Company blames ingredient supplier for excess Vitamin D (updated October 9th with link to FDA recall notice)
Blue Buffalo (Wilton, CT) has recalled three varieties of its dry dog foods after researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) linked Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken to reports of elevated blood levels of Vitamin D in 16 sick dogs from 8 different states.
The affected dogs all exhibited increased thirst and urination; some of them also suffered weight loss, anorexia and signs of kidney damage. They seemed to recover once their diet was changed.
Veterinarians had sent blood samples from their canine patients to MSU's Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health, according to Center Director Carole Bolin. Veterinarians also provided a patient history, which enabled MSU to determine that all 16 dogs routinely were fed Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken recipe. Once MSU researchers established the unequivocal link, they notified the company, the Michigan Department of Agriculture, and the FDA.
According to FDA, there have been a total of 36 cases reported nationwide. In all cases, the symptoms subsided after a change in diet, with no apparent long-term health consequences.
According to the company, this problem most likely derived from the action of an ingredient supplier, who produced a Vitamin D supplement immediately prior to preparing ingredients for Blue Buffalo. The company suspects that some of the Vitamin D inadvertently was carried over into Blue Buffalo's ingredients.
Once company management became aware of its ingredient supplier's scheduling error and the potential that excess Vitamin D had been incorporated into certain dog foods, Blue Buffalo recalled all of the following dry dog food products and date codes:
- BLUE Wilderness Chicken Flavor: 4.5 lb; Best if used by JUL2611Z, JUL2711Z, JUL2811Z
- BLUE Wilderness Chicken Flavor: 11 lb; Best if used by JUL1211B
- BLUE Wilderness Chicken Flavor: 24 lb; Best if used by JUL1211B, JUL1311B
- BLUE Basics Limited Ingredient Formula Salmon and Potato Recipe: 11 lb; Best if used by AUG2111B, AUG2211B
- BLUE Basics Limited Ingredient Formula Salmon and Potato Recipe: 24 lb; Best if used by AUG2111B, SEP2311P, OCT2611P
- BLUE Life Protection Formula Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Large Breed Adult: 30 lb.; Best if used by SEP2211P, SEP2311P, OCT2611P
The affected products were distributed across the USA through pet specialty stores. As Blue Buffalo also is sold in Canada, I urge both US and Canadian customers to check the Best if used by dates on the product packages listed above.
In a classy move that should be emulated by all food processors whose products are linked to illnesses – human or animal – Blue Buffalo has promised to reimburse its customers for any veterinary or testing expenses related to illness caused by these products.
I have also received the following statement from Larissa, on behalf of Blue Buffalo Co.
"To assure that this sort of mistake doesn’t occur again in the handling of our ingredients, we have required all of our manufacturing and ingredient partners to immediately put in place a system of cross checking and reporting, by multiple operators on site, to confirm that they have followed our protocol for all lines to be clear of any possible residue before running any of our products."
Without the services provided by a large veterinary diagnostic center such as the one located at MSU's East Lansing campus, it is unlikely that this problem would have been detected. The MSU lab performs more than 1.3 million diagnostic tests a year on samples received from all over the USA.
"Because of our nationwide reach and expertise," Director Bolin said, "we were able to discover this and notify the proper authorities."
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