Feb. 18, 2018, People.com ran an article about an ABC7 independent investigation in 2017 into the sudden onset of illness of four dogs. One of the dogs died.

Suspecting an issue with the pet’s food, the owner of the four pups sent the remainder of the food off to an independent lab. The lab found Pentobarbital in the samples; a drug commonly used to euthanize animals.

When ABC7 got wind of the story they went one step further and launched their own investigation. Over several months they had a lab test 62 samples from over 24 brand names of wet dog food. One brand repeatedly tested positive for Pentobarbital.

Gravy Train. Gravy Train is made by Big Heart Pet Foods, which is owned by Smucker’s. Big Heart Brands is also produces Meow Mix, Milk Bone, Kibbles’n Bits, 9 Lives, Natural Balance, Pup-Peroni, Nature’s Recipe, Canine Carry Outs, Milo’s Kitchen, Alley Cat, Jerky Treats, Meaty Bone, Pounce and Snausages.


CNN did a report the same day with information stating nine out of 15 cans of Gravy Train tested positive for pentobarbital. That’s 60 percent. And while the samples tested did not contain lethal amounts of the drug, it goes without saying that no amount of Pentobarbital has any place in pet food. Consumption of the drug would have a greater effect on smaller breeds and animals who consistently consume the product.

According to the article J.M. Smucker Company had “narrowed down the root cause to be a single supplier and a single, minor ingredient, and use at only one manufacturing facility.”

The same day the company issued a “withdraw” of the product, meaning everything on the stores shelves were removed and no further products were shipped from warehouses holding any product produced at the identified facility.

By the beginning of March the New Tribune Report and Associated press reported that the news of the contamination and “withdraw” of the pet food products had highly impacted one Illinois animal shelter. They have an abundance of donated canned foods that they can no longer use and without receipts (because they were donated) the shelter isn’t optimistic about getting a refund or replacement product.

Everyone’s big question has been, just exactly how did pentobarbital get into the ingredient list of this pet food?

According to the article released today by Food Safety News, the drug was found in the tallow (the fat) used in the manufacturing of the J.M. Smucker pet food lines, and a “recall” is now effective.

More than 107 million cans of food, sold under the brand names Gravy Train, Kibbles ’N Bits, Skippy and Ol’ Roy brands. Big Heart Pet Brands distributed the Gravy Train, Kibbles ’N Bits and Skippy dog food to retailers nationwide. Walmart Stores Inc. distributed the Ol’ Roy dog food.

Please check out today’s article in Food Safety News for a full list of the recalled brands and UPC codes to be looking for.