Nature’s Variety Releases Statement About Instinct Chicken Meal Formula

InstinctOn February 27, Nature’s Variety released this statement about their Instinct Chicken Meal Formula due to customer complaints about dogs having loose stools and occasional vomiting:

Recently, some of our customers who are feeding Instinct™ Chicken Meal Formula grain-free kibble for dogs have experienced loose stools and occasional vomiting. If your dog has experienced this and your bag of Instinct Chicken Meal Formula displays a “best if used by” date of 1/3/09 or 1/10/09, you may return it to your retail store for a replacement or refund. The “best if used by” dates are located on the back of the package.

Please be assured, Nature’s Variety has not changed the formulation of Instinct Chicken Meal Formula grain-free kibble for dogs. However, recent changes in production facilities caused these two code dates of product to differ enough from our previous product to cause some digestive upset in some dogs.

At Nature’s Variety, we make all of our products with integrity and care for the health of your companion animals, and we deeply regret this situation. We will continue to take any and all necessary steps to assure the quality of our products. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to ask. Thanks again for choosing Nature’s Variety.

Nature’s Variety stated that the digestive trouble was happening because:

In essence, the two affected production batches of food are more nutrient-dense relative to our regular production batches. In other words, the Instinct chicken kibble produced on January 3rd and 10th is a richer food than your dog is accustomed to, which may cause some digestive upset, similar to transitioning diets.

Click here for more information.

(Thanks Kathleen)

56 Responses to “Nature’s Variety Releases Statement About Instinct Chicken Meal Formula”

  1. trucorgi says:

    I noticed this a while back. The color of the food was different and my dogs were experiencing terrible gas. I spoke with someone on the phone at NV and they told me nothing had changed and didn’t know why I would be having a problem. I threw the food out and switched over to Orijen. Everyone is doing well so I have no plans of switching back to NV but I am glad they are finally admitting that there was a change. Too bad they didn’t tell me that when I contacted them. I wonder why they would switch production facilities and who the new one is. Full disclosure would be nice especially since dogs are getting sick.

  2. matlock says:

    i work at a pet food store that carries instinct and it truly was only the two batches of it. Most of our customers that had a problem with it are still purchasing the food and are no longer having the sensitive stomach problems

  3. Katie says:

    This is why I still do not trust the pet food companies. Food on the market in Jan., people calling and asking why pets are sick and now in March - the place of production has changed? and the food is to rich???

    I feed home cooked chicken. My dog eats a lot of chicken in a day - her meal is grain free. No lose stool, no vomit. Wonder what is causing a problem???? especially since all the PFI’s are doing such a “fabulous” job of QCing their products now to protect the pets!


  4. MeTooRet says:

    I also switched after having problems but hearing from NV that there had been no changes… OK, I thought, some dogs don’t do well on some foods. Weeks later (today, 3/10/08) I learned about this recall, which is dated 2/27/08. I wish I had known sooner.

  5. Sandi K says:

    They never learn, do they? Why did they wait so long, plus maybe they should have put this out somewhere other than just their website…..Did any dogs have to go the vet and if so, will they pay for that?

  6. Nicole says:

    My friend switched to this food and her older female Aussie has been to the vet at least twice within the last few weeks and is scheduled to go again this week because of severe GI issues and inflammation to the point that her blood work is also abnormal. The dog is throwing up and having diarrhea and I just emailed her this. She was devasted because she thought this was a symptom of the end because the dog is older when in fact that may not be the case at all.

    Oh I am so mad.

  7. Kevin says:

    All I can say is start making your own food. When you purchase the meats and vegies from the store you know what your getting. I make all my cats food and there are plenty of recipies for dogs also.

  8. Sandi K says:

    Im mad too Nicole. Why arent they required to report this on the news and in papers like they do with human food recalls? Most people are led to believe if there are any problems with food, the news will tell them. One more reason for major changes in the regulation of these pet food companies.

  9. Don Earl says:

    Let’s face it, buying commercial pet food these days, ANY BRAND OF COMMERCIAL PET FOOD, is like playing Russian Roulette. Sooner or latter, the chamber has a live round. These companies just plain don’t give a rip about quality control, and the attitude is it’s just “animal” food, so who cares. When a company does finally come forward after sickening a host of pets, it’s with some hopelessly lame PR spin that is an insult to anyone reading it. Hey, vomiting and diarrhea, no big deal, it’s lots of fun for your pet and what you should expect from any commercial pet food. What’s the beef, your pet didn’t die this time.

    They may as well just come out and say, “We don’t care about your pet and company policy is to assume pet owners are just plain too stupid to figure out we’re lying about the kind of garbage going into the food, even when we’re caught red handed.”.

  10. susan says:

    I hate to bring this up, as I recall that we had some pretty heated discussions about it in the past. Please understand that this has been my experience w/ pet food… in my case it’s cats.

    I regularly fed NV Lamb and Oatmeal kibble to my three cats. They had constant health issues w/ their urinary tracts, as well as watery eyes. I switched them over to KumpiKat (which I learned about on this site). Within a couple weeks the urinary problems went away and their watery eye dried up. Add to that the fact that I see more “kitten-like” behavior out of them when they’re on this food and the decision is clear… they are having a bad reaction to something in other foods.

    I’ve switched them back and for a couple of times in the past year, using another brand (I-vet) and got the same result… bad watery eyes, low energy, and that spaced out, dialated eyes, facial expression. Switched them back to Kumpikat and within 48 hours, they’re bouncing around the house again.

    When switching them back, I’ve noticed increased clumps of urine in the litter boxes for a couple of days. My asuumption here is that they are detoxing. I’ve read the ingrediants in NV and it includes sea salt… this would make them retain a little water, and could possibly bad hard on their kidneys over the long haul.

    Anyway, I would think the situation would be similar w/ dogs as well. If you want to stay w/ dry kibble for your pets, I would encourage you to try Kumpi for your pets. It’s made a noticeable different in the health of my three fur kids.

