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

A shocking report from an ABC news investigation reveals that the deadly euthanizing drug sodium pentobarbital was found in the iconic American dog food: Gravy Train. A lethal drug, most commonly used to euthanize dogs, cats, and horses, were found in cans of Gravy Train dog food. Out of fifteen cans ABC tested, nine cans — 60 % of the samples — were positive for pentobarbital.

ABC tells us that: “After months of tests and re-tests, one brand repeatedly came back positive for pentobarbital … And while the levels detected were not lethal, under federal law they are also not permitted at any concentration.”

ABC’s investigation began after Nikki Mael’s dog Tulula died after consuming a can of Evanger’s dog food that was contaminated with the same euthanasia drug sodium pentobarbital.

ABC questioned Smucker’s about the findings, but Smucker’s declined to answer any of the questions posed to them. Instead, they responded by stating in a notice on their website that they “do not believe this is a pet safety issue,” and they are in the process of “determining the accuracy of the claims included in this news outlet’s investigation and the testing methodology used.”

Despite the test results, Smucker’s denies that their pet food contains “3D or 4D meat/by-products (euthanized animals/pets)” and that they abide by AAFCO’s rule that strictly forbids “3D or 4D meat such as dead, dying, disabled, or diseased animals.” And they are quick to distance themselves from Evanger’s, the company whose pet food was also contaminated with pentobarbital, by saying that they are, “are not associated with that brand.”

Taking a page from Evanger’s playbook, however, Smucker’s distances themselves from any responsibility by saying that the poisoned material could “unintentionally be in raw materials provided by a supplier.” Although, Smucker’s claims that they “regularly audit their suppliers” and have “assurances from them about the quality and specifications of the materials they supply us.”

The supplier Smucker’s most likely is referring to is their source of meat and bone meal – a product obtained from renderers. While most renderers process material that comes from slaughterhouses, smaller independent renderers pick up and process dead animals from any number of unsavory locations in varying states of decay, including from locations such as animal shelters.

In response to the report, the FDA states that they plan to “investigate and take appropriate enforcement action. Today, (Feb. 8, 2018) the FDA received the test results of the samples of dog food from ABC7. We plan to review the results and determine appropriate action. We also encourage consumers to report any complaints about pet food products to FDA.”

Consumers with questions should immediately report any problems with Gravy Train in connection with their pets to the FDA. Although at this time there are no other Smucker’s owned Big Heart Pet Foods implicated in the investigation it is possible that their other brands, such as Meow Mix, Milk-Bone, Kibbles’n Bits, 9 Lives, Natural Balance, Pup-Peroni, Gravy Train, Nature’s Recipe, Canine Carry Outs, Milo’s Kitchen, Alley Cat, Jerky Treats, Meaty Bone, Pounce and Snausages, may also contain material from the same supplier that supplied Big Heart Pet Foods with the material that contaminated Gravy Train.

The question consumers have is how did Gravy Train – a staple in grocery stores across America – descend from its wholesome image as an iconic American brand of dog food into America’s poisoned pet food? This news not only shakes public confidence in Smucker’s to provide them with safe and wholesome food but to all mainstream pet food brands. Companies like Smucker’s have a responsibility to have adequate safeguards in place to make sure adulterated ingredients and proteins from unknown sources do not get into their supply chain. Without it, consumers cannot maintain faith in a system that allows animals euthanized with sodium pentobarbital make its way into the food they feed their pets.

Consumers can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area or go to FDA to report a problem with a pet food. Canadians can report any health or safety incidents related to the use of this product by filling out the Consumer Product Incident Report Form


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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 (37) Write a comment

  1. Pingback: Ol' Roy Dog Food Withdrawn For Deadly Drug Contamination; Pentobarbital Found In Canned Dog Food | Poisoned Pets | Pet Food Safety News

  2. Don’t buy dog and cat food from a grocery store. It is all absolutely crap food. Do your research on foods for your pets. The better foods are sold in Pet Stores but even research those brands before you buy. You can also just buy fresh meats and vegetables and fruits and make your own food as it is the healthiest as long as you follow good recipes. No garlic, onion,corn etc.


