Latest Round of Pet Food and Treat Recalls

The following recalls and withdrawals are posted on the FDA website under the Animal & Veterinary category.  Most are within the last week or so.  Click the links for additional details, including lot numbers.

Treats recalled for salmonella: Petco, Kasel, Menards, BIXBI, Boots and Barkley, Nutri-Pet, Nature’s Deli, Sam’s Club, Best Bully Sticks.

Honest Kitchen foods recalled for salmonella:  Verve, Zeal and Thrive

Chicken jerky treats recalled for salmonella:  Nutri-Vet and Nutri-Pet

Treats and greens recalled for salmonella:  Kaytee (These are treats made for birds.)

Nature’s Variety food recalled due to clear plastic pieces:  Instinct Raw Organic Chicken Formula

Hartz treats withdrawn for antibiotic residue:  Hartz Chicken Chews and Hartz Oinkies Pig Skin Twists Wrapped with Chicken

Milo’s Kitchen treats recalled for residual antibiotics:  Chicken Jerky and Chicken Grillers home-style dog treats

Info from the CDC:

How do I know if my dog or cat has Salmonella infection?

  • Dogs and cats that become ill from Salmonella infection generally will have diarrhea that may contain blood or mucus. Affected animals may seem more tired than usual, and may have a fever or vomit.
  • Some cats do not have diarrhea, but will have a decreased appetite, fever, and excess salivation.
  • Some dogs or cats may have Salmonella infection but may not appear to be sick.

If your dog or cat has these signs of illness or you are concerned that your pet may have Salmonella infection, please contact your pet’s veterinarian. Let your veterinarian know if your pet recently consumed a recalled product. Do not feed your pet any more of the recalled products. Dispose of the products immediately.

To be on the safe side, I follow the same protocols when touching pet food and treats as I do for raw eggs – I wash my hands immediately with soap and water.

Added, February 25, 2013Hy-Vee grocery store brand dog foods recalled for aflatoxin.

Owner Suspects Tainted Peanut Butter Killed Dog

In addition to the human death toll in the current peanut butter recall, a dog owner in Atlanta who shares his food with his pets believes there may be a link between the Salmonella tainted peanut butter and his dog’s sudden death:

Bert Kanist says his dog Ozzie became sick after eating two packages of Austin brand peanut butter crackers, two days before the snacks were recalled because of the salmonella outbreak.

Ozzie died the next day.

Naturally the owner has questions but in typical secretive corporate fashion, the companies involved with the product are not terribly interested in helping:

“All I get is the same runaround. ‘We can’t talk to you. We’ll take your name number,’ and they pass me another phone number,” he complained. “All I want is a straight answer from somebody.”


Peanut Butter Products Recalled

In case you haven’t heard, it seems like a long list of processed foods containing peanut butter as an ingredient (crackers, ice cream, dog treats, etc.) are being recalled due to Salmonella contamination. From the FDA:

Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), is expanding the recall of peanut butter and voluntarily recalling peanut paste made at its Blakely, Georgia facility because the products have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.
The recalled peanut butter and peanut paste were distributed to institutions, food service industries, and private label food companies in 24 states, the province of Saskatchewan in Canada, Korea and Haiti. The U.S. states are the following: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia. In addition, affected product was used as an ingredient in other products that may have been distributed in other states.

None of the peanut butter being recalled is sold directly to consumers through retail stores by PCA.

PCA is not the only peanut butter manufacturer involved in this recall so you might like to take a look at all the recent FDA alerts. For now, they are saying that regular peanut butter on your grocery store shelf is not affected. As someone who eats a lot of peanut butter, I hope they are telling us the whole story.

