The question is simple. Who are the suppliers for Evanger’s pet food?
On their website, Evanger’s claims “Evanger’s utilizes USDA inspected meats to make highly palatable and nutritious foods that will satisfy even the most finicky eater. With no soy, corn, wheat, artificial ingredients, preservatives, harmful additives or by-products, Evanger’s canned meals make an excellent mixer to our dry foods.”
So when pentobarbital made it’s way into Evanger’s foods, Evanger’s blamed their supplier. They claim that, “A USDA-APHIS inspected supplier who we had done business with for over 40 years, and whose plant we had visited numerous times over the years.”
But Evanger’s doesn’t currently reveal who their suppliers are. Some companies are transparent to the point of sharing who they buy their raw materials from. Other companies do not reveal this information.
Brett Sher from Evanger’s posted the following on our Facebook page. (the comment has since disappeared)
How can a consumer truly trust a company that doesn’t reveal to them who the suppliers are for raw materials, especially after the supplier is alleged to adulterate raw materials?
As the pet food industry evolves, issues surrounding sourcing of ingredients, the actual quality of those ingredients, how foods are processed, and the overall transparency of companies are becoming common themes of discussion among concerned pet parents.
Law doesn’t require companies, like Evanger’s, to disclose to consumers where they source raw ingredients. Some companies disclose where they source ingredients from and some even disclose the farms where the animal meats are sourced from. Stores are reporting that they’re pulling all Evanger’s products from store shelves along with the various brands Evanger's white labels for, like "Party Animal". We will see if Evanger’s sees it fit to be fully honest regarding where they source their raw meats from. It's hard to see from a public relations standpoint how Evanger's can continue forward when it's unclear when and where this issue will arise again.
Since releasing "Pet Fooled", I have received a lot of messages from people asking "what brand should I feed" or "what brand is good"? My answer is for all pet parents to please consider feeding a variety of brands and proteins. Getting stuck with feeding only "one" food is a result of conditioning and marketing from the major industry. You don't have to ONLY EVER FEED ONE THING! Your animal should be able to alternate proteins and brands without G.I. upset so I'm hoping that can be an attainable goal for most people moving into the future.
To address the brand question, I've walked through "Petropolis" in NYC with the store owner TAZZ to see what is on the shelves. Take a look!
In the beginning when I was researching for "Pet Fooled", there were two major points of view that I had to investigate and get to the bottom of. One was the industry side where they claimed that grains were great, raw could potentially kill your pet or your family member, and rendered ingredients were great!
The other side was concerned about extremely processed foods commonly available in big box stores. Everything I grew up believing in regarding pet food was challenged. I never before thought twice about commercial pet food growing up. It was just something normal that you purchased at the store along with toothpaste or groceries. The question "what IS actually appropriate for dogs and cats to eat" is the question the industry exploits with the wide range of products available on the market. Apparently, a food can meet the requirements and be "complete and balanced" if it's a raw food without grains or if it's a food heavy in grains like corn, wheat, and soy. So there's a wide range of ingredients that can "meet" (use that term loosely) the nutritional requirements, as per AAFCO, for dogs and cats. Does that mean they're 100% appropriate? No. It just meets the AAFCO standards and the big companies sit on the AAFCO panels to get "agreement".
The more I researched, I was able to see a common marketing tactic used by the major industry. It's called FUD. It stands for fear, uncertainty, and doubt and it's the cheapest marketing tactic available and it's very effective. The goal with the FUD marketing tactic is to suggest that "competition" problems are problematic and if you research the pet food industry for a while, these tactics bubble to the surface. A good example is a kibble company bashing raw for containing salmonella when kibble diets have sickened humans to hospitals from salmonella poisoning.
Sadly, FUD is being used by veterinarians as well as the major industry. Maybe they're aware that they're using FUD or maybe they're unaware. It depends on the individual vet.
I had correspondence last year with a local Los Angeles veterinarian and I'm including that correspondence below. I was completely shocked by the fear, uncertainty, and doubt tactics used in the flier this veterinarian was passing around. So I wrote this veterinarian asking for more specific details because it's confusing to me how a veterinarian can use fear statements like this will be "potentially deadly to YOU and YOUR FAMILY." The words deadly is being used along with the clever word "potential". Potential is a legal cop out to spread doubt when an issue isn't actually happening. So you can say "potential" and get away with what you're saying. I could also say you have the "potential" to DIE while crossing the street. Or you can "potentially" go to the hospital and DIE from feeding dry food. See how that works?
