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article imageEvanger's admits horse-meat and euthanasia drug in dog food

By Karen Graham     Feb 23, 2017 in Food
In a new twist to the Evanger's dog food story today, it has been learned that horse-meat may have been the source of the barbiturate found in the company's Hunks of Beef canned dog food. Evanger's is blaming their supplier and strangely, the FDA.
While complaints continue to come into the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over the Evanger's dog food recall, Evanger's has hinted that an expanded recall of all of its Hunk of Beef, Braised Beef Chunks with Gravy and Against the Grain Pulled Beef will be announced later this week, reports Food Safety News.
As Digital Journal reported on February 15, the recall was initiated after five dogs were sickened and one actually died after eating Evanger's “Hunk of Beef” dog food. It was confirmed that one lot of the dog food was adulterated with phenobarbital.
Sher family letter to its Evanger's customers
Evanger's Dog Food owners Holly and Joel Sher posted an online statement on Sunday, claiming they have taken the lead in an investigation into the finding of pentobarbital, a barbiturate used to euthanize animals, in their dog food. In the statement, the company stated: "The guilty party has turned out to be one of our most trusted meat suppliers. A USDA-APHIS inspected supplier who we had done business with for over 40 years, and whose plant we had visited numerous times over the years.
We found that although cows can be euthanized, it is not common practice, so we sent a can of the recalled product to a lab for genetic species identification. We purchased hand deboned beef from this previously trusted supplier, but we suspect that the results will put the missing pieces of the puzzles together, and may confirm how pentobarbital entered the supplier’s meats."
Placing the blame is a tricky situation
Placing the blame on the "trusted meat supplier" is undoubtedly correct, especially if it can be proven that the meat in question came from that particular supplier. In this case, Evanger's said they had " immediately ceased relations with that supplier," and are proceeding with litigation against the company involved.
Actually, in a statement from the FDA published on February 17, the agency warned consumers against purchasing the Evanger's and Against the Grain recalled products.
Just last week, Digital Journal noted the FDA had 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 USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service.
The confusing overlap of federal agencies
However, while the FDA and Evanger's have done everything correctly in this investigation, it all leads back to the question of which federal agency is responsible for ultimately overseeing meat suppliers in this particular case. As all of us know, most of the time, federal agencies overlap in their responsibilities in enforcing regulations.
“The detection of pentobarbital in pet food renders the product adulterated in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Therefore, it is not acceptable to use animals euthanized with a chemical substance in pet or animal foods,” an FDA spokesperson said Tuesday.
The FDA puts the responsibility for ensuring meat is free of euthanasia drugs squarely on the shoulders of the meat rendering facility. “Further, it is the responsibility of the pet food manufacturer to ensure that the food they produce is safe for consumption and properly labeled. One way that a manufacturer can do this is by taking steps to verify the identity and safety of the ingredients they receive from their suppliers.”
In Sunday's online statement, Evanger's reference to their supplier being “USDA-APHIS inspected” was probably incorrect because the mandate for APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) in the U.S. food safety network of agencies “is to protect against plant and animal pests and diseases."
On the other hand, the USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS" is “responsible for ensuring the safety and wholesomeness of meat, poultry, and processed egg products and ensures that it is accurately labeled.”
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