The FDA is advising pet owners not to feed their pets certain lots of Evander’s Hunk of Beef or Against the Grain Grain Free Pulled Beef with Gravy canned dog foods after unopened cans from both brands were found to contain pentobarbital, a barbiturate. This drug is used in animal euthanasia. It should not be in pet food.
The FDA was not able to determine from records whether any other Evanger’s or Against the Grain products made with beef contained any of the beef used in the recalled products. In addition, the FDA inspected manufacturing facilities on February 14, 2017 and found “numerous significant concerns with conditions” at the company’s Wheeling, Illinois and Markham, Illinois plants. The advisory states that “these are initial observations and do not represent a final agency determination regarding the firm.”
Avenger’s first initiated a recall of certain lots of Evanger’s 12 ounce Hunk of Beef canned dog food on February 3, 2017. During the investigation, the FDA tested two cans of Against the Grain brand canned Grain Free Pulled Beef with Gravy dog food manufactured in the same facilities as Evanger’s products and from the same supplier. Those samples also tested positive for pentobarbital. So Against the Grain voluntarily recalled one lot of that product on February 13, 2017.
Five dogs in a single household suffered acute neurological symptoms shortly after eating the Evanger’s recalled product. One dog was euthanized; there others have recovered. One of the dogs treated remains on seizure medication. The stomach contents of the deceased dog and an open can of the product were tested by an FDA Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network lab, and unopened cans of the product from the pet owner and retailer that sold the product were also tested. All of the samples tested positive for pentobarbital.
In addition, Evanger’s Dog & Cat Food Company issued a press release stating that the beef for its Hunk of Beef product came from a “USDA approved” supplier. But the FDA reviewed a bill of lading from Evanger’s supplier of “Inedible Hand Deboned Beef – For Pet Food Use Only. Not Fit For Human Consumption” and determined that the supplier’s facility does not have a grant of inspection from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. The meat products from this supplier do not bear the USDA inspection mark and would not be considered human grade. USDA-FSIS regulates slaughter of animals for human consumption only.
This investigation is ongoing and includes an examination of the suppliers of beef to Evanger’s and Against the Grain to determine a possible cause for the pentobarbital. Oral exposure to pentobarbital can cause drowsiness, dizziness, excitement, loss of balance, nausea, nystagmus (eyes moving back and forth in a jerky manner), inability to stand, coma and death. Consumers who see these symptoms in their pets should consult their veterinarian.