Saturday, October 9, 2010

Blue Buffalo Recalls Dog Foods LInked to Vitamin D Toxicity

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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  1. Blue Buffalo is to be commended for its response to this unfortunate problem.

  2. Where's the quality control/quality assurance personnel and pet food safety testing that would have prevented this problem from making it from the co-packer plant to retail store shelves to harm pets? Nothing learned since 2007 by a concern for profits only pet food industry.

  3. Sorry, I dont think classy is the best word to describe paying for vet bills for pets made sick due to their food. Its what they should be doing. Perhaps if they had paid attention to what happened to them in 2007, i.e contaminated rice protein in food that shouldnt have had any rice in it at all, they might have walked away with a few lessons on QC. And dont forget this was another Friday night recall. I find it hard to believe all these companies are only finding problems with their food Friday evenings. I have to wonder if MSU and vets hadnt been involved, would we have even known about this.

  4. @Anonymous.- I guess that I am so used to food manufacturers who abrogate their responsibility and only pay costs after being dragged into court that Blue Buffalo's action seems "classy" by comparison. I don't think that this would have been discovered this soon if not for the involvement of a lab that receives a large number of samples from all over the country. The cases were too few and two spread out (geographically) for anyone local to put 2 + 2 together. MSU's quick action has saved a lot of dogs and their human companions much grief.


  5. @Ann.- My question would be where was the standard "Good Manufacturing Practice" at the ingredient production facility that would have prevented the contamination in the first place. Thorough cleaning between incompatible production runs should be a fundamental rule.


  6. We have two dogs on this food. They have only been on it since early August. Three weeks ago one of our dogs had a horrible kidney infection. Last night we took our "puppy" (19 months) to the vet because she started drinking so much water and then having accidents. The vet was a little worried and gave us a run if antibiotics and told us to watch her water intake for the next few days and bring her back at the end of this week.

    This morning we got a panicked call from him telling us he treated another dog with the same symptoms and the owner had mentioned the food recall. He put two and two together and I have to bring in my girls later today to have lab work done. My girls are feeling very ill and you can tell they don't feel well either.

    As for classy, I called Blue Buffalo and.... I wouldn't call the terrible customer service I got today "class".


  7. I wouldn't be surprised if they recall other flavors of their dog food too. My dog got horribly sick several times this summer and I narrowed it down to the Blue Buffalo Lamb & Brown Rice. I took it back to the store and they refunded me. I wish I still had it so they could test it.

  8. Officially switching back to Wellness...this is unacceptable...especially for such a high quality food!!!

  9. My 16 month old mini Schnauzer was very sick for a month after I noticed he had become rather lethargic and wet his bed a couple of times. My vet found high BUN and Creatinine levels. We knew nothing about the recalls then, and had no idea what caused it, as this was in August. We changed his diet to a special kidney formula and gave him IV fluids and he has slowly, but gradually improved, though he still isn't 100 %. After the recall I realized his Calcium levels were elevated, which is a sign of vit. D toxicity. This was not picked up on by either vet I took him to, probably because they thought it was just a symptom of the kidney failure. Now, we realize it's what caused it. I have completely switched from Blue Buffalo to another brand. The only proof I have I bought the food is my PetPerks purchase history but it doesn't include the BEST by date info. He had almost two bags of the food, the last one I threw out before I knew of the recall. I hope Blue Buffalo is going to stand by their promise, as we have several hundred dollars in vet bills.

  10. Does anyone know if the recall is in Canada and if there are any cases in Canada yet?I have a pug who is on Blue Bullalo adult weight control for the last year..she is now very sick,and shows alot of the symptoms...

  11. I am never feeding my dogs man made food again. I have lost all trust. I been feeding them the best I can find and now this. No more. Time for people to stop trusying these companies that keep letting us down. I have discovered I can feed my dogs a quqlity meal made by ME. at half the cost.


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