U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is alerting pet parents and veterinarians about potentially toxic levels of vitamin D in additional varieties of Hill’s canned dog food in an expanded recall.
Since the initial recall, the FDA has become aware of additional reports of vitamin D toxicity in dogs that ate certain canned dog foods manufactured by Hill’s Pet Nutrition and marketed under the Hill’s Science Diet and Hill’s Prescription Diet – other than the ones previously recalled.
After receiving reports of dogs exhibiting signs of vitamin D toxicosis after being fed Hill’s dog foods, the FDA requested that Hill’s test samples of foods it had produced that were not part of the original recall.
When Hill’s went back and tested the dog foods, they determined that there were additional products affected by “that vitamin premix, and it is for that reason that we are expanding the recall.”
Following the initial recall of the January 31st recall, Hill’s claims to have conducted a detailed and comprehensive analysis of “all canned dog foods potentially impacted by the vitamin premix with elevated levels of vitamin D.” The company’s review included: “analyzing consumer complaints; reviewing veterinarian medical consultations; auditing our supplier, and reviewing our own manufacturing and quality procedures.”
For pet parents and veterinarians, Hill’s hollow assurances are unlikely to inspire confidence and restore trust in a company that failed in their ability to identify and recall all of the pet foods that contained excess levels of vitamin D in them.
Hill’s claims that this last recall expansion is not due to any failure on their part, but it was “caused by the same vitamin premix received from a U.S. supplier that was the source of the January 31, 2019 recall.”
Hill’s, throughout these recalls, has consistently diverted their failure to ensure the safety of their pet food products by pointing to “irregularities” in their pet food on “a vitamin premix obtained from a supplier” – a supplier they refuse to name.
D IS FOR DEADLY
Hill’s, unfortunately, has never revealed the quantity of excess vitamin D found in their pet foods, which is particularly troublesome as there is a very narrow margin of safety with vitamin D, and elevated levels of it can lead to serious health issues. Dogs with excess vitamin D may vomit, have little appetite, drink and urinate more, drool excessively, and lose weight.
Depending on the concentration of vitamin D in the food, diet-related toxicity tends to develop more gradually over time. When consumed at very high levels, vitamin D can lead to life-threatening health issues in dogs, including renal dysfunction.
WHAT DOG PARENTS NEED TO DO
Pet parents with dogs who have consumed any of the recalled products and are exhibiting any of these signs should contact their veterinarian immediately. Veterinarians should also be aware that vitamin D toxicity may present as hypercalcemia, similar to dogs that have consumed rodenticide.
The FDA is telling pet parents to “take a picture of the pet food label, including the lot number. If your veterinarian suspects the food is the source of excess vitamin D, having the lot code helps the FDA identify exactly when the contamination occurred and what other products might also be affected. This can help prevent other dogs from getting sick.” It’s also helpful if you save the food in its original package, in case it’s needed for testing.
WHAT VETS SHOULD BE AWARE OF
The FDA reminds clinicians that vitamin D toxicity may present as hypercalcemia, hyperphosphatemia, and/or renal failure, adding “if you suspect that the pet food is the source of the excess vitamin D, we welcome case reports, especially those confirmed through diagnostics. We ask that you not tell the pet owner to discard the leftover food, but instead to retain it in a safe place and not feed it to their pet or any other animal.”
HILL’S REIMBURSEMENT PLAN
Hill’s has never made public its policy on compensation for the costs associated with the treatment of dogs affected by their foods. To discover what their plan might be I requested and received a letter (along with a couple of $10 coupons in case I was in the mood to buy Hill’s pet food) explaining the reimbursement process. In the letter, they explain the process of submitting an initial claim to the company:
“For all diagnostic testing and related office visit costs performed after the recall notice on January 31,2019, whether or not such findings are positive or negative, Hill’s will reimburse either you or your vet (depending on who submitted the claim), up to $500 (up to $250 for physical examination, bloodwork, and urine test and, if performed by your vet, up to $250 for a confirmatory vitamin D test) in an exchange for a release of from you that says you will not sue or otherwise pursue legal action against Hill’s. We have determined that this amount generally covers these type of expenses; if your testing and office visits are more expensive in your specific situation, please submit your expenses to be evaluated.”
In a separate letter sent to veterinarians March 20, 2019, Hill’s said they would pay to screen affected pets for hypervitaminosis D (or vitamin D toxicosis). For pets with elevated vitamin D levels, Hill’s promises to pay for continued tests until they return to normal. “We will reimburse pet parents for medical treatment for an affected pet eating impacted food,” the company promised. Details outlining the conditions of this promise have never been made public.
WHY REPORTING PROBLEMS MATTERS
It bears repeating that these recalls were prompted by consumers who reported problems to the FDA. It was with the cooperation between the agency, the consumer, and the veterinarian – that helped the FDA identify when the contamination occurred and what other products might also be affected. These reports prevent other dogs from getting sick.
