for its Hunk of Beef product came from a “USDA approved” supplier. However, the FDA reviewed a bill of lading from Evanger’s supplier of “Inedible Hand Deboned Beef – For Pet Food Use Only. Not Fit For Human Consumption” and determined that the supplier’s facility does not have a grant of inspection from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. The meat products from this supplier do not bear the USDA inspection mark and would not be considered human grade.”

The press release the FDA referred to was a passage in Evanger’s initial recall notice which stated (bold added):

All Evanger’s suppliers of meat products are USDA approved. This beef supplier provides us with beef chunks from cows that are slaughtered in a USDA facility…Because we source from suppliers of meat products that are USDA approved, and no other products have had any reported problems, we are not extending the recall to other supplier lots.”

After that, the FDA added to Evanger’s and Against the Grain’s recall notices this warning:  FDA Cautions Pet Owners and Caretakers Not to Feed Certain Evanger’s or Against the Grain Canned Pet Foods Due to Adulteration with Pentobarbital.

FOOT-DRAGGING OVER UPDATING RECALLS

Two weeks passed, during which time Evanger’s notified the FDA that it planned to recall all their “chunk beef” products, but a week passed and Evanger’s never provided the FDA with the updated recall notice.  Eventually, the FDA became aware that Evanger’s was notifying its distributors and retailers of the new recall, but was not making the information public. In response, the FDA posted an update yesterday of Evanger’s recall for consumers and reiterated their earlier statement regarding Evanger’s false claims (bold added):

“In review of Evanger’s records, we determined that the facility identified on a bill of lading as Evanger’s supplier of “Inedible Hand Deboned Beef” further identified as “FOR PET FOOD USE ONLY. NOT FIT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION” does not have a grant of inspection from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service. The meat products from this supplier do not bear the USDA inspection mark and would not be considered human grade.

When asked if any of Evanger’s beef suppliers inspected by USDA-FSIS, the FDA responded (bold added):

“The FDA’s preliminary assessment indicates that none of their suppliers are USDA-FSIS registered facilities.”

CONFUSION OVER USDA EXPORT CERTIFICATES V. USDA ESTABLISHMENT NUMBERS

The FDA explained that perhaps Evanger’s confusion about the USDA status of their meat supplier lay in the misunderstanding that their meat supplier at one point held a USDA-APHIS-assigned number to signify export certification.

Apparently, the meat supplier of the beef that was used in Evanger’s Hunk of Beef and Against the Grain Pulled Beef canned dog foods displayed a ‘USDA-APHIS number’ on its bills of lading, invoices and shipping pallets. However, the FDA found that the meat supplier’s export certification status is no longer active, thus the number is not valid.

FALSE CLAIMS AND OTHER STUPID ACTS

Throughout this drama, Evanger’s remains defiant, and despite all evidence to the contrary they insist on maintaining the claim that all their meat products are UDSA inspected.  On Evanger’s product information page, they claim they “utilize USDA inspected meats.

Joel Sher, the vice-president of Evanger’s, explained to Petfood Industry magazine that the website had been created before the Hunk of Beef product was launched. He asserted that promoting Evanger’s pet foods as human-grade was “substantially a correct statement.” However, Sher admitted that their plant is not certified to make food for human consumption.

HALF-MEASURES

Evidently, the company realized the human-grade claim was an incorrect statement after all and saw the wisdom of removing the false and misleading statement on their product information page regarding the human-grade claim because Evanger’s claims could have resulted in allegations of deception or false advertising by the Federal Trade Commission.

Perhaps they will see the wisdom of removing the USDA inspected meats claim as well unless they can provide evidence to support their claim that can be verified by the USDA by means of providing consumers with the USDA establishment numbers of their meat suppliers.