    “The opinions above are my own.” ;)

  11. Anonymous says:

    It is more than just sea salt making your pets sick, do not fool yourself! The food is toxic and when I was broke last week and having to use a free coupon for Natural Balance and Eukanuba dry food (I usually feed EVO dry, somewhat expensive, but worth it) to get by until payday, my 3 dogs now vomiting and diarrhea.

  12. susan says:

    Agreed, it is more than just the sea salt. I only mentioned that as a possible cause to the increased urination.

  13. susan says:

    Agreed, it is more than just the sea salt. I only mentioned that as a possible cause for the increased urination after removing them from that food.

  14. Hazel Chambers says:

    well…don’t forget just where downer cows go…to pet food.

  15. trucorgi says:

    Mr. Chris Young
    Nature’s Variety Pet Food

    Dear Mr. Young,

    Back in November I had a problem with your food. I had been feeding Instinct for a long time prior to this and I trusted that Nature’s Variety had their customer’s best interest at heart. It was called Raw Instinct when I started buying it. I highly recommended to others that they switch to your food, especially during the recalls, and many of them did. In Late 2007 I noticed that the product had changed. I e-mailed and you called me shortly thereafter. We spoke at length. I told you of my concerns. I explained that I had fed it to my young puppies and they, all (9), got diarrhea. You said it is AAFCO all stages and there should be no problem feeding it to weaning puppies. My adults all had bad gas. Not just one dog, but all 4 of them. You told me you had no idea why I was having a problem and that there had been no changes at all in the food, ingredients or the production. I explained how the food was a different color and it was crumbled. I told you I was not imagining this. It looked and fed different. I knew it was not the same food. You advised switching to another variety of your food and I explained that since I have an IBD dog with a rice allergy I am very limited in my choices. I returned the unopened bag for a full refund and threw the opened food away. I switched all my dogs to Orijen. Everyone has done very well on the new food, both puppy and adult varieties. Since then you have discovered there really was a problem with your food and have recalled it. You stop short of actually calling it a recall, but that is what it is. You had my phone number and my e-mail. It would have been nice for you to follow up and make me aware of this new recall information. You could have even thanked me for bringing this problem to your attention and tried to gain my trust back, but you did not. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one with a problem. You should have followed up with everyone that complained. Since I don’t feed your food anymore, I don’t frequent your website. I learned of the recall not from you, but from a blog. It seems to me now that when we spoke back in 2007 you knew, or should have known, of the production changes at your company and the “density” issue, yet you denied this. Why? You then posted a very vague notice on your website in late February. Are you willing to be more specific as to the changes that caused my dogs GI upset now? And specifically, who did you outsource this production to and where was the food actually made, ingredients sourced? Off shore perhaps? What exactly does “nutrient-dense” mean? This tells me nothing. Specifically, which nutrients were too dense? I would like to know what my dogs were reacting to. I feel I have every right to know this information and you are withholding it from me. Your website notice gives no specific information. I asked for it than and I am asking again. Since you say “We followed with testing and verified that the cause of the digestive upset was density-related” you do know the test results and have chosen to post a carefully worded CYA statement. I would also like to know the cause of the digestive upset. You have not disclosed this information. What kinds of tests were run? Were they independent or in house? When were they done? Not coming clean with these results leaves me to assume the worst and question your integrity. For these reasons I will never switch back to your food. It is high time you dog food companies stop keeping secrets and cutting corners that make our animals sick or dead. And contrary to what you say on the website, this food was made prior to Early January because I bought it in October/November and spoke with you about the problems I was having with it in early December. Also, I noticed the language you chose of calling your customers “pet parents” instead of owners in the Q & A posted on your website. Are you aware that this gives the appearance that you support and identify with an animal rights “guardianship” agenda? Is this your intention or just ignorance? Savvy pet owners and reputable breeders are becoming wise to the damage control techniques, use of language and overall integrity of pet food companies. When all else failed, honesty and full disclosure should have been your policy. Unfortunately, it was not; putting you in the same category with those who have had much larger and damaging recalls in 2007. If this doesn’t disappoint you, it should.
    I look forward to your response.
    cc: To everyone I know.
    Thank you!

    Please add to your email safe list. We try to reply to
    every email within 2 business days. If you do not hear from us within this timeframe,
    call us toll-free at 1.888.519.7387. We appreciate your communication with us!

  16. Robert Davis says:

    So if nothing changed with the formula then why are dogs getting sick? Is Nature’s Variety going to pay for the vet bills that their food may have caused due to this issue with production?

    I have tried mixing in almost every brand that people recommended to try after the recall to my Kumpi and I have found that my Kumpi has not had these issues. I personally wanted a backup and to provide some variety. I’ve found that I will just continue the Kumpi …. my dogs like me to add some ground beef as a topper so I do spoil them but the Kumpi as it is works for my dogs. Again - it may not be for everyone….but I’ve tried the Orijen, the Natures Variety, the Evo, the Wellness and something has always ended up going wrong with those foods…. and the only one that has done well for me is Kumpi.

    I will admint - One day I thought the Kumpi might have made my dog sick but it wasn’t - it was his meds - he was overdosing on them….once I got him off the meds….he was fine….Evy even sent me another bag of food for free just in case and she wanted to pay to have the food tested - even though her batches of food are tested. She wanted to be sure. After I figured out it was the meds, I sent her the money for the bag of food - after all, it was the meds and not the food and so I finished up the bag of food I thought had caused the problem when in fact it didnt. The other dogs were eating from the same bag and were fine… I jumped to the wrong conclusion to begin with.

    Building a good relationship with your pet food company and not getting the run around - well that makes all the difference in the world to me. And knowing she cares for my pets - that is a BIG BIG BIG PLUS for me :-)


  17. Robert Davis says:

    I have a question - would the steam issue that NV has said could be the culprit - wouldn’t the kibble appear differently if there was more nutrients in the food? Would more nutrient dense food mean the food should weigh more and thus if packaged by weight wouldn’t the package have less food in it? Just wondering.

