Nasty-Ass Conditions Reported at Kasel Industries Pet Treat Plant

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The Food and Drug Administration released the inspection report of the Kasel Industries pet treat plant in September, revealing shocking conditions. Among the Agency’s gag-worthy observations were rodent poop, a dead mouse, cockroaches running wild, beetles, worm-like insects galore, food and grease caked equipment, dirty old cardboard boxes used to hold product, were just a few of grisly discoveries mentioned in the report. The Agency’s nine page report lists in excruciating detail just what they found inside the largest pet treat manufacturer in the United States.

In a scathing letter sent to Kasel following the inspection, it stated that “during FDA’s inspection, our investigators observed serious problems with sanitation, cleanliness, and record-keeping practices”. In particular, “investigators observed dirty surfaces, filth and product build-up on food-contact surfaces and equipment in the facility” adding, that because of the state of the facility “that there is a reasonable probability of that finished product causing serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals.”

In addition to the sickening discoveries at the plant, FDA inspectors recovered Salmonella from all of the finished pet treat product samples collected during its inspection, as well as from 2 out of the 3 bulk pet treat product samples and 48 of 87 environmental swab samples. It’s important to realize that some of the Salmonella-positive swab samples were taken from food contact surfaces.

In all, the Agency found 14 different strains of Salmonella; the same serotypes recovered from pet treat products made on June 19, 2012 matched those from September 19, 2012, suggesting an ongoing contamination problem at Kasel Industries. According to the FDA, “Given the typically uneven distribution of Salmonella in articles of food, the fact that all of the finished product samples collected were positive indicates a pervasive level of Salmonella contamination.”

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The gruesome details

The first observation by FDA inspectors was that Kasel Industries showed a “failure to conduct cleaning and sanitizing operations for utensils and equipment in a manner that protects against contamination of food, food–contact surfaces, and food-packaging materials.” Ew, that’s nasty.

  • There was food and grease debris build-up underneath and on both sides of the conveyor belts packing lines, on the hoppers used to convey finished pet treats, on the metal pans (used as holders for pet treat packaging), and on bulk metal crates (used to hold finished pet treats before packaging) were also found caked with food and grease build-up .
  • Finished un-packaged bulk pet treats was stored in torn, grease-laden, and reused cardboard totes.
  • Wooden pallets used to store bulk bins of un-packaged pet treats have a build-up of food debris and grease. The pallets are also broken, shredded, splintering and have many loose nails. Additionally, these pallets were stacked on top of other bulk bins of finished pet treats so that the bottom of the wooden pallet was in direct contact with the finished pet treats underneath.
  • Finished un-packaged pet treats was stored in non-cleanable super tote bags that were reused and fraying.
  • A floor fan with accumulated dust and grease was observed blowing onto uncovered bulk bins of un-packaged pet treats.
  • There was finished pet treats stored in white plastic garbage cans that had dried food accumulation and visible grease buildup.
  • In the drying room the metal drying racks used to hold finished pet treats had cooked on grease accumulated, and had multiple food encrusted strings tied on it. Can I throw up now, please?

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That’s not all, it gets worse

  • Effective measures are not being taken to exclude pests from the processing areas and protect against the contamination of food on the premises by pests. Specifically, the Agency observed evidence infestation throughout the plant, including the following:
  • Apparent larvae-like insects were observed in the floor-drain.
  • Worm-like insects were observed on the floor near a pallet of finished bones stored in uncovered bulk bins.
  • Moth-like flying insects were observed in multiple areas throughout the facility including one live moth trapped a plastic wrapped shipment of packaged chicken jerky!
  • Cockroach-like insects were observed throughout the facility.
  • Large flies observed throughout facility, some dead, some still alive on finished pig’s ears, for example.
  • One dead mouse on the floor under a pallet of pig ears. Nasty!
  • And with rodents comes poop: rodent excreta pellets found throughout the facility, including a nest found in the bulk storage room. Now, that is sick.
  • Beetle-like insects were observed, including larvae too numerous to count and live beetle-like insects on top of a tote of finished beef knuckles. Gag me with a spoon!