Evanger's-product-page-3.3.2017

CONSUMER RESOURCES & INFORMATION

FDA continues to encourage consumers to report problems with Evanger’s products through the Safety Reporting Portal or by contacting a Consumer Complaint Coordinator. Please retain empty cans or partially used cans of food to facilitate the collection of specific lot number information. Additional information is available on the FDA web page, How to Report a Pet Food Complaint.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

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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. One thing I simply don’t understand about this ongoing debacle: the Sher’s surely knew that they should expect an inspection of their facilities, so why didn’t they rush to clean them up before the FDA came for a look-see? They often seem to be working full-time to deflect criticism and spin… its not like the FDA inspection would be a surprise.

    Likewise, I never understood why the inspection of the un-named supplier in which the FDA gave that firm a “thumbs-up” would be as respected as consumers have been led to believe. That is: wouldn’t that same un-named supplier/manufacturer, as part of Evanger’s sourcing chain, have “expected” (or at least feared?) an inspection, and as such, gone on a clean-up mission as a precaution? They had several weeks to “prepare” and I personally am not convinced by the positive review from the FDA when a company really has so much advance warning of an impending inspection.

    Reply

    • Regarding the supplier: The FDA simply said they were segregating their product (the euthanized animals from the non-euthanized animals). They also confirmed they are NOT USDA inspected. The issue of the supposed contamination with horse meat never came up, because presumably Evanger’s did not share those test results with the FDA (or the public for that matter) or perhaps the FDA did not find evidence of horses at the facility. I would imagine the supplier knew the inspection was coming, but I’m not certain Evanger’s was expecting a visit from the FDA.

      I don’t think Evanger’s had any idea the Feds were coming otherwise I think they would have cleaned up their act. At least it doesn’t seem that they could have known considering the state the Feds found their facilities in. I mean, no functioning refrigeration – anywhere on the property? Cutting raw product on untreated construction lumber? Gross.

      I do know that the FDA and the CVM was in contact with the Nikki Mael (the owner of the Pugs) within two days of her dog Tulula’s death, so I suspect the FDA wasted no time getting into to see the plants.

      Reply

      • There is much to criticize, in the history of FDA (non) enforcement of federal law. Its also interesting to watch the Sher’s attempts to frame this debacle so that they can emerge unscathed. The feds are a bit handcuffed in the “language” that they can use, and still remain “professional,” and the Shers definitely are working overtime to ensure that the public becomes and remains “confused” about the timeline and the implications of the back-n-forth.

        My understanding is that pet foods represent virtually the lowest-profit destination for animal by-products… that they wouldn’t be directed to pet food manufacture if there was any other use. And so my presumption is that, the supplier would be motivated to segregate the euthanized vs. non-euthanized animals since the euthanized animals would be used to manufacture more profitable goods than pet food.

        Reply

        • Pet food manufacturers have a strong incentive to buy only meat meal that excludes euthanized animals as regulators, competitors and consumers could test their end products for the presence of pentobarbital. We can speculate on the truthfulness of Evanger’s statement that they had been lied to by their supplier, that they were unaware that a substitution of a lower grade “beef” sold to them. However, regardless of their ignorance, they had a duty to test their ingredients, which obviously they failed to do. Additionally, they had to have known the supplier was not USDA inspected (as they claim) if, as they claim, they visited the plant on a number of occasions and had a relationship with them for “40 years.” It is still a puzzle how they could have had a relationship with them for that long considering they only bought Evanger’s in 2002.

          Reply

  2. When pentobarbitol was found in Evanger’s pet food, the FDA jumped on it. Enter the Shers, who have been defending their innocence, blaming their supplier, and everyone else – including the FDA, and not once taking responsibility.
    Their top selling canned food, Hunk of Beef, was recalled. They completely back-pedaled to now deny that their food killed the pug dog.
    They told the FDA that they were recalling all of their chuck style beef, but haven’t acted.
    They still insist that their meat is USDA approved, that their products are human grade, and that they never ever used “Inedible” meat.
    Wrong. The FDA busted them on all counts.
    The risk of bad publicity and loosing market share is often enough to force manufacturers to right their wrongs, so I’m wondering… just what are they thinking?

    Reply

    • Honestly, I don’t know what they are thinking. They basically are shooting themselves in the foot. Essentially, they are arguing with the cops – never a good idea. This is a war they cannot win.

      Reply

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