Evangers Risk of Botulism
Or Much Ado About Nothing?

February, 2010

So what's the latest scoop on the ongoing saga between Evanger’s canned dog food and the FDA? Many of our visitors have contacted us for an update, and we contacted both parties to find out:
  • What really happened to cause the FDA to resort to its tough actions against the pet food manufacturer?
  • Did Evanger's manufacturing processes ever genuinely pose a risk of botulism, or
  • Was this really just a case of mis-communication and bungled paperwork?
  • What’s the present status of their license suspension, and why hasn't the Order yet been removed?
  • And first and foremost ...Is Evangers Dog and Cat food safe to feed to our pets?

Read here for a timeline of events and related press releases.

Public Opinion on the FDA Ruling

Since this story broke, consumer reaction and opinion has been divided.

Many consumers applauded the firm actions taken by the FDA, and Evanger’s became the subject of many public accusations and attacks. Several dog owners even posted on various forums and blogs claiming their dogs had become sick upon eating Evangers dog food.

On the flip side, are those consumers who remain supportive of Evanger’s. These dog owners are generally highly critical and distrustful of the FDA’s overall role and past performance in regulating the pet food industry, and dismiss their findings as incomplete, unconvincing, and sheer bureaucratic nit picking.

Lastly, are those of us who simply want the truth. If dogs have indeed become sick on Evanger’s dog food, why have there been no statements to this effect by the FDA? Why have there been no dog food recalls? In fact, why has the FDA not released any official updates since their press release in June, 2009?

FDA Comment – February, 2010

Unfortunately, we haven't had any luck reaching a live representative, nor a direct response to our question regarding whether or not it was simply a paperwork issue.

Additionally, our voice messages to Evanger's individual FDA Inspector have not been returned.

The voicemail messages we received from the FDA, basically state:

“Evanger's emergency permit suspension has not yet been reinstated. The FDA is inspecting Evanger's food on a lot-by-lot basis and allowing them to ship interstate. Originally, there were no recalls associated with the permit suspension. It was a regulatory issue. There was not a problem with the food itself, but there was the potential for a problem based on general manufacturing procedures. That's where it stands right now".

Evanger’s Speaks to Dog Food Scoop - February, 2010

Summary and Overview

FYI, we have openly exchanged emails and spoken at length with Joel Sher. Our team has also had several anonymous conversations with both Joel and Holly Sher. On all occasions, we have found them very candid, cooperative and forthcoming.

Evanger’s remains adamant that the situation arose due to incorrectly filed documentation, resulting from misunderstandings between their Process Authority, TechniCAL, and conflicting advice from the FDA itself. Read here for What is a Process Authority?.

The dog food company insists there is not, and never has been, any concrete evidence to support the FDA’s suggestion of unsafe manufacturing processes:

  • The FDA has never found any evidence of bacteria or any other health concerns with their actual manufacturing processes, nor with the quality of their dog food ingredients.
  • The only changes they made were purely documentation changes. No changes were ever made to their manufacturing procedures, which have remained the same for the last 75 years;
  • They have never been involved in any recalls in the history of their company.

On the particular day we spoke with Joel Sher, the FDA had just completed an on-site inspection. According to Joel, no issues were found with their plant, their processes, or their record keeping. They were found to be 100% compliant.

Our Questions

Q:   From your perspective, what caused the FDA to issue Evangers with the Emergency Permit in the first place?

A:   “Briefly put, the FDA regulates the canned pet food industry along with many other regulatory agencies, but not dry food.

“What happened was that, because we had so many products, we asked the FDA if we could put all of our processes under one process, using the most aggressive process. Thus, giving everything that much more safety.

“The FDA replied, ‘Yes’.

“However, when our FDA inspector came to do an inspection he said we did not have any scheduled processes, not knowing that the
one filed scheduled process was encompassing all that were deleted by our Process Authority.

” Due to this lack of communication, we are back to what we had originally filed. NO product has been recalled nor is there any indication of any under processed food, nor have we changed the way we make food for 75 years”.

Q:   Can you comment on why your Process Authority would delete all the previous files. Would you say they were ultimately negligent and responsible for this incident?

