Evanger’s to Expand Pet Food Recall Amid Horse Meat and Deadly Drug Concerns; Blames Supplier and FDA for Problems

Evanger’s admits to finding horse DNA in its Hunk of Beef pet food in a letter sent to customers Tuesday. The company also has plans to recall all of its Hunk of Beef, Braised Beef Chunks with Gravy and Against the Grain Beef pet foods. A formal recall announcement will be issued later this week.


Suspicious of how pentobarbital made it into their meat supply, Evanger’s sent the pet food out for genetic species analysis, and admitted in a letter sent to customers yesterday (see below), that they were “dismayed by the results which showed positive for equine DNA and beef DNA,” despite an earlier statement by the FDA that testing of Evanger’s Hunk of Beef dog food by USDA-FSIS confirmed the meat used in the product was beef.


Evanger’s said they were “extraordinarily angered” by the discovery of horse meat in their pet food because they felt they had been deceived by their longstanding supplier.

Remarkable, considering that during the course an FDA investigation of Evanger’s, the agency discovered a bill of lading from the supplier, which listed the meat as “Inedible Hand Deboned Beef – For Pet Food Use Only. Not Fit For Human Consumption.


Based on Evanger’s recent discovery of horse meat and pentobarbital in their pet food and because of their general “distrust of their supplier,” Evanger’s indicated the recall could expand to include all products containing chunk beef, “out of an abundance of caution.” The letter also mentioned plans to recall “all of its Hunk of Beef, Braised Beef Chunks with Gravy, and Against the Grain Braised Beef” pet foods.

The letter explained any pending recall will not involve any of their other “100 products“, of which Evanger’s claims “all tested negative for pentobarbital.

A remarkable assurance considering FDA inspectors were unable to determine from Evanger’s own company records whether any of the beef that was used in the recalled Evanger’s and Against the Grain pet food was also used in any of their other 100 products.


In what Evanger’s describes as an unfortunate and “avoidable episode,” because they placed their complete faith and trust in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and “relied on regulators to make sure we’re receiving raw materials that are free from adulterants,” they say they are on a mission to prevent this from happening to other pet food companies by taking “a proactive and vocal lead in a national campaign to ensure new regulations are created.” Adding “there should have been a zero tolerance policy for pentobarbital.

In an earlier statement, the owners of Evanger’s vowed to take it upon ourselves to “lead the campaign to force the FDA to put an end to allowing drugs like pentobarbital to enter the raw material stream and contaminate our pets’ food and endanger their lives.


In an unusual step, the FDA cautioned the public on Friday not to feed the recalled Evanger’s and Against the Grain pet food products to their pets. In conjunction with the advisory, FDA released two inspection reports which detailed grisly conditions found by the agency’s inspectors during visits to Evanger’s production facility in Wheeling, IL, and to the facility belonging to Nutripack in Markham, IL.


After expressing deep disappointment, in the letter, about their supplier, Evanger’s claims they will now begin “testing all inbound beef materials for pentobarbital before it is released for use in our products.

At the time of this writing, Evanger’s has posted no further updates on their website regarding the discovery of horse meat in their pet food or the expanded recall. Full details are expected to be released by Evanger’s sometime this week.


Evanger’s reliance on regulators to assure their raw materials were free from adulterants was a foolish and irresponsible practice. The episode was entirely avoidable, not due to FDA lack of rules as Evanger’s claims, but for Evanger’s negligence and incompetence. Despite all evidence to the contrary Evanger’s continues to insist that their meat supplier was indeed USDA inspected. This, despite during the FDA investigation of Evanger’s, inspectors discovered that the meat was not inspected by the USDA (as Evanger’s still insists) and the discovery of a bill of lading from Evanger’s supplier which listed the meat as “Inedible” and “Not Fit For Human Consumption.


In an article on Food Safety News today about Evanger’s latest scandal, an FDA spokesperson was quoted as saying:

“It is the responsibility of the animal protein ingredient suppliers to implement practices at their facilities to ensure that euthanized animals are either not accepted at the facility, or to determine how they died and ensure euthanized animals are segregated from animal protein going for animal food use.

Further, it is the responsibility of the pet food manufacturer to ensure that the food they produce is safe for consumption and properly labeled. One way that a manufacturer can do this is by taking steps to verify the identity and safety of the ingredients they receive from their suppliers.”

Evanger’s did neither, and foolishly expected or assumed that someone, other than themselves, would ensure the safety of their products. In a separate statement posted on Sunday, Evanger’s sharply denied any responsibility:

“The guilty party has turned out to be one of our most trusted meat suppliers. A USDA-APHIS inspected supplier who we had done business with for over 40 years, and whose plant we had visited numerous times over the years.”

Remarkable, considering the current owners of Evanger’s only bought the business 15 years ago, who 40 years ago were only 21 and 19 years old when presumably they began doing business with their meat supplier.

Other than their inability to assume any responsibility and their continual blame for their misfortunes on everyone but themselves, and their complete and utter failure to assure the safety of products, is that Evanger’s incompetence put hundreds of thousands of pets at risk.


The agency continues to encourage consumers to report problems with Evanger’s products through the Safety Reporting Portal or by contacting a Consumer Complaint Coordinator. Additional information is available on the FDA web page, How to Report a Pet Food Complaint.

Evanger-letter-to-retailers-2.21.2017-pet food recall

(Letter from Evanger’s to their customers dated February 21, 2017)

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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.