Natural Balance Recall Expands to Canned Food and Treats

Itchmo has confirmed with Natural Balance that their recall has expanded and now covers the following items for all dates:

  • Venison and Brown Rice Treats for Dogs (New today)
  • Venison and Brown Rice Canned Formula for Dogs (New today)
  • Venison and Brown Rice Dry Food for Dogs (Reported Sunday)
  • Venison and Green Pea Dry Food for Cats (Reported Sunday)

The problem stems from melamine found in the rice protein concentrate (described by the company as rice gluten) used by Natural Balance. They confirmed that FDA testing has found melamine in the rice protein concentrate. The ingredient was produced by a US vendor, according to Natural Balance. Natural Balance recommends avoiding all rice protein in their products.

They have also confirmed that customers are reporting “a few cases” of kidney failures, which their original announcement described as “kidney problems”.

The items recalled are packaged (but not manufactured) by Diamond Pet Foods. The problem was discovered Friday and the FDA is testing all other ingredients and formulas. In the packaging process, the final food is run through Diamond Pet Foods machinery, but are overseen by Natural Balance quality assurance staff.

Natural Balance says it will reimburse the pet parents for medical expenses related to the melamine toxin.

NOTE: The recall expansion has not made it out to the mainstream media, but we expect it to do so shortly.

UPDATE: Natural Balance is not yet releasing the name of the US supplier. We’ll let you know as soon as we know.

UPDATE at 7:37pm Eastern: Natural Balance updates their site. Full release after the jump.

Natural Balance Pet Foods,® Inc. Issues A Voluntary Nationwide Recall on Specific Venison Dog & Cat Food Products

Consumer Inquiries:
(800) 829-4493
Media Inquiries:
Daniel Bernstein

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Pacoima, CA — April 17, 2007– Natural Balance, Pacoima, CA, is issuing a voluntary nationwide recall for all of its Venison dog products and the dry Venison cat food only, regardless of date codes. The recalled products include Venison and Brown Rice canned and bagged dog foods, Venison and Brown Rice dog treats, and Venison and Green Pea dry cat food. Recent laboratory results show that the products contain melamine. We believe the source of the melamine is a rice protein concentrate. Natural Balance has confirmed this morning that some production batches of these products may contain melamine.

The recall was prompted by consumer complaints received by Natural Balance involving a small number of cats and dogs that developed kidney failure after eating the affected product.

Dogs or cats who have consumed the suspect food and show signs of kidney failure (such as loss of appetite, lethargy and vomiting) should be seen by a veterinarian. We recommend our customers immediately stop feeding our recalled venison products regardless of date code and return unused product to their retailer for a full refund.

The products are packaged in bags, cans and zip lock treat bags and sold in pet specialty stores and PetCo nationally.
No other Natural Balance products are involved in this voluntary recall as none of our other formulas include the rice protein concentrate.

Although the problems seem to be focused on a particular production period of the venison products, over the last four days we have notified our distributors and retailers by phone and e-mail to immediately stop selling and return all recalled Venison dog foods and treats and the Venison dry cat food. Venison canned cat food is not involved.

The source of the melamine appears to be a rice protein concentrate, which was recently added to the dry venison formulas. Natural Balance does not use wheat gluten, which was associated with the previous melamine contamination.

None of Natural Balance’s other dry formulas, none of our other canned or roll products and none of our other treats are involved with this voluntary recall.

We continue to work closely with the FDA in their ongoing investigation.

Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-800-829-449 or email

262 Responses to “Natural Balance Recall Expands to Canned Food and Treats”

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  1. Linda F says:

    Just returned from food shopping at Stop & Shop in New Jersey. On a “reduced for quick sale cart” were at least two dozen cans of their Companion Dog foods. Nearly all contained wheat gluten. Approached the manager and she said “perhaps” these weren’t in the affected lots.

    “If they’re not in the effected lots and the cans aren’t past date and aren’t damaged, then why are they marked down to 10 and 75 cents!!!” (Nearly 1/4 the normal cost of the food).

    Here response: “I only do what management tells me.”

    Asked her why she could act a bit more proactively and remove the cans entirely. Not just try and foist off poisoned food on an unsuspecting public who don’t check Itchmo or read the papers every day. Are they that desperate to make 10 or 75 cents? Pathetic.

    This particular store, fyi, is in Jackson, New Jersey. For all I know this practice is happening at other Stop and Shops across the country and, perhaps, at other supermarkets. Supermarkets seem to think they can slip one over on the public more than the more visible designated pet food venues, like PetCo, PetSmart, etc.

    Don’t be afraid to march up to a manager if you see they’re still carrying - or worse - trying to make a piddling penny off tainted foods!!

  2. Erik T says:

    I’m pretty ticked off at NB. They’ve destroyed our trust in what was once a superior product.

    1) They cheapened their food by putting the vegetable first, there by using less meat. They added gluten to make up for the lost meat protein.

    2) The venison allergy formula for cats isn’t really an allergy formula anymore due to rice protein.

    3) A lot of their products seem to have changed ingredients. They now seem to have meat as the second, or even third product.

    4) They misled their customers about producing their own food.

    5) They only updated the ingredients on the website after the melamine debacle.

