Q&A on 2018 recall
We have received questions related to our recall and we want to address the most common ones we have received. We hope this helps answer your questions, but if you have a different question that you would like addressed here, please contact us at [email protected].
Q: What is the recall about?
A: The FDA found that a small amount of our Darwin’s Natural Pet Food tested positive for Salmonella and E. coli bacteria.
Q: Which lots are included in the recall?
A: The lots include:
Q: Should I be concerned that my pets where harmed by eating the food that was recalled?
A: Veterinarians, experts and the FDA are largely in agreement that these naturally occurring bacteria are not harmful to pets unless there is a pre-existing underlying health concern. The FDA requests companies to issue voluntarily recalls out of concern of cross-contamination to humans. While this is rare, it can happen when people do not follow commonly accepted safe food handling procedures when handling any raw meat – thoroughly washing hands, surfaces and utensils with plenty of soap and hot water.
Q: Is Salmonella, E. coli or Listeria dangerous to my pets?
A: Pets’ digestive tracts have higher levels of acid than humans, which kill most of these naturally occurring bacteria. Pets’ digestive tracts are also shorter than humans, giving any surviving bacteria little time to multiply. As a result, unless there are other underlying health issues, these bacteria do not pose a significant risk to pets.
Q: If this isn’t dangerous to my pets, why is the FDA issuing a recall?
A: The FDA’s mandate is to enforce a zero-tolerance policy for these naturally occurring bacteria to protect humans from potential exposure to them. The risk to humans of contracting these bacteria is no different than when handling raw meat to prepare meals at home.
Q: Is there anything I can do to lessen the risk of feeding food with bacteria to my pet?
A: Yes. We have always noted that our customers can cook the food to 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill all bacteria, good and bad. And this is recommended if you believe your pet has a compromised immune system or known health issue.
Q: Why doesn’t Darwin’s cook the food before selling it?
A: We created Darwin’s Natural Pet Food for those who see the benefits of a raw-food diet for their pets. Our customers, experts and vets agree that raw pet foods offer nutritional and health benefits that far outweigh any potential issues involving the naturally occurring bacteria, such as those related to this recall.
Q: What should I do if I have any of the recalled Darwin’s Pet Food in my freezer?
A: If you have Darwin’s Natural Pet food with the affected lot numbers, simply put the food in plastic bag and put it in the trash. Contact Darwin’s and we will replace the food free of charge. Or check this page for more information.
Q: Some articles say you've had over three hundred customer complaints about this. Is that true?
A: As a company that direct ships to customers, our customer service department does get many calls every week. The large majority of these calls are issues which are typical - shipping problems, packaging issues, etc. We look to address every customer's concern. A small number are people calling about pets who are sick - though this could be the case for many reasons. Most important, we feel receiving 300 customer complaints, when we send tens of thousands of shipments annually, is a testament to our dedication to our products and our customer service.
Q: My pet has been acting strangely – is it the food?
A: As you know, pets get ill or act unusually all the time. Their food is one potential source, but so is exposure to pathogens through items they ingest while outside, in nooks of a home or from other sources. The only way to tell if a pet has been affected by E. coli or Salmonella is through a stool sample. If you feel a test is a necessary step, please contact your vet.
Q: I saw that there are many issues at your facility. What's going on?
A: You likely saw an article that listed issues from our regular inspections - and we believe the article created gross misperceptions of the reality. Many items called out were from inspections conducted in the past - issues which have long since been corrected. Others were simply the inspector’s notes which were never even passed on to us, as they were judged to not be significant. In our last inspection (December 2017), there were 4 minor issues given to us - all of which were addressed within 48 hours.
Q: I don’t feel good feeding your product to my pets – can I get my money back?
A: For information about refunds, please contact Darwin’s customer service team.
Q: Why does it take so long to test products and notify customers?
A: These recalls occur when the FDA notifies us. Sometimes the testing process can take weeks after a product is produced.
Q: What are you doing to reduce the chances of recall in the future?
A: The goal of eliminating these naturally occurring bacteria in pet food is a tall order, and even more difficult for companies like Darwin’s which provide raw meals. However, we take these issues very seriously and we are doing everything we can to reach the FDA-mandated target. We currently use a number of natural additives to our pet food which, have been shown to kill the bacteria in question while leaving the beneficial bacteria in place. We are also working with our suppliers to improve this issue.
Q: Why don’t you pasteurize or take other steps to kill the bacteria
A: There are several “kill steps” that would kill any instances of the naturally occurring bacteria the FDA is attempting to eliminate. Unfortunately, taking those steps will also kill the beneficial bacteria that adds to the health and nutritional value of raw-food pet diets. We continue to look for steps to reduce and eliminate the “bad” bacteria cited by the FDA – short of pasteurization, irradiation or placing the food under high pressure.