May 5, 2011, the FDA sent a letter to the Evangers company of Illinois outlining a few problems with their canned products.
Sadly, this is not the first time. Not even close.
After reports of manufacturing practices that could potentially lead to botulism contamination, the FDA revoked Evanger’s ability to sell their canned products over state lines in April of 2008.
You can click here for a good example of how that situation played out. In general, the FDA is difficult to glean information from, and with Evanger’s at the front of a media tsunami trying to play down the situation, many people came to the company’s defense. Most consumers seemed unwilling to consider that their favourite brand was involved in unsafe practices, and others simply viewed this as an attack on a small private pet food label (at the time there was a flood of complaints regarding Nutro products and outrage at the fact that it appeared the FDA was mishandling the situation – some people even believed that the attention paid to Evangers was an attempt to distract consumers from the Nutro situation).
As a pet store employee during this time (at a store that not only carried but supported Evangers) I can tell you that for the year leading up to this we were seeing significant signs of problems. Foreign matter was found in the cans, cans frequently arrived with broken seals, and at least two moldy cans were reported.
Since then, however, it appears that things have taken a turn for the worse. (*** edited to add: the FDA required Evangers to apply for an emergency operating permit in 2008 before they could resume interstate transport. They revoked this permit in June of 2009 because an inspection conducted between March and April of that year revealed continued unsafe practices. No other pet food company that I’m aware of has such a tangled history with the FDA, and I believe that this most recent incident proves just how totally ineffective the current system is at even enforcing the rules already in existence. ***)
This year we learned of three varieties of Venison dog food that contained foreign material – poultry, beef and soy (Eukanuba, Natural Balance and our old friend Nature’s Variety). It appears that the FDA may have taken notice, since the latest complaint leveled at Evangers involves protein substitution.
Note that I said “substitution.” It seems that the FDA tested two varieties of Evangers, “Lamb and Rice Dog Food” and “Grain Free Duck Pet Food.” Their findings were very upsetting, although perhaps not surprising.
The “Lamb and Rice Dog Food” was tested for lamb – and was negative. It was, however, positive for Bovine protein or Beef. Considering that lamb and rice formulations are almost always used for allergies and/or stomach upset, and the fact that beef is often listed as one of the worst allergens for dogs, could Evangers have made a worse choice? It’s important to pay special attention to the complete lack of lamb protein. This wasn’t a matter of trying to reduce the overall cost of a product by substituting some cheaper ingredients – this is a blatant case of fraud.
I suppose the issue should have been apparent, you can see on their website that under canned dog food their “Lamb and Rice” product is actually the cheapest one they offer. Less than beef, chicken, turkey, duck or vegetarian. Could this have been the first hint? The Lamb Dinner in their “Classic” line is also the same price as the chicken, which of course leaves me to wonder just how many products were actually tested. There’s a big difference between only finding two substitutions after testing the entire product line and only finding two substitutions after testing a portion of the product line, and considering the pricing I can’t believe that they would substitute lamb in one and not the other.
But it doesn’t end there. The “Grain Free Duck Pet Food” was found to contain NO DUCK. The protein source is not specified (which leads to even more questions, as far as I’m concerned) but they are quite positive that the product does not contain duck. Considering the price of duck and the reasons that consumers would choose this product over other alternatives (allergies, food sensitivities, etc) this situation is beyond despicable. I should note that again, this product is SERIOUSLY underpriced if it were to contain what was on the label. This is not a new issue – these cans used to retail in our area for under $2 a can. Is it any surprise that for $1.69 you’re not actually getting a balanced grain free duck product? (Not that cheap products should be held to a lower standard when it comes to labeling and safety!)
Because of these and past events, we have added ALL Evanger’s products to our “Do Not Buy” list. This company has proven themselves time and time again to be far more concerned with the bottom line than with safety or quality. Need more proof? You’ll notice that there is not a WORD of this issue on the company’s website. You’ll notice they have NOT issued a recall for these products.
Once again, I ask you to vote with your wallet. And once again I have to ask why we don’t have a certification program in place?
*** No, I am not suggesting that Evangers was using zucchini, dogs or cats in their canned duck product. The fact is, we don’t know WHAT is in that can. The use of zucchini, dogs and cats dressed as ducks is an exercise in sarcasm, nothing more.