The following is an open letter from the owners and founders of smallbatch.
First, we would like to apologize for the situation at hand, we are voluntarily recalling one lot of our frozen dog duck batch sliders with the expiration date of 01/27/17 for potential risk of salmonella and listeria. Regarding the lot in question, no illnesses have been reported in either people or their pets. If you have any of the affected product please discontinue feeding it and dispose of it properly. You can contact us directly for a full refund or return to the store where the product was purchased for a full refund. As the raw food market has grown and matured, so has the scrutiny and testing for pathogens. Starting immediately, we will ramp up testing on our raw materials, finished products, and processing environment in an effort to produce an even better and safer smallbatch pet food product. We will continue to adopt interventions and technologies to prevent the possibility of pathogens being found in our products. We will continue to source only the highest quality ingredients available to us like we have always done. The lesson here is no matter how great our sources and no matter how much we test the presence of microbes in raw meat products is inevitable. We will do everything in our power to keep delivering a well sourced and well made food for your pets. At smallbatch, the health and well being or you and your pets and our customers are our greatest concern. We will always work to provide safe, quality products and speak openly and honestly about them. If you have concerns or questions, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As long time raw food makers, promoters and feeders for 13 years now we can tell you that this is not anything new. We have been asked what measures we take to protect against recalls. To begin, we use only the highest quality, Human Grade, USDA inspected and passed raw materials.We never use the commonly used mechanically separated meats where bacteria risks are inherently greater. Second, we operate under the strict guidance of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPs), and a Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points program (HACCP). These are the top of the industry standards where it comes to pet food manufacturing. We also test both raw materials and finished products. Despite these standards, recalls happen. Recalls have happened to nearly every quality manufacturer of raw pet foods, some multiple times. We source the highest quality available ingredients from USDA. However, the USDA, whom we buy our materials from has certain amounts of acceptable/allowable microbes whereas the FDA has none. Unfortunately the FDA happens to get the pet food assignment and their zero tolerance and the USDA’s acceptable amounts do not gel so we are caught between a rock and a couple government agencies so to speak. It is our opinion that the FDA should address these microbes at the supply level and work with the USDA to stop them from entering the food chain if they want to take a zero tolerance stance, instead they choose to address it after the fact. This probably because they are aware that these bacteria are naturally occurring. The fact is that raw poultry is not sterile, any raw agricultural product for that matter whether it is fruit, vegetables, meat or poultry is susceptible to naturally occurring bacteria that could make someone sick if the product is improperly cooked or handled. Here lies the issue we are not cooking the food we are feeding it raw to our dogs and cats. Salmonella and Listeria infections from raw food diets are actually very rare. The FDA and CVM would like you to believe that raw food is unsafe and should be avoided at all costs unless it is irradiated or pasteurized. They attempt to link raw pet food to many illnesses in both humans and pets however there is no proof. For example on the FDA website you will find this line: “Although L. monocytogenes can infect many animal species, dogs and cats rarely get listeriosis and they usually don’t show signs of disease. One reference mentions only six reported cases in dogs from 1947 to 2000, and the dogs showed a wide range of symptoms.” 6 cases in 53 years! We can only speculate how these 6 cases came about but we imagine it they had nothing to do with raw foods for pets or the FDA would make sure we know. Like with all reporting these days there is chatter but there are no facts, no evidence and in this day and age chatter trumps facts unfortunately.
Bottom line is the FDA and the CVM are very ANTI- RAW and most raw feeders are aware of this and understand the politics, science and biology behind it all. The FDA are more concerned with the people aspect of these potential pathogens and risks associated with handling the raw diets but a little common sense mitigates these risks and as many a raw feeder will tell you the rewards of a raw food diet far outweigh the risks. Raw feeders and advocates accept these calculated risks. In fact it is documented that many cases of food borne illness come from food consumed by humans in their own homes as stated by Food Safety Magazine and the NSF in 2013. “According to Food Safety Magazine, NSF International’s Applied Research Center (ARC) has released the 2013 NSF International Household Germ Study, revealing that many common kitchen items harbor unsafe levels of E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, yeast and mold. NSF International scientists point to a number of contributing factors — including improper food storage, handling, preparation and cleaning — which may help explain why more than 20% of food borne illness outbreaks result from food consumed in the home. The NSF microbiologists conducting the germ study analyzed 14 common kitchen items for the presence of four different types of microorganisms: E. coli, Salmonella, yeast and mold, and Listeria. The study found that many of these common kitchen appliances and tools used to prepare food do indeed harbor pathogens that can cause food borne illness.”
Remember when handling raw foods always wash your hands with soap and warm water afterwards. Always wash the surfaces that come into contact with the raw food such as bowls and utensils with soap and warm water as well. Feed your pets on surfaces that can be cleaned well. Also, always wash your hands with soap and warm water when cleaning up after your pet’s waste. Always store your raw pet food in secure air tight containers and never leave the food out for long durations of time. Again, no illnesses have been reported regarding our affected product however, these are precautions we always urge our customers to take when handling raw foods. These common sense practices will help prevent unwanted pathogens from ever having a chance to cause alarm. Additionally, in our research we found that no human cases of salmonellosis or listeriosis have ever been found in connection to handling raw pet food.
The lab results from the FDA and from our own independent testing show that this food had a very low level of contamination if any at all. Nobody talks about the fact that these lab assays are able to pick up dead DNA from microbes and unless tested thoroughly the result of positive can stick although it can be discovered to actually be a false positive. As you will see below our samples came back negative. We also tested batches before and after the affected batch which you will find below, also negative. These tests show the environment and the product was clean at the start and end of the day. Having 3 reports that show negative reports even though the FDA shows positive results would be indicative of the raw materials being the potential source of very low level microbe activity often associated with the USDA’s allowances/tolerances. Please take the time to review our lab results of the lot of DOG DUCK SLIDERS in question and the other batches run that day.
Thank you for your continued support.
David, Michael and Diana Vogel