More than a week after the horrifying revelation that sodium pentobarbital – a drug used to euthanize pets – was found in four brands of Big Heart Pet Food Brand’s canned dog foods and treats, Smucker’s finally issues a press release today.
The notice, which appears today on Smucker’s corporate website, lists additional lots of drug-laced dog food and treats the company is withdrawing from store shelves this week. The notice lists ten lots of Gravy Train canned dog food, six lots of Kibbles ‘N Bits canned dog food, additional lots of Skippy canned dog food (which grew from yesterdays number of only one lot to today’s number of nine lots) and one lot of Ol’ Roy dog treats (a brand made by Big Heart for Walmart) that Smucker’s is withdrawing nationwide from supermarkets and pet stores this week (see below).
The massive removal of these products comes following the shocking revelation by an ABC7 News investigation to see if other brands of pet food might be contaminated with the same euthanizing drug that was found in Evanger’s dog food last year. After testing numerous brands of pet food – one brand repeatedly came up positive for the same deadly drug found in Evanger’s pet food: Smucker’s owned Gravy Train canned dog food. Out of fifteen cans of Gravy Train, the news station tested, nine cans — 60 % of the samples — were positive for pentobarbital.
LACK OF REMORSE
Disappointingly, today’s news release does not mention a recall, nor is there a warning for consumers about the affected products. Instead, they are telling consumers they are “withdrawing” the affected product without offering an apology to the millions of American consumers who placed their trust and confidence in their pet food products. The company’s omission of an apology reflects a disregard for the consumers whose pets they think of as family. And it reflects a lack of shame and remorse for their failure to uphold good manufacturing processes. All they will admit is they are “extremely disappointed that pentobarbital was introduced to our supply chain.”
WITHDRAWAL V. RECALL
There is an enormous difference between a recall and a withdrawal. Let me explain the difference: A withdrawal is where manufacturers, such as Smucker’s, quietly and secretly – without public knowledge – tell their retailers to remove the affected product from store shelves and destroy it or send it back to the manufacturer or the distributor. The product disappears from store shelves, and no one is the wiser.
A recall on the other hand – which manufacturers almost inevitably refer to a “voluntary recall” – is when they announced via a press release that the company is recalling the product and provide information about the possible health effects of the contaminated food and what consumers should do in case of problems. Consumers are also instructed to contact the company with questions and concerns.
BLAME THE SUPPLIER, A FAMILIAR REFRAIN
Without an admission of wrongdoing, Smucker’s lacks any accountability; while admitting only that they have “identified the root cause to be a single supplier and a single, minor ingredient, used at one manufacturing facility.” The supplier that Smucker’s is placing the blame on is most likely one of the sources they obtain their meat and bone meal from – a product made by renderers.
And while most renderers process material that comes directly from slaughterhouses, there are smaller – less discriminatory – renderers known as independent renderers. Those renderers typically pick up and process the dead animals that no one wants, dead animals from any number of unsavory locations in varying states of decay, including zoos, veterinarians, and animal shelters.
QUALITY STANDARDS? WHAT QUALITY STANDARDS?
My advice to Smucker’s is to brush up on their CGMPs (Current Good Manufacturing Practices). Adherence to the CGMP regulations assures the quality, and safety of food products by requiring companies, like Smucker’s, to know how to control their manufacturing operations. It also helps to prevent and avoid disasters like allowing drug-contaminated meat to get into their supply chain.
Smucker’s should also know, that unless they are complying with CGMP regulations, the pet food they make is considered “adulterated” under the law. This kind of adulteration means that the pet food was not manufactured under conditions that comply with CGMP.
Companies like Smucker’s have a responsibility to have adequate safeguards in place, like CGMPs, to make sure adulterated ingredients and proteins from unknown sources do not get into their supply chain. Without it, consumers cannot maintain faith in a system that allows animals euthanized with sodium pentobarbital make its way into the food they feed their pets.
DOES BIG HEART HAVE A BIG HEART?
What consumer’s will question is why J.M. Smucker’s, one of the country’s leading producer, distributor and marketer of food for humans and animals in the U.S., so completely failed their consumers who – for years – have put their faith and trust in their brand?
Consumers will question: How is it that a company with Smucker’s reputation and resources was unable to provide their customers with information about the contaminated product for over a week? Consumers will also wonder why they were not warned about the products and why they have not issued a public recall? If Big Heart really had a big heart, wouldn’t you assume they would know how to apologize to their loyal customers?
