Big Heart Brands Recalls Multiple Brands of Dog Food For Pentobarbital; Gravy Train, Kibbles n’ Bits, and Skippy Dog Food Withdrawn

A letter quietly sent out to retailers disclosed the shocking revelation that Smucker’s owned Big Heart Brand’s pet food was withdrawing select formulas from three their pet food brands following the ABC7 investigation and discovery of the euthanizing drug sodium pentobarbital in cans of Gravy Train dog food.

The brands being removed from the market are 22 varieties of Kibbles n’ Bits, Gravy Train, and Skippy canned dog foods. The company said that although the amount of the deadly drug was a “low level” and therefore not a “threat to pet safety.” The notice, sent only to retailers ordered them to “destroy” the brands they believe contain sodium pentobarbital.

The notice minimizes the severity of the finding, only saying that the “extremely low levels” of the lethal drug do not present a health or safety risk and would only say that “their presence in our products is not acceptable to us.”

This news comes on the heels of the news that Gravy Train dog tested positive for sodium pentobarbital – a drug used to euthanize pets and horses. Following the news, a class action lawsuit was filed against Big Heart Brand’s, the maker of the contaminated food.

No other information was provided except for this brief statement:

“The J.M. Smucker Company is initiating a voluntary withdrawal of a limited quantity of Gravy Train®, Kibbles ‘N Bits®, and Skippy® Wet Dog Food products after learning specific SKUs did not meet our specifications because a minor ingredient may contain low levels of pentobarbital. This is not a threat to pet safety. Although the extremely low levels do not present a health or safety risk, their presence in our products is not acceptable to us.”



Because Big Heart Brands may use the same raw ingredient suppliers for their other brand formulas, there is the possibility that more of their brands will be found to be contaminated with sodium pentobarbital. As with the initial discovery of the contamination in Gravy Train on February 9, 2018, we are learning today that three other BigHeart Brands are involved. Therefore, it may be prudent to avoid the other Big Heart brands including Meow Mix, Milk-Bone, 9Lives, Natural Balance, Pup-Peroni, Nature’s Recipe, Canine Carry Outs, and Milo’s Kitchen, among others until there has been a complete investigation.


Not since the FDA discovery of sodium pentobarbital in dog foods in 1998 (including Gravy Train), have some of America’s best-known and iconic pet brands fallen into such disgrace.

Regardless of the health risks of consuming a lethal drug, several critical issues remain unanswered: How did drug-laced meat get into Gravy Train’s dog food? Since the initial discovery of pentobarbital in Gravy Train’s food in 1998 why have the manufacturers allowed the practice to continue for 29 years?

It is macabre that a euthanizing drug – a drug most commonly used to euthanize cats and dogs  – is found in pet food to feed our cats and dogs. It is reprehensible that a company with a reputation as one of America’s most well-known and well-loved brands failed to have safeguards in place to protect the health and welfare of the pets whose food they make. The company’s failure represents a complete and utter disregard for Americans who think of their pets as members of the family. This event, like few others in the history of the pet food industry, will shake the confidence of every consumer who placed their faith and trust in commercial pet food.

We cannot find any information about this recall as Big Heart Brand’s website has been taken down aside from a contact page and several corporate responsibility pages. Otherwise, you will be redirected to Smucker’s website.

There is no information to be found on their website about the recall, nor any other information such as a public notice on the FDA website or a press release.

No doubt, we will hear more about this story in the coming days and more shall be revealed.

To contact Big Heart brands, you can call them at 800-828-9980 (8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. EST Monday – Friday) or use their contact form on their website.

Related articles on Poisoned Pets:

Deadly Drug Found in Dog Food; Smucker’s Gravy Train Contaminated with Pentobarbital


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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.