A:   “Our Process Authority made changes in our filed processes in conjunction with, and at the request of the FDA. When I (Joel Sher, Vice President of Evanger’s) reviewed the new processes, I voiced my opinion that the terminology did not seem correct. The Process Authority assured me that this is what the FDA had requested and had informally approved. The FDA individual later would not respond to "incorrect filing".

“Also, I later learned that our Process Authority and the FDA had decided to delete existing files in an effort to clean up our file of unnecessary and redundant files. This was a huge and unnecessary mistake. There is no requirement to keep the number of files to a minimum. It would serve no purpose to delete files. Many companies file hundreds of filed processes.

“We do not blame the Process Authority for the misguidance given to them.”

Q:   The "Order of Need for Emergency Permit" was issued in April, 2008. Can you elaborate on why a paperwork issue would still be outstanding almost two years later?

A:   “Before the Order can be removed there is a lot of interaction, discussions, and interpretations of vague regulations that must be addressed. Then, we (Evanger's) can request a withdrawal of the Order.

“We at Evanger's are comfortable with the present situation and it is the recommendation of our Process Authority that we continue to operate under the Order indefinitely. Under the Order, we are continuing business as usual and the Process Authority continues to interact with the FDA.”

Joel also explained that they were required to pass two FDA site inspections in a row before they could request a reinstatement of their permit. As the FDA typically conducts such inspections once a year, they will have to wait until after next year's inspection to request a reinstatement of their permit. The timing and length of the process is out of their control.

Q:   What safety assurances can you give the public on Evanger’s canned dog foods?

A:   “At the present time all of Evanger's products are safer than any other facility because each individual sterilization process is reviewed and approved by the FDA.

“Our Chef cooks the food for the required time. Then the cook chart is reviewed again by our Safety Supervisor, then by the Vice President (Joel Sher), then also sent to our Process Authority, and then finally sent to the FDA.

“ Every cook chart gets reviewed by all these eyes making Evanger's the safest food on the market.”

Q:   Has the FDA ever found any incidences at all of botulism, or have ANY other safety issues arisen during their inspections?

A:   “There has never been even a single incident or allegation of illness as a result of using any of our products or that of any of our private label customers.

”When an inspector inspects a facility he only makes observations. These observations are reviewed by the FDA, as well as the plant (Evangers). Observations are not a determination of a violation of FDA rules.

“Rules and regulations are created to avoid the possibility of getting into a situation that may lend itself to a safety issue. We at Evanger's have responded to all observations and do not believe that we have violated any FDA rules or
regulations. We have, however, modified certain pieces of equipment and procedures to increase our level of safety.

"These modifications were made voluntarily and not as a result of any demands by the FDA. We are constantly looking for ways to improve our methodology and processes in a never-ending goal to attain perfection.”

FYI, see also this very informative article: Evangers - Filling in the Blanks.

Tell us your thoughts! Which side of the fence are you on, and why?

Folks, please note, we moderate all comments. All well-meaning and thoughtful comments are welcomed. Spam and/or inappropriate comments will be deleted and banned.

Comments for Evangers Risk of Botulism
Or Much Ado About Nothing?

Click here to add your own comments

Nov 26, 2013
Evangers food just about killed my dog
by: Rocky

Less than 2 hours after eating Evangers Hunk of Beef canned dog food and nothing else, my perfectly healthy and active 2-yr old golden retriever started to experience ataxia (clumsiness and dizziness) and weakness in his hind legs. A trip to the local hospital and then immediately to a more sophisticated university veterinary hospital where I carried his then practically unconscious body into the ER resulted in a diagnosis of acute barbituate overdose based on a urine sample test. They told me that he could very possibly be blind and could suffer brain damage - assuming he survived. A more detailed tox screen test came back a week or so later and proved phenobarbital as the culprit. Thankfully, the docs were able to flush his system and after 3 days of ER and ICU (and $4000), my somewhat lethargic golden returned home with me. He has appeared to recover fully, although a followup neurological exam is recommended. Put simply, these days, phenobarbitol is used to euthanize animals. There is no way that he had access to that drug or anything like it in the hours before he exhibited symptoms - he was under my full control during that period. I am 100% convinced the beef used in the Evanger's food was improperly rendered and was so raw and loaded with drugs from the slaughterhouse, that it was unsuitable for any other creature to ingest. Never again will I buy Evanger's food, and I will actively alert as many people as I can to also stop using it. There is obviously no QC at this food plant, and a $4 can of dog food just about killed my dog. If I didnt actually throw away the can I would have had it tested and then sued Evanger's for not only the hospital costs but for the extreme emotional distress. Put this company out of business just like they almost killed my dog. Google Evanger's Hunk of Beef and look at some of the other comments over the years - there is evidence that this is an ongoing problem, and all things considered, that's all I needed to read.