Two friends

But wait! There’s more

  • Failure to take effective measures protect against the inclusion of metal and extraneous material in food. Specifically, the Agency observed foreign objects in finished product and failure to control against contamination by during the inspection.
  • The firm did not have a functioning metal detector on the packaging lines.
  • Metal hook-like objects were observed protruding from bully sticks stored in a cardboard bulk-tote.
  • Wooden pallets with chipping wood and loose nails were stored directly on top of uncovered bulk bins of finished product.
  • Metal fragments were observed in direct contact with chicken chips on drying racks.

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There’s more?

  • ‘Fraid so. Kasel showed a failure to take effective measures to protect finished food from contamination by raw materials. Specifically:
  • Plastic tubs were used in both the raw production finished product packaging areas to hold product. No system was place differentiate which be for purpose. Ew!
  • There is no dedicated washing equipment and no system set up to wash, rinse and sanitize the plastic tubs.
  • Cross-contamination via pallet jacks, forklifts, and employee foot traffic were observed traveling between the “raw” and “finished” areas of plant.

Don’t tell me, there can’t be

  • Failure to store finished food under conditions that would protect against physical and microbial contamination.
  • Finished product was stored in unlined wire bulk crates and observed direct contact with the floor.
  • Finished product was stored uncovered in bulk bins.

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Not again. Please

  • The Agency observed unfinished food products handled in a manner that may contaminate the during inspection.
  • The floor sanitizer foam sprayer located between the garbage loading dock and ovens sprayed onto an uncovered bulk pallet of frozen chicken chips. Label on chemical states is unfit for human or pet consumption. OMG, that just isn’t right.
  • An uncovered pallet of frozen chicken was stored on the loading dock while employees loaded a truck with door open.


Stop it, you’re killing me

  • Failure to maintain buildings, fixtures, and physical facilities in repair sufficient to prevent food from becoming adulterated. Specifically, the Agency observed the following areas of physical building to be in disrepair:
  • The floors were not sealed, maintained smooth and cleanable, allowing for the accumulation of grease in cracks exposed aggregate concrete. Floors also had visible chipping paint.
  • The ceiling tiles were missing, broken, taped, and swollen above the filling lines throughout (There! I fixed it! Repair)
  • Peeling paint on walls where bulk bins of finished product were stored.
  • Leaking pipe wrapped in plastic wrap (classic Redneck repair).
  • The firm’s only hand wash sink in the was leaking drainage water onto floor. Also, both sinks were not functioning and being used for storing other materials. Icky-poo!


Lord have mercy, I can’t take any more

  • Employees did not wash and sanitize hands thoroughly in an adequate hand-washing facility after each absence from the work station and at any time their hands may have become soiled or contaminated. Blech. Specifically, the Agency observed the following missed hand washing opportunities during the inspection:
  • At least two employees were not observed washing their hands as required after leaving the restroom and donning gloves to begin work at the finished product packaging line. That is flat-out disgusting.
  • At least five employees were observed leaving the employee break room and not washing their hands before donning gloves returning to work on finished product packaging line. Nasty.
  • At least one employee was observed picking up food off of the ground (while wearing gloves) and not washing her hands after removing gloves donning new one. Noooo.

I’m sorry, but, not only do I feel like I’m on the verge of barfing, I am speechless. Temporarily anyway. That is straight-up one of the nastiest inspection reports I have ever read. As Phyllis Entis of eFoodAlert observed, “Is it any wonder that Salmonella ran rampant throughout this facility?

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Shouldn’t what’s good for Kasel be good for China?

While Kasel gets the shaft, Chinese manufacturers on the other hand, of some of the very same type of pet treats, get treated by the FDA with kid gloves. FDA inspectors, when visiting the Chinese pet treat plants, were not allowed to test a single treat, nor were they allowed to test the environment for contaminants. In fact, unlike Kasel’s surprise inspections, the Chinese were sent a formal request for a visit from US inspectors a full month before they ever showed up giving the Chinese ample time to make sure everything was ship-shape and in spanking-clean apple pie order.