  3. Pingback: Milo's Kitchen Treats Recalled After Dogs Became Sick, Excess Thyroid Blamed | Poisoned Pets | Pet Food Safety News

  4. Pingback: Smucker's Admits Deadly Drug in Pet Food, Euthanasia Drug Found in Cat and Dog Food | Poisoned Pets | Pet Food Safety News

  5. We live in Ohio,we took our dog to get paid a lot for blood work,My dog died he was 7 Feeding him gravy train.Very sad it was a nightmare see to see him go through that heart breaking .He was family.What can we do about this Help! Its a nightmare that we were feeding him food that killed him.


  6. Pingback: Smucker's Withdraws More Pet Food Amid Deadly Drug Dog Food Scandal; Additional Skippy Lots and Ol' Roy Dog Treats Named | Poisoned Pets | Pet Food Safety News

  7. I think that is awfull and that I might have been slowly killing my dog, my best friend,it’s a shame you can’t trust the quality of food that you are buying for your animals. Especially when it’s from a well known grocery store that you should beable to trust and depend on and why are the stores still carrying the products they know have the Ingredients I don’t understand why there not doing something about it, at least pulling it of the shelf’s and giving us something to replace it, it’s just a shame there doing this to our animals right under our nose and we are paying for it, it’s really awfull , wonder if the ceo if these companies are feeding there pets the same thing or did they know what was in it the hole time, it’s animal cruelty


  8. Pingback: Big Heart Brands Recalls Multiple Brands of Dog Food For Pentobarbital; Gravy Train, Kibbles n' Bits, and Skippy Dog Food Withdrawn | Poisoned Pets | Pet Food Safety News

  9. And why are pet food companies allowed to own veterinary chains (e.g., Mars, which owns Banfield and VCA)? Allow the wolf in the door why don’t you. Gives vets an incentive not to report illnesses/deaths caused by these foods. Pet food companies also put a lot of money into veterinary schools. Our future vets are beholden to them. The whole industry is incestuous.


  10. Wow!!!! We fed our dog this exact Gravy Train in the can for at least the past three years. Our dog suddenly passed away three months ago and she was only 7 years old, and she had just passed her yearly exam at the Vet, two months prior. We had figured it was a sudden heart attack, maybe this is what caused her death, don’t know for sure but odd coincidence! We still have a dozen cans of this on the shelf, gonna throw them out now for sure!!!


  11. I used to feed “gravy train” to all my German Shepherd‘s and other dogs that I’ve had approximately 14 of them! Never had a problem that I am aware of,
    I now feel “Nature’s Recipe“ since 2006 and my Chihuahua is 14 years old, yes, she has some health issues but she is a senior citizen.
    How could and why could there be any euthanasia drug in a dog food? Unless it’s a disgruntled employee putting it in on purpose! They should be found out and prosecuted to the fullest!!! if it is true!


    • Not to be rude but, you obviously did not read the article. The euthanasia drug comes from companies buying rendered meat that comes from animals who were put down with the drug. The article states that. It’s not a mystery.


    • If you read the above article it clearly says, it’s because they are getting ingredients from places that are including euthanized animal carcasses in said ingredients, and that’s how it would be getting into the food! NOT a disgruntled employee!


    • Certain “people” should not be allowed to work within our food system, for human or pets!
      Make sure 100% of your food is made in The USA. The only ingredient you will find that is common in both human and pet food is Vitamin E, unfortunately it is ALL made in China!
      Guess I am back to making my pets food………..Damn!!


    • if the article is read carefully it indicates that the manufacturers are using animals that were not gotten from food sources (farms), but are euthanized pets (from vets) being processed as food for our pets.


  12. I’ve fed my dogs Gravy Train dry for years and never have had any problems and my dogs thrive on it. I will continue to do so.
    However the problem seems to involve canned dog food (wet dog food) which I do not use. If I did I would be cautious in feeding it to my animals until I see how Smuckers Corp. and the FDA handle this situation


    • Patrick, you may want to reconsider that for two reasons:

      1.) Your dog may not become immediate ill of the effects of sodium pentobarbital but over time no one can say for certain what the long-term effects of consuming that toxic ingredient may be.