Mar 21, 2013
by: Mopsey

I started buying Evanger's canned dog food about a year ago-buying direct from them. My 3 dogs seem to love it, but I have been concerned about how bad and dirty the cans look. I always end up washing them with soap and rinsing them before I will open them. I'm wondering if they are old cans with just a better use by date stamped on them. I was wondering if anyone else has had this problem? Makes me wonder about Botulism in them.. Thanks!

Dec 17, 2012
All Beef Evanger's Organics
by: Anonymous

Fed my two dogs their evening meal. Only Evanger's all beef brand dog food. The next morning they both threw up. There were chunks of the so called beef undigested in the vomit. Needless to say they won't be getting this brand of dog food again.

Nov 09, 2011
GREEN/MOLDY food in several cans
by: Anonymous

I ran across this website looking for recent dog food recalls. I have NOT purchased ANY EVANGERS food for my two Dachshunds in over two years. This was spawned by my LAST purchase of cans of Duck /Sweet potato, which upon opening had a GREEN MOLD looking material within the 'meat'...I even took photos of this funk, and e mailed it to Evangers. I DID get a real live person on the phone, the man claimed to be the owner of the company..Hmmm. Anyway, like everyone else , I was not given any satisfaction monetarily. I consider myself, along with my BABIES, L U C K Y--not to have had anything medically go wrong!!! Sick Hah? Buying a can of 'gourmet organic' dog food for 2.88 and HOPING your dog doesn't get sick!!! DONE TOO WITH EVANGERS!!!

Nov 03, 2011
My dogs know the difference!
by: Anonymous

I have been using Evangers hand packed canned dog foods for a very long time. I place the unopened cans in hot tap water to melt the fats that have solidified in the can to make it more palatable. I have noticed that every now and then I will get a can that will "bulge" when warmed in the hot water. My dogs will not eat the contents of those cans. I can take another can from the same case and if it does not "bulge" when warmed they will dig right in with no hesitation and lick the bowl clean! Is there anything wrong with the contents of those cans? I don't know, but, my dogs apparently smell something they don't like. How can you argue with a dogs sense of smell? Evangers refuses to take these cans back stating there is nothing wrong with them even though some of the cans remain "popped" after they are cooled. I don't think it is worth taking a chance with the health of my dogs to continue feeding them a food that the manufacturer obviously doesn't stand behind. Evangers is off my list of acceptable dog foods until they solve this problem.

Oct 08, 2011
Canned dog food was bad for our Beagle
by: Anonymous

We went to our local pet store and the store employee recommended Evangers for our 10 yr. old Beagle. We gave him a small amount with his dry food for 2 days. For the next two days he wouldn't eat, had diarrhea, vomited and was lethargic. Coincidence? We have stopped the Evangers & now he is back to normal. We went to the pet store to buy a different dog food and was talked out of it in favor of the Evangers. We won't trust pet store employees until we do our own research also.

Sep 05, 2011
Botulism my Service German Shepherd
by: Disabled CA RN

After only a couple of oz of Evanger's canned Pheasant, my poor Service Dog has been to the ER twice in 12 hours. A stool culture is pending but it certainly looks like a Clostridia pathogen, with Botulism high on everyone's list.

I will never buy Evanger's again- period. In 50 years of dog ownership, I have never before seen such a horrible and quick infection.

