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FDA Rejects Plan To Donate Dog Food Potentially Contaminated With Euthanasia Drug

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Dog food company Evanger’s recently recalled some of its products that had been tainted with the euthanasia drug pentobarbital, resulting in four sick dogs and one death. Rather than throw out all that recalled food, Evanger’s proposed spot-checking it for safety and donating it to animal shelters. However, the Food and Drug Administration has nixed this suggestion.

While the idea of giving free (usually quite expensive) dog food to cash-strapped shelters is full of good intentions, the FDA concluded that spot checks of individual cans are not sufficient for determining the safety of what’s in those cans that aren’t tested.

In a warning letter sent on June 29 and released this week, this week, the FDA says it “does not agree that analyzing individual units from recalled lots and finding those units negative for pentobarbital contamination provides sufficient assurance that the remaining units are not adulterated.”

Spot-checking isn’t good enough if any one can in the batch might have enough of the drug to kill a sufficiently small dog that eats quickly enough.

“As can be observed in the samples collected by FDA, the pentobarbital contamination is not homogeneous throughout all units in a lot. Therefore, FDA does not find it acceptable to donate any recalled products and instead recommends destruction of all remaining units,” the agency said.

Pentobarbital sodium, the FDA explains, is officially used as an anesthetic in animals, and is sometimes used off-label as a euthanasia agent. However, it’s not a drug that should be used in animals that are destined for humans’ plates or dogs’ bowls.

Evanger’s is a premium brand of dog food that claims that it has “no preservatives, artificial ingredients, or harmful additives.” However, the FDA told the company in its warning letter that written “assurances” from suppliers that their meat was drug-free and came from the animal named on the package weren’t enough, and the agency recommends actually visiting suppliers.

The FDA also noted that while Evanger’s said that it had stopped dealing with the meat supplier that sold the meat used for the recalled food, the company did not have any proof for its assertion that this was the only supplier that sold it contaminated meat.

The recall also included dog food from Cocolicious and Against the Grain, other brands made in the same facility.

(via Food Safety News — Thanks, Chris!)

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