    6) Last, but most importantly, they made peoples loved ones sick.

    This is what happens when some greedy, fat cat, bean counter gets into a position of power. Some people at NB need to be removed from their jobs ASAP.

    NB needs to go back to it’s original formulas for all products.

    Boycott them.

  3. Lisa says:

    I am totally taken aback to learn that NB believes the source of the contamination of its product to be a component (rice protein) that was never supposed to be in the product to begin with. The Venison & Green Pea dry food is specifically represented to be an “allergy” formula that contains “no grains” and “no rice.” These representations were obviously known to be material to the consumer and intended to be relied upon, as they were the very basis upon which this specialty product was marketed.

    It is interesting to note that NB modified the list of ingredients on its website to admit to the presence of rice protein as a major ingredient in its formulation only after it was discovered to be contaminated. NB’s risk management team apparently overlooked the fact that its website still reads “no rice.” Good going, guys.

    When I think of the massive amounts of time and money that I spent reading labels, researching ingredients, eliminating one protein source after another, keeping daily calendars, adjusting prednisone up and down, seeking specialty consults, etc., I become just furious. When I think about the extent to which my little girl suffered as a result of ongoing serious gastrointestinal problems, and how those problems (and the continuing drug therapy required to deal with it) complicated her already extremely medically fragile condition, I become absolutely sick to my stomach.

    Whether the particular food that I gave to my precious little cat prior to her death was tainted is something that I don’t yet have an answer to. However, I do know that it would have taken very little to tip her over given her extremely fragile medical condition.

    I keep hearing about a regulation that gives pet food manufacturers have a period of time in which to change their label to reflect a change in formulation. So what? Perhaps such a regulation insulates a manufacturer from adverse agency action, but I fail to see how that would relieve a manufacturer of potential liability to consumers for misrepresentation/fraud, and breach of express warranty, and violation of the state’s consumer protection laws. Maybe I was absent the day they covered that in law school.

  4. Julie says:

    Erik T,

    You are absolutely right!!! It sickens me that we are paying NB premium prices for a supposedly premium product, only to find that they are cheapening their ingredients. They thought they could fool us, huh?

    When they changed the formula, they not only put the Venison as a second and third ingredient now, the Venison liver (which is very healthy!) has been removed, and all the missing wonderful protein replaced with an inferior protein (and deadly now) “rice protein concentrate”.

    ALSO, they have replaced “Venison” with “Venison MEAL” which again is an inferior product. There wasn’t any Venison Meal in their prior formulas.

    Gee, I’m so disgusted and furious at NB! They messed with a good thing and I hope they pay for it dearly!

  5. Patricia Haddock says:

    Twenty years ago my wonderful holistic vet told me about the importance of feeding real food - home-cooked food - to our pets.

    The book he recommended is still the very best - it sets the standard, and tells you exactly what to do. Quick and easy basic recipe, as well as others.

    The book is: Dr. Pitcairn’s New Complete Guide To Natural Health for Dogs and Cats. It is written by Richard Pitcairn.

    Highly recommended!

  6. Patricia Haddock says:

    Correction —that was only 12 years ago!

    The book is Definitely worth reading!

  7. Cathy says:

    Has anyone tried Feline’s Pride raw cat food? I’d like some feedback as their products seem reasonable and are backed by Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins as being the closest thing to home made food. However, I can’t find much on the search engines about it. Website:
    Thanks for any input!

  8. Geff says:

    Here’s a link to a rather stunning email conversation with Diamond. I consider this a must read for anyone remotely considering a Diamond product.

  9. Karla says:

    Felines Pride Raw is amazing cat food. I urge all of you to switch your cats over to raw. It’s the most efficient and nutritious way to feed your cats and yes, it’s closest to the way wild cats eat.

  10. Cathy says:

    Thanks, Karla, I’m having great results with Feline’s Pride, too. Had to cook it a little during the transition but am told that’s okay. It takes about 10 minutes each feeding to cook, cool down and feed. Not as easy as opening a can or shaking a bag, but we have been led by marketing gimmicks to feed the canned and dry foods because we’re lazy pet parents.

  11. molly says:

    on my claimant form from NB the Ocean Whitefish canned cat food is indicated. I haven’t read this entire blog, but I will tomorrow. I have to indicate where I purchased my NB’ and I have no recall. I was out searching for something safe for my babies when I found this. It nearly KILLED my boy. The other two wouldn’t touch it. He, the garbage disposal did -and at some point weeks later, he was near death. 27 days of medication later, I’ve got him back. I’m trying to file a claim. I’ll be back in touch with ya’ll tomorrow. I hope I can be of help to someone. See my site.

  12. molly says:

    and no matter what any one says the V and GP cans for cats are NOT okay -my boy ate that and hours later -threw up for a whole day. Tell me that’s okay ???? He ate the Ocean Whitefish the next day… So, which sent him into Liver & Kidney failure one doesn’t know-but the vomitiing of the V & GP wasn’t due to aversion to flavor! I assure you. And they’re not saying Liver failure very much -and it’s true. It is. Liver goes with this. I’ve read up so much - it’s liver as much as kidney =they can go hand in hand…’s just terrible.

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