Pets

No dog in our dog food, Gravy Train maker says. But what about that euthanasia drug?

emichot@miamiherald.com

There’s no dog in our dog food, says the J.M. Smucker company, but it admitted that some canned Gravy Train and Kibbles ‘N Bits varieties contained a sedative used to put dogs down.

As Smucker informs the public via its brand websites, “We have confirmed extremely low levels of pentobarbital in select shipments” of Gravy Train, Kibbles ‘N Bits, Skippy and Ol’ Roy canned wet dog food, the company also says it has the answer to how the drug got into the food.

Testing at an outside lab, Smucker said, indicates that animal fat was the source of the pentobarbital.

“Lab results from tests of the ingredient in which pentobarbital was found confirmed the animal fat was sourced from cow, chicken, and pig, which are common sources in pet food,” a Smucker spokesperson said Sunday morning in an e-mail to the Miami Herald. “The DNA test ruled out the presence of six other animals: cat, dog, horse, lamb, goat, and turkey.”

In the wake of testing by Washington, D.C., station WJLA that revealed the pentobarbital in Gravy Train, various entities posed the possibility that it could have gotten into the food from dogs who had been put down.

“If you say ‘where does it come from?’ it comes from euthanasia of animals using that euthanasia drug,” Dr. Nicholas Dodman, former director of Tufts University’s Animal Behavior program, told WJLA. “So these animals could be dogs, they could be cats, they could be horses. But how is it getting into the pet food?”

One possible way, Clean Label Project Executive Director Jaclyn Bowen explained in a Feb. 13 email to the Miami Herald, is “Rendering plants take slaughterhouse animal tissues and convert them into stable, usable materials like purified fats such as lard or tallow. This rendered material is then sourced by some pet food manufacturers and sold to consumers as wet and dry pet foods. It is possible that animals exposed to pentobarbital were included in the rendering process.”

Smucker says on its Gravy Train and Kibbles ‘N Bits websites it’s no longer using that animal fat supplier, but “due to potential litigation, we will not be releasing the name of either the old or new supplier.”

Big Heart Pet, which Smucker acquired in 2015, makes Gravy Train and the other brands.

Lab results from tests of the ingredient in which pentobarbital was found confirmed the animal fat was sourced from cow, chicken, and pig, which are common sources in pet food. The DNA test ruled out the presence of six other animals: cat, dog, horse, lamb, goat, and turkey.

Sunday morning e-mail from a J.M. Smucker spokesperson to the Miami Herald

The FDA says low levels of pentobarbital aren’t likely to be a problem in pets, but its presence at all means a food product is “adulterated.” So, the FDA told Smucker, the product “withdrawal” that Smuckers announced Feb. 15 is now officially a recall.

There are many numbers and dates on the foods, drugs, cosmetics, and other products we use every day. When unsafe products must be removed from the market, these numbers and dates can help identify them quickly.

“While the firm and FDA testing was pending, the FDA agreed to allow the firm to withdraw products from the marketplace because it was the quickest way to remove potentially adulterated product,” Friday’s FDA alert update says. “However, now that the firm has verified that the products contain pentobarbital, an illegal substance in pet food at any amount, the firm has agreed to continue to remove product under the voluntary recall process.”

All lots of the following products back to 2016 have been recalled. Consumers with cans of these brands should toss them or contact Smucker about returning the product. Consumers can call the company at 1-800-828-9980 or click here to contact the company online.

The Gravy Train flavors involved are: Gravy Train with T-Bone Flavor Chunks, 13.2-ounce cans; Gravy Train with Beef Strips, 13.2-ounce cans; Gravy Train with Lamb & Rice Chunks, 13.2-ounce cans; Gravy Train with Chicken Chunks, 13.2-ounce and 22-ounce cans; Gravy Train with Beef Chunks, 13.2-ounce and 22-ounce cans; Gravy Train Chunks in Gravy with Beef Chunks, 13.2-ounce cans.

The Kibbles ’N Bits Variety Packs recalled are: 12-cans Chef’s Choice American Grill Burger Dinner with Real Bacon & Cheese Bits in Gravy, Chef’s Choice Bistro Tender Cuts with Real Turkey Bacon & Vegetables in Gravy; 12-cans Chef’s Choice Bistro Hearty Cuts with Real Beef, Chicken & Vegetables in Gravy, Chef’s Choice Homestyle Meatballs & Pasta Dinner with Real Beef in Tomato Sauce; 12-cans Chef’s Choice Homestyle Tender Slices with Real Beef, Chicken & Vegetables in Gravy, Chef’s Choice American Grill Burger Dinner with Real Bacon & Cheese Bits in Gravy, Chef’s Choice Bistro Tender Cuts with Real Beef & Vegetables in Gravy.

Regular Kibbles ’N Bits 13.2-ounce cans pulled Chef’s Choice Bistro Tender Cuts with Real Beef & Vegetables in Gravy; Chef’s Choice Bistro Tender Cuts with Real Turkey, Bacon & Vegetables in Gravy; and Chef’s Choice Homestyle Tender Slices with Real Beef, Chicken & Vegetables in Gravy.

Skippy varieties pulled are 13.2-ounce cans of Premium Chunks in Gravy Chunky Stew; Premium Chunks in Gravy with Beef; and Premium Strips in Gravy with Beef.

The only variety of Ol’ Roy, Walmart’s house brand, pulled is Turkey Bacon in 13.2-ounce cans.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal

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