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Pet Food and Pentobarbital...What Does It Mean?

Over the last couple of weeks, stories have surfaced again about the euthanasia drug, pentobarbital, showing up in specific brands of pet foods along with recalls of those brands. At the end of the week, the FDA announced that their investigation found traces of the drug in a wide range of very popular brands of food often found in grocery stores as well as big box retailers. Names like Kibbles 'n Bits, Gravy Train, and even Ol' Roy have been potentially affected.

It should go without saying that a euthanasia drug should not be present in our pets' foods and even though the levels are thought to be low enough that our pets should not be affected, this breach of trust is very disturbing.

The JM Smuckers company is the parent company to these brands and has announced that they believe they have tracked the source to a single supplier and a single ingredient.

The FDA is continuing their investigation and is looking at the supply chain as well in order to determine how this deadly drug was introduced. Regardless of how it got there, this is a public relations disaster for these brands of food. There is a complete listing of the diets (along with a few other previous recalls for Salmonella in raw diets) listed on the AVMA Animal Food recalls page.

The good news is that you still have a wide variety of SAFE and nutritious diets for your pets available at a range of price points and types. Whether you are looking for canned, semi-moist or kibble, there are still many brands that will offer good nutrition for your furry friends. Ask your veterinarian about their favorite or preferred brands. Companies like Hill's, Nutro, Royal Canin and Purina have been providing great diets for decades AND they have the research and testing to back up their claims.

When it comes to feeding your pet, who do you trust to give you the best advice?

ADDENDUM: I subscribe to an email service that monitors animal and infectious disease as well as issues like this recall. The organization is called ProMed and according to their website, "Promed is an Internet-based reporting system dedicated to rapid global dissemination of information on outbreaks of infectious diseases and acute exposures to toxins that affect human health, including those in animals and in plants grown for food or animal feed. Electronic communications enable ProMED to provide up-to-date and reliable news about threats to human, animal, and food plant health around the world, seven days a week. By providing early warning of outbreaks of emerging and re-emerging diseases, public health precautions at all levels can be taken in a timely manner to prevent epidemic transmission and to save lives." I like this service because it is free of political issues and helps sort through the media hype and possible mis-information within these stories.

Here's what one of their moderators had to say about this issue: " Likely, the supplier of meat picked up a beef animal which was euthanized. The person having the deceased animal should notify the person picking up the animal if it has been euthanized instead of dying by natural causes. It has happened before with other pet food brands. The risk of this type of situation may increase, especially with no grain diets, as they are meat based, and any animals used in the processing could be suspects of being euthanized. The challenge for regulatory bodies is to construct a regulation allowing food producers to keep producing pet food while providing regulations for safe food. "

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