When second place is Very Bad – Truth about Pet Food

Pathogenic bacteria is #1 cause of recalls. The #2 cause is going to surprise you (not in a good way).

Since 2012, more than 339,709,977 lbs of pet food has been recalled. The leading cause of these pet food recalls was pathogenic bacteria (Salmonella, Listeria, E.coli), resulting in 154,064,611 lbs of pet food recalled.

When a pet food is recalled, a press release of that recall is posted on the FDA website alerting the public. As example, below is a screen shot image of a recall notice from 2012 from Diamond Pet Food.

The recall notice includes the cause of the recall, lists the various brand names involved and in this case discloses that all ‘best-before’ dates from December 9, 2012 to April 7, 2013 are being recalled.

While recall notices give information about the recalled pet food, other pages on the FDA website – Enforcement Reports – tell us how many pounds of pet food were recalled.

Below is the Enforcement Report for just one of the pet foods involved in the above recall – Taste of the Wild pet food:

Notice under “Product Details, Product Quantity” – this report states approximately “10,275,000 lbs” of pet food were recalled. One recall, one brand – more than ten million pounds of pet food.

Totaling all of the Enforcement Reports that provided ‘Product Quantity’ information on the FDA website (2012 to 2019), the breakdown of pet food recalls looks like this (“Other” includes Freeze-Dried, cooked sold frozen, and toppers):

Kibble and treats made up about 80% of the total pounds of products recalled.

The top four causes of recalls based on pounds – Salmonella/Listeria/E.coli, Elevated Vitamin D, Unapproved antibiotics, and Pentobarbital – breaks down like this:

About 50% of the total pounds of pet foods recalled since 2012 were for Salmonella, Listeria and/or E.coli. No great surprise there.

More than 1 million pounds of pet foods were recalled for excess Vitamin D (there is no Enforcement Report as of the publishing of this post for the Hill’s excess Vitamin D recall of January 2019). Pet treats take the entire recall category of unapproved antibiotics with more than 2.5 million pounds recalled.

The biggest shock was the #2 category of pet foods recalled per pound; pentobarbital. In 2017 and 2018 alone, more than 30 million pounds of pet food were recalled because they contained the euthanizing drug pentobarbital. All 30 million pounds of pentobarbital recalled pet food was canned pet food, totaling more than 89 million cans of pet food.

Recalls for Salmonella, Listeria and/or E.coli

Breaking down the 154 million pounds of pet foods recalled for Salmonella, Listeria and/or E.coli – more kibble pet food has been recalled by a dramatic difference:

And this dramatic difference in pounds is even more surprising when you take into consideration there has not been a kibble pet food recalled for pathogenic bacteria since 2014. Below is a year-to-year line graph for pounds of kibble pet foods recalled for Salmonella, Listeria or E.coli from 2012 to 2019 (note this line graph is in hundreds of millions):

And below is another year-to-year line graph going in the opposite direction as kibble pet foods; below is raw pet food pounds recalled for Salmonella, Listeria or E.coli from 2012 to 2019. As kibble bacteria recalls went to zero, raw bacteria recalls skyrocketed (however, note this line graph tops out at 1.3 million):

Even though kibble Salmonella recalls completely stopped in 2014, and raw Salmonella recalls began to skyrocket, when you look at the total pounds recalled of the two styles of pet food side by side (blue line kibble, red line raw)…

…pounds of recalled raw pet food is barely measurable compared to kibble.

A total of 125 million pounds of kibble pet foods were recalled in 2013 for Salmonella, Listeria, and/or E.coli as compared to a total of 1.3 million pounds of raw pet food recalled in 2018.

From 125 million pounds to zero just two years later, how did the kibble industry achieve this? Do they have magical bacterial control or does this prove that regulatory authorities haven’t tested kibble pet food since 2014?

The Centers for Disease Control, the FDA, the AVMA, and on and on warn pet owners of the pathogenic bacteria dangers of raw pet food. Are they all simply choosing to ignore 125 million pounds of recalled kibble pet food?

A few more comparisons.

A per pound breakdown of recalls for pentobarbital and other illegal drugs (example antibiotics) looks like this:

Canned pet food is the significant leader to include an illegal drug mainly due to the massive amount of pentobarbital recalls.

Not including the 2019 Hill’s excess Vitamin D recall (that Enforcement Report has not been published), Vitamin and or Mineral excess or insufficient recalls broke down like this (per pound):

And pounds of pet food recalled due to the product containing a foreign object (recalls 2012 – 2019) looks like this:

Back to pentobarbital.

How many euthanized animals does it take to recall 30 million pounds of pet food? It’s horrific to consider. Where are these euthanized animals coming from? What species are they?

The majority of the pounds of recalled pet food were from pentobarbital contaminated rendered fat. Euthanized animals are ground, rendered (cooked), and the fat is removed from the solid material. Where did the pentobarbital contaminated solid material go? Why were those products not recalled just as the pentobarbital contaminated fat pet food products were?

And…that 30 million pounds of pentobarbital recalled pet food doesn’t include one confirmed recipient of the poisoned fat – Champion Pet Food. Through Freedom of Information Act request we know that Champion Pet Food received the same pentobarbital contaminated fat that led to the majority of the 30 million pounds of recalled pet food. But…Champion Pet Food was not required to recall.

How many more pounds of pet food would have been added to the total if Champion had recalled?

Worse yet to consider, how many more millions of pounds of pentobarbital contaminated pet foods are ‘out there’ because FDA openly allows “animals that have died otherwise than by slaughter” into pet food?

All of the data provided above was based only on Class I recalls, there are many more Class II pet food recalls on the FDA website. To search the Enforcement Reports yourself, Click Here.

Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
Association for Truth in Pet Food

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What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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The 2019 List
Susan’s List of trusted pet foods. Click Here to learn more.

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