Big Heart claims to have a big heart. In their mission statement, they tell us they do because they are “committed to the well-being of pets and the people who love them. We show our hearts. We listen. We do what matters.” Does this statement accurately reflect their actions?
How big is Smucker’s and Big Heart? In the US, Big Heart claims the top market share position in dog snacks and second highest position in dry cat food. Big Heart made $2.3 billion in net sales to Smucker’s in 2016. That’s $2.3 billion – with a B., and they can’t be bothered to issue recall their drug-tainted pet food?
THE COMPLETE LIST OF DRUG-LACED DOG FOOD (AS OF TODAY)
UPC Item Code(s)
|Gravy Train 13.2 oz. with T-Bone Flavor Chunks
|Gravy Train 13.2 oz. with Beef Strips
|Gravy Train 13.2 oz. with Lamb and Rice Chunks
|Gravy Train 22 oz. with Chicken Chunks
|Gravy Train 22 oz. with Beef Chunks
|Gravy Train 13.2 oz. with Beef Chunks
|Gravy Train 13.2 oz. with Chicken Chunks
|Gravy Train 13.2 oz. Chunks in Gravy Stew
|Gravy Train 13.2 oz. Chicken, Beef & Liver Medley
|Gravy Train 13.2 oz. Chunks in Gravy with Beef Chunks
|Kibbles ‘N Bits 13.2 oz. Burger Bacon Cheese and Turkey Bacon Vegetable Variety 12-Pack
|Kibbles ‘N Bits 13.2 oz. Beef, Chicken, Vegetable, Meatball Pasta and Turkey Bacon Vegetable Variety Pack
7910010382 7910048367 7910010378
|Kibbles ‘N Bits 13.2 oz. Beef, Chicken, Vegetable, Burger Bacon Cheese and Beef Vegetable Variety Pack
7910010380 7910010377 7910010375
|Kibbles ‘N Bits 13.2 oz. Wet Variety Pack
|Kibbles ‘N Bits 13.2 oz. Chef’s Choice Bistro Tender Cuts with Real Beef & Vegetable in Gravy
|Kibbles ‘N Bits Chef’s Choice Bistro Tender Cuts with Real Turkey, Bacon & Vegetable in Gravy
|Kibbles ‘N Bits Chef’s Choice Homestyle Tender Slices with Real Beef, Chicken & Vegetables in Gravy
|Skippy 13.2 oz. Premium Select Cuts in Gravy with Beef & Bone Marrow
|Skippy 13.2 oz. Premium Select Cuts with Burgers & Cheese Bits
|Skippy 13.2 oz. Premium Chunks in Gravy with Smoky Turkey & Bacon
|Skippy 13.2 oz. Premium Chunks in Gravy with Beef & Chicken
|Skippy 13.2 oz. Premium Chunks in Gravy 3 in 1 Chicken, Beef & Liver
|Skippy 13.2 oz. Premium Chunks in Gravy Chunky Stew
|Skippy 13.2 oz. Premium Strips in Gravy with Chicken
|Skippy 13.2 oz, Premium Chunks in Gravy with Beef
|Skippy 13.2 oz. Premium Strips in Gravy with Beef
|Ol’ Roy 13.2 oz Turkey Bacon Strips
Consumers who purchased the product referenced can call the company at 800-828-9980, Monday through Friday 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM EST, or email at http://www.bigheartpet.com/Contact/ContactUs.aspx with any questions, concerns, or for a refund, “or replacement product.”
FDA WILL TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION
In response to the ABC7 report, the FDA states that they plan to “investigate and take appropriate enforcement action … [and] We also encourage consumers to report any complaints about pet food products to FDA.”
WHO TO CONTACT
Consumers with questions should immediately report any problems with the products in connection with their pets to the FDA. Consumers can also report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in their area. Canadians can report any health or safety incidents related to the use of this product by filling out the Consumer Product Incident Report Form.
Although at this time there are no other Smucker’s owned Big Heart Pet Foods implicated in the investigation, it is possible that their other brands, such as Meow Mix, Milk-Bone, 9 Lives, Natural Balance, Pup-Peroni, Gravy Train, Nature’s Recipe, Canine Carry Outs, Milo’s Kitchen, Meaty Bone, Alley Cat, Jerky Treats, Meaty Bone, Pounce, and Snausages, among many others may also contain contaminated meat. Unfortunately, as Big Heart is also a private label manufacturer for other pet brands, no one can be certain who they are in order to avoid buying their products.
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