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12 February 2010


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Lindsey Spivey

I, too, have filed a claim over the raw chicken diet. My 13 year old Siberian became violently ill after eating some of their food. Thankfully, she is recovered, at a cost of almost $4000. I have sent all the paperwork and the food back to the company. I was happy to see this post to see I am not alone. I hope no one loses their pet over this. I almost did.

Leslie K

Lindsey- please let us know how the company responds. I too like the test & hold idea, & they have been good about their past problems [4 recent ones come to mind]& taking suggestions from pet owners to make those problems public. However I won't be using their foods for a while until there are no more problems & I see how they deal with the expenses incurred by their food. My raw is going back. Better safe than sorry,so I don't use any food by pfc's with a recall.

Carol V

I gotta say I like the idea of "test and hold" instead of "test and send out and hope word gets out to distributors, retailers, and pet owners"...

Gina Spadafori

A couple of important points:

1) This company DID NOT do a Friday night dump and run. They really put some effort into getting the news out, and the recall is front and center on their home page -- you cannot miss it.

2) There's no such thing as perfect safe food, and there never will be. Too many links in the chain from source to mouth. Even the best companies may be faced with recall.

Recalls happen, and they will continue to happen. In fact, I WANT them to happen as opposed to having a company figure that no one will notice a lot of dead cats, which seems to have been the original thinking at Menu in 2007.

Given that no food is completely safe and recalls are preferable to silence, I think we should note those companies that truly do make an real effort to get the news out.

That is the case this time, and I hope other companies are paying attention.

Sandi K

I agree that recalls can happen to any company and am very glad NV issued a recall and put out a PR release about it. Unfortunately I seem to always have questions and perhaps its baggage leftover from the 2007 pet food recalls. In the PR release it says "Nature’s Variety became aware of a potential problem after receiving a consumer complaint." But yet at their website it says: "Please be assured, no human or pet illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this issue." And in a FAQ http://www.naturesvariety.com/sites/www.naturesvariety.com/files/FoodSafetyFAQs_021110.pdf at their site it says "No. There have been no consumer complaints about this code date. So there is some discrepancy.

Also while Im glad to hear they are putting a "test and hold" step in place, I would have thought a company producing raw food products would have already had salmonella testing in place before allowing any food to be released so Im somewhat confused or surprised about that statement.

Gina Spadafori

I know what you're saying, but that's not even the case for human food. Why, if the presence of salmonella stopped meat deliveries, there'd be no chicken in the grocery stores.

That's why there are the recommendations for properly handling and cooking.

Now, mind you, why the onus needs to be on the consumer to make food safe beats me. I refer to Christie's excellent post on this very topic. And I continue to refrain from buying factory-farmed meats for this reason and so many others I can't count them all.

Sandi K

That helps explain it Gina, I was naieve in thinking more initial testing was being done.

Sandi K

Comment by Lindsey Spivey — February 11, 2010 @ 11:08 pm

"I, too, have filed a claim over the raw chicken diet."

I think what is bothering me is the statement at their site saying no reports of affected pets but yet in their PR release it says it was a consumer complaint that helped them discover this problem. It doesnt help the distrust that many of us have as it gives the appearance of not being honest. Its a statement we see many times when there is a recall by PFC's and I can only guess it doesnt make Ms. Spivey feel so great. I would also be curious when the first complaint was received.

Christie Keith

Sandi, what they said was this: A complaint was received, and they tested THAT LOT and found no problems, but they DID find problems in OTHER LOTS.

Carol V

I might be wrong but I think NV says they found this lot to be a problem..not the lot the consumer called about...at least I think that is what the release says...so maybe that is why they say no complaints ..maybe

Sandi K

A friend pointed out to me that one of their statements indicates the lot that they received the consumer complaint about tested negative but a different lot tested positive. They do still have a statement that says "no human or pet illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this issue." so how that relates in timing to when Ms. Spivey filed her claim and other details involved is unknown.

Christie Keith

Hmmm, well, this would seem, then, to be wrong on its face: They ran the tests because of a complaint, but “no human or pet illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this issue.”

Still seems it's "in connection with this issue." But I guess you could claim it means, "No animals who ate the lots that tested positive, or humans, have been reported ill."

Carol V

I wonder what the complaint was for the "non-salmonella" lot?

Sandi K

Its interesting because the "test and hold" step is apparently being used by at least one other company that sells raw products. Im not selling this company or anything and I dont use its product, it just to point out that it is already being done and they also apparently post the results online which seems like a good thing to do. http://tiny.cc/xFp35 "Finally, all Stella & Chewy's products are tested for pathogens and held from shipping until results come back. Then we post all those results online so customers can match their batch code to a test result," Moody adds."

Sandi K

And it shows you how much I know...which isnt much...I had always thought freeze-drying killed salmonella but from what Ive read on the internet thingy, that isnt the case.


Cooking to an appropriate temperature kills salmonella. That's why there's a risk with raw foods: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/salmonella_questions_&_answers/index.asp

Gina Spadafori

Rachel, there's a risk with ALL foods. Previous salmonella outbreaks have been of kibbled foods. The problem is upstream, as Christie points out in the post linked to in the comment above.

Christie Keith

Rachel, wouldn't it be nice if there was no fecal bacteria in our food to kill?

I'm sick and tired of being told I have to clean up after the contamination that's a part of our industrial food production system. THEY should prevent fecal contamination of the food supply instead of giving me directions on how to do it in my home kitchen.

Gina Spadafori

Christie, we really need to coordinate our responses. I see we were off by one minute this time.


Expanded recall March 8:

"Today Nature’s Variety is announcing that out of an abundance of caution, we are voluntarily recalling all Chicken Formula and Organic Chicken Formula products with a “Best If Used By” date on or before 2/5/11."

The full release is here: http://www.naturesvariety.com/news/33

Karen McCarthy

This is not the first time Nature's Variety has had a problem with salmonella contamination. I am a long-time Jack Russell breeder, and had a horrible experience over two years ago with a litter of 4 week old puppies when I introduced them to solid food--the raw chicken medallions and patties. All of the puppies in the litter had to be treated with antibiotics, and all temporarily lost the hair around their eyes and mouths. Fortunately, my "other half" was a veterinarian and we were able to quickly start treating them soon after their exposure to the contaminated food. While Nature's Variety did reimburse me for my expenses related to treating the puppies as well as returning the contaminated food to them for testing, it took over a month and several phone calls to pry the information out of them. And only then after I told them I had retained some of each bag of food and could have it examined by an independent lab in my area. They were also very clever about not putting in writing the fact that the returned food was determined to contain salmonella. I received a check and an apology for "the problem", along with several vouchers for free food. The company also NEVER notified anyone at the pet store where I bought the food! I had to do that myself. The entire experience smacked of a cover-up to me. I'll never use their food again. In my opinion, this company has a major problem with its processing and/or equipment, as I had two different varieties of food, with two different "best by" dates. Both were chicken however. It was a scary experience, and I'm lucky I didn't lose any of those 4 week old puppies to salmonella poisoning.

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