In February 2018, a local television station in Washington, D.C. conducted its own investigation which revealed that certain pet foods contained the same drug that is used for euthanasia. This prompted the Food and Drug Administration to initiate its own inquiry of the pet food makers. Even while under FDA scrutiny, one particular pet food maker was still found to have been manufacturing food that contained traces of this drug. This resulted in a warning letter from the FDA to that manufacturer.
The initial investigation conducted by the television station tested 62 different types of dog food. This was prompted by a report from a family whose dog died suddenly. When they sent the food to the lab that the dog had eaten immediately prior to taking ill, the tests results found that the food was contaminated. Specifically, the pet food was found to contain pentobarbital, which is the drug used to euthanize animals. After learning of this, the television station partnered with a lab to test other foods and found that half of the pet foods that were tested contained traces of the same drug. The tests spanned two dozen different brands.
Federal law prohibits pet food from containing adulterated ingredients. Carcasses of animals who have died by means other than slaughter cannot be used to make pet food. One possible explanation for how the pet food became contaminated was that the food did contain the carcasses of animals that were euthanized. Regardless, the report resulted in many different types of dog food being pulled from store shelves while the manufacturers investigated what went wrong.
While most manufacturers certainly got the message, the FDA recently issued a warning letter to one pet food supplier who continued to market a product that contained the deadly drug. JBS Souderton, Inc. was found to have been supplying pet food ingredients that contained pentobarbital. The FDA’s plant inspection was conducted after media reports of the contamination and subsequent to the recall of the pet foods. The FDA has Good Manufacturing Practice Requirements for animal food that was violated by pet food containing this drug. JBS Souderton did not take the appropriate corrective action to fix the issue even after it received notice in February 2018 that its pet food was contaminated. Even after the company warranted to the FDA that it was taking steps to fix the problem, its pet food continued to contain traces of the drug.
JBS Souderton has resisted recalling the ingredients that it supplies to pet food manufacturers. It has attempted to deal with the issue by offering to remove products that have tested positive for pentobarbital. However, the manufacturer was unable to provide the FDA with any documentation showing that the problem has been addressed. The FDA gave JBS Souderton until May 14, 2019 to respond to the letter or face regulatory action by the agency
JBS Souderton was the supplier of the pet food that was initially the focus of the television station’s investigation. There is currently a class action lawsuit against the maker of the pet food that contained the ingredients supplied by JBS Souderton. The lawsuit alleges that the manufacturer of the product violated the U.S. Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act by selling adulterated food products. It also alleges violations of New York State law. Any pet owner who has had a pet harmed by contaminated pet food should immediately seek assistance to help determine their legal rights and their eligibility for financial compensation.
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