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Merrick didn’t tell pet owners of salmonella contamination

Posted Jul 01 2010 6:44pm

Merrick Pet Care Today the FDA sent a letter to Garth Merrick, owner of Tejas Industries about salmonella contamination in their Merrick Beef Filet Squares. Back in January, Merrick voluntarily recalled the food after the FDA found possible salmonella contamination. Now the FDA wants to know what’s up and why they didn’t give pet owners the whole scoop on the recall.

On December 2, 2009, FDA collected a sample of Merrick Beef Filet Squares manufactured by your Plainview, Texas facility and repackaged by your Hereford, Texas facility. Analysis of this dog chew revealed the product to be contaminated with Salmonella meleagridis.

[...]

Our inspections revealed that the manufacturing processes used by your firm to manufacture pet treats are not controlled and that contamination of these products may occur through inadequate treatment or through recontamination of the treated products due to improper storage or handling after processing.

Specifically, your firm could not provide evidence that your manufacturing processes eliminate pathogens such as Salmonella during processing because your firm does not consistently monitor critical factors in the process such as time and temperature; nor could you provide evidence demonstrating that recontamination was not likely to occur post-processing. Further, your firm could not provide evidence supporting the adequacy of your in-house sampling and testing program, for example, explaining the location and number of samples collected for each lot of finished product.

We recognize that your firm initiated a voluntary recall of Merrick Beef Filet Squares by letter to your customers dated January 11, 2010. The recall was initiated following FDA sampling and your firm’s internal sampling, both of which revealed the presence of Salmonella. However, your recall strategy may be determined to be ineffective to the consumer level for the following reasons:

• Your firm delayed your public communication to alert consumers who may have the recalled product in their possession until after FDA issued an FDA Health Alert on January 14, 2010.

• Your recall communications to distributors, retailers, and consumers only included case lot coding 9323, which was different from the lot coding on some of the individual bags. Due to a labeling error, some of the affected bags were coded with the lot code 9333.

• Your recall letter did not identify the hazard involved. Your letter to wholesale and retail consignees indicated the product was recalled because it “may not have been processed properly.” Recalls can be less effective if the recall communication does not concisely explain the reason for recall and the hazard involved.

Merrick has been given 15 days to get respond to the FDA.

Read the rest of the letter from the FDA to Garth Merrick, CEO of Tejas Industries, Inc.

Mr. Merrick, did you folks learn anything from the pet food recall a few years ago? You do remember that, don’t you? Do you remember how many pet owners were enraged to find out pet food companies weren’t telling the whole truth about the pet food they manufacture? Since then, some companies have tried really hard to change, and are trying to do the right thing for their customers, and the pets that eat their food. It looks like you guys decided to do business as usual, though. Sad, very sad! Honestly don’t you think you would have been much better off telling folks, “hey, our stuff may be contaminated with salmonella. Return it and we’ll make it right?” Instead, you’re getting slapped with a violation from the FDA because you weren’t up front about what was going on. I’m guessing that’ll piss a few people off!

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