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.

Comments (14) Write a comment

  1. Pingback: FDA Answers Questions About Evanger's, Updates Expanded Recall While Speculation Swirls Over Horse Meat Discovery - Poisoned Pets | A look inside the pet food industry

  2. I was in town a few days ago, Feb 25, and found Hunk of Beef on shelves of the stores that carry Evanger’s pet food. The 3 Best by dates were: May, June and July 2020. When they wrote their letter above on Feb 21 stating they were going to recall “all” of their Hunk of Beef, I assumed they meant ALL, (not just certain lot numbers). Is this true? I would think by now the stores would have been notified to pull the cans. Is it up to the public to convince the store managers that they need to pull their products? I spoke to the checkers at the stores, but these young folks don’t even know what Pentobarbitol is. I might as well be on Mars.


  3. I have a can of the Hunk of Beef, with an expiration date of September, 2019. What now? Do I send it back for a refund?


  4. Several key words in your essay: “foolish,” “irresponsible,” “entirely avoidable,” “negligence,” and “incompetence.” Consumers, whose pets have been endangered, need to take it upon themselves to ensure that this company is run out of business: there is ample evidence to support expectation that Evanger’s will continue its “business as usual.”


  5. Further proof that paying exorbitant amounts of money for pet food is often not only unnecessary, but counterproductive. Companies like Evangers are in business because of misinformed beliefs that are pervasive about not only what is necessary and wholesome for pets to eat, but also what is necessary and wholesome or people to eat. Adequately nutritious and expensive are not interchangeable descriptors.


  6. Reading this is definitely a “Whaaa?” moment that defies reality. The Shers are the masters of discombobulation.

    The honorable thing for them to say to their “loyal pet parents” would be, “We are sorry that we deceived our customers and now take full responsibility for our actions. We are sorry that we blamed the FDA. We are sorry that we blamed our supplier. And sorry that we have not done inbound testing to check for adulterants. We are sorry about being pathological liars. And most of all, we are especially sorry about the death of an innocent dog that died as a result of our incompetence.”


  7. Perhaps this would be avoided altogether if the FDA didnt turn the other cheek to BIG pet food producers using inferior ingredients, which allows Pentobarbitol to show up in dry foods, thus giving suppliers the “go ahead” to sneak things like horse meat out to unsuspecting food manufacturers. It’s all about the bottom line. And inflammatory articles like this one. Many pet food companies test for pathogens and a FEW test for DNA. Most don’t test for pento, or at least I’ve never seen it on a list of tests…typically listeria, salmonella, and so on. I would LOVE to know the name of this supplier AND the list of OTHER foods impacted by this tainted meat. Give me that information and maybe I’ll have some respect for your research.


    • First of all, the FDA is NOT responsible for Evanger’s problems. I think it would be wise if you familiarized yourself with the law, which states in Title 21 of the U.S. Code § 342 the definition of an adulterated food:
      A food shall be deemed to be adulterated—
      (a) Poisonous, insanitary, etc., ingredients
      (1) If it bears or contains any poisonous or deleterious substance which may render it injurious to health; but in case the substance is not an added substance such food shall not be considered adulterated under this clause if the quantity of such substance in such food does not ordinarily render it injurious to health.[1] (2)(A) if it bears or contains any added poisonous or added deleterious substance (other than a substance that is a pesticide chemical residue in or on a raw agricultural commodity or processed food, a food additive, a color additive, or a new animal drug) that is unsafe within the meaning of section 346 of this title; or (B) if it bears or contains a pesticide chemical residue that is unsafe within the meaning of section 346a(a) of this title; or (C) if it is or if it bears or contains (i) any food additive that is unsafe within the meaning of section 348 of this title; or (ii) a new animal drug (or conversion product thereof) that is unsafe within the meaning of section 360b of this title; or (3) if it consists in whole or in part of any filthy, putrid, or decomposed substance, or if it is otherwise unfit for food; or (4) if it has been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby it may have become contaminated with filth, or whereby it may have been rendered injurious to health; or (5) if it is, in whole or in part, the product of a diseased animal or of an animal which has died otherwise than by slaughter; or (6) if its container is composed, in whole or in part, of any poisonous or deleterious substance which may render the contents injurious to health…

      Evangers pet food clearly was adulterated. That said when the FDA tested some dry pet foods in 1998 it found pentobarbital in such minute amounts they deemed it not to be health risk to pets. FDA guidance documents allow for animals that have died otherwise than by slaughter but not if it should render the product injurious to the health of an animal. Remember, a guidance document is not a law.

      This article is not meant to be “inflammatory,” it states the facts as outlined in Evanger’s statements to the public. Like you, Evanger’s has tried to evade responsibility by pointing the finger at their supplier and at the FDA. This article is about Evanger’s and no one else. The supplier and the federal government are not on trial – Evanger’s is. Remember, had it not been for the hard work and diligence of the FDA this never would have come to light.

      Let’s keep the focus where it belongs – on Evanger’s.


      • I am continually amazed, at the use of alternate facts, diffusion, and frankly, open deception in the vigorous defense of this company, by certain consumers. Faced with reporting of this credentialed Food Safety Advocate about historic timelines, quoted statements from both the manufacturer and federal regulatory officials, reproduction of official investigative documents, information regarding open violations of FTC regs regarding false advertising… after a point… I just don’t get that.


        • I believe they actually work for Evanger’s. Either that or they are just plain gullible. Either way – it’s sad. Hopefully, consumers will not be swayed by Evanger’s alternative facts.



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