⚠ Important recall information appears below.
Paul F. Iams, a self-taught animal nutritionist, started Iams Food Company in 1946. He was a college graduate who had sold dog food during the Great Depression.
The important takeaway from his sales job during the Depression was that people will keep feeding their dogs no matter how broke they are.
In 1999, Procter & Gamble acquired the Iams Company, as it is now known, and expanded to selling pet food in 70 countries worldwide. Then, in 2014, the company was sold to Mars Inc.
Below, we share more information about the history of Iams pet food — including up-to-date recall information.
Iams Quick Facts
Brand line includes: Iams Smart Puppy, Iams Adult, Iams Adult Minichunks, Iams Mature Adult, Iams Adult Healthy Weight, Iams High Protein, Iams Healthy Kitten, Iams Healthy Adult, Iams Healthy Senior, Iams Hairball Care
Where to buy: [easyazon_link keywords=”Iams pet food” locale=”US” tag=”petsadvi-20″]Latest deals on Iams pet food[/easyazon_link]
Company: Mars Inc.
Headquarters: 6885 Elm St., McLean, VA 22101
Contact info: 1-800-675-3849, email, website
Canned or bagged dog food was not always a thing.
Before the mid-1930s, people mostly fed their dogs the remains of whatever they themselves were eating — meaning, anything in the pantry that was starting to go bad, and scraps left behind after trimming meat and vegetables.
When all that changed, Paul F. Iams was on the crest of the wave.
He opened Iams Food Company in 1946, when he was about 30 years old. His first client was Kentucky Chemical, which specialized in grain processing. Kentucky Chemical had its own ideas about what animals should eat, and they provided Iams with a recipe.
The beginnings of Iams pet food were humble. Its namesake operated the company out of a rented feed mill in Tipp City, Ohio.
Iams Formulates a Protein-Rich Dry Dog Food
Paul Iams was not a nutritionist by training, but he believed he could do better than the grain-based, low-quality dry dog food most people were making at that time.
In 1950, he launched his first line of original-recipe dog food: Iams 999.
It was not, as has been widely touted, the first-ever high-protein, low-grain processed dog food, but it may have been the first dry dog food to accomplish that goal. Iams amped up production by moving his company to Dayton, Ohio.
He would continue to helm his company into the 1980s, with quite a few notable milestones along the way:
- In the 1960s, he and his staff determined that a quantum of beets were needed to protect dog intestinal health.
- In the 1970s, Iams bags started sporting the iconic graphic paw. That simple drawing became a well-recognized brand logo.
- In the 1980s, Iams determined that the kind of food a dog needs as a puppy is not the same as the food they need at 8 years of age. So the line of foods was diversified to target the different stages of a dog’s life.
- Iams also launched its line of cat foods in the 1980s, as well as a dog biscuit.
Paul Iams sold his company to business partner Clay Mathile, who had worked for Iams for many years previously. Mathile kept the company in Dayton until selling it to Proctor & Gamble Company, the consumer products giant, for just over $2 billion in 1999.
Nutro vs. Iams
Under new ownership by P&G, Iams pet foods underwent a series of changes, beginning around 1999, that were intended to lower prices. Certain recipes were reformulated (using chicken byproduct meal instead of chicken, for example) and serving sizes were reduced by as much as 25%.
These changes caught the keen attention of a competitor: premium pet food brand Nutro.
Nutro claimed it had commissioned several independent studies to investigate Iams’ formula changes — and that the dogs in these studies lost so much weight, and so quickly, that the studies had to be halted early.
“Iams broke ranks,” said Nutro Products President Jerry Sicherman. “The entire pet food industry has relied on scientific findings to establish their feeding instructions for years.”
In response, Iams filed a lawsuit against Nutro, claiming it had made false and misleading statements. Nutro sued, too, claiming Iams was making false and misleading advertising claims. In March 2001, a consumer class-action lawsuit (Karen Pollack v. The Iams Company) was filed against Iams (and Eukanuba) after dogs allegedly starting losing weight.
None of this escaped the attention of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which began looking into the matter and found reason to be worried about Iams’ formula changes.
“We are concerned that the recommended amounts listed on Iams products for adult maintenance … are insufficient for the intended use of the product represented on the label,” an FDA nutrition expert wrote in a 2001 “preliminary letter” issued to Iams, according to a 2002 report in the Washington Post.
The letter said the FDA had seen no study to date demonstrating “the appropriateness of amounts in the feeding instructions of Iams products.”
The class-action lawsuit against Iams was settled in 2003, with the Iams Company agreeing to make any formula/labeling changes required by the FDA.
Iams Ownership Changes
Until the big Proctor & Gamble acquisition in 1999, Iams had been available almost exclusively at veterinary practices and pet stores, with a small segment of the international market. Proctor & Gamble set out to change all that by diffusing sales in the United States and expanding overseas.
