Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What's in your dog food? It might not be what you think...

I came across an interesting post today - a copy of a letter sent to Evanger's from the FDA regarding some violations of their license. The original FDA letter is here - but the crux of the problem is that Evanger's Lamb and Rice canned food actually contained no lamb (instead contained bovine matter) and Evanger's grain-free Duck formula did not contain any duck. How can that happen?
Evanger's Grain-Free Duck

From the FDA letter to Evangers:
We found that you offered for sale (b)(4) Lamb and Rice Dog Food which was adulterated. Under Section 402(b)(2) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. § 342(b)(2), a food is deemed to be adulterated if any substance has been substituted wholly or in part therefore.  Our analytical sample results of this product revealed that a substance (lamb) was not detected in the product and another ingredient (bovine material) detected in the product was substituted therefore. Furthermore, this product was misbranded.  Under Section 403(b) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. § 343(b), a food is deemed to be misbranded if it is offered for sale under the name of another food. This product was offered for sale under the name of “(b)(4) Lamb and Rice Dog Food.”  However, the analytical sample results did not detect the presence of lamb, but detected the presence of bovine material.

This discovery - though I never fed any Evanger's products - is at the heart of why I feed my dogs raw food. You just don't know what is in that bag of kibble. If consumers cannot trust labels and they cannot trust the  companies producing dog food. What if you had a dog sensitive to beef proteins? You're spending MORE (about $1.50 for a 6 ounce can) to buy a semi-premium canned dog food which has the following ingredients on the label:  DUCK, WATER SUFFICIENT FOR PROCESSING, LIVER, GUAR GUM

Sure, beef is cheaper than lamb, beef liver is cheaper than duck. If no one is the wiser they might very well save thousands of dollars a year selling beef labeled as lamb and duck.

Does anyone really feel good about feeding their dogs mystery meat? What about the adverse reactions that might have happened with dogs allergic to whatever protein source was in that can of duck? Lastly, if that can of "Duck,Water, Liver and Guar Gum" didn't actually contain duck - what did it contain? Just liver? Just guar gum? Chicken beaks? Applesauce?

As disturbing as the problems with Evanger's protein contents, there's another line buried in the FDA warning letter - specifically: In addition, your firm was not able to provide processing and production records upon written demand, as required by 21 C.F.R. 108.35(h), for products manufactured in 2009.

What? Evanger's was unable to come up with manufacturing records? One has to speculate that perhaps no records were produced because producing the records might in fact be more embarrassing to Evanger than simply not providing said records. Think about all the scary things that have gone on in pet food plants over the last 10 years that have ultimately come to light - now imagine all the things we don't know about.

With raw food I can see what I'm feeding my dogs - sometimes it's not pretty (even in the ground raw there are large chunks of organs and connective tissue), but I know what's in there. I see what's in there. I know the company that produces the foods my dogs eat. I trust Oma's Pride raw and The Honest Kitchen - they've earned my trust and I KNOW that package of chicken necks are in fact chicken necks, that chunk of apple in Embark is in fact, an apple...Did you know that the foods from Honest Kitchen are the only one dog food products that can legally carry the "human grade" (for human consumption) all the way through the manufacturing process? Lots of dog foods advertise "human grade" - but in most facilities the product loses that certification through either adulteration, contamination or as a result of the process. "Human Grade" means that absolutely everything that goes into that plant MUST ALSO be human grade - USDA inspected for human consumption.

Yes, It costs a little more to pay attention to details, to make sure that ingredients are properly sourced and tested - but that is the responsibility of a dog food manufacturer. It's our responsibility as consumers to hold manufacturers to a higher standard and to do right by our pets. Do your research!

Evanger's Website:
FDA Letter to Evanger's:
FDA Petfood site:
Oma's Pride:
The Honest Kitchen:
Truth about Pet Food - limited ingredient lies:

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