Ultimate Smackdown Cage Match: FDA vs. Yellow-Bellies

Never fear: the FDA SWAT team is on da job. That’s right, just when you were worried that eggs, baby formula, and other milk products were contaminated with the same toxins which killed thousands of pets in 2007, the FDA swoops in to save us all from the menace of [insert JAWS theme here] PET TURTLES:

On March 3, 2008, Strictly Reptiles Inc., a wildlife dealer in Hollywood, Fla., sold 1,000 baby yellow-bellied sliders and Mississippi map turtles to a souvenir shop in Panama City, Fla. The sale violated a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ban on small pet turtles designed to protect the public from the disease-causing bacteria Salmonella. Turtles often carry Salmonella on their outer skin and shell surfaces, and people can get Salmonella infection by coming in contact with turtles or their habitats.

On July 14, 2008, the U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale convicted and sentenced Strictly Reptiles for its role in illegally selling, and offering for sale, live undersized turtles. The Florida District of FDA’s law enforcement arm, the Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigated the case leading to the conviction, with help from FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.

OK well I guess the melamine contamination is not such a worry after all. In fact, the FDA has flip-flopped on the whole melamine safety issue. When we learned about the toxin being in pet food last year, the FDA said it had “no approved use in human or animal food in the United States” and there was no safe level of melamine in foods. I’m a layman but this made sense to me since melamine is the material they use to make things like dinnerware and the Magic Eraser. But after discovering melamine and cyanuric acid in human foods this Fall, the FDA created a safety level for the poisons, except for baby milk. Now in an Olympic medal worthy double flip-flop, the FDA has determined safe levels of melamine and cyanuric acid for baby formula. I’ll have one Magic Eraser on an edible melamine plate TO GO and give me a kiddie meal of cyanuric acid on the side please.

But regarding the super-dee-duper dangerous pet turtles, the FDA really had to take a stand. Some things are too important to let slide (little turtle pun there – you’re welcome). See, the FDA warns us:

Small pet turtles are of particular concern because children are more prone to handling the turtles without washing their hands afterwards, and even putting the turtles in their mouths.

OK I admit I didn’t have a pet turtle as a kid. So perhaps it’s not surprising to learn that I never put one in my mouth. I do remember having a mouse and surely at some point I put him in my mouth but apparently that memory has been blocked. But one thing I do recall trying is dog food. In fact, I think I tried it because all the other kids I knew had tried it and I didn’t want to lose my status in the Nerd Society. Maybe you or your kid has put dog biscuits or cat food or dog kibble in their mouths too. Well I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news, May 2008:

A salmonella outbreak that swept 19 U.S. states in late 2006 has been a mystery, until now.

Nearly 200 consumers were sickened by what investigators believed to be tainted tomatoes, or other produce.

But now, the Centers for Disease Control says the apparent source of the 2006 salmonella outbreak was tainted dog food.

More bad news, September 2008:

[P]et food is being voluntarily recalled because of potential contamination with Salmonella serotypeSchwarzengrund.
Salmonella can cause serious infections in dogs and cats, and, if there is cross contamination caused by handling of the pet food, in people as well, especially children, the aged, and people with compromised immune systems.

Still more bad news, October 2008:

The Hartz Mountain Corporation is recalling one lot of its chicken-basted rawhide chips because of possible Salmonella contamination.

Even more-more bad news, November 2008:

Mars Petcare US is extending a recall of dry pet food after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported finding Salmonella in additional samples of the company’s SPECIAL KITTY Gourmet Blend cat food.

The earlier recall, issued October 27, was for cat food produced at Mars’ Allenton, Pa., plant on August 11, 2008. The recall is now being extended to cover all dry pet food produced at the plant with a “best by” date between August 11, 2009 and October 3, 2009.

Holy Bad Bacteria Batman – this is starting to look like a pattern! The FDA SWAT team response to all these Salmonella pet food issues? *crickets*

But before we judge the FDA too harshly for apparently protecting big business over American citizens, let us not forget their swift and decisive take down action on the pet turtle threat. I think we’ll all sleep a little better knowing that there are some safety issues that really bring the FDA out of their shells. (You’re welcome, redux.)