In 2014, Iams once again changed hands, when Proctor & Gamble handed it off to food giant Mars Inc., which has absorbed many other well-known pet food brands.
Former owner Clay Mathile praised the acquisition, citing Mars’ commitment to quality and expressing confidence that the mega-corporation could grow the product line.
As of 2020, Mars Petcare Inc. was the No. 1 pet food company in the world, with over $18 billion in annual revenue, according to data provided by Pet Food Industry.
Other Mars pet food brands include:
Has Iams Ever Been Recalled?
Yes, Iams pet food has been recalled quite a few times over the years.
The most recent recall was in August 2013 because of potential salmonella contamination. A few months earlier, in March 2013, the company issued a market withdrawal (technically not a recall) of some products because of possible mold growth.
In December 2011, a small production of Iams dry dog food was recalled because aflatoxin levels were above the acceptable limit.
August 2010, July 2010 and June 2010 saw a few different kinds of Iams cat food get recalled because of salmonella and low levels of thiamine.
And in March 2007, as part of the larger Menu Foods/melamine recall that shocked the country, various sizes and varieties of Iams dog foods and cat foods were recalled because of potential melamine contamination. In all, a total of 43 Iams products (and 25 Eukanuba products) were recalled during the 2007 crisis, a higher number than any other pet food brand.
A Pet Parent’s Worst Nightmare
The following was not a recall, but our research team discovered it and thought it was interesting enough to include it here.
In September 1997, following the death of a small dog, an analysis found a “bluish-green foreign material that looked like seeds” in a bag of Iams Lamb and Rice Dog Food that the dog had been eating. The substance turned out to be rat poison.
Iams said it “put the absolute hustle on this” to see if other products originating from the same plant were contaminated with the poison. No other contamination was discovered, and the plant had received stellar sanitation and safety ratings during prior inspections. In the end, it appeared that this was an isolated incident — a case of an awful person tampering with a single bag of dog food before it was purchased in the store and fed to the dog.
Below, we provide additional details about all Iams pet food recalls over the years.
List of Iams Pet Food Recalls
Cause: Potential for salmonella. Announcement: FDA report dated Aug. 14, 2013 (archived here). What was recalled: Iams dry dog foods in the following sizes, varieties and date codes:
- Iams Healthy Naturals Chicken Adult, 13.3 lb., Lot #31884177, best by Nov. 7, 2014
- Iams Healthy Naturals Chicken Adult, 13.3 lb., Lot #31904177, best by Nov. 9, 2014
- Iams Healthy Naturals Chicken Adult, 13.3 lb., Lot #31924177, best by Nov. 11, 2014
- Iams Healthy Naturals Chicken Adult, 13.3 lb., Lot #31934177, best by Nov. 12, 2014
- Iams Healthy Naturals Chicken Adult, 13.3 lb., Lot #31944177, best by Nov. 13, 2014
- Iams Healthy Naturals Chicken Adult, 2.9 lb., Lot #31944177, best by Nov. 13, 2014
- Iams Healthy Naturals Chicken Adult, 25.7 lb., Lot #31884177, best by Nov. 7, 2014
- Iams Healthy Naturals Chicken Adult, 25.7 lb., Lot #331894177, best by Nov. 8, 2014
- Iams Healthy Naturals Chicken Adult, 25.7 lb., Lot #331904177, best by Nov. 9, 2014
- Iams Healthy Naturals Chicken Adult, 25.7 lb., Lot #331914177, best by Nov. 10, 2014
- Iams Healthy Naturals Chicken Adult, 25.7 lb., Lot #331934177, best by Nov. 12, 2014
- Iams Healthy Naturals Chicken Adult, 5 lb., Lot #31904177, best by Nov. 9, 2014
- Iams Healthy Naturals Chicken Adult, 5 lb., Lot #31914177, best by Nov. 10, 2014
- Iams Healthy Naturals Weight Control Adult, 13.3 lb., Lot #31894177, best by Nov. 8, 2014
- Iams Premium Protection Chicken Adult, 12.1 lb., Lot #31894177, best by Nov. 8, 2014
