Massive dog food recall after euthanasia drug found across multiple brands

Toxic euthanasia drugs are the without a doubt, the very last ingredients you’d want to find in a bag of food for your favorite furry pal. And yet, dozens of dog foods have been recalled for that very reason. The J.M. Smucker company just announced a recall for several types of food, including “Gravy Train,” “Skippy” and “Kibbles N’ Bits.”

You can view the full list of all the products being recalled here at

What’s the cause of such an enormous recall? These dog foods have been contaminated with pentobarbital. While the drug is cited as a treatment for insomnia, it is also sometimes used for more extreme purposes. For example, in the state of Texas, pentobarbital is the drug of choice for execution by lethal injection.

In other words, it’s not a drug you want your pet to be consuming in any amount. While the statement from Smucker claims that the amount of pentobarbital found in their dog foods was “extremely low,” and did not pose a risk to pets,  many pet owners are nonetheless concerned.

While speaking to Food Safety News, an FDA spokesperson also reportedly commented, ““…preliminary evaluation of the testing results of Gravy Train samples indicates that the low level of pentobarbital present in the withdrawn products is unlikely to pose a health risk to pets.”

“However, pentobarbital should never be present in pet food and products containing any amount of pentobarbital are considered to be adulterated,” the spokesperson added. As U.S. health officials note, pentobarbital can cause an array of negative side effects in animals, including dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, loss of balance and, at worst, death.

According to the FDA, all of the contaminated products trace back to a single supplier. Sources say that pentobarbital typically makes it way into dog food when a euthanized animal makes it way onto production lines.

Smucker says that the recall is underway “because a minor ingredient may contain low levels of pentobarbital,” and that it’s presence, while non-threatening, is “not acceptable.”  Referring to the presence of a euthanasia drug in dog food as merely “not acceptable” may be a bit of an understatement, but at least they are recalling their tainted products.

Smucker is not the first dog food manufacturer to find that their food is tainted with potentially lethal pentobarbital. In 2017, Evanger’s dog and cat foods were found to be contaminated as well. Evanger’s pet foods were linked to multiple pet illnesses and at least one death. The Evanger’s scandal is ultimately what prompted a massive investigation of other dog foods. Unsurprisingly, pentobarbital wasn’t the only red-flag substance found in dog food; there are a myriad of horrific things to be found in the average bag of kibble.

As Food Safety News explained:

“Beginning in October 2017, Clean Label Project obtained 99 retail samples of various brands of canned/wet dog food for pentobarbital analysis by Ellipse Analytics, a Denver laboratory.”

Jaclyn Bowen, the executive director at Clean Label Project, was not overly surprised to find traces of the toxic chemical in so many dog foods. She commented, “At Clean Label Project, we believe that sometimes what’s not on the label is what’s most important.”

“Clean Label Project’s 2017 Pet Food Study revealed high levels of heavy metals, BPA, and acrylamide in some of the nation’s best selling pet food. The presence of pentobarbital in Gravy Train does not come as a surprise and the Evanger’s recall was not a one-off, rather the tip of the iceberg of an industry that needs to significantly improve its food safety and quality through testing,” Bowen contended.

There is no shortage of offenders when it comes to deception within the food industry — be that people food or pet food. Indeed, many conventional kibbles are nothing but garbage in a fancy bag — even some of the most expensive ones at the store are bad news.

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