“Even One Recall in 82 Years is One Too Many!”
Dear Pet Parents:
You’ve undoubtedly heard about the many voluntary pet food recalls that have occurred during this past week from many companies, as well as from our company. You may have even purchased some of the recalled foods yourself in your desire to feed your 4-legged children only the healthiest, safest, and most nutritious food possible.
We are very aware that these recalls have rightfully caused a great deal of justified concern, mistrust, and anger among both pet owners and pet food retailers alike.
The Evanger’s family, like many families, is, also, incredibly angry and upset by the recalls of the past week. However, it’s not for the reason you may think.
We’re angry because we let you and your pets down.
Whether you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of loyal customers who have trusted us for over 82 years to make only the safest, most palatable, and nutritious dog food that you can buy; or if you’re one of the thousands of retailers who proudly sell our products to customers whose trust and loyalty you work so hard to earn 7 days a week – we let all of you down.
In early January, we were profoundly saddened when we learned, through a posting on social media, that 5 dogs from the same household became ill and one of them later was put down after eating our Hunk of Beef canned dog food. Our initial response was to conduct all appropriate testing for pathogens and processing, all of which came up negative. After a plethora of specialized tests, it was determined that the meat in Hunk of Beef dog food, of which the dogs shared a can, contained pentobarbital, which is the drug that veterinarians use to euthanize companion animals and horses, and an anti-seizure and insomnia medication for humans. Because “Hunk of Beef” contains only 1 ingredient, 100 percent Beef Roast, we immediately suspected that the pentobarbital had somehow gotten into the meat supply, unbeknownst to us.
Although we hadn’t heard of any other instances of dogs getting sick, we took it upon ourselves to immediately issue a voluntary recall of 60,000 cans of Hunk of Beef that were produced at the same time as the can containing the pentobarbital was made. A report of 1 dog getting sick is 1 dog too many.
Our investigation continued after issuing the recall. We had to determine how and why pentobarbital made its way into the meat that is used in our top selling product; a product that is intended to actually enhance the wellbeing and quality of life of our companion animals through its unique minimally processed hand packing process.
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.
Needless to say, we immediately ceased relations with that supplier and have undertaken legal steps to address this matter on behalf of our customers and retailers.
We will continue to keep you updated as to the status of our recall, as we have been doing, and pending litigation.
Most importantly, we will continue to work hard every day to re-earn your trust. We have taken it upon ourselves to lead the campaign to force the FDA to put an end to allowing drugs like pentobarbital to enter the raw material stream and contaminate our pets’ food and endanger their lives.
The Sher Family, Proud Owners of Evanger’s Dog Food
First and foremost, we are pet parents. We issued our first recall in 82 years, and created this video to answer some of your questions as to why we decided to do this. We want to send a HUGE thank you to our loyal customers who have supported our family-owned business throughout the years, and hope this video helps show you how we plan to guarantee the safety of its products in the future. We are sorry we let you down, but we will make a better pet industry because of it.
In an abundance of caution, Evanger’s has made the decision to voluntarily recall five lots of Hunk of Beef. Although nearly all product involved in this recall have already been consumed by pets without incident, we have decided to initiate the recall as a proactive measure against the remote possibility of any illness. Although only one household in the country reported illness, out of the five lots that are being recalled, we feel it is the right thing to do. This is our first recall in the 82 years that we have been in business.
The Facts: We feel that we have been let down by our supplier, and in reference to the possible presence of pentobarbital, we have let down our customers. Despite having a relationship for forty years with the supplier of this specific beef, who also services many other pet food companies, we have terminated our relationship with them and will no longer purchase their beef for use in our Hunk of Beef product. As Hunk of Beef is a very unique product, requiring very specific cuts of meat, this supplier’s meat was used in no other products.