  18. Katie says:

    Robert, my understanding of nutrient dense was vitamins,minerals,fats and fatty acids across a fewer number of ingredients so that an animal could eat less food and get the same amount of calories and vitamins etc. an ex. with a nutrient dense food you may feed only 1 cup to a 50 lb dog, to get the same nutrient value with a lesser quality food you may need to feed 3 cups. Hopefully someone will be able to tell us if this info is wrong.

    Steam issue is interesting - I wonder if the food wasn’t heated at a high enough temp??

    Dog food should not cause loose stool and vomitting. Hard on the esophagus, the intestinal lining and can result in dehydration among other issues. I wish NV would alert the dog community as to what was really wrong so that veternarian’s could be watchful for present and future problems.

    trucorgi; I hope your dogs are doing better now and on the road to recovery.


  19. Robert Davis says:

    Hi Katie

    So if the same size kibble is made - but much “richer” and more “nutrient dense” does that mean the kibble should be the same size but made up of less other ingredients but more of the vitamins, minerals, fats, etc.? If there is more fat - wouldn’t it weigh more?

    I have a hard time believing this explanation - just doesn’t make much sense to me and I agree - whatever the real issue is - they need to step up and let folks know so pet owners and vets can get the right help they need for their sick dogs.

    Thanks Katie!


  20. Robert Davis says:

    Did NV know something was wrong back in January when they posted this on their site?

    Kibble Diet News

    Kibble Manufacturing Facility Addition

    Due to our continued strong growth in sales, we have recently added an additional kibble manufacturing facility. While the formulations and nutrient content have not changed, there are inevitable variations among plants in techniques and equipment – just like there are differences in cooking at home with gas versus electric.

    As a result, there may be some changes in the color of the kibble and a different aroma. Also, some pets that eat primarily one protein source may experience some loose stools similar to that experienced when changing foods. We recommend that customers feed less initially. Any digestive differences should be temporary.

    Again, the formulations and nutrient content have not changed. We are committed to producing a high quality product and to keep you informed as changes occur. Thank you
    for choosing Nature’s Variety.


    I’m a bit stumped as to how they think that cooking with gas vs. electric and not changing the formula any would cause dogs to have loose stool - this doesn’t make any sense. They also talk about pets that eat one protein source - and thus when changing they could have loose stool - but what about dogs on NV? Isn’t chicken at one plant the same quality chicken at the other? This news release seems like a lot of double talk to me and is not reassuring as to their quality control measures. Someone should have notice there was something different with the kibble if the nutrients were more dense in those bags.

  21. trucorgi says:

    Instinct Guaranteed Analysis
    Crude Protein (min) 42.0%
    Crude Fat (min) 22.0%
    Crude Fiber (max) 3.2%
    Moisture (max) 10.0%
    I did a little digging on the “steam” issue and found this
    Bulk density trouble-shooting
    “In many cases the single largest petfood processing issue is the product’s bulk density,” says Brian Plattner, processing engineering manager at Wenger Manufacturing. If it is desirable to lower the bulk density of extrusion cooked petfoods, the following processing variables may be altered as described. Since the recipe has the single largest impact on density, keep in mind that these changes are subject to the formulation, as not all formulations will react in the same manner.

    Moisture content: Generally, lowering the water content injected into the product without decreasing the steam level added to the product will assist expansion. However, when extruding formulations containing high protein (above 23%) or high fat (above 5%), it is necessary to increase total moisture by adding both steam and water. Once the moisture level in the extruder barrel drops below 20%, further decreases in moisture will result in increases in product density.

    Steam injection in the extruder barrel: Injecting steam directly into the product along the extruder barrel will tend to lower the bulk density.

    Oil addition: Addition of oil will increase product densities. In general, for each 1% of fat above 12%, the bulk density of the final product will increase by up to 16 grams per liter. Once the total fat content in the extruder barrel exceeds 22%, product durability is difficult to maintain and could result in excessive fines. Typically as the fat level increases, the moisture must be increased as well for adequate processing.
    Sounds like not enough steam and water were added in processing considering the high protein and fat content in a grain free kibble. This could explain why the food I had didn’t hold together and crumbled in the bag. I believe there is a high risk of bloat with this improperly processed food.

  22. Katie says:

    Robert and trucorgi;

    what I find interesting is: since March I now feed home cooked.
    My dog is now on a chicken only diet. Prior to this, I would mix or feed ground beef, ground turkey, beef roast, etc. I never experienced lose stool or upset tummy. She now gets chicken only because of organic availability in my area and my vet thought it better to leave our options of proteins open in case she would develop a food allergy someday. On chicken only, mixed with a little sweet potato or an alternate vegtable source for fiber her stool is very small and compact - not lose. The only time I was warned of perhaps a lose stool was too much salmon oil. She gets 2000mg of salmon oil, 1T of safflower oil, Vit E oil based and no lose stool. So I’m having a hard time understanding their explanation. Real salmon oil is expensive so it’s hard to believe they would be careless and add to much…. but maybe that was the problem or since it contains chicken fat….. did anyone smell the product was fat rancid?? maybe it was to much fat - maybe the chicken fat…
    I don’t understand the gas,electric either. Somedays my dogs chicken is boilded, somedays roasted, somedays grilled or baked. Her stool is always the same.

    Hope they enlighten us all as to what really happened.


  23. Zoe says:

    Last summer I fed dry Instinct Chicken and both of my cats had stomach upsets and diarrhea and they had to go to the vet.

    Has anyone ever sent individual samples of NV to be tested? I looked in the forums and couldn’t find anything.

