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Facts About the Gravy Train Food Recall

Several Pet Foods Recalled Due to Contamination with Pentobarbital

                There have been some recent news stories about a voluntary recall on pet foods under the J.M. Smucker Company name due to contamination with a drug called pentobarbital.  Below are facts about the affected foods and what sparked the recall.  If your pet eats any of these brands, please check the recall list for the specific lot numbers and contact the company and/or the FDA to report the problem.  Contact information is available in the links below.

                What brands are affected?  Certain lots of Gravy Train, Kibbles ‘N Bits, Ol’ Roy and Skippy.  The full list of recalled items is listed here or here

                Why is the food being recalled?  Small amounts of a drug called pentobarbital were found in several types of Gravy Train canned dog foods.  Other brands manufactured by Smucker’s were voluntarily recalled as a precaution.  The amounts of pentobarbital discovered are at low levels and unlikely to cause significant illness in pets; however, any level of this drug in pet food is considered unacceptable by the FDA and by the Smucker company and they are working to track down the source of the contamination.

                What is pentobarbital?  Pentobarbital is a drug commonly used in veterinary and human medicine as a sedative or anesthetic and is also used for euthanasia. 

                How did it get there?  It is suspected that a contaminated meat/livestock source contained the pentobarbital.  It is NOT suspected that the remains of euthanized companion animals (cats and dogs) are the source.  U.S. pet food companies do NOT use euthanized pets in their foods though this myth tends to circulate from time to time.  There is NO EVIDENCE that this is the case with this recall.  Again, the drug most likely got into the food from a contaminated beef supplier. 

                How was it discovered?  After a Washington state dog died in 2016 allegedly after eating another brand of pet food called Evanger’s found to be contaminated with pentobarbital, ABC news conducted an independent study testing multiple brands of pet food searching for the drug.  This led to the discovery of the contaminated cans of Gravy Train.  The products involved are distributed nationwide.  

                Could it be harmful to my pet?  Again, current levels discovered in the affected pet foods are not thought to be high enough to cause illness, but pentobarbital could cause sedation, excitement, stumbling, nausea, and inability to stand. Consuming high levels of pentobarbital can cause coma and death. 

                What should I do if I have purchased or fed these foods to my pet?  Consult the recall list.  Do not continue to feed any foods on the recall list, contact the company and/or the FDA.  If your pet seems ill or is exhibiting any of the symptoms listed, contact your veterinarian.

                How can I make sure my pet is eating a good diet?  Feed the best quality dog or cat food you can afford.  Stick with trusted brands such as Purina, Hill’s Science Diet, Royal Canin, and Iams/Eukanuba.  No company is necessarily immune to potential contamination or recalls, but these companies have been around for a long time and produce quality foods.  There are many other good products out there as well.  You may think that the best option would be to avoid feeding commercial pet food altogether; however, balanced home cooked diets are difficult to make. Essential nutrients are often left out which may also harm your pet.  If you feel you must feed your pet food you make yourself, consult a veterinary nutritionist or a website such as

                This blog brought to you by the Patton Veterinary Hospital serving Red Lion, York and the surrounding communities. 

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