Also understand that if the industry doesn't address the raw food feeding style 100% head on with nutritional studies themselves, they can continue making money on lower quality products. If in the future when the market moves towards the fresh food feeding style, they can capitalize on that as well. These companies claim to care about the health of your animal, but they haven't addressed health issues relating to feeding style comparisons with their "tests" when they're making billions and claiming they're backed up by science. That doesn't stop them or veterinarians from bashing feeding styles like home cooked or raw diets.
Here is the flyer that was passed around by this veterinarian using fear, uncertainty, and doubt techniques.
After reading through this flyer, I wrote the veterinarian to get more clarifications since a lot of what is stated is VERY leading and spreads more doubt than actual issues occurring. Below is the correspondence and you can see that the veterinarian is very short in her responses. She even uses individuals with HIV as an excuse for why she sent this flyer out!
Her name and e-mail have been removed but the exchanges are below in full.
Based on the original flyer, I'm not convinced with the veterinarian's sources or bases for sending out this flyer. If there were 1,000 people in the hospital or dead because they fed raw food to their dogs or cats, that would be an issue. But that didn't happen and it isn't happening.
This is what I define as "raw bashing". It's always a veterinarian with an agenda (hired by dry or home cooked feeding company for example) that will claim someone like me is biased or defending raw. As you can see in the flyer above, the issue is the fear tactics being used that have nothing to do with the reality of what's going on.
What I'm defending is truth for customers without fear, uncertainty, and doubt tactics being used. There is SO much vested interest in this industry and it's immensely overwhelming for consumers to navigate through all the marketing tactics to figure out what exactly they're buying. So many great companies exist that don't use fear tactics, but it's important to be aware of the tactics and how they're most often used.
Is doubt the product of the pet food industry and their lobbying organization PFI? And if so, how do you think "doubt" and the spreading of "doubt" actually benefits the organizations over the consumer? PFI is the group the major companies "point" to as their "spokesperson".
Here are a few interesting questions to think about.
Does the longer a company or organization say they're "looking into things" or with hold specific evidence the more money they make while the years pass by?
Is it helpful to certain interests of consumers don't know the truth?
Is it helpful to certain interests if truth is avoided and doubt is cast instead?
Does it help them evade regulation?
Is doubt an actual beneficial product being "sold" by these major companies, even if it's not a tangible product?
The pet food industry lobbying group, and the various major organizations involved, have never produced a single comparative feeding study to show consumers the health evidence of one feeding style like raw compared to that of another feeding style like kibble. But they do cast doubt on feeding styles which they do not manufacture. They haven't produced the evidence with studies for what they cast doubt on, even when they're making billions and claiming they're evidence based. They also say they care about the health of your animals.
As "Pet Fooled" exposes, they've never produced a comparative feeding style study. And they claim to care about pet health?
It doesn't take a graduate from Harvard to argue that producing kibble diets are far less expensive financially than producing and distributing fresh food diets with clear and transparent sourcing (exact sourcing) and diets void of controversial, processed and rendered ingredients.
It's interesting to think about these questions.
When Neal from Growlies For Pets in Victoria, BC (Canada) first contacted me about a possible Canadian premiere event, he mentioned that his store didn't carry any kibble. My first response was, "excuse me, come again?!" Almost all stores carry some form of dry food and I had never heard of a store carrying no kibble, and mainly raw or dehydrated raw.
When I first started looking into the various issues of the pet food industry for the film "Pet Fooled", the major confusion was from the two ends of the industry. One side was saying "raw" was the ideal food you could feed. The other side (major industry) was saying the opposite, and that raw could "potentially" harm you or your animal. (focus on how the key word potential is used!) I'm not the first person to look into the issues of the pet food industry and I won't be the last. And for those who have seen the final film "Pet Fooled", the film and the evidence provided in the film speaks for itself.
Some pet owners will choose to feed a raw food diet if it fits what they're looking for. Others may feed a dehydrated food, freeze dried raw, or a gently cooked food ("home cooked") food like the food Ever More.
Today's post is in reaction to the Pet Food Industry magazine article called "Pet food recalls: looking back at 2007, moving forward." The subtitle of this article is "what really stands out from the 2007 pet food recalls is the reaction by consumers, who no longer trusted pet food companies."
Author of the article, Debbie Phillips-Donaldson says "Until then, even the most devoted pet parents didn't really consider where or how their pets' food was made or what was in it."