Further, why weren’t the Chinese manufacturer’s required by the FDA to issue product recall notifications, as U.S. manufacturers are, when illegal drug residues were found in their treats?

While virtually every single brand of pet treat Kasel makes is being unceremoniously yanked off store shelves, pet treats of Chinese origin on the other hand manufactured at the same time and location as the drug-laced Chinese poultry pet treats discovered by NY State Department of Agriculture for illegal drug residue, languish on store shelves in America today.

recall my ass

Kasel recall timeline

On September 10, 2012, samples of a Kasel dog treat product tested by the Colorado Department of Agriculture collected during routine inspection of Kasel’s plant were confirmed positive for Salmonella.

On September 14, 2012, 4 of the seven retail samples collected by the Colorado Department of Agriculture were confirmed positive for Salmonella for products manufactured in April, June and September 2012.

During September 19-28, 2012, a FDA follow-up inspection at the firm found certain finished dog treat products and 34 out of 72 environmental samples positive for Salmonella. See complete inspection report here.

On September 21, 2012, Kasel recalls Boots & Barkley American Beef Bully sticks. The recall was the result of a routine sampling by the State of Colorado Department of Agriculture which revealed that the finished products contained the Salmonella bacteria.

On October 2, 2012, Kasel recalled one lot of its Nature’s Deli Chicken Jerky Dog Treats. The recall was the result of a routine sampling by the FDA that revealed finished products contained the Salmonella bacteria.

October 16, 2012, Colorado State Department of Agriculture informed Kasel that two additional products tested positive for Salmonella.

In October 17, 2012, Kasel recalls Boots & Barkley Roasted American Pig Ears And Boots & Barkley American Variety Pack Dog Treats

On November 19, 2012, a retail sample of Nature’s Deli Chicken Jerky Dog Treats taken by the Colorado Department of Agriculture tested positive for Salmonella.

On December 6, 2012, Kasel declines voluntary recall and FDA issues press release: FDA warns consumers not to feed certain Nature’s Deli Chicken Jerky Dog Treats.

On February 19, 2013, Kasel recalls all products manufactured at its Denver, Colorado facility from April 20, 2012 thru September 19, 2012.

On February 20, 2013, Nutri-Vet, LLC Recalls Nutri-Vet and Nutripet Chicken Jerky made by Kasel.

On February 21, 2013, Kasel Associates Industries Recalling Certain Pet Treats: Boots and Barkley, Colorado Naturals, Nature’s Deli among brands affected; The move comes after the Colorado Department of Agriculture tested a retail sample of a Kasel pet treat product and found it to be positive for Salmonella. Based on FDA’s follow-up inspection at the firm, FDA found that all of the finished pet treat product samples and 48 out of 87 environmental samples collected during the inspection tested positive for Salmonella. More than ten different species of Salmonella were found in the firm’s products and manufacturing facility, indicating multiple sources of contamination.

On February 27, 2013, FDA releases 18 page letter, Notification of Opportunity to Initiate a Voluntary Recall, hand-delivered to Kasel on February 13, 2012

What to do if your pet gets sick

Consumers can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food and pet treat products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in their area or by reporting through the Safety Reporting Portal. Information on reporting consumer complaints can be found on the FDA website.

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Read more about it on Poisoned Pets:
Kasel Gets Slammed While Drug Laced Pet Treats from China Get a Free Pass; February 26th 2013Kasel Recall Expands: More Dodgy Doggy Treats Recalled; February 22nd 2013
Nutri-Vet and Nutripet Chicken Jerky Treats Recalled for Salmonella Risk; February 22nd 2013
Dodgy Doggy Treats Recalled: Multiple Brands for Possible Salmonella Contamination; February 21st 2013
Pet Treat Company Refuses to Issue Recall for Nature’s Deli Chicken Jerky Dog Treats; December 6th 2012
RECALL: Boots & Barkley Roasted Pig Ears & Variety Pack Dog Treats for Salmonella Contamination; October 18th 2012
RECALL: Chicken jerky dog treats made in the USA; October 4th 2012
RECALL: Boots & Barkley Beef Bully Sticks for Salmonella contamination; September 23rd 2012

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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.

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