Friday, February 12, 2010

Nature's Variety Recalls Raw Pet Food

Chicken Formula Raw Frozen Diet for dogs and cats may contain Salmonella

Nature's Variety has recalled three products with a Best If Used By date of 11/10/10 after Salmonella was discovered in a sample of this date code batch, according to a news release issued late yesterday. The affected products were sold in retail stores throughout the United States, over the Internet and, to a limited extent, in Canada.

The recalled items consist of Nature’s Variety Chicken Formula Raw Frozen Diet packaged in the following forms:
  • 3 lb chicken medallions (UPC# 7 69949 60130 2)
  • 6 lb chicken patties (UPC# 7 69949 60120 3)
  • 2 lb chicken chubs (UPC# 7 69949 60121 0)

The problem was uncovered following a consumer complaint. The batch code relating to the complaint tested negative for Salmonella; however, testing of additional lot codes revealed the presence of Salmonella in the 11/10/10 batch.

FDA is aware of the Salmonella-positive finding, and is working with Nature's Variety on this recall, according to Laura Alvey of FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine.

Nature's Variety has posted the following customer instructions on the Company website:
  • If your package has not been opened, please return the unopened product to your retailer for a full refund or replacement.
  • If your package has been opened, please dispose of the raw food in a safe manner by securing it in a covered trash receptacle. Then, bring your receipt (or the empty package in a sealed bag) to your local retailer for a full refund or replacement.

As a result of this incident, CEO Reed Howlett has committed Nature's Variety to implementing a "test and hold" policy for all of its raw, frozen products. This usually means that every production batch will be held by the manufacturer until a sample of the batch has been cleared by the company's internal or third-party testing lab. Howlett did not indicate whether the new "test and hold" approach would apply to any other Nature's Variety products.

Technologies are available to kill bacterial pathogens, such as Salmonella, without altering the taste, texture, or "raw-ness" of a food. One such process – high hydrostatic pressure – is already being used by at least one manufacturer of raw pet foods.

"Test and Hold" is a worthwhile procedure, but finished product testing along cannot guarantee a product that is pathogen-free. Nature's Variety and other manufacturers of "raw" pet food must look beyond finished product testing, and adopt methods that will ensure the microbiological safety of their products.

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  1. Phyllis, I know there are different strains of salmonella. Would it be helpful if we knew what strain it was they found? Would some strains be more dangerous than other strains? Would some strains have more specific symptoms than other strains? I was just curious.

  2. @Anonymous. There are at least 2500 different "serovars" or antigenic varieties of Salmonella. Each serovar can be broken down into numerous genetic strains. Most Salmonella serovars are very similar to each other in terms of the type of symptoms they produce. Different strains and serovars can vary in terms of their infectiousness (how many live cells needed to cause disease) and severity of symptoms. But this is also influenced by the age and immune status of the person who is exposed to the Salmonella.

    CDC and other health agencies rely on the genetic fingerprinting to help trace the source of infections and determine the extent and origin of disease outbreaks (for example, the Daniele salami Salmonella outbreak).

    Thanks for visiting


  3. Phyllis,
    There is a raw pet food company that goes beyond the test and hold measure. Stella and Chewy's has ALWAYS operated under test and hold testing all lots for E. coli and Salmonella before release to commerce. Testing is done by an independant lab. Test results for each lot are posted on Stella and Chewy's website by lot number, which is coded on the package. Stella and Chewy's goes far beyond the test and hold. Every pound of every lot is subjected to high pressure processing, which kills pathogens and extends shelf life. High pressure processing does not cook the meat and maintains all the characteristics and nutrition of raw meat. If you want to have safe raw pet food in your house, you can rely on Stella and Chewy's. All the benefits of raw, but safer than kibble. My dog loves their food and yours will too. check out their website. http://www.

  4. @Anonymous. Yes, I blogged about Stella and Chewys in 2008. That article is part of my "Posts From The Past" series, which you can access by clicking the link under "In The Spotlight". I very much like the approach taken by Stella and Chewy's and wish that other raw pet food manufacturers would follow their lead.



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