- Iams ProActive Health Large Breed Mature Adult, 30 lb., Lot #31884177, best by Nov. 7, 2014
- Iams ProActive Health Large Breed Senior Plus, 13.3 lb., Lot #31934177, best by Nov. 12, 2014
- Iams ProActive Health Large Breed Senior Plus, 26.2 lb., Lot #31934177, best by Nov. 12, 2014
- Iams ProActive Health Large Chunks Adult, 15 lb., Lot #31944177, best by Nov. 13, 2014
- Iams ProActive Health Small Breed Adult, 13.3 lb., Lot #1874177, best by Nov. 6, 2014
- Iams ProActive Health Small Breed Adult, 13.3 lb., Lot #31894177, best by Nov. 8, 2014
- Iams ProActive Health Small Breed Adult, 13.3 lb., Lot #31924177, best by Nov. 11, 2014
- Iams ProActive Health Small Breed Adult, 3.1 lb., Lot #31874177, best by Nov. 6, 2014
- Iams ProActive Health Small Breed Adult, 3.1 lb., Lot #31894177, best by Nov. 8, 2014
- Iams ProActive Health Small Breed Adult, 5 lb., Lot #31874177, best by Nov. 6, 2014
- Iams ProActive Health Small Breed Adult, 5 lb., Lot #31894177, best by Nov. 8, 2014
- Iams ProActive Health Small Breed Adult, 5 lb., Lot #31924177, best by Nov. 11, 2014
- Iams ProActive Health Small Breed Puppy, 5 lb., Lot #331904177, best by Nov. 9, 2014
March 2013 (withdrawal)
Cause: Potential for mold. Announcement: PetSmart release from March 22, 2013 (archived here). What was withdrawn: Iams Shakeables, 6 oz., with the following lot codes only:
- Turkey — first 4 digits of the lot number are: 2342, 2325, 2331, 2332, 2341, 3016, 3017, 3018 or 3046
- Lamb — first 4 digits of the lot number are: 2338
Cause: Aflatoxin. Announcement: FDA report dated Dec. 6, 2011 (archived here). What was recalled: Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy dry dog food with “best by” dates of Feb. 5 or Feb. 6, 2013, in the following sizes and lot codes:
- 7 lb. bag, Lot #12784177I6
- 8 lb. bag, Lot #12794177D2 or 12794177D3
- 17.5 lb. bag, Lot #12794177K1 or 12794177K2
Cause: Potential for salmonella. Announcement: FDA report dated Aug. 31, 2010 (archived here). What was recalled: Iams Indoor Weight Control With Hairball Care dry cat food, 6.8 lb. bags, Lot #02304173 (B1–B6), no “best by” dates provided.
Cause: Potential for salmonella. Announcement: FDA report dated July 25, 2010 (archived here) and expanded a few days later, per State News Service report dated Aug. 3, 2010. What was recalled: Iams Veterinary Formulas dry cat foods, all sizes and varieties, with “best by” dates falling between July 1, 2010 and Dec. 1, 2011.
Cause: Low levels of thiamine (Vitamin B1). Announcement: FDA report dated June 9, 2010 (archived here). What was recalled: Iams ProActive Health canned cat and kitten food, all varieties, 3 oz. and 5.5 oz. cans, with dates falling between September 2011 and June 2012.
Cause: Melamine. Announcement: Menu Foods webpages (archived here). What was recalled: The following Iams pet foods in cans and pouches with codes of 6312 through 7043 followed by plant code 4197 (no dry foods were recalled):
Iams Select Bites Cat Food, 3 oz. pouches:
- Adult With Beef in Gravy
- Adult With Chicken and Wild Rice in Gravy
- Adult With Chicken in Gravy
- Adult With Turkey in Gravy
- Adult With Salmon in Sauce
- Adult With Tuna in Sauce
- Kitten With Chicken in Gravy
- Weight Control With Tuna in Sauce
- Active Maturity With Chicken in Gravy
- Variety Pack With Beef, Chicken & Turkey
- Variety Pack With Salmon and Tuna
- Variety Pack With Chicken and Turkey
Iams Slices Cat Food, cans:
- Slices With Turkey in Gravy, 3 oz. and 6 oz.
- Slices With Beef in Gravy, 3 oz. and 6 oz.
- Slices With Chicken in Gravy, 3 oz. and 6 oz.
- Kitten Slices With Turkey in Gravy, 3 oz.
- Variety Pack Slices With Chicken and Beef in Gravy, 3 oz.
Iams Flakes Cat Food, cans:
- Flakes With Tuna & Ocean White Fish in Sauce, 3 oz. and 6 oz.
- Flakes With Salmon in Sauce, 3 oz. and 6 oz.
- Variety Pack Flakes With Tuna & Ocean White Fish and Salmon in Sauce, 3 oz.
