Dog Supplies and More

Orijen Dog Food Recall: What Really Happened?

There has been a little buzz online about the possibility of an Orijen dog food recall.  I couldn’t find any product recall information from the manufacturer, but did find a few incidents – although very minor in one case – that seem worthy to note.

As you may know, Orijen, a product of Champion Petfoods, Inc., is a different kind of pet food manufacturer for dogs and cats.  Founded in 1985 and distributed in 60 countries, Orijen has dedicated itself to producing the best and healthiest pet food in the world.  Not an easy task, to be sure.  So when there is a slight blip on the radar over quality control it becomes a major issue for a company as such.

According to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald on November 24, 2008, a cat neurologist at University of Sydney had put down 5 cats in one weekend.  After she had conferred with other veterinarians, she had found that dozens of cats had been suffering from paralysis and had to be put down.  They were able to ascertain that all of the suffering cats had been eating the same cat food produced by Orijen.  Findings were inconclusive and didn’t seem to be from one batch of food as it seemed the cats were not showing any signs of illness while eating the food.

Peter Muhlenfeld, Marketing Manager at Orijen foods at the time, did accept that the deaths had been attributed to the Orijen cat food, but did say the incident was only found in Australia.  Samples were sent back to company headquarters in Alberta, Canada and were found to have a strong odor and that they were testing to see if the problem could be linked to irradiation when the food had arrived in Australia.

Another reported incident on a forum online pertained to dog food containing salmon.  Apparently several bags were opened and found to have many sharp fish bone fragments inside the kibble.  In a response from Charlie Kaufman of Champion Petfoods, Inc., he acknowledged there was a batch of salmon pet food “that accidentally had some fragments of salmon bone in it”.  He further stated the problem stemmed from their supplier of salmon when they experienced mechanical difficulties in their processing plant.  They were aware of the problem and believed they had pulled the entire product from distribution before it had gone out of the warehouse doors, but some product had slipped by.  Mr. Kaufman further explains that this would not be a problem in the future as he was personally inspecting the salmon and that the supplier was taking extraordinary measures to make sure their salmon would not contain bone fragments in the future.

Mr. Kaufman goes on to explain that even though the salmon had bone fragments in it, it wouldn’t be necessarily be troublesome for dogs as their digestive system is a very robust design and can handle bones, etc.  (Think of all the things you’ve seen your dog eat!  It’s not hard to believe this statement.)  He said they found in their sampling that the bone fragments were less than a ¼” in length.  He said this was not to take away any blame and took personal responsibility for the incident.  He said buyers of Orijen dog food should expect the best quality dog food and that is what they intended to deliver from there on out.

It’s not for me to tell anyone what to feed their pet, but I like a company taking responsibility and not hiding from things.  Since I was not able to find other incidences, and especially since the cat food incident was 3 years ago, I would have no problem feeding my dog or cat Orijen pet food.

Here’s what I like about them:

  1. Orijen doesn’t buy in bulk commodities (which tend to be a lesser quality) for their ingredients.
  2. They don’t use frozen meat.  Only the fresh stuff with very high quality protein in their products that comes from people they trust and have a relationship with in the region.
  3. The fish is are caught wild, and the red meat and chicken are free range.
  4. The ingredients are approved “fit for human consumption” by the Canadian government.  (I don’t know if I’ll eat it though!)
  5. The food formula is designed with the peak performance and health of your pet.

Sometimes, even the best companies have moments they wish they could have waved a magic wand and have disappear – even those as fanatical for quality as Toyota.  But given the dedication to quality Champion Petfoods has, I don’t think there is a reason to avoid them, even if there had been an Orijen dog food recall – which there wasn’t.