Immediately upon learning that dogs became sick on New Years’ Eve, we launched an investigation immediately. The investigation continued for nearly four weeks, including obtaining samples of the same lot fed from the field and having them sent to an independent accredited laboratory to test for any toxin or bacteria we could possibly imagine. All of those tests came back negative. It was not until January 29th that we learned about the term, “pentobarbital.”
Something like this seemed impossible. We were unaware of the problem of pentobarbital in the pet food industry because it is most pervasive in dry foods that source most of their ingredients from rendering plants, unlike Evanger’s, which mainly manufactures canned foods that would not have any rendered materials in its supply chain. All of our raw materials are sourced from USDA-inspected facilities, and many of them are suppliers with whom we have had long-standing relationships.
Once we learned that pentobarbital was found in the stomach contents of the dog, we dug much deeper into research about the topic. What we found is that the FDA knows, and has conducted research, on the use of pentobarbital primarily in dry foods. The research can be found here: http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/CentersOffices/OfficeofFoods/CVM/CVMFOIAElectronicReadingRoom/ucm129135.htm
In our investigation, we spoke with many suppliers to learn how it could even be possible that an animal that had been euthanized could ever possibly end up in the animal food stream. What we learned was that pentobarbital is very highly controlled, and that, if an animal is euthanized, it is done so by a veterinarian. Once this process has been done, there is absolutely no regulation that requires the certified Vet to place any kind of marker on the animal indicating that it has been euthanized and guaranteeing that product from euthanized animals cannot enter the food chain. This is a simple task, and goes a very long way to ensure safety in many areas.
Since the launch of this investigation, Evanger’s has acted as openly and transparently, sharing all test results, what we as a company were doing to continue the investigation, and all facts of the investigation. Once we learned of the term, “pentobarbital,” we spent many hours trying to find a lab that would test for the presence of pentobarbital in a meat substance. It turns out that most labs only test for this in humans. Eventually we did find a lab, and have cans currently being tested, the results of which we plan to share with the public once they are available.
In addition to fully-funding the veterinary bills for the dogs that became ill Evanger’s will be making a donation to a local shelter in honor of Talula the Pug.
Evanger’s will continue its unwavering commitment to pet nutrition and health, and our family greatly values the incredible partnership and continued trust with pet owners in the U.S. and across the world.
Here is the FDA Press Release on the Voluntary Recall
Evanger’s Voluntarily Recalls Hunk of Beef Due to Pentobarbital Exposure in One Batch of Food
Wheeling, IL – (February 3, 2017) Out of an abundance of caution, Evanger’s Dog & Cat Food of Wheeling, IL is voluntarily recalling specific lots of its Hunk of Beef product because of a potential contaminant Pentobarbital, which was detected in one lot of Hunk of Beef. Pentobarbital can affect animals that ingest it, and possibly cause side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, excitement, loss of balance, or nausea, or in extreme cases, possibly death.
The specifically-identified lot numbers (as detailed below) of cans of 12-oz Hunk of Beef being voluntarily recalled were distributed to retail locations and sold online only in the following States: Washington, California, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, and were manufactured the week of June 6 – June 13, 2016.
Although pentobarbital was detected in a single lot, Evanger’s is voluntarily recalling Hunk of Beef products that were manufactured the same week, with lot numbers that start with 1816E03HB, 1816E04HB, 1816E06HB, 1816E07HB, and 1816E13HB, and have an expiration date of June 2020. The second half of the barcode reads 20109, which can be found on the back of the product label.
The subject recall affects 5 lots of food that were produced from its supplier’s lot of beef, which is specifically used for the Hunk of Beef product and no other products. To date, it has been reported that five dogs became ill and 1 of the five dogs passed away after consuming the product with lot number 1816E06HB13. Evanger’s is proactively issuing a recall voluntarily so as not to risk potential exposure to pentobarbital in the product.
All Evanger’s suppliers of meat products are USDA approved.
This beef supplier provides us with beef chunks from cows that are slaughtered in a USDA facility. We continue to investigate how this substance entered our raw material supply.
