What Vital Essentials Says About Cattle Hair and Green Food Particles in Raw Dog Food
This is a food on which I’ve done extensive research, used for a well over a year with my own precious girls, and recommended on our website and Amazon shop. It’s a company that seemed to be doing everything right in terms of US-sourced, pasture-raised meats. And they have been mostly responsive.
When I found the material, I grabbed my macro lens for my iPhone and snapped a couple of closeups. I then reached out to Vital Essentials late on a Friday, and to their credit, they did respond before the weekend was up, with some initial theories:
Typically bone pieces may have hair left on them if they aren’t cleaned all the way at the harvesting facility. While our production team does their best to eliminate any product received with hair on it, some raw material will sneak by and find its way into final production.
Vital Essentials obtains our protein meats and organs from several different USDA certified harvesting facilities. Each supplier’s products will vary slightly (color & cut) based on harvesting techniques as well as what their USDA official deems appropriate. The green coloring is seen on the raw material received from our suppliers and is safe for our pets to eat.
They also asked that I send the nuggets back to them so they could better examine the issue, and they sent me a mailing label, offering to provide a replacement bag as well.
I declined the replacement bag (I won’t be feeding the girls this now), but I initially agreed to return the substandard nuggets. I later changed my mind about mailing them back, as I figured it was best to retain custody until the matter was resolved.
Denatured Meats in Premium Dog Food?
When I didn’t hear more back from the company, I reached out again this past week and asked for more information about what had happened with this bag of food. Jason Goddard, Director of Quality Assurance for Carnivore Meat (producer of Vital Essentials Freeze Dried Raw, among other foods), provided the following expanded answer:
We did have discussions with our supplier after my last communication to you to gain further clarification regarding the green “ink”. They communicated it is a denaturant that incidentally got onto one of the edible meat components they supply to us. They explained the denaturant is applied to inedible meat components by a USDA inspector. Given the close proximity of the edible and inedible components at the time the denaturant is applied, there are isolated occurrences of “overspray” of the denaturant onto the edible meat components. They are working with the USDA inspector to prevent this from happening in the future. They did confirm that the denaturant is a food grade.
What the FDA Will Have To Say About Denaturing, Cattle Hair, and Dog Food