  24. Jeannie says:

    “Nutrient dense” is codespeak for “too much vitamin/mineral supplement got added”. Happens more often than you know; all it takes is a little glitch in the machinery and you’ve got potentially toxic levels of synthetic supplements in the food. This is why virtually all pet food companies will take back food if you say it made your pet sick, ’cause they know too high levels of supplements will do that and the stuff is processed in such huge quantities, that “mistakes” happen alot.

    Of course, just admitting there was a manufacturing error at the plant would be too much to ask I guess.

  25. Robert Davis says:

    You know - I called It’s a Pets Life in Plymouth MN today to see if they had been notified. They told me no and the NV rep had just left. So they are checking the bags themselves just in case. If you live near stores that sell NV - give them a call and alert them to the NV website announcement and to check their bags - we don’t need dogs other dogs getting sick on this stuff. Check out the Itchmo forums - there is a good discussion going on there.


  26. Robert Davis says:

    Just called Top Tails Pet Center in Woodstock GA - my sister lives there - and they were alerted in Email and were told it was higher levels of protien in the food as the issue…..hmmmmm….steam, nutrient dense, proteins - oh my!

  27. Robert Davis says:

    Call your local stores - do a store locator look up on the Natures Variety website - - all the stores I called near 55428 were not aware or didn’t have the stock and I alerted them.

  28. Chris says:

    I am a Nature’s Variety dealer, and I was very concerned about this recall. I sat down and grilled one of NatVar’s top executives about this issue. Please let me give some clarification and answers to issues brought up here-
    “I am glad they are finally admitting that there was a change. Too bad they didn’t tell me that when I contacted them. I wonder why they would switch production facilities and who the new one is. Full disclosure would be nice especially since dogs are getting sick.”

    They only made two batches at the “new” facility, and the batches (Jan 3 and Jan10) were made in a facility that has made other flavors of Nature’s Variety for a long time. This facility also makes food for many other “holistic” foods. They also could not figure out what issue was, as all major indicators were within norm. The issue was that the equipment in the “new” facility was more advanced, and caused the starches in the food to break down at a different rate, thereby increasing the density % of the protein. While the protein was higher than normal, it was still within spec. Even so, it caused upsets in SOME dogs. We sold many of the bags in question, and not one customer has complained.

    “Last summer I fed dry Instinct Chicken and both of my cats had stomach upsets and diarrhea and they had to go to the vet.”

    Was the NatVar brand new to your cats? If they were eating a grain heavy food and switched straight to a grain free, their digestive system needs time to catch up, as grains slow down the digestive process. Cats are carnivores. Their digestive system is not set up for grains. Why do you think farmers use cats to kill the mice in the granaries? Because the cat’s won’t eat their grains! Try again, or with another grain free manufacturer, and change them over slowly.

    ““Nutrient dense” is codespeak for “too much vitamin/mineral supplement got added”. ”

    Jeannie, I am with you 100%. I thought this was what happened at first. Unless NatVar are bald-faced liars (which I doubt, I have met many of them, they have very good intentions and very good ethics, IMO) then I think we can take them at their word that this was what they said it was.

    We always tell people that the best thing they can do is a homemade raw diet under the supervision of a holistic vet. Prepackaged raw is next, followed by canned, followed by kibble. (whatever your do please, please , please make sure you do not feed only kibble. Your animals NEED moisture in their diet. If you say “well, my animal drinks a lot of water”, then that means they are dehydrated. Get the moisture in the diet. Your pets will thank you) As many people do not have the time, inclination or skills to do homemade, food will continue to be made by pet food companies. We have to make sure that we don’t jump to conclusions about every single thing that happens. I know I did. I will continue to feed NatVar to my cats, along with other quality foods. They are a good company, with a good product, and good intentions.

    Manufacturing is not a simple process, and they will not always get things 100% right. Do any of you do your job 100% right 100% of the time? If so, start your own pet food company. You will rule the world :-) If you did not have a good experience with NatVar, there are many other companies out there making fine products. But don’t expect them to be perfect. If you do have a good holistic vet that can lead you through homemade, perfect.

    Just don’t screw up the recipe!

    Good luck, folks!

  29. Robert Davis says:

    I would have to disagree with you on the grain free….I tried it cold turkey on my cats (Orijen) and they didn’t get upset and I have 5 cats that tried it. And I agree no company is 100% but when we are talking about the life of companion animals there is NO room for mistakes. If there were indications there was a problem….why were the bags released to the public? From what I just read they realized a problem right away.
    There is an example of a company that has not had recalls or problems with their formulas during production and that one company I know of is Kumpi Pet Foods.
    Kibble is perfectly fine and to say wet is required is just an opinion. I have had my senior dog tested over and over again with his blood work and he has been perfectly fine when he was just using kibble. Yes I mix in some ground beef because he likes it so that is not dry. But prior his blood work was coming back fine and he didn’t have hydration issues. None of my cats have had hydration issues either. In fact humans drink because we need fluids as well!!!!!

    Kind Regards,

    Robert Davis

  30. Don Earl says:

    RE: “We always tell people that the best thing they can do is a homemade raw diet”

    Raw diet has its fans, but are at least 3 major downsides to raw.

    1. Human grade meat is not safe even for humans in raw form due to contamination with dangerous and deadly bacteria.

    2. Human grade meat is often doused with preservatives that can to some extent be boiled or cooked out of the food.

    3. It doesn’t keep well, especially at room temperature in the food dish and some organisms simply love it at refridgerator temperatures.

    Yes, the raw is a more natural approach, and cooked does require supplements to replace some of the nutrients lost in cooking, but the most neutral authorities on the topic I’ve seen, universally agree raw represents a clear and present danger that is easily avoided simply by cooking the food.

    In doing some research on the subject awhile back the strongest supporters of raw are the producers of raw. The most frequent claim seems to be, “Aw, a little salmonella and e-coli won’t hurt ‘em.”. That isn’t completely true. While dogs and cats tend to resist such things, they are not universally immune to them.