The FDA is urging consumers and veterinarians alike to report any adverse effects with any of Hill’s pet foods to them as this is an on-going and developing situation. The FDA welcomes case reports, especially those confirmed through diagnostics. You can submit these reports electronically through the Safety Reporting Portal or by calling your state’s FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinators. For an explanation of the information and level of detail that would be helpful to include in a complaint to the FDA, please see How to Report a Pet Food Complaint.
A GLOBAL PROBLEM
Hill’s Pet Nutrition recalls are impacting pet parents around the world. eFoodAlert has a country-by-country breakdown of Hill’s products recalled due to elevated levels of Vitamin D as of March 21st, with information gleaned from Hill’s websites, several government recall sites, and the European Union’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed.
The following updated and expanded recall lists cover the U.S. and Canadian Markets only. Items marked in bold face type with a * are new products that were added to the list on March 20, 2019.
|Product Name||SKU Number||Date Code / Lot Code|
|*Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care with Lamb Canned Dog Food, 13oz, 12-pack||*2697||*102020T25|
|*Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight Chicken & Vegetable Entrée dog food 12 x 12.8oz cans||*2975||*092020T28|
|*Hill’s Prescription Diet c/d Multicare Urinary Care Chicken & Vegetable Stew Canned Dog Food, 5.5oz, 24-pack||*3388||*102020T18|
|*Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d Low Fat Canine Rice, Vegetable & Chicken Stew 24 x 5.5oz cans||*3391||*092020T27|
|*Hill’s Prescription Diet r/d Canine 12 x 12.3oz cans||*7014||*092020T28
|*Hill’s Science Diet Adult Beef & Barley Entrée Canned Dog Food, 13oz, 12-pack||*7039||*092020T31
|*Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Healthy Cuisine Roasted Chicken, Carrots & Spinach Stew dog food 12 x 12.5oz cans||*10449||*092020T28|
|*Hill’s® Science Diet Healthy Cuisine Adult Braised Beef, Carrots & Peas Stew Canned Dog Food, 12.5oz, 12-pack||*10451||*102020T28|
|Hill’s Prescription Diet c/d Multicare Urinary Care Chicken & Vegetable Stew Canned Dog Food, 12.5 oz, 12-pack||3384||*092020T29
|Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care Chicken & Vegetable Stew Canned Dog Food, 12.5 oz, 12-pack||3389||*092020T28
|Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d Canine Chicken & Vegetable Stew 5.5oz||3390||102020T11
|Hill’s Prescription Diet g/d Aging Care Turkey Flavor Canned Dog Food, 13 oz, 12-pack||7006||*092020T22
|Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care with Turkey Canned Dog Food, 13 oz, 12-pack||7008||*092020T21
|Hill’s Prescription Diet w/d Digestive/Weight/Glucose Management with Chicken Canned Dog Food, 13 oz, 12-pack||7017||*102020T24
|Hill’s Science Diet Adult Chicken & Barley Entrée Canned Dog Food, 13 oz, 12-pack||7037||*092020T22
|Hill’s Science Diet Adult Chicken & Beef Entrée Canned Dog Food, 13 oz, 12-pack||7040||*112020T10
|Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Beef & Barley Entrée Canned Dog Food, 13 oz, 12-pack||7056||*102020T28
|Hill’s Prescription Diet w/d Digestive/Weight/Glucose Management Vegetable & Chicken Stew Canned Dog Food, 12.5 oz, 12-pack||10129||*112020T11
|Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d Low Fat Digestive Care Rice, Vegetable & Chicken Stew Canned Dog Food, 12.5 oz, 12-pack||10423||*092020T27
|Hill’s Science Diet Healthy Cuisine Adult 7+ Braised Beef, Carrots & Peas Stew Canned Dog Food, 12.5 oz, 12-pack||10452||*102020T28
|Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Canine 5.5 oz||5403||102020T17
|Hill’s Prescription Diet j/d Canine 13 oz||7009||112020T20|
|Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Canine 13 oz||7010||102020T10
|Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Canine 13 oz||7018||102020T04
|Hill’s Prescription Diet Metabolic + Mobility Canine Vegetable & Tuna Stew 12.5 oz||10086||102020T05
|Hill’s Prescription Diet Derm Defense Canine Chicken & Vegetable Stew 12.5 oz||10509||102020T05|
|Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Small & Toy Breed Chicken & Barley Entrée Dog Food 5.8 oz||4969||102020T18|
|Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Chicken & Barley Entrée 13 oz||7036||102020T12|
|Hill’s Science Diet Adult Turkey & Barley Dog Food 13oz||7038||102020T06|
|Hill’s Science Diet Adult Light with Liver Dog Food 13oz||7048||112020T19|
|Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Chicken & Barley Entrée Dog Food 13oz||7055||092020T31
|Hill’s Science Diet® Adult 7+ Turkey & Barley Entrée 13oz||7057||112020T19|
|Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Youthful Vitality Chicken & Vegetable Stew dog food 12.5oz||10763||102020T04
Consumers seeking further information should contact Hill’s Pet Nutrition Inc. at 800-445-5777 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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