One More Time for Old Times’ Sake

Mars Petcare US is (again) recalling food due to Salmonella concerns. Affected brands include Pedigree, Ol’ Roy, and Pet Pride. I guess we’re supposed to be thankful that they told us about the Salmonella at all, even if it was on a Friday night, during a hurricane, and the problem has been going on for some time already.


Purina Beneful dog food has been pulled from the shelves of a pet supply store in Virginia due to contamination with grain mites. Predictably, Purina is trying to plant the idea that the infestation occurred after the food left their facility. It’s the same old pet food corporation song and dance: deny first, discover truth later (or never, as the case may be). Hey Purina: give the American consumer a little credit here. We can comprehend that a problem like grain mites might occur with a grain based pet food product, that a company can deal with it responsibly and that future products can be deemed safe. What really pisses us off is when companies immediately respond to any and every question with We know nuffing. Again.


And in the oldie but goodie department, we have the Chinese adulterating food with melamine in order to try and boost profits (again). Unlike last year, when melamine tainted ingredients from China killed and sickened thousands of pets, the victims this time are infants and the tainted food is baby formula. Nice.

Salmonella Salad and Pet Food Safety Comes Up Short

From an article at regarding the FDA’s progress on food safety issues:

In 2007, FDA began working in collaboration with the State Health and Agriculture departments in Virginia and Florida, several universities, and the produce industry on a multi-year Tomato Safety Initiative. As part of the initiative, FDA has led assessments of grower practices focusing on the factors believed to be associated with contamination of tomatoes with Salmonella. FDA has conducted assessments in Virginia and began assessments in Florida in April.

Sooooo – how’s that going?

In other FDA news, the transcript from the blink-and-you-missed-it “all day public meeting” regarding pet food standards is available for download in pdf format. It doesn’t take too long to read because you can skim over all the good ol’ boy chatter and cut straight to the only voice we consumers had at the meeting: Mike Floyd from Defend Our Pets. (Take their survey on pet food safety here.) His comments are straight talk on what consumers want and need from the pet food industry. Thank goodness he was there because after he spoke, the FDA shut down this supposed all day public meeting citing lack of attendance. Well FDA, some of us actually have to work for a living and can’t necessarily get an entire weekday off. So to my mind it’s certainly plausible that some people were planning to attend your all day public meeting – you know, when they could get there, which may have been more than 90 minutes after the meeting started – which is when you closed the thing down. So while the FDA touts this as a community outreach activity, I would describe it as a business-as-usual-activity.

Newsflash: We’re going to have to do a lot better to fix the problems in our food safety system. For humans and pets. Because the status quo ain’t workin’.

Don’t Touch That Pet Food

Purina’s recall of aflatoxin contaminated animal feed earlier this month has been widely reported to the public – not by Purina, who chose to contact their dealers directly – but by bloggers, including Petsit USA. From Purina’s recall (which they call a “retrieval”) statement: “Our investigation and product testing identified one ingredient of concern, which originated from a single supplier. We have discontinued purchasing from this supplier. Other feed companies that purchased from this supplier are facing a similar situation.” (emphasis mine)

1. I don’t know which ingredient it is they are talking about
2. I don’t know who the supplier is
3. I don’t know what other companies are facing the same problem because none of them have “retrieved” their products to my knowledge
4. I don’t know if any of this “ingredient” was used in other feeds, such as dog food.

Highlights from this article on the Purina aflatoxin recall echo some of my own concerns:

  • Land O’Lakes Purina Feed LLC announced a recall of several varieties of horse, goat and pig feed…
  • Purina’s statement said the ingredient of concern came from one supplier, but the company declined to identify either the ingredient or the supplier…
  • Purina has not identified whether the supplier in question in the recall is a domestic or overseas company.


Meanwhile, the CDC has confirmed that the human Salmonella outbreak in 2006 was attributable to dry dog food. Both the CDC and the FDA recommend that people use precautions before and after touching pet food and treats to minimize the risk of transferring possible bacteria in the food. But um, I guess it’s still fine for our pets to actually eat this stuff (and in fact only this stuff, since “table scraps” are discouraged)?