    Why take the risk when it isn’t a necessary risk? Especially when even the strongest supporters of raw openly admit how much care is required to avoid dangerous or deadly results.

  31. Robert Davis says:

    my pets must be aliens since they are not dropping dead from kibble or lack of fluids

  32. Nicole says:

    Don, I think you need to do a bit more research on raw. I feed my dog raw chicken, turkey, pork, bison, rabbit, beef, veal, lamb, duck and more. And by the way, the change in protein source does not cause upset. Yes dog’s resist bacteria because their guts are full of acid and they digest raw quickly. If you are worried about preservatives which you should be find meat without such. Show me one dog who will leave his raw meal long enough to get rancid. It doesn’t happen. You seem to be afraid of raw and that is OK but please do not join the PFI propaganda about it. My dog has never been healthier. His body is solid muscle. His blood work is perfect. He is a specimen to be seen!!

  33. Sandi K says:

    Chris, being a NV dealer, do you have any idea why this food problem wasnt made more public? Putting it on NV’s website doesnt help those that dont have computers nor do most people think to check a pet food website to see if the food they are feeding each day is safe. And I think it should be made clear, that while you may have sold the food and had no complaints, do you really think if a pet got sick, most people would know to think it was the food? For those of us who lost pets from the recall, we are all very wary now but lots of people wouldnt think to put the illness with the food. So while you can maybe say you didnt get complaints, I dont know that you can say no pets got ill. And according to NV’s website, its very clear that pets have gotten ill. Why was this “recall” done so silently?

    Yoiur explanation about the facilities is a little contradictory…its a new facility according to both you and NV but yet NV has been using that facility for a long time?

    You state ” We have to make sure that we don’t jump to conclusions about every single thing that happens.” I must ask did you lose a pet to any recalled food last year, it doesnt sound like it. Until you have gone down that path, its real easy to tell people to not jump to conclusions. If I had been jumping to conclusions in 2006/2007 my cat might still be alive. I think its time for pet food companies and even retailers to understand its more what you and the pet food companies can do for us, not what we can do for you. If they can do a better job on providing safe, healthy pet food and show that they can be honest and transparent and show that they can handle recalls better than they handled this one (hopefully recalls would be a rare thing unlike last year and this year where they are still abound in numbers) than just maybe you can begin to regain the trust of pet parents. So far this recall hasnt shown that. So dont tell people not to react until you and the pet food companies can do a better job that you are trusted to do with pet food.

    And your statement saying manufacturing is not a simple process and they dont get things right 100% of the time. You know I expect that is true, but isnt that why they have quality control? Why was this product even allowed to be sold? While you might imply that few dogs got sick or if they did it was minor, where are the figures to prove that? And for the pets that are already health-compromised such as cancer or other illnesses, this food could have made them very ill. Do vets know about this recall and if no, why? Shouldnt they be made aware so they can be watching for ill pets that ate this food? Have none of you learned anything from the 2007 pet food recalls?

    So for me personally, once again, Im tired of retailers and pet food companies talking to us in such condescending rude ways. Its time you realize who buys the food and who eats the food. This is not about you and the companies, its about consumers and their pets.

  34. Sandi K says:

    And I need to add that I found it interesting that in order to get your questions answered you had to sit down with a top exec from NV. Do you and they think we wouldnt have questions? Do you and they think the info on their website gives clear answers? No it doesnt. We are all alot more aware than you obviously think. I suppose for the average consumer the answers provided on that website might be enough, for alot of us here, they arent.

    And you know, this is the second person I have run into the last 2 days here that has been touting NV and how they did everything right and in the process, not being very respectful of the consumer. Thank you for that as its made any uncertainty I may have had to buy NV food very easy, I wont even be thinking about it now.

  35. Robert Davis says:

    You know Sandi K - sounds like a case of the Emporer Who Has No Clothes - it may be all wrapped in pretty speak - but we see right through that invisible garment! Thank you for what you wrote - we can never forget those that died needlessly for corporate profits. I see a pattern of greed and an unwillingness to disclose in our society. Nothing has been learned yet they still want our money. What a sad world we live in.


  36. Mellisa says:

    Oh Chris,
    You did the unthinkable. You spoke the truth and supported the truth. That is not allowed here. If you can not jump on the bandwagon then you are not welcome here. Trust me I know. There are many good normal people on these boards but there a few that are over the top and in total paranoia and I don’t think they will ever be normal again. Their expectations are above and beyond human comprehension and I’m sure if they were held to the same perfect standards in their jobs they would be fired tomorrow. I, like you will not fear monger and will not participate in such blatant paranoia. They will not accept the facts as truth and they will never change. They also will never be able to realize this was not a recall. So in saying that thank you for your common sense and please keep up the good work. Too many good companies get bashed on these forums for very little reason and if they did have a clue on any part of dog food manufacturing they would understand. They really think you can just stick test something and wham you have a result. Its amazing. They will never be satisfied.
    Good job. Keep it up. There are alot of people on here that are nothing like the few and will learn alot from you. Most do not post because of this. They just watch and try to learn things.

  37. Sandi K says:

    Mellisa, your post sounds alot like the NV pet rep we ran into earlier…..interesting now there are 3 people that spoke for NV and name-called pet parents in the process…..

    If you want to call me a fear monger for not being led by the halter by the pet food companies than its fine by me. I would rather be able to think for myself and ask questions that have not been answered than to totally buy into weak and misleading info provided to you by the pet food companies. Call me all the names you want if it makes you feel better, I have no problems with what I expect.

    And I think you have it twisted. Its the pet food companies who will never change, at least at this rate and if I performed my job as they have over the past year, I certainly would have been fired. But there was alot expected of me at my job, I was not allowed to give excuses and cover up work that needed to be done as the pet food companies have. I expect the companies to live up to their claims such as NV’s statement of such high quality safety and controls which did not happen here.