Because we source from suppliers of meat products that are USDA approved, and no other products have had any reported problems, we are not extending the recall to other supplier lots. This is the first recall for Evanger’s in its 82 years of manufacturing. Although it has been verified that little or no product remains on store shelves, if consumers still have cans with the aforementioned lot numbers, he or she should return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-847-537-0102 between 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM Central Time, Monday – Friday.
With our common love for pets and unwavering commitment to pet health, we need to enlist your partnership in sharing true, substantiated information. It has come to our attention today that there are claims about the FDA and our food, but, as of 1:30 PM CST , the FDA has not completed any additional tests (than what has already been published and publicly posted/shared by our company HERE). Anything else that you have read online is not what has been published from the FDA. These “claims” are simply fear tactics and either unrelated or unsubstantiated claims against our company and our foods.
It has been almost once month since the incident, likely with an additional 100,000 cans of Hunk of Beef consumed by pets since the alleged incident, and Evanger’s has received no other complaints from owners whose pets experienced any similar reactions to that of the pugs. As far as Evanger’s is aware and, we believe, the FDA is aware, none of our foods have been reported to contain pentobarbital or any other contaminant.
For all testing conducted by Evanger’s, an independent third party lab has been used, and Evanger’s was never in control of the product when it was released and sent for testing. FDA uses its own in-house laboratory and has tested intact cans. Please understand the importance of that as new reports surface.
We must ask you to please access the results that have been published and substantiated from all testing to-date and share THIS link of confirmed and certified information INSTEAD OF sharing unsubstantiated information.
We cannot answer any questions about the partial report that has been posted on-line because we have not been given a copy of it even after requests to receive a copy of this information in its entirety.
We will continue to work closely with the FDA to ensure the safety of every single one of our products, and share everything we know with all of you. Evanger’s has been fielding and proactively posting information as it is received, and can be verified. Evanger’s has no intention to respond to any unverifiable reports or unsubstantiated rumors that are intended to deceive the public. We greatly appreciate your continued commitment and support.
Our promise to the public was to share all test results that were performed, as well as any we received from the family who has made these allegations. To date, we unfortunately have not seen any results from the family, but have received our final test result for Commercial Sterility. A commercial sterility test indicates if there are any pathogens or harmful bacteria present. The test result has come back as “Sterile” which means no pathogens or harmful bacteria were present in the food. We again thank everyone who waited for all of the test results before drawing any conclusions. We are grateful for the outpouring of letters from pet parents who have said our foods have actually saved their pets over the years. That is what our family works tirelessly to do as a company – produce 5-star pet food that not only improves your pet’s health, but overall well-being and longevity through clean, healthy food. We are honored to be your oldest family-owned pet food cannery in the USA, and our family will continue the tradition of making your pets clean, fresh, locally-sourced pet food as we have since 1935.
As promised, we are sharing our latest test result
We are pleased to report that results from the first round of tests have come back and ALL 4 tests came back negative.
Our family, Evanger’s team, the general public and especially our devoted customers and fans have all been eagerly awaiting the receipt of lab results from our comprehensive testing, so upon receiving this information today, we are making the results public.
With our continued commitment to full transparency, the test results can be viewed here:
We hope to have the rest of the final test results available to post here by the end of this week, and we fully expect that the rest of the analysis will be consistent with the preliminary round of testing. At this time, we have been unable to find any connection between the alleged incident and our foods, nor is there any veterinary or medical evidence to support the claims of responsibility.
Our hearts go out to the Mael family for this difficult time, as well as because unkind things have been posted on social media that have needlessly been direct at both of our families as a result of these claims. We ask that the public discontinue any and all threats and harsh words to either party, as this has been a hard time for everyone involved.
We very much appreciate the incredible outreach of support that our company and our family have been getting from our dedicated customers and retail stores who are monitoring the situation, as it has meant so very much to us as is the positive takeaway from what has been a challenging time. With 100% focus on moving forward, communication and transparency, we will continue to share test results with the public as soon as they are received.
