J. M. Smucker confirms there is a euthanasia drug in the animal fat they used in their dog food brands Gravy Train, Kibbles & Bits, Ol’ Roy and Skippy, according to an FDA news report. Since the verification of tests on the affected dog food, the agency reclassified Smucker’s silent withdrawal to an official recall.
The agency is telling consumers that they are continuing their investigation and that they have, “collected finished product samples for testing that is currently pending.”
According to an update from Smucker’s Friday, the company claims that pentobarbital-laced animal fat was sourced from either a cow, a chicken or a pig, “which are common sources in pet food.” They also claim that “DNA tests ruled out the presence of six other animals: cats, dogs, horses, lambs, goats, and turkeys.”
I don’t know what planet Smucker’s is on, but in the United States, it is illegal to slaughter livestock with drugs. There are only four methods of slaughter allowed, and that is by carbon dioxide, captive bolt, gunshot, and stunning or slaughtering with electric current.
And just because cows, chickens, and pigs are “common sources in pet food,” it does not mean they can have sodium pentobarbital in them.
IT ALL STARTED WITH A PUG NAMED TALULA
When Talula, an adorable pug owned by Nikki Mael, died after eating Evanger’s pentobarbital-laced dog food, ABC7 News decided to test popular brands of pet food for the same drug. What they found stunned them: Gravy Train, the iconic brand of American dog food, “repeatedly came back positive for pentobarbital,” ABC7 News wrote.
When Smucker’s got wind of the story, they quietly began what’s known as a “silent recall.” It’s a sneaky, underhanded way of making a contaminated pet food vanish from store shelves without consumers or the government knowing about it.
But, fortunately, when the FDA got wind of it, they began alerting pet parents about the potential pentobarbital contamination. While testing was pending, the FDA, agreed to let Smucker’s, “withdraw products from the marketplace because it was the quickest way to remove potentially adulterated product.”
WHAT IS A SILENT RECALL?
When Smucker’s was notified by ABC7 of the drug-laced Gravy Train canned dog food, the company started a “silent recall.” Although Smucker’s eventually posted a notice on their corporate website, because Smucker’s did not issue a press release, the FDA was under no obligation to withdraw of Smucker’s tainted product.
However, in this case, the agency took the unusual step of warning consumers about the contaminated products.
At this point, the agency’s preliminary evaluation of the test results shows that “the low level of pentobarbital present in the withdrawn products is unlikely to pose a health risk to pets,” which classifies the product as one with the lowest level of hazard involved: a Class III Recall.
The list of withdrawn products the firm provided to the FDA include:
- Gravy Train with T-Bone Flavor Chunks, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 7910052541
- Gravy Train with Beef Strips, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 791052542
- Gravy Train with Lamb & Rice Chunks, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 7910052543
- Gravy Train with Chicken Chunks, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 7910034418
- Gravy Train with Beef Chunks, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 7910034417
- Gravy Train with Chicken Chunks, 22-ounce can, UPC 7910051645
- Gravy Train with Beef Chunks, 22-ounce can, UPC 7910051647
- Gravy Train Chunks in Gravy with Beef Chunks, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 7910034417
- Kibbles ‘N Bits 12-can Variety Pack – Chef’s Choice American Grill Burger Dinner with Real Bacon & Cheese Bits in Gravy, Chef’s Choice Bistro Tender Cuts with Real Turkey Bacon & Vegetables in Gravy, 12 pack of 13.2-ounce cans, UPC 7910010377, 7910010378
- Kibbles ‘N Bits 12-Can Variety Pack – Chef’s Choice Bistro Hearty Cuts with Real Beef, Chicken & Vegetables in Gravy, Chef’s Choice Homestyle Meatballs & Pasta Dinner with Real Beef in Tomato Sauce, 12 pack of 13.2-ounce cans, UPC 7910010382, 7910048367, 7910010378
- Kibbles ‘N Bits 12-Can Variety Pack – Chef’s Choice Homestyle Tender Slices with Real Beef, Chicken & Vegetables in Gravy, Chef’s Choice American Grill Burger Dinner with Real Bacon & Cheese Bits in Gravy, Chef’s Choice Bistro Tender Cuts with Real Beef & Vegetables in Gravy, 12 pack of 13.2-ounce cans, UPC 7910010380, 7910010377, 7910010375
- Kibbles ‘N Bits Chef’s Choice Bistro Tender Cuts with Real Beef & Vegetables in Gravy, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 7910010375
- Kibbles ‘N Bits Chef’s Choice Bistro Tender Cuts with Real Turkey, Bacon & Vegetables in Gravy, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 7910010378
- Kibbles ‘N Bits Chef’s Choice Homestyle Tender Slices with Real Beef, Chicken & Vegetables in Gravy, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 7910010380
- Ol’ Roy Strips Turkey Bacon, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 8113117570
- Skippy Premium Chunks in Gravy Chunky Stew, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 79100502469
- Skippy Premium Chunks in Gravy with Beef, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 7910050250
- Skippy Premium Strips in Gravy with Beef, 13.2-ounce can, UPC 7910050245
The withdrawn products were distributed to retailers nationwide.
Just so you know, there is a bit of a mixup as to which products are being withdrawn from the market, because the list on the FDA website doesn’t jive with the information Food Safety News obtained directly from the company. FDA has not yet resolved this discrepancy, an agency spokesperson reported to Food Safety News.
Because of the mixup, the agency is requesting Smucker’s for “a comprehensive list of withdrawn products, regardless of when they were produced.” The agency promises to share more information as it becomes available.
WHAT BURNS ME UP
You’d think that a mega-manufacturer of some of America’s best-known brands would be concerned about their customers, particularly those with pets, but, judging by their less-than-fabulous response, it doesn’t appear that they do.
Had Smucker’s issued a press release, told the FDA that they found pentobarbital in their product, put a notice on their consumer website, they would have been doing what any thoughtful, responsible company would do.
Instead, they hid their problems by quietly removing their contaminated products from stores and took down their Big Heart Pet Brand website. In fact, when you try going to Big Heart Pet Brand’s website for information, you’ll be immediately redirected to Smucker’s corporate website.
Perhaps you should carefully consider their actions before buying any one of Smucker’s owned products for you or your pet.
I certainly will.
In case you’re wondering what other brands Smucker’s owned Big Heart Brands, I’ve got a list for you:
Meow Mix, Milk-Bone, Kibbles’n Bits, 9 Lives, Natural Balance, Pup-Peroni, Gravy Train, Nature’s Recipe, Canine Carry Outs, Milo’s Kitchen, Alley Cat, Jerky Treats, Meaty Bone, Pounce and Snausages among many others.
But don’t try going to their website to get information about their brands, because their website doesn’t exist anymore. So, what does that tell you?
Consumers who purchased the impacted product can call the Company at 800-828-9980, Monday through Friday 9 pm – 5 pm EST, or email them at http://www.bigheartpet.com/Contact/ContactUs.aspx with any questions, concerns, or for a refund or replacement product.
REPORTING PET FOOD COMPLAINTS
If you believe your pet has become ill from consuming a pet food, please provide the FDA with valuable information by reporting it electronically through their Safety Reporting Portal or to your local FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator. In addition to your contact information, your pet’s symptoms, and medical records, and the lot number of the pet food product. If you think the food is the source of a problem, save a sample. Depending on the type of testing you want, your state agricultural or veterinary diagnostic lab may conduct the testing. If you need more help, find out how to report a pet food complaint to the FDA.
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