It’s a bit of an open secret in the pet food industry that the lines between brands aren’t as clearly defined as you might think.
Many pet food producers use the same manufacturer as their competition uses. This means that, in some cases — like with the Evanger’s recalls last month — more than 1 brand can be affected by tainted food.
You might think you’re not affected by a particular recall because you don’t feed your pets such-and-such brand. However, because manufacturers so often “co-pack,” your pets may still be at risk. You can’t really tell by looking at the can or bag.
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The Co-Packing Question
The problem is that the pet food industry is shrouded in secrecy, especially when it comes to manufacturing, so figuring out if your pets’ foods are co-packed is no easy task.
For the purposes of this article, let’s look back at the Evanger’s recalls this year.
When searching for information on what other brands use Evanger’s manufacturing facilities, you hit on a lot of rumors but no real, factual information. Some websites claim Evanger’s manufactures for more than 20 other brands. Other sites name specific brands. The trick is figuring out what’s rumor — and what’s fact.
Multiple sites repeatedly named a few brands as being manufactured by Evanger’s. These included:
I couldn’t immediately verify whether these companies used Evanger’s manufacturing facilities via a web search, so it seemed prudent to reach out to these companies and ask them who manufactures their foods. Simple, right?
With the help of Petful publisher Dave Baker, I asked these companies, “Can you tell me who manufactures your pet food?”
The responses were less than promising.
I left a message via this company’s automated system because I wasn’t able to talk to a real human. Follow-up emails and calls went unanswered.
A representative for Wild Calling told me a letter was being issued to customers and distributors soon, and that within the next few days, a public statement would be made. That was “all we want to say.”
I never saw that statement.
After my emails went unanswered by this company, I called and spoke with a pleasant receptionist. She said, “Good question. Let me see if someone is available to answer it for you.”
After being directed to 3 separate lines, I was told that, unfortunately, no one was available but that I was welcome to leave a message, which I did.
Canidae opened its own manufacturing plant in 2012, so it’s possible that this brand doesn’t use Evanger’s to manufacture. However, again, phone calls and emails were never returned.
Unlike most of the other companies, Wysong was responsive to Petful’s inquires and quick to assure us that they were “monitoring the situation very closely, and are in communications with Evanger’s.”
A spokeswoman added, “To the best of our knowledge, this issue [with Evanger’s] is confined to a single beef source/supplier. Wysong canned diets do not contain beef from this supplier, nor have any adverse effects been reported to us.”
The statement seemed to confirm that at least some of Wysong’s pet food is co-packed at an Evanger’s facility, but that Wysong was certain that its own foods were not affected by the recalls last month.
Now, Nestlé Purina PetCare hasn’t ever been connected with Evanger’s, but I went ahead and contacted this company with the thought that, as a massive brand, Purina has its own manufacturing facilities and is unlikely to use anyone else’s. I simply wanted to know if they manufactured for others and if this was common practice.
You guessed it — no response from Purina, either.
In the end, we’re left to wonder if our pets are at risk.
Coincidentally, the most straightforward answer I received was from Joel Sher, co-owner of Evanger’s. When I asked if he could tell me what other brands they manufacture for, he said, “No — because of confidentiality agreements…. But we have been in constant contact with all of them.”
Sher went on to say, “No other brands use the chunk beef [that was part of the recall]; it’s specific to Evanger’s.” So although he has contacted other brands they work with, it’s “unlikely that they will be affected.”
We’d love to tell you with certainty which brands use Evanger’s facilities to manufacture their pet foods. But thanks to the secrecy of the industry, we can’t.