    And once again……I say if you had lost a pet from poison pet food, you would feel totally different about this and expect alot more than what you are getting. If you did lose a pet and think this status quo is fine then thats your choice but I as a consumer expect more. Once again….you say this isnt a recall, well its funny, because Chris in his post said it was….so I guess it a non-recall recall……or whatever it is when a pet food company posts info about bad pet food on their website but nowhere else such as newspapers or TV, you know, places that most people get their news from…..Mellisa, you are selling yourself and your pet short if you are are satisfied with pet food and its lack of safety as is, can you not think of one thing that you would like to see changed or improved? Better rules regarding recall procedures? Better rules regarding ingredient suppliers? More accountability? Nothing? I guess not when your post to Chris says good job, keep it up.

  38. Robert Davis says:

    Amen Sandi K. I could not have said it better! I am amazed how the pet food companies will speak of the glories of their food when they want you to buy - but when the s**t hits the fan they claim how “nothings perfect” so “don’t expect it!” But don’t forget how much “better” they are so you shold pay the premium price for that “unperfect” product that was not-recalled recalled. What a load of BS….GREED PEOPLE PURE GREED is what I read….buy BUT DONT EXPECT QUALITY from their QUALITY product! And certainly don’t get p*ssed when your pet gets sick or dies. Cause they are not perfect…..Excuses and Greed - lovely combination - and the pets suffer for it.

  39. Robert Davis says:

    Got an excuse from a dealer, distributor, rep or owner of a company ???? then check out our forum on itchmo…. we would love to hear from you -

  40. Carol says:

    It is hard for me to trust–because my two cats were at death’s door last year–and I have one alive now—and now I hear about a potential problem with the brand that is my two goldens’ food-through Itchmo!! One of them is slowly dying from cancer!! I bought my latest bag last Thursday-one week today- and there were no notices about any of this potential problem at my retailer– so yesterday I called to “chew them out” about not providing me this important info-as I read that all the retailers were informed-and I had bought another bag 2 weeks prior—and he, the owner of both of the stores I buy NV Instinst from–did not know—Imagine his embarrassment that I, the pet owner (with the big mouth) who has become his new customer since March 2007 because I did not trust MF any more and wanted to get a better quality food with better communication—and am not vocal about displeasures any more–you could hear a pin drop—-He asked me for the dates on the website —and I told him my date on my bags were dec 27, 08 and one of my goldens does have bowels issues these last few weeks—hard to know why I agree—but I feel like I don’t want to do this again—to my beloved dogs this time. As soon as he hung up he said, he was calling his NV rep and he did not sound too happy either….

    It was during the end of the taste testing and the full disclosure that my sickest cat was made ill-one year ago yesterday—so I think the smart thing to do for me is to err on the side of caution—and just wait and see

    For those of you that can not understand my position–lucky you—These past 13 months have been the worst days of my life–so please don’t insult those of us who were victimized by trusting the pet food companies to have full disclosure—it is not just about a few sick pets-it may just start that way to some…

  41. Zoe says:


    No the NV brand was not new to my cats. They were eating the raw chicken and turkey. I decided to supplement with some Instinct dry chicken - you know how they tell you to rotate? Itried it for over a week and it was an absolute disaster. I finally had to take both to the vet.

    They did fine on the raw chicken until NV changed the packaging. Suddenly both cats refused to eat the raw. I asked if the formula had been changed along with the packaging and they said no.

    I just happened to have a unopened bag of the old packaging so I opened it and they both ate it. Then I served some of the new and both refused it.

    Why can’t they just say what they are doing?

    Right now my cats and little dog are eating the canned Instinct but I check the NV website and Itchmo frequently. It’s really disgusting that we have to constantly be on guard for problems like this.

  42. Zoe says:


    I have a question for you since you seem to be close to the NV people. Why is there a sudden shortage of duck? I would like to know where this duck is coming from. I do know a NV rep told me the rabbit is from China. I hope they are not going to do the same with the duck.

  43. Nora and Rufus says:

    A cooked diet is better than kibble alone and a nice mix of cooked and a little kibble is good if you can trust the kibble is not poisoned. I find it interesting that no mention of a cooked diet when “Chris” mentioned the best feeding is “Raw” for our pets. But of course mentioning cooked would have taken away from NV’s profit. I am not over come by paranoia “Mellisa” and I am not riding on anyone’s band wagon. I care for my fur kids and that is the bottom line.

  44. Carol says:

    I trust Itchmo -and Pet Connection - these are the sites where I have gotten some very good ideas, facts, suggestions and where I share what I find out. I found out that the disaster from 2007 happened in 2004 in Asia with commercial pet food. You mean to tel me that a 50 yr old housewife who can barely find her way around a computer can uncover this info—this is another example why I can not trust pet food companies—I would have hoped these companies would have had smarter people than me looking at issues like this!

  45. Pukanuba says:

    Hmmmmmm, I’m wondering

    Does Chris=Melissa=Arabiannikki? I wonder why she feels she needs all these different names?

  46. arabiannikki says:

    Someone just mentioned this to me. LOL This is too funny. First I’m accuse of being a rep for a company and now I’m accused of being 3 people. Good one. I think I’ll take one of whoevers words. Paranoid. It seem to fit.

    No… Chris does not equal Melissa that equals me. I have always posted with my screen name and always posted it on the forum. I have never tried to hide anything. If you know anything about the forums and have been around at all that would be obvious. I have posted many times knowing people would launch a personal attack so why bother hiding now. I’m not that thin skinned and really don’t care what the few think about me personally. Anyway have fun here. Looks like you all have it handled. I know I should copy and paste this to the forums but I’m sure someone else will so i won’t bother taking the time.

    Just make sure you copy and paste ALL of it not pieces.

