FDA issues alert about pentobarbital contamination in dog food

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The Food and Drug Administration is investigating contamination with pentobarbital in canned dog food manufactured by The J.M. Smucker Co., according to a Feb. 16 announcement from the agency.

Because pentobarbital residues are unaffected by rendering or canning temperatures and pressures, animals killed with chemical euthanasia substances, including pentobarbital, cannot be used in the manufacture of pet foods.

One dog died and others became ill after, in late 2016, eating canned food from Evanger's Dog and Cat Food Co. that was contaminated with pentobarbital. WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C., later tested 62 samples of wet dog food across more than two dozen brands for pentobarbital. Nine of 15 cans of Gravy Train from J.M. Smucker had positive results. After learning of the results, J.M. Smucker initiated a withdrawal of all lots of canned dog food from its Gravy Train, Kibbles 'N Bits, Ol' Roy, and Skippy brands manufactured from 2016 through Feb. 16.

The FDA's preliminary evaluation of the testing results of Gravy Train samples indicated that the low concentration of pentobarbital present in the withdrawn products was unlikely to pose a health risk to pets.

On Feb. 23, J.M. Smucker announced that it had identified the source of pentobarbital as beef fat, which was used only in the recalled brands of dog food.

Related JAVMA content:

Pentobarbital in food sickens dogs, food maker wants more regulations (April 1, 2017)