Evanger’s Expands Recall, Denies Pentobarbital Killed Dog

After much foot-dragging and prodding by the FDA, Evanger’s finally posted a press release March 3rd on the FDA’s website, regarding an expanded recall which includes all of their chuck-style canned dog foods due to possible contamination with a deadly drug, pentobarbital.

When the FDA became aware that Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food was notifying its distributors and retailers of a new recall without notifying consumers, despite a promise to the FDA to do so on February 20th, the FDA took it upon themselves to post the information March 2nd, in an update without Evanger’s cooperation.

Evanger’s latest press release was virtually a duplication of the letter sent to Evanger’s distributors which expanded to include all of its hand packed chunks of beef style canned pet foods due to possible contamination with pentobarbital.

The two previously recalled pet foods, Evanger’s canned Hunk of Beef and Against the Grain’s Grain Free Pulled Beef with Gravy canned dog foods, now included an additional recall for a third canned dog food called Evanger’s Braised Beef Chunks with Gravy.

The pentobarbital laced canned dog food was originally recalled after four Pugs became violently ill and one eventually had to be euthanized after the four dogs shared a portion of a single 12 oz. can of Evanger’s Hunk of Beef dog food, later found by the FDA to be contaminated with the deadly drug.

Oral exposure to pentobarbital can cause drowsiness, dizziness, excitement, loss of balance, nausea, nystagmus (eyes moving back and forth in a jerky manner), inability to stand, coma and death. Consumers who notice these symptoms in their pets should consult their veterinarian immediately.


In the latest press release, Evanger’s noted the recall affects only its “Hand Packed Beef Products,” specifically, the 12 oz. cans of dog foods that are being recalled have the following barcodes:

“The numbers listed below are the second half of the barcode, which can be found on the back of the product label:

  • Evanger’s: Hunk of Beef: 20109
  • Evanger’s: Braised Beef: 20107
  • Against the Grain: Pulled Beef: 80001

The three products being recalled were manufactured between December 2015 and January 2017, and have expiration dates of December 2019 through January 2021.”

Full details of the expanded recall of Evanger’s Pet Food and Against the Grain canned dog food due to adulteration with pentobarbital can viewed on the FDA’s website.

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.


In Evanger’s continued campaign to attempt to persuade the public of their innocence, described as an effort to be fully transparent with consumers, they published an update on February 3rd, in which a number of mostly unnamed canned dog foods from undisclosed lots tested negative for pentobarbital from an undisclosed laboratory. They explain:

“As promised, Evanger’s sent in many samples of its products for testing. The first batch of results were shared with us today. Due to the social media attention this topic has received, the third-party ISO 17025 accredited lab has respectfully requested to remain anonymous.”

Although they explain the samples sent for testing include its “Signature Series Slow Cooked Beef Stew, Grain Free Beef 6 oz, Classic Beef and Bacon, and a series of Hunk of Beef,” it is unclear from the document what the names of the other eight dog foods tested were as they were simply labelled only as “Dog food.”

The heavily redacted document, Evangers Pentobarbital test results, can be downloaded from their Pug family updates web page.


Throughout the Evanger scandal, in which the owners of Evanger’s continually deny responsibility, the most horrifying denial came to light during an interview in Pet Food Industry Magazine over the issue regarding the Pug that died after being fed Evanger’s pentobarbital laced dog food. In it, Joel Sher, the vice-president of Evanger’s, noted that “the adulterated pet food didn’t technically kill the Pug“:

“The one that didn’t survive was a 13- or 14-year-old Pug that had some health issues,” said Sher. “The decision was made to euthanize the fourth Pug.”

Normally, I don’t editorialize what my personal feelings are, but in this instance, I am compelled to make an exception. The statement by Joel Sher is the most despicable denial Evanger’s has made to date. It is utterly astonishing to me how his denial is so complete that he is unable to admit that it was his company’s contaminated dog food that was directly responsible for the death of that poor dog.

More than that, that he would be insensitive enough to make such a damning admission public – knowing his pet food tested positive for a lethal drug – is beyond all comprehension. Therefore, it is my belief that this company is devoid of all humanity and has no place being in the pet food industry.


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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.