Evanger's, the dog and cat food company based in Wheeling, Illinois, has expanded its voluntary recall of canned pet foods amid fears of pentobarbital contamination. The expanded recall now includes Braise Beef Chunks and Pulled Beef dog food, as well as the original Hunk of Beef dog food initially recalled in February.
Against the Grain Pet Food Inc, a related dog food company, has also joined the recall as a precautionary measure.
Pentobarbital, a sedative, is part of a family of drugs used to euthanize animals.
The broadened consumer alert comes after five dogs fell ill after eating Evanger's in Washington state around New Years. One of those dogs, a pug named Talula, died after eating the food.
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There haven't been any reported cases of dogs getting sick from eating Against the Grain's food.
Since the incident, Evanger's has severed its relationship with one beef supplier and has guaranteed the safety of its products in the future. But that wasn't enough to stop a social media firestorm from quickly enveloping the family-run company.
Evanger's has promised transparency as their investigation into this matter continues. The company offered a five-minute long video apology explaining what went wrong and the steps they're taking to correct the issue.
The Pet Food Institute, an industry group representing 98% of all American pet foods and treats, has committed to using only meat- and plant-based ingredients good enough for human consumption. However, Evanger's and Against the Grain Pet Food are not PFI members.
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For decades, pentobarbital has been used as a euthanasia drug for animals. Unfortunately, the drug remains in the animal's system for a long time following death. This means a cow euthanized with pentobarbital will have a better chance at passing some of the chemical on to whatever eats it, but that's still an unlikely source for this particular contamination.
Evanger's FDA recall states, "We purchase wholesome beef from USDA-inspected plants ... All Evanger's suppliers of meat products are USDA approved. This beef supplier provides us with beef chunks from cows that are slaughtered in a USDA facility."
According to the FDA, pentobarbital can cause drowsiness, dizziness, excitement, loss of balance, nausea, nystagmus, inability to stand, coma, or death. Pet owners and purchasers of Evanger's and Against the Grain pet food who recognize these symptoms in their pets should contact their veterinarian.
The three products being recalled were manufactured between December 2015 and January 2017 and have expiration dates through January 2021. The products were distributed nationwide, but the recall only affects products with Hand Packed Beef Product.