FDA rejects Evanger’s donation of recalled dog food

FDA issued a letter stating that FDA didn’t consider the pet food company’s testing methods sufficient to ensure the safety of shelter animals.

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image courtesy FDA
image courtesy FDA

The United State Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rejected a request to donate recalled dog food by Evanger’s Pet Food. FDA issued a letter on June 29 warning Evanger’s that FDA didn’t consider the pet food company’s testing methods sufficient to ensure the safety of shelter animals. The pet food was recalled after a potentially deadly drug pentobarbital and horse meat were found in Evanger’s dog food earlier this year.

“In your firm’s correspondence dated 4/4/17, it was requested to donate the recalled product to an animal shelter,” wrote Nicholas F. Lyons, FDA director of compliance. “FDA does not agree that analyzing individual units from recalled lots and finding those units negative for pentobarbital contamination provides sufficient assurance that the remaining units are not adulterated. As can be observed in the samples collected by FDA, the pentobarbital contamination is not homogeneous throughout all units in a lot.”

The government agency rejected Evanger’s assertion that grinding up their meat products would reduce pentobarbital to negligible levels. Evanger’s had argued that grinding would dilute the drug to safe levels, but FDA stated that there is no tolerable level of pentobarbital in pet food.

Evanger's response to FDA letter

Evanger's posted a letter to consumers on their website that responded to the FDA's letter.

"We were approached by several shelters asking if we would be willing to donate recalled products that were tested as 100 percent safe and negative for pentobarbital," stated Evanger's representatives in a post on their website. "Before taking any action, we approached the FDA to ask if we could donate healthy batches of recalled product that were tested and safe. We received the FDA’s answer that each can of product listed in the recall must be disposed of per their instructions. Upon receiving the FDA’s response, we complied 100 percent and began working with our distributors to have the product disposed of immediately."

FDA noted legal violations by Evanger's

FDA’s letter documented Evanger’s Pet Food products in which laboratory scientists identified pentobarbital and explained the laws that these products violated.

“FDA analysis of your canned chunk meat dog foods, including Evanger’s - Braised Beef Chunks, Evanger’s - Hand Packed Hunk of Beef in Au Jus and Against the Grain - Grain Free Pulled Beef with Gravy chunk meat products revealed that the products were contaminated with pentobarbital,” wrote Lyons. “This substance causes your animal food products to be adulterated under section 402(a)(1) of the FD&C Act [21 U.S.C. §342(a)(1)] because they bear or contain a poisonous or deleterious substance which may render them injurious to health. Furthermore, the introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce of an adulterated food violates section 301(a) of the FD&C Act [21 U.S.C. §331(a)].”

The letter also noted other problems with Evanger’s Pet Food's supply chain and facility.  Lyons’ concluded her letter by enumerating the steps that Evanger’s would need to follow to come into compliance with federal food safety regulations.

Evanger’s files US$20 million lawsuit against meat supplier

In April, Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food Company filed a lawsuit against meat supplier Bailey Farms LLC, alleging that Bailey sold pentobarbital-tainted horse meat to Evanger’s, reported Courthouse News Service. The pet food lawsuit accuses Bailey of fraud, breach of contract and breach of warranty. Evanger’s seeks a total of US$20 million along with legal fees and costs from Wisconsin-based Bailey Farms.

Along with selling tainted hose meat, Evanger’s alleges that Bailey used an expired certification tag from the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services, according to a document filed in the Cook County, Illinois, USA Circuit Court.

Details of meat shipment

In June 2016, Evanger’s received a 43,340 pound shipment of meat from Bailey Farms. That meat was labeled “inedible hand boned beef,” according to the court document.

The meat was used to produce approximately 50,000 cans of Hunk of Beef dog food. One lot was delivered to a distributor in Washington State.

History of the pentobarbital tainted dog food recalls

In January, one Pug was put to sleep after eating Evanger’s dog food, and four other dogs were sickened. A Michigan State University lab found pentobarbital in that dog food. Pentobarbital, a barbiturate, is used to euthanize animals.

Along with pentobarbital, private laboratory results found horse DNA in samples of the Hunk of Beef dog food that were recalled on February 3, Sher told Petfood Industry. Against the Grain Pet Food recalled one lot of Pulled Beef with Gravy Dinner for Dogs on February 14. Against the Grain is owned by members of the Sher family.

FDA officials confirmed the presence of pentobarbital in both the Against the Grain and Evanger’s products, and classified the products as adulterated. In the same FDA Form 483 Inspectional Observations report, inspectors noted food safety problems at Evanger’s Wheeling, Illinois, USA plant where the dog foods are produced. 

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