  47. Robert Davis says:

    I have to agree with Arabiannikki - she has never been one to hide how she feels so I don’t believe she would be hiding behind other names. I think the point of all these posts is people just want to know what happened…the truth is what we want. Issues have been brought up about the communication (or lack thereof), quality control, when NV knew something was wrong, and what the plans are to really ensure this type of thing doesn’t happen again. The NV food has provided many pets with quality nutrition and even Sandy came on board during the recall to help reduce the mental anguish so many faced. I am hoping that he is making a decision to answer these questions like he did so well last year so that everyones minds can be put to ease and those that have suffered during this can get the answers they deserve.

    Kind Regards,


  48. Catlady says:

    For those who would like more answers about this issue, please see the following page on the forums where answers to questions were given by a gentleman from NV. The conversation starts at Post #185 on this page

  49. Carol says:

    Being known here for posting my honest (mostly negative) feelings of the nightmare of the 2007 pet food recall, I do have to give kudos to the CEO of Nature’s Variety Mr. Sandy Goodman –maybe not all questions were answered for all people—but you came to us and did not hide or ignore from people who are desperate for answers. I want to publically thank you.

  50. Sandi K says:

    I agree with Carol, I think it was brave and forthcoming for him to come here and attempt to answer questions we had. There are several areas where definate improvement is needed but at least we finally had a pet food company admitting mistakes were made and that they are working towards solving the problems. I did ask why this wasnt made more known to the general public, he indicated they are evaluating their communciations to the public and may expand how they initially notified people (it was publicized but only on their website). I just hope there still arent dogs out there being fed any of the questionable lots of food and getting ill and the owners not knowing why. Alot of us had that very thing happen in the 2007 recalls. So I would encourage NV to evaluate and improve their public notification of this in order to protect as many pets as possible.

  51. Chris says:

    “I would have to disagree with you on the grain free….I tried it cold turkey on my cats (Orijen) and they didn’t get upset and I have 5 cats that tried it.” Good! Cats, like humans, will have different reactions to diet changes. If you were previously feeding a quality high meat, low grain food, then there may not be a reaction at all. I’m not sure what Zoe was feeding prior.

    “But prior his blood work was coming back fine and he didn’t have hydration issues. None of my cats have had hydration issues either.” Again, good! But from speaking to several holistic vets, much disease and many ailments are either caused or exacerbated by a lack of moisture in the diet. The vast majority of the kidney and urinary issues they see are related to animals on a mainly dry diet. I also have friends that say “I fed my last 2 dogs Alpo all their lives, and they lived till a ripe old age!” Again, animals are not robots with a set input requirement or they will fail. Some people eat tons of red meat and fast food all their lives and live till 90 (like my grandfather, RIP). But overall, humans eating a high quality veggie, fresh whole food diet will increase life expectancy overall.

    I’ll make you a deal, Robert. You try eating nothing but dry cereal, dehydrated meat, veggies and fruits that are baked into a kibble, no juice, no milk, nothing with more than 10% moisture (unless it is cooked into something that ends up being less than 10% mositure) and tell me how you feel after 90 days of that and just drinking water. If you feel great, I’ll buy you a large bag of Orijen Feline and canine Orijen Senior or Adult or Six Fish, whatever your preference. Tell me when you start, we’ll stay in communication, and I’ll take your word on it. My cats both started doing much better on a grain free diet with as much moisture as I can feed them. (One does not like eating wet food. Little bugger. He must lick up the fluid, though, and then he gets his Orijen :-)

    “Raw diet has its fans, but are at least 3 major downsides to raw.” Show me one documented case of an animal getting sick from raw. Dogs and cats have digestive systems that are designed by nature to digest raw food. They have short, acidic digestive tracts that burn the heck out of any bacteria they come in contact from. They lick their own butts. They scavenge in the wild. Sick animals, or animals coming off of antibiotics should be careful. I would be more concerned about the human handlers. Just to cover all the bases, do Stella and Chewy’s. They only buy free range animals from Mennonite farms, and every single batch is safely rendered 100% free of any salmonella or e.coli, 3rd party tested, and then the results are put on their website. Also, they have organic fruits and veggies. Check it out, it’s the only raw I feed now, simply because my cats love it and I love the free range animal aspect-

    “So while you can maybe say you didnt get complaints, I dont know that you can say no pets got ill.” You don’t know my relationship with my customers. If their animals get sick, we want to know about it, and they will tell us. We are not a faceless mega chain. We have great relationships with our customers, and they know to let us know if there is a problem. Believe me, they let us know if it just looks different.

    “its a new facility according to both you and NV but yet NV has been using that facility for a long time?” Again, it was a new facility for that particular formula. That facility has produced other flavors for NatVar for some time, and also other holistic foods.

    “Why was this product even allowed to be sold?” Again, every measurable indicator was within recipe guidelines. Every brand has a range which the manufacturing facility must fall within. The original factory was towards the low end of the range, the new facility was near the high end. That is why this is not a traditional “recall”. That’s why, from the looks of it, not many animals (relative to the amount produced) got sick. There was nothing out of spec. There were no cheap tainted ingredients. What NatVar learned on this is that they need to shoot for the middle of spec more often, so that variations will not cause upsets in animals with sensitive digestive systems.

    “If I had been jumping to conclusions in 2006/2007 my cat might still be alive.” I am very sorry for your loss, I can’t imagine how I would react to this if I had lost a cherished member of my little pride. That’s why I can take an unemotional , unbiased look at this. I could care less if we carried NatVar or any other line we carry, i.e. if I felt that they were nefarious, I could drop them in a second and not lose one bit of business, because my customers trust our judgment and we could move them to Orijen or Evo. In discussion with the rest of the management team, if we felt like this was something serious, we were ready to drop NatVar.

    “And I need to add that I found it interesting that in order to get your questions answered you had to sit down with a top exec from NV.” I told NatVar they screwed up royally on communicating this. In their defense, they were probably concerned that too many people would simply see “recall” and run for the hills because they did not want to take the time to investigate the true, underlieing cause of the issue. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I am sure that Itchmo readers have the common sense to judge “too much high quality chicken based protein” vs. “tainted gluten to make it look like it’s high quality protein”. But too many people are more concerned with “Hollywood Bimbos behaving badly” to really take the time to think about the difference in their pet food.

