Sunday, April 27, 2008

He Said, She Said - FDA vs. Evanger's

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.

Original post:

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".

So -

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.


Rebecca Theim said...


I work with Evanger's, and especially in light of last year's pet food recall, the company completely understands pet owners' concerns about food safety and what the FDA's inspection of Evanger's facility really means.

The company only asks that you keep the following facts in mind as you evaluate the situation:

1. The FDA inspection was routine. It was a periodic inspection done by the agency, and wasn't prompted by complaints or problems with the company's products.

2. Evanger's continues to produce and distribute pet food with the approval of the FDA.

3. No Evanger's product has been recalled. None, nada.

4. The FDA has not called into question the wholesomeness of any ingredient Evanger's uses.

5. All ingredients in Evanger’s products are sourced in the United States and all manufacturing is done in its suburban Chicago facility. At 73 years old and counting, Evanger's is the country's oldest natural pet food company and uses only human-grade ingredients in its products.

6. "We are confident Evanger’s products continue to be safe, wholesome and natural, so confident that we continue to feed them daily to our own pets,” Holly Sher said in the company's statement.

YesBiscuit! said...

Hi Rebecca,
I think the 2007 recalls taught us a few things that come into play here.
1. Many pet food companies issued statements stating their food was 100% safe, etc. and then turned around and issued recalls. As a result, I think the "100% safe" statements have been diminished in the eyes of pet owners.
2. We learned that companies who say their ingredients are "sourced in the US" typically mean that they buy from US based suppliers. Those suppliers may well buy their ingredients from overseas. Again, I think that statement's value has decreased, particularly due to companies trying to fool consumers into thinking their ingredients are grown/raised in the US when they are not.

Anonymous said...

Buyer beware! Our dogs were poisoned in November and our little guy is STILL on a variety of meds, still having serious health issues.

lesliek said...

I also had trouble with the Evangers dog food and was contacted yesterday by the OCI[office of criminal investigation for the FDA]. The companies reinspections did not go well and the FDA is very interested in talking to anyone who has had a problem with anything they make. So if you have had a problem please contact the FDA or you can send me a message at ,they don't want their name & 3 published but I can give it to you or get your contact info ans pass it on to them.If you are still using their food,this might be a good time to reconsider.

Anonymous said...

LeslieK - your serial blogging is really getting old. Why is the Evanger's extortionist first to post on every single Evanger's article? It seems you have an alternate agenda....

Kathy said...

I think that Evangers is hiding a lot of thing. You can say the first time it was a book and record keeping problem after that I don't think so. Why if you have a year to get it right they don't. I have read how many dogs gotten sick on that food. Dog and cats are little babys. I can't take that chance. I can't pay 3000.00 Just because I used the wrong food. Or that my baby might die because of it.

George said...

Rebecca Theim doesn't seem to realize everyone knows the only item subject to mandatory recall is baby formula. Evanger's would have to recall their own food voluntarily. Maybe she could answer why they haven't fixed their paperwork in over a year.

Personally, I don't believe the FDA is persecuting the Shers (as they have claimed in the past). I was under the impression that the only people the FDA goes after are their own employees.

I dropped this brand of food from my rotation last year and will not be going back to it ever. A process error that could allow the survival botulism spores, and the company says it's OK, the ingredients are sourced in the US? A company that assassinates the characters of people who complain? Nope, not a company I want to deal with.

lesliek said...

Hey anonymous facny meeting you here ! My agenda is very simple,safe food for my family. Its amazing how Evangers feels that slurs about their customers will divert attention from the real problem which is unsafe manufacturing & unsafe food. Guess the consumer affairs article hit a nerve.My side of my problems with Evangers is all documented online with test results & receipts.I don't think you realize that no one wants to do business with a co who responds this way to a customer complaint.Even Evangers employees are sueing them. Try spending a little time on QA & QC & maybe you wouldn't be under criminal investigation.

Anonymous said...

Looks like someone is out for revenge???? Ridiculous. At the expense of others, please.

Indy said...

It's amazing how Evanger's staff is all over the internet insisting that no problems have been reported with their food, and even denying the that the FDA suspended their emergency license!

I reported problems with their food to Evanger's (I found rice in the canned beef, which was only supposed to contain beef. This is a big problem, as my dog is allergic to rice). My friend found chunks of plastic and whole corn kernels in the canned game meats, which are supposed to contain only meat, no rice. So I know of two problems reported to Evanger's, but they keep insisting that no problems have been reported with their food, which I know to be untrue.
If you look on, you can see that there are several reports of dogs being treated for botulism sypmtoms after eating Evanger's canned food. Two were in Monrovia, MD, not far from me. The way that Evanger's keeps insisting that nothing is wrong with their food, that no problems have been reported, and even denying that their emergency license has been suspended trashed what was left of their credibility for me.

I posted about the FDA announcement on my blog, and someone who writes the Evanger's blog left a comment saying that they don't know where this information came from, but it's not true, and I should call Evanger's to get "the truth" rather than relying on "internet speculiation"...even though I had given the link to the FDA web site about the announcement.

Not a good way to handle negative publicity, Evanger's folks.