What the 2007 recall did was expose HOW hundreds of pet food brands where made. In the feature film "Pet Fooled", Susan Thixton states, "In 2007, pet owners didn't have any idea that one manufacturer, Menu Foods, made hundreds of different varieties of foods. That was a betrayal of trust to so many pet owners."
The recall also exposed how questionable ingredients were sourced and put into pet foods. It's clear that Menu Foods was sourcing "wheat gluten" from China for cost purposes, and then putting that protein product into MANY products that were marketed for their differences. Why didn't Menu Foods test the raw ingredients for safety before blindly adding the ingredients into pet foods? Deaths of pets occurred because of these horrible manufacturing practices and no one from Menu Foods was fined or put in jail as a result. If a citizen were to kill another pet, they would be arrested for animal abuse.
And how can a consumer know that anything is different today? Major industry still operates in ways that are arguably secretive towards the pet parents if they really want to figure out the exact sources of where the ingredients that go into the foods come from. At a certain point, does passion become business and things become just "too big" and competitive to maintain transparency to distribute nationwide or through various companies? Or are companies not completely transparent because there may be a potential marketing and financial downside to telling consumers where ingredients come from and the quality of these ingredients?
What has changed since 2007 is the growing number of pet parents who are getting more interested, involved, and proactive in species appropriate nutrition. For the industry making billions because of low cost foods widely distributed, it's probably not a threat for them because they operate on a market share basis and own a multitude of different pet food varieties. These multi-conglomorate companies will likely just adjust their offerings as the market changes.
But the pet parent can indeed choose not to buy any food from a major conglomerate and instead, visit independent boutique stores that sell products that are more transparent and independently owned and operated. Major companies will argue that there's no "proof" that their food offering is any less "healthy" and is 100% complete and balanced and safe, but that's not the argument. The overall argument is quality sourcing, transparency so consumers can confirm sourcing, and species appropriate nutrition. If a pet parent doesn't choose to make their own pet's food, there are a multitude of super passionate, independent pet food companies that have spawn out of the 2007 recall that provide them commercially and are arguably more transparent about sourcing than other major brands. Pet parents are waking up to nutrition, and the confusion of the industry is what lead to the feature film "Pet Fooled." What has changed is that the 2007 recall hasn't died and the practices of "white labeling" hasn't changed. What matters isn't "white labeling" or a manufacturer making a particular "brand" of food, but instead honesty, transparency, and sourcing of ingredients for species appropriate nutrition.
After directing and releasing "Pet Fooled", the most common question is "what kibble is a good kibble?" The film clearly displays the argument of species appropriate diets and you can actually look at that specific scene in the video below. If you want to feed a kibble every once in a while, great. It's convenient. But why would you want to and why do you need to feed dry food every single meal and every single day of the animal's life?
The overall response is, as per the research, dry foods for dogs and cats are convenient foods but are overwhelmingly and arguably not species appropriate diets. New science is coming out today highly against dry food for cats. There are dry food companies that try to source and be more transparent than other companies that produce dry foods who are more vague in where the ingredients are sourced from and so forth. But again, even if the ingredients are perfect for a kibble food, it's still processed and extruded and most often companies extrude the foods with forms of starch at proprietary high temperatures.
But there is a solution! A friend of mine was feeding a VERY questionable kibble and lawsuits were starting to pile up against this company when dogs started to die after allegedly eating this product. (You can google dog deaths dry food 2015 and 2016 for more info). She visited a boutique pet-store in Los Angeles called Healthy Spot. She was nervous because she was afraid she couldn't feed anything OTHER than a kibble, and the store helped her do a price per pound comparison and find a VERY great alternative, dehydrated raw diet which more clear and transparent sourcing and the price difference wasn't that much greater.
So if you can find alternatives whether it's something like Grandma Lucy's (Artisan), The Honest Kitchen, or Sujos just to name a few, why would you want to feed a high quality processed food instead of a great dehydrated raw from a very transparent and helpful company?
Boutiques like Healthy Spot exist all across the country but you have to research and find them. If you get on any of the sites for the companies mentioned above, you can type in your zip code and find a boutique store near you. Then you can visit that boutique, speak with workers or owners of these store, and make a choice that fits your price point.
So there's a choice beyond kibble even if you're looking for convenience. Freeze dried and dehydrated raw are still convenient. Kibble isn't the by all, end all feeding style that's 100% complete and balanced. The more you research, the more you'll learn in this field that SO much exists beyond "dry food" and clever marketing. But it takes personal education for that to make sense. It took me years.
All the best,