US dog food recalled after euthanasia drug found in product

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U.S. pet food maker Evanger’s has issued a voluntarily recall after one dog died and four others fell ill after they ate its Hunk of Beef product.

The dog food was found to have been exposed to pentobarbital, a drug used to euthanize animals. While the drug is usually administered via injection, ingestion can also cause harm.

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“Pentobarbital can affect animals that ingest it, and possibly cause side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, excitement, loss of balance, or nausea, or in extreme cases, possibly death,” the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states.

A Washington state woman told KATU News that her four pugs immediately fell ill after she fed them a can of the food as a treat on New Year’s Eve.

“They were acting drunk.”

“They were falling over. So I grabbed them all and took them to the emergency vet. And when they got there, they were just limp, they weren’t moving or anything,” Nikki Mael said.

Her dog Talula passed away.

In a statement on its website Evanger’s said it has never before recalled a product in its 82-year history.

“In addition to fully funding the veterinary bills for the dogs that became ill Evanger’s will be making a donation to a local shelter in honor of Talula the Pug,” the company states.

Evanger’s is USDA approved, and uses beef chunks supplied from cows slaughtered in a USDA facility. The company said it continues to investigate how the drug contaminated its product, and has raised concern that lax restrictions are allowing carcasses of euthanized animals to make their way back into the animal food stream.

The product being recalled.

FDA handout photo

“There is absolutely no regulation that requires the certified vet to place any kind of marker on the animal indicating that it has been euthanized and guaranteeing that product from euthanized animals cannot enter the food chain,” Evanger’s states on its website. “This is a simple task, and goes a very long way to ensure safety in many areas.”

The product, Hunk of Beef Au Jus, was sold online and in stores in a number of states including Minnesota, Illinois, and Michigan. The product under recall was manufactured the week of June 6 – June 13, 2016, and can be identified by the following lot numbers: 1816E03HB, 1816E04HB, 1816E06HB, 1816E07HB, and 1816E13HB.

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Consumers are encouraged to dispose of the product or return to the place of purchase for a full refund.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency regulates pet food imports into the country from the U.S. You can read the federal guidelines for such products here.

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