Thank you again.
In regards to the pugs that were ill in the state of Washington, Evanger’s would like to discuss the events that occurred, and the actions that Evanger’s has taken to launch its investigation into this claim.
Holly Sher and Brett Sher (owners) learned about this at 3 AM on Monday, January 2nd, and started action immediately. As compassionate dog lovers, Evangers fully-funded the YouCaring page to take care of the vet bills, and with the donation, asked the owner to get in touch with Evangers, and to provide the lot number she fed her pets to begin an internal investigation.
We initially learned about this through Instagram. At 3:20 AM, the same day we learned about the incident, Evanger’s contacted the pug owner asking to contact us directly so that we could work together to investigate this matter. Other members of Instagram asked the pug owner to contact Evanger’s directly as well. Evanger’s has contacted the customer through Instagram, her FundMe Page with Evanger’s contribution, and the News Outlet, but had yet to be contacted by the customer directly.
Through a third party on Instagram who forwarded the information to us, we obtained the lot number of the food that was fed. The Lot Number is 1816E06HB13, and was purchased at a local Washougal, WA pet store. It was manufactured back in June 2016. We traced this batch and found that the entire lot went to one distributor in Washington State, and no other cans from this lot would be anywhere else in the country. We asked the distributor if they had any product left of this same lot number, and they did not. An Evanger’s representative contacted all 376 stores that the distributor sells to in order to find out if any product is still on shelves.
One store got back to us, and she informed us that the pug owner purchased the cans at her store, and she still had some product on her shelf. We dispatched FedEx to pick up the remaining cans of the same lot number and had it sent directly to a third-party accredited laboratory for testing yesterday. We have offered to have the remaining unopened cans that the pug owner fed sent in for testing, and are still awaiting a response. The lab confirmed that pathogen and toxin testing will take 13 days for the cultures to show any results. Evanger’s plans to share the results as soon as it becomes available. Although every single batch is reviewed by a graduate from the FDA Better Processing School before it leaves Evanger’s facility, we have pulled all processing records for review and have found that this particular batch was, as expected, cooked in compliance with Evanger’s FDA Scheduled File Process.
Hunk of Beef is our #1 seller. Pets consume over one million cans of Hunk of Beef per year. Evanger’s has not had one single call from any other pet parent about any pets getting sick from this lot number, and at this time, we believe that at least 200 dogs have already consumed this food. At this time, we have nothing to show that there is any issue with the food such as a veterinary report. We believe that other factors are involved that we are not aware of at this time, but will come to light when we are able to have a dialogue with the customer. We feed this same product to our own family dog, Lilly, as do almost all of our office, manufacturing, and sales personnel. We also fed a retained sample to one of our employee’s cats, being confident in our food, and the cat shows no signs of illness.
In 81 years we have never had a recall and we anticipate at the conclusion of our investigation the test results will come back negative for any pathogens or toxins.
Last night, Tuesday the 3rd, at 10:03 PM local time, Ms. Mael reached out to Evanger’s via email to notify us that 5 dogs became ill. We are grateful to have communication, and to be fully transparent, have requested that all emails between Evanger’s and Ms. Mael have the FDA in copy so that we can openly continue our investigation with scientific evidence of what truly happened in this tragic situation.
Nevertheless, we cannot imagine how terrible this must be for the owner, Nikki Mael and her family, and are compassionate towards her situation. Evangers, of course, stands behind our products 100%. Please keep in mind that any other flavor of canned food or dry foods manufactured by Evanger’s are not affected by this in any way, and are entirely safe to feed your and our own pets.
We take safety very seriously at Evangers and are doing everything possible to determine what happened. If we made a mistake, we will take full responsibility, but are hoping that the pug owner cooperates with us and sends us the scientific evidence from her Vet that we have requested, to see if this was or was not the food that caused her pets to get sick. We will keep everyone updated as best we can as this unfolds.