Update on April 29, 2008: Over on the Itchmo Forums, a consumer posted a response from the FDA on the back and forth between Evanger's and the FDA.
On April 24, 2008 FDA issued a press release stating in part:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an order requiring that Evanger's Dog & Cat Food Co., Inc., in Wheeling, Ill., obtain an emergency permit from the FDA before its canned pet food products enter interstate commerce.
A recent inspection revealed significant deviations from prescribed documentation of processes, equipment, and recordkeeping in the production of the company's thermally processed low acid canned food (LACF) products. These problems could result in under-processed pet foods, which can allow the survival and growth of Clostridium botulinum (C. botulinum), a bacterium that causes botulism in some animals as well as in humans.
Pet owners who feed Evanger's or any of the companies Evanger's cans for, would seem to have reason to be concerned.
But then -
On April 25, 2008 Evanger's responded with a release on its website, stating in part:
Contrary to a news release issued by the FDA Thursday, April 24, 2008, Evanger’s continues to make and distribute its products with FDA approval. Evanger’s is working closely with the FDA and already has addressed many of the FDA’s questions. Evanger’s expects to have the few remaining FDA queries fully satisfied shortly.
No Evanger’s product has been recalled, nor is there any indication that any Evanger’s product is under-processed, unsafe, or contaminated in any way.
And the owners, Joel and Holly Sher, made the rounds to the pet blogs, posting comments that the FDA release is "highly inaccurate".
What's a pet owner to do? Believe the FDA whose track record on protecting consumers (and their pets) leaves something to be desired? Believe the owners of the pet food company who obviously would like you to buy their products? This is a dilemma pet owners should not have to face. Evanger's does not work for me so I can't influence their behavior except with my wallet. But the FDA does work for me. And I want an FDA with enough funding, qualified staff, and enforcement powers (not to mention a complete overhaul so that even the appearance of the agency's "fondness" for big business is eradicated) that can do its job right. I want an FDA that protects me and my pets and has a good record of doing so. I want an FDA that has gotten it right enough times for me to have confidence that if they say X, I can believe X.
For now, I will continue to grocery shop with caution and prepare my pets' food at home. Because the FDA I want and the FDA I have seem to be far, far apart.