Laboratory tests found horse DNA in samples of the recalled “Hunk of Beef” dog food, as well as pentobarbital, a sedative that can rapidly cause death. The FDA has received 10 complaints so far.
Contrary to popular belief, horse meat has been banned in pet food since the 1970s. It remains unclear how horse meat got in Evanger’s beef dog food. Pentobarbital is often used to euthanize horses, but rarely cows.
Evanger’s issued a limited recall on February 3, and expanded the recall on February 27 to include all “chunk beef” pet foods that were sold under the Evanger’s and Against the Grain brands:
- Evanger’s Hunk of Beef
- Evanger’s Braised Beef
- Against the Grain Pulled Beef
Other products might be contaminated. The company did not keep records, so the FDA could not determine if the tainted meat went into other dog or cat food products.
On February 19, Evanger’s issued a statement blaming their “USDA-inspected” supplier for the problem. They also blamed the FDA for “allowing drugs like pentobarbital to enter the raw material stream.”
When the FDA investigated, the supplier aced its inspection with flying colors and received no warnings. The FDA said it found “systems in place to ensure that euthanized animals are segregated from animal protein going for animal food use.”
However, when the FDA investigated Evanger’s on January 10 and 11, they found serious problems. First of all, none of Evanger’s meat suppliers were actually registered the USDA.
Inspectors also found water dripping directly into open cans of dog food and raw meat, mold on the walls all over the facility, an open sewer within 25 feet of food processing equipment, and raw meat stored at room temperature. The problems are described in reports for Evanger’s facilities in Wheeling, IL and Markham, IL.
An FDA spokesperson added, “It is the responsibility of the pet food manufacturer to ensure that the food they produce is safe for consumption and properly labeled.”
Problems with the dog food were discovered by a woman in Washington. All four of her dogs got sick, including a pug named Talula who died, after she fed them Evanger’s “Hunk of Beef” on New Year’s Eve. She said:
They were falling over. So I grabbed them all and took them to the emergency vet. And when they got there, they were just limp. They weren’t moving or anything. And so they were in ICU. Tito and Talula ate the most and Talula passed away.”