    “You did the unthinkable. You spoke the truth and supported the truth.” It’s hard to look at things without bias and without emotion, especially when it comes to our pets. We cherish them, only we can make decisions for them. I think it is a strength of mine (to hopelessly attempt to offset my weakness!!!) to look at things in a very evenhanded manner. In this case, many on this board were not given enough info from NatVar. So I cannot blame them. In the absence of fact there can only be speculation. NatVar was way too vague on this. That is on them.

    “you say this isnt a recall, well its funny, because Chris in his post said it was” “But don’t forget how much “better” they are so you shold pay the premium price for that “unperfect” product”
    It’s semantics. Call it whatever you like. Think whatever you like. From what NatVar told everyone, again, it left a lot to speculation. I can only tell you what they told me, and how I feel about it. I know they have good intention. They are good people. They are not some pet food company that is owned by a granary or beef production plant that is looking for a profitably way to get rid of waste material. They want too have their own plant, as does everyone, and they will eventually get their own plant and have more control. And they will not be perfect.

    “I just happened to have a unopened bag of the old packaging so I opened it and they both ate it. Then I served some of the new and both refused it.” That is not too odd. We have several customers whose cats will only eat canned food (not NatVar) that is from certain batches. If it’s a new batch, they only buy one, and see if their cat will eat it. I just opened a new bag of Orijen and my Benny won‘t eat it. (I have a fussy Mainecoon that will only lap up the gravy from wet food, he won’t eat it or raw. That’s what I get for 7 years of Purina One Dry *sigh*) So it’s not uncommon, but it is very frustrating, I know.

    “Why is there a sudden shortage of duck?” I am off until Monday, I will check then.

    “Does Chris=Melissa=Arabiannikki?” Lol, that is funny. I did try on my mother’s clothes when I was a kid……

    “I find it interesting that no mention of a cooked diet” If you are going to go through the time and energy to do homemade, you might as well do raw, IMO. It is the most nutritionally complete diet. Why do you think that raw companies do not supplement with many (if any) added vitamins and nutrients? Raw is intact. Cooked is not. Both are great. I would tell any of my customers to do either one (with a holistic vet) and stop by every once in a while to get toys or just to say hi. We would go out of business, but then again, I know from experience that home made takes time, and these companies do a lot of research into making nutritious meals.

    I hope you all realize that I am not a blind defender of anyone. I went into the meeting ready to drop their line if they did not start explaining what the details were. I have a pretty good BS detector. Of course, they could have been lying , or lied to, but there comes a point when you have to take someone on their word. Every single time you buy anything, anywhere, you are taking them on their word that they are honest, their product is what it says it is, and it is safe. I will back up my decision by continuing to feed their food to my cats.

    Everyone have a great day, and be well! (your animals too, of course!!!)

  52. zoe says:


    Can you find out which meats NV will be getting from China? I know the rabbit comes from there and now the duck. I want to know where the chicken, lamb and venison are from also.

  53. Sandi K says:

    Chris, I have a few questions….you stated “You don’t know my relationship with my customers. If their animals get sick, we want to know about it, and they will tell us. We are not a faceless mega chain. We have great relationships with our customers, and they know to let us know if there is a problem. Believe me, they let us know if it just looks different.”

    When you say you are a NV dealer, can we ask who exactly you work for, you claim a lot of knowledge so I would just like to know who you deal with, do you deal directly to retailers or pet parents or both, exactly who is your customer? I think its only fair that we know considering your statement.

    And Im wondering if you read the forum thread where a NV CEO came to answer our questions. He says he doesnt have an exact number of complaints so while you may not have rec’d any complaints, obviously complaints were filed elsewhere from someone.

    And this statment you made to my post: ” “If I had been jumping to conclusions in 2006/2007 my cat might still be alive.” I am very sorry for your loss, I can’t imagine how I would react to this if I had lost a cherished member of my little pride. That’s why I can take an unemotional , unbiased look at this. I could care less if we carried NatVar or any other line we carry, i.e. if I felt that they were nefarious, I could drop them in a second and not lose one bit of business, because my customers trust our judgment and we could move them to Orijen or Evo. In discussion with the rest of the management team, if we felt like this was something serious, we were ready to drop NatVar.

    Somehow I doubt any pet food dealer can really be “unbiased” about pet food and the defense of the pet food industry any more than I can be “unemotional” about toxic pet food that killed my cat. You claim its a strength of yours to be unbiased and unemotional but it might help if you can understand the questions we as pet parents have of all pet food companies since the recalls. You imply that because we have questions and doubts that we are emotional and I say that the emotion is now causing us to ask questions that we never knew to ask before. Being emotional is not necessarily a negative thing if it helps to bring about long overdue changes and improvements to pet food as a whole. I encourage you to go to the forum thread and read the questions and answers and get a better idea of where we are coming from. The questions that were posted were not emotional questions. As a dealer, it can only help your business to gain a better understanding of what the consumer is asking and expecting these days.

  54. js says:

    is the instinct canned food affected? i have it, and i have’nt let my dog try it.

  55. Sandi K says:

    js, no, their info indicates its only the Instinct Chicken Meal Formula grain-free kibble for dogs. Best wishes

  56. DF says:

    In addition to Nature’s Variety Instinct food, their raw frozen food is also dangerous to pets. Both of my dogs contracted pancreatitis and hepatitis in June 2008 from Nature’s Variety raw frozen food and became seriously ill. They had to be hospitalized for over a week. I thought I was doing the right thing by feeding my dogs a “healthy” brand of food but this food almost killed them. Please do not feed this to your beloved pets. I would hate for anyone else to have to suffer through what we did!!!

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