The FDA today expanded a consumer advisory about Evanger’s and Against the Grain dog foods, some of which have been found to be contaminated with an animal euthanasia drug.

Apparently the agency has been waiting for a week for the company to make public an expansion of its existing recall, which came after illnesses in at least five dogs, including one death.

recalled Evangers and Against the Grain dog food“On Feb. 20, 2017, Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food notified the FDA that it planned to recall all ‘chunk beef’ products under the Evanger’s and Against the Grain brands,” according to the expanded advisory from the Food and Drug Administration.

“On Feb. 27, 2017, the FDA became aware that Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food was notifying its distributors and retailers of a new recall for lots of Evanger’s Braised Beef Chunks with Gravy as well as expanding the previous recall for additional lots of Evanger’s canned Hunk of Beef and Against the Grain’s Grain Free Pulled Beef with Gravy.”

The 12-ounce cans of dog food being recalled have the following barcodes. The numbers listed below are the second half of the barcode, which can be found on the back of the product label:

  • Evanger’s Hunk of Beef: 20109
  • Evanger’s Braised Beef: 20107
  • Against the Grain Pulled Beef: 80001

The products have expiration dates of December 2019-January 2021.

Ongoing investigation reveals supplier problem
The supplier of the beef that was used in Evanger’s Hunk of Beef and Against the Grain Pulled Beef canned dog foods displayed a “USDA-APHIS number” on its bills of lading, invoices and shipping pallets, according to the manufacturer of the dog food. A spokesperson for FDA has confirmed that the USDA-APHIS number was attached to a shipment from the supplier.

Joel Sher, vice president and co-owner of Evanger's Dog & Cat Food Co. Inc., describes the company's products during a trade show.
Joel Sher, vice president and co-owner of Evanger’s Dog & Cat Food Co. Inc., describes the company’s products during a trade show.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) has no regulatory responsibility for pet food inspection. However, APHIS does provide a voluntary certification service to companies seeking to export animal or plant products.

FDA supplied an image of the supplier’s bill of lading to USDA-APHIS for verification. According to a spokesperson, the USDA-APHIS number displayed on the document was found to be an export certification number that had expired in the mid 2000s.

Investigation timeline
Dec. 31, 2016: A pet owner feeds her five pugs some Evanger’s Hunk of Beef canned dog food as a New Year’s Eve treat. All five dogs develop symptoms within 15 minutes of consuming the meat. Four of the dogs required veterinary ICU care; one of the dogs died.

Jan. 17, 2017: A toxicology report issued by the Michigan State University Diagnostic Center for Population & Animal Health revealed the presence of pentobarbital in the stomach contents of the dead dog and in the remnants of food from the opened can of Evanger’s Hunk of Beef.

Feb. 3, 2017: Following an investigation in which FDA confirmed the presence of pentobarbital in the implicated production lot of dog food, Evangers recalled all five lots of Hunk of Beef that were produced from the supplier’s lot of beef.

Feb. 9, 2017: Against the Grain recalled one production lot of its Pulled Beef after FDA detected pentobarbital in a sample of the product.

Feb. 17, 2017: FDA released redacted Inspectional Observation reports (Form 483), listing the findings of its investigation into the operations of Evanger’s production plant in Wheeling, Illinois and the Nutripack production plant in Markham, Illinois.

Feb. 20, 2017: Evanger’s notified FDA that the company would expand its recall to include all chunk beef products.

Feb. 21, 2017: Evanger’s notified its “customers” that the company was planning to expand the recall of Evanger’s and Against the Grain pet foods to include all outstanding production of Hunk of Beef, Braised Beef Chunks with Gravy, and Against the Grain Pulled Beef.

Feb. 28, 2017: Evanger’s notified its distributors and retailers by letter that the company was recalling Evanger’s Hunk of Beef, Evanger’s Braised Beef Chunks with Gravy, and Against the Grain Pulled Beef manufactured between December 2015 and January 2017 with expiration dates of December 2019 through January 2021.

10 consumer complaints so far
FDA has received 10 consumer complaints naming Evanger’s products. Five of the complaints are suggestive of pentobarbital poisoning. The agency is following up on four complaints for which there are available product and veterinary medical records. All of the complaints relate to Evanger’s Hunk of Beef dog food; one complaint also mentions an additional product, Evanger’s Braised Beef Chunks in Gravy for Dogs.

FDA continues to encourage consumers to report problems with Evanger’s products through the Safety Reporting Portal or by contacting a Consumer Complaint Coordinator. Please retain empty cans or partially used cans of food to facilitate collection of specific lot number information. Additional information is available on the FDA web page, How to Report a Pet Food Complaint.

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