A series of pet food products have been recalled this month for three separate reasons—Salmonella and Listeria contamination, and the presence of an illegal drug.

Three different companies have recalled products due to the possible presence Salmonella:

Smokehouse Pet Products, Inc. (based in Sun Valley, CA)

  • Announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on February 8, then an expanded recall announcement on February 15.
  • Recalled product: 4 oz. bags of Beefy Munchies dog treats
  • Expanded recall on February 15: includes all sizes of Smokehouse’s Beefy Munchies
  • These particular treats were distributed regionally in Washington, Michigan, North Carolina and Colorado through distributors selling to various retailers.
  • After routine testing by the Colorado Department of Agriculture, Salmonella was detected in two packages of 4 oz. Beefy Munchies.
  • No illnesses or injuries have been reported in relation to this recall.

Raws for Paws (based in Minneapolis, MN) 

  • Announced by the FDA on February 8
  • Recalled product: 5 lb. and 1 lb. chubs (sealed plastic tubes) of Ground Turkey Pet Food, believed to have been distributed throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa directly to consumers and through online mail orders.
  • The potential for contamination was noted after testing by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture revealed the presence of Salmonella in some packages of Turkey Pet Food.
  • Two human illnesses within the same household have been reported to date in connection with this problem. At the time of Raws for Paws’ online statement, no animals were known to be affected by this recall.

Redbarn Pet Products, LLC (family-owned; based in Long Beach, CA) 

  • Announced by the FDA on February 9
  • Recalled product: Redbarn’s 7-inch Bully Stick three pack, 2.4 oz.
  • No illnesses, injuries or complaints have been reported in relation to Redbarn’s recall.
  • Jeff Sutherland, Redbarn’s president has said, “On 2/5/2018, we were notified by the Colorado Department of Agriculture that a single sample collected from a retail location detected Salmonella. At Redbarn, we test every product lot before it leaves our manufacturing plant. This lot code, expiry date 112120ABC, was tested both at our Redbarn lab and by a third-party testing facility. Those tests were negative for Salmonella or pathogens. Despite not being able to replicate these test results or receiving any negative reports from customers regarding these chews, we feel the best course of action is to recall this lot code of the product and keep our customers safe”.

The problem was proven to be even more prevalent when FDA issued a statement on February 13 announcing that an investigation had been launched. Recalls and complaints have been logged in relation to Darwin's Natural and ZooLogics pet foods, manufactured by Arrow Reliance Inc. of Tukwila, WA. From October 2016 through February 2018, some of the company's raw pet food products have tested positive for both Salmonella and/or Listeria monocytogenes

So far, FDA has investigated six cases of animal illnesses and deaths due to consuming products made by Arrow Reliance/Darwin's Natural. Since 2016, the company has recalled at least seven pet food products.

Then on February 16, The J.M. Smucker Company issued a statement announcing a voluntary recall of various canned, wet dog food products. Some of the company’s Gravy Train, Kibbles ‘N Bits, Ol’ Roy, and Skippy products did not meet quality specifications due to containing extremely low levels of pentobarbital—a chemical that “is not acceptable to Smucker and not up to its quality standards.” 

Pentobarbital is a barbiturate known to slow down human brain activity and the nervous system. It is commonly used as a sedative or to induce a coma-like condition. It is also used to euthanize animals. The presence of pentobarbital in pet food is a violation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

Smucker has said that the root cause is a single ingredient supplier used at one manufacturing facility.

“We take this very seriously and are extremely disappointed that pentobarbital was introduced to our supply chain. We will continue to work closely with our suppliers and veterinarians to ensure the ingredients used in our products meet or exceed regulatory safety standards and our high-quality standards,” says Barry Dunaway, president, Pet Food and Pet Snacks. “Above all, we are a company that loves pets and understand the responsibility we have in providing high-quality food for the pets our consumers love.”

Although the presence of pentobarbital has taken the media and the public by surprise—likely because of the household brand names involved—it is not the first time that pentobarbital has shown up in pet food products. In 2017, at least four dog food brands and varieties—Evangers, Against the Grain, Cocolicious  and and  Party Animal—were recalled due to pentobarbital between February and April.

Consumers who believe they have purchased any of these affected products are urged to return them to the retailer for a refund, or contact the product manufacturer directly for more information.