Iams Select Bites Dog Food, 5.3 oz. pouches:
- Puppy With Chicken in Gravy
- Adult With Beef in Gravy
- Adult With Beef, Potatoes and Carrots in Gravy
- Adult With Chicken in Gravy
- Adult With Turkey in Gravy
- Adult With Lamb and Wild Rice in Gravy
- Weight Control With Chicken in Gravy
- Active Maturity With Beef in Gravy
- Variety Pack With Beef, Chicken, Lamb and Rice
- Variety Pack With Beef and Chicken
Iams Small Bites Dog Food, 6 oz. cans:
- Puppy With Beef & Chicken in Gravy
- Small Dogs With Chicken in Gravy
- Small Dogs With Beef & Vegetables in Gravy
- Variety Pack for Small Dogs With Beef & Vegetables and Chicken in Gravy
Iams Chunks Dog Food, 13.2 oz. cans:
- Beef & Vegetables in Gravy
- Chicken in Gravy
- Active Maturity With Beef in Gravy
- Weight Control With Beef in Gravy
- Puppy With Beef & Chicken in Gravy
- Variety Pack With Beef & Vegetables and Chicken in Gravy
- Multipack With Beef & Vegetables in Gravy
- Multipack With Beef & Chicken in Gravy
- Multipack With Chicken in Gravy
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- Bayot, Jennifer. “Paul F. Iams, 89, Developer of a Line of Premium Pet Foods, Dies.” New York Times. Nov. 3, 2004. https://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/03/business/paul-f-iams-89-developer-of-a-line-of-premium-pet-foods-dies.html.
- “Iams Company History.” Iams. https://www.iams.com/about-iams/company-history.
- Stephens, Caleb. “Clay Mathile: Sale Will ‘Enhance’ Iams.” Dayton Business Journal. April 9, 2014. https://www.bizjournals.com/dayton/news/2014/04/09/clay-mathile-sale-will-enhance-iams.html
- Driscoll, Kara. “Clay Mathile Honored.” Dayton Daily News. Feb. 7, 2019. https://www.daytondailynews.com/news/mathile-honored-with-leadership-award/XZ4NXclt13GQ6QiSDRFKqJ/.
- Bigness, John. “Iams to Become Acquired by P&G.” Chicago Tribune. Aug. 12, 1999. https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1999-08-12-9908120403-story.html.
- Oldenburg, Don. “Dog Food Makers, Hungry for a Fight.” Washington Post. Aug. 21, 2002. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/2002/08/21/dog-food-makers-hungry-for-a-fight/05d61189-c22a-4f86-9235-a8ed92b4f6e9/.
- Johnson, Greg. “Clawing to Become Top Dog of Pet Food.” Los Angeles Times. Oct. 22, 2001. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2001-oct-22-fi-60072-story.html.
- “Attention: Legal Notice to Iams Customers.” Santa Cruz (California) Sentinel. March 9, 2003. USA Weekend, 18.
- “Top Pet Food Companies Current Data.” Pet Food Industry. 2020. https://www.petfoodindustry.com/directories/211-top-pet-food-companies.
- Lancendorfer, Karen M. “Pet Food Panic: Procter and Gamble’s Use of Crisis Response Advertising (CRA) in Recall Crisis.” Corporate Reputational Review 17, no. 2 (Summer 2014): 94.
- “Melamine Pet Food Recall of 2007.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/recalls-withdrawals/melamine-pet-food-recall-2007.
- Rabbass, Megan. “Rat Poison Found in Dead Pet’s Food.” Columbus (Nebraska) Telegram. 1A.
- “P&G Voluntarily Recalls Limited Quantity of Dry Pet Food Due to Possible Health Risk.” FDA. Aug. 14, 2013. Archived at https://www.petful.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/ucm365154.pdf.
- “Voluntary Withdrawal: Iams Shakeables Turkey and Lamb Dog Treats.” PetSmart Corporate. March 22, 2013. Archived at https://www.petful.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/2013-iams-shakeables-withdrawal.pdf.
- “Potential for Mold Growth Spurs Limited Shakeables Recall.” Pet Product News. March 26, 2013. http://www.petproductnews.com/Pet-Product-News-March-2013/Potential-For-Mold-Growth-Spurs-Limited-Shakeables-Recall/.
- “P&G Voluntarily Recalls One Production Lot of Dry Dog Food.” FDA. Dec. 6, 2011. Archived at https://www.petful.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/ucm282506.pdf.
- “P&G Voluntarily Recalls a Small Amount of Dry Cat Food.” FDA. Aug. 31, 2010. Archived at https://www.petful.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/ucm224675.pdf.
- “P&G Recalls Two Lots of Prescription Renal Diet Cat Food Due to a Possible Health Risk.” FDA. July 25, 2010. Archived at https://www.petful.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/ucm220204.pdf.
- “P&G Recalls Specific Canned Cat Foods Due to Low Levels of Thiamine (Vitamin B1).” FDA. June 9, 2010. Archived at https://www.petful.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/ucm214996.pdf.
- “Iams Dog” and “Iams Cat.” Menu Foods. 2008. Archived at https://www.petful.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Iams-2007-Menu-Foods-Recalls.pdf.