      2.) I would never be so careless as to assume that it is not in other Big Heart Brands products (including the dry dog food) considering their complete and utter failure at quality control methods and good amnufacturing practices.

      Also, I would not put my faith in Smucker’s on how they will “handle” the situation because it will undoubtedly be to do what most businesses do in situations like these: protect their own interests and deflect all blame to their suppliers – guaranteed. If I am wrong I will promptly apologize – to you and Smucker’s.


      • Please people use common sense. The concentration is minute as far as I can find the highest dose found was 5 micrograms of the stuff per serving of dog food. Its a sedative, which will have 0 affect on youre animals at their exposure. Also you loosely use the term toxin. I would call a toxin something that damages living tissue after a single or chronic exposure.


        • The point is the ONLY way pentobarbital gets in the supply stream is because of an utter failure on the part of the manufacturer.

          The only source of pentobarbital contaminated product is from euthanized animals – typically pets.

          Also, it is illegal to use animals that have died otherwise than by slaughter in any food.

          You entirely missed the point.


        • I don’t know how you got your figures. Think of this in the terms of lead poisoning. If a child eats one piece of lead paint the size of a dime just once it won’t hurt them. If a child eats that amount every day it builds up in their system and depending on how long or how much (since lead paint is sweet they may eat more) they will have health problems .I doubt each can has the exact same amount, it is like playing Russian Roulette with you dog’s health. Tell the people whose dogs died from it that they don’t have common sense. I think they are the ones that have common sense. By the way I used to buy Milo chicken for my dog. I even wrote them to be sure the product was safe. They assured me what high standards they had and a few months later it was taken off the market. It has since come back but I never consider buying it.


          • I think he’s a shill for one of the pet food companies. I wouldn’t take his words seriously. I didn’t.

            You made your point, particularly with regards to Evanger’s chunks of beef (horse) meat. The product was not homogenized and that’s why some dogs got sicker than others – depending on which poisonous chunk they got.

            However, we do not know the cumulative effects of pentobarbital in animals (or humans for that matter).

            But that really isn’t the point.

            First, pentobarbital is illegal in any amount (even PPB) in food.

            Second, the pentobarbital came from animals that have died otherwise than by slaughter.

            Third, livestock is never euthanized (it’s against the law).

            Fourth, the only source is euthanized pets (cats, dogs and/or horses).

            Finding pentobarbital is the clue that points the finger in all those (terrible) directions. That’s what people need to think about. Not the immediate or long-term effects of trace amounts of the drug on the system but why pet food companies are using such revolting (and illegal) material?

    • Youre dog wont have any problems. The amount of phentobarbitol in the food is in the microgram range. Nowhere near the threshold for its affects to take place.


    • Patrick..It has been found in Milky Bones and other treats also. So it’s not just in canned foods.


  13. I am not in anyway affiliated with, but know the stringent audits and procedures used by JM Smuckers. They are one of the strictest in quality control and hold anyone affiliated with them to extremely high standards.

    Having said that, and being a dog owner, I fully want any issues that may harm ANY pet to be investigated and corrected.

    Let’s not jump to conclusions on an entire company based on individual incidents.


    • I don’t see any company can “hold anyone affiliated… to extremely high standards” and have no knowledge of this problem. That’s just not believable. And we’d have to do some thinking to decide who to assign the sleaze-factor award to, since Smuckers will pursue the same well-worn Blue Buffalo playbook of “blame the supplier!” I’m getting confused about who uses it more.


      • You’re preachin’ to the choir, Peter!

        Yup, that playbook page is gettin’ mighty well-worn these days. By golly, it seems to be the only one they can use until they can come up with a more creative way to deflect blame and accept responsibility.


      • True! Are they taking the companies word or doing their own audits. Big difference. If not doubt their own rthey can claim ignorance instead of being more responsible for what is in their product.
        If they are using horse meat I’m thinking about all the deworming drugs we use 😳


  14. Just lost many customers, been busted before for this! Buying euthanized pet carcasses for protein again. I would gladly tell everyone/ spread the word! How u operate a business!!



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