Trick or Treat Should Not Apply to Dog Biscuits

Wow, it’s been a rough year for Nature’s Variety.

Don’t confuse that sentence for sympathy, however – it’s actually outrage that they haven’t been shut down or at least exposed in a more public forum than my tiny little blog.

My anger began when I found sharp items in a bag of Instinct Dog Rabbit.  After speaking with NV and being blown off by both the local sales rep as well as their head office, we investigated further and found sharp (and in many cases unidentifiable) objects throughout numerous varieties of Instinct kibble.  To add insult to injury, while NV was telling us that there were NO bones in their products and that they could find no problem worthy of their attention, we had a dorsal ray fish bone removed from a piece of kibble and identified – and found dozens of reports across the web of consumers finding adulteration in their canned and frozen products as well.  You can read our entire report by clicking here.  At that time, we had not found any issue with their frozen bones, grain inclusive kibble or their treats.

A few months later we discovered a study done to promote a particular brand of “alternative protein” food for allergies.  During the study, the authors learned that with many products what was on the label was NOT what was in the bag.  Surprise, surprise, Nature’s Variety had made the list – by adding Soy to their Venison and Millet diet, despite having a very clear “NO SOY” advertisement on the front of the bag.  Interestingly, chicken livers were on the list and yet no chicken livers were found in the product.  Since then, the online ingredients list has been altered to remove chicken livers, so it could have been an ingredient change issue… but the soy pretty much convinced me that this line of pet products was not what it claimed to be.  You can read our entire report by clicking here.

The last straw for us came just yesterday.  In the US, a pet parent opened a box of Instinct Chicken Grain Free Biscuits, marked with “best if used by RM Jan 24 12 18:04″ and discovered this:

The foreign material was visible immediately

Upon further inspection, they discovered that the adulteration was spread throughout the package:

These photos are remarkably similar if not identical to many that we have recorded from kibble samples

And throughout the individual treats as well – this is what they discovered when they broke one open:

Sharp objects contained within the treats

Thankfully, through the magic of the interwebs, the discoverer of these adulterated cookies found our blog and our previous post involving sharp objects in their kibble and other products.  We immediately contacted her and asked her to hang on to the product, inform the store manager/owner, and to lodge a complaint with both Nature’s Variety and if possible, the FDA.

We had debated from the beginning about possible causes for the presence of these sharp objects – what this tells us is that it is extremely likely that this is (as we suggested to NV originally) a raw ingredient issue.  Pet food companies order their ingredients already prepared.  For example, if they order fresh chicken, that chicken has to meet certain standards like protein and fat content, ash content and the level of grinding/screening required.

We have seen this problem before in products like Orijen 6-Fish Dog and Wellness Fish and Potato Dog, when fish meal that hadn’t been thoroughly screened made it into the mix the final products contained sharp fish bones.  Orijen issued a product withdrawal and instituted better QA practices – Wellness still hasn’t even admitted there was an issue (surprise, surprise…).  When I suggested this to NV, it was quickly dismissed.

To Nature’s Variety I have to ask – if your raw ingredients are properly screened (as you claim), WHY are these large pieces now being found in so many products?  So far we have recorded adulteration in their raw food, Instinct kibble, their canned products and now their treat line.

I’ll say it one last time – We are avoiding ALL Nature’s Variety products and we encourage our clients STRONGLY to do the same.

PLEASE, if you discover something unusual in your pets’ food or treats, documentation is key.  Take photos, save samples, and contact the appropriate people.  The first response is often to return the product to the store – unfortunately, too often these problems are swept under the rug.

We will keep you posted on this issue if we receive any more information.  In the meantime, please contact us if you have discovered something unusual in your pet product, Nature’s Variety or otherwise.  If you’ve discovered this post while trying to find a cause for your adulterated product, please take the time to let us know so that we can continue to track this issue.

One final note, I would like to add – I really don’t care what these sharp objects are.  I care that they are SHARP, and that they are in my pets’ FOOD. 

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5 comments on “Trick or Treat Should Not Apply to Dog Biscuits

  1. Kit Azevedo says:

    So I obtained a bag of Nature’s Variety Instinct (Chicken) for my dogs because I am constantly rotating their kibbles. In the first half cup scoop out of the bag I found two pieces with sharp bits sticking out of them. I obviously did not feed them that food!

    I took some pictures and bagged up a few of the suspect kibbles and tossed the bag. I am planing on complaining to the company, but I was wondering if you are collecting information?

  2. I’m going to send you an email, Kit.

    To anyone else who has discovered ANY adulteration in their pet food (regardless of brand), please contact us at Dogs In Training At Gmail Dot Com for more information.

    Please also notify the store manager or owner where you purchased the bag, and let them know that this is NOT an isolated incident.

  3. Viatecio says:

    OK that’s IT: No more frozen raw buffalo bones from Nature’s Variety.

    This is the 3rd one that was made from a joint with small pieces (the first was a CARPUS…with all the small bones that make it up!), and the first in which I didn’t recognize this fact until I looked at it and thought “There should be a patella in here…” and it’s not. I’m generally good enough to take out the small pieces before the dog can get to them, but I’m afraid she got to the patella before I realized it was supposed to be there. Probably swallowed it whole too.

    So no more of Nature’s Variety. Third time’s a charm and I should’ve seen it coming.

    • Ack. Sorry to hear that, Viatecio. That does suck.

      We’re really big fans of the Ultimate Diet frozen bones. We used the NV kinds way back in the day, but there were about 4-5 years where NV couldn’t get their frozen bones north of the border, so we had to search out alternatives. Knowing what I know now, I’m pretty relieved that we were forced to search out alternatives.

      Fingers crossed that she passes everything she’s swallowed without incident. It’s so unfortunate, this whole situation. We really, really, really, could use another brand with a full line of acceptable products (kibble, canned, frozen, treats, etc). With Natura biting the dust recently as well – gotta love settling a class-action and popping up in big box stores at the same time – we’re having to turn to home cooked more and more. Makes it very difficult to recommend anything any more.

  4. Keep up the good work! Glad to know there are others out there keeping them honest on their toes! Good for you!

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