Aug 06, 2011
Evanger's very unprofessional rely to my email...
by: Anonymous

Dear Evanger,

Im sorry to inform that your replies to the FDA findings dont make sense to me, so I will have to stop buying your food. You keep claiming all is safe, but thats not the problem...the problem is you not using the ingredients you claim. the DNA test result is supposed to show ingredients? There could be one drop of duck blood in that can and it would show positive for duck DNA, and what abouth the LAMB??? Independently test and post result of the PERCENTAGE of DUCK or LAMB contents...I bet you dont... Regards, Ed Smith


Mr.Smith, There was duck in the duck and chicken formula and lamb in the lamb product we manufactured. You may call the lab the specializes in DNA testing since they have more knowledge in this area than myself if you care to. DNA is qualitative not quantitative so either you have the DNA or you don’t. I already wrote my congressman about this instance and now they are involved.

Sincerely, Brett Sher

Evanger’s Pet Food



Very strange reply. Gee, ok, since you say so..."duck in duck, chicken in chicken, lamb in lamb". Wow that really put my mind at ease. And to tell your customers to "call the lab"??? It's not my job to "call the lab" so to put customers mind at ease about your products, it's YOUR job to do that. The FDA didnt find ANY ingredients you claim. How do we know you didnt correct the ingredients AFTER you were caught by the FDA??? And I understand that the FDA does NOT use DNA to test, they use actual quantitive analysis, just like you could and should do, but wont because I think you know what the results would be. And I also contacted my Congresswomen about Evanger's Pet Food faking ingredients and commiting massive fraud on the public and they replied that there is a current investigation of your company ongoing at this time, so yes, they are involved... Thanks, Ed Smith


Your a loser and you mom must be proud of you.

Brett Sher

Evanger’s Pet Food



I will be sure to post Evanger's reply on as many discussion boards as possible, along with... twitter, facebook, myspace, etc.. Very professional... Regards, Ed Smith

Jun 07, 2011
by: Anonymous

I've been rotating between the pheasant and brown rice & the fish and potato dry formulas for my two senior Greyhounds and 7 year old Great Dane for over a year. They love it, beautiful, soft shiny coats, excellent condition, good stools, no gas, etc. All three had perfect lab results on their annual exams.

We've tried many dog foods over the past 30+ years breeding/showing dogs as well as rescue Greyhounds, I'm so tried of having to change diets when a big corporation buys up a good food and changes the formula to make higher profit.

I always rate a food by the dogs condition after being on it for at least 4-6 months. Dogs like people are individuals, so far we're very happy.

Evanger's gets 4 paws up from me & my kids:)

Mar 04, 2011
Bag Food Issues
by: Anonymous

I have been feeding my dog Evanger's for the past 10 months, since she was weened. We never had a problem until last month when we purchased a 33 lb bag of Pheasant & Brown rice. Since she started eating from this bag she has been having problems. Most days she tries not to eat the food, which was never the case, she had always loved this food. But now she avoids it. When she does eat it, she has really bad gas, which she never got previously. And, the final straw is when she began to vomit from the food. That's when I stopped giving her the food and she has been fine ever since. After reading the other postings I now have serious doubt about this dog food manufacturer.

I have called Evangers and a person who answered the call told me someone would be calling me back as soon as possible to discuss my issues. That was seven days ago and I haven't heard a word back from them.

Now I'm on this site trying to research another brand of food for my dog.

Jan 20, 2011
Feeding with confidence
by: Anonymous

After I lost a dog to the Menu food recall of 2007 I started cooking for my dogs. I had no faith in any pet foods because I figured if this could happen to Menu, it could happen to anyone.

I was cooking for about 2 years, and let me tell you, this is no easy task. Due to family situations I have had less time to prepare my dog's food, so I set out to find a food that I could supplement for the nights I didn't have time to cook. In addition to my own online research, I spoke with many pet food companies - Wellness, Merrick, Evo, Evanger's, Solid Gold, just to name a few.

When I called Evanger's, the owner actually answered the phone. He spent over ONE HOUR with me on the phone explaining every single step of the cooking process. First of all, I could not believe that the owner was willing to educate me for such a long period of time! Nevertheless, I explained my side and that I was still hesitant about feeding store-bought food. The owner ended up sending me an entire case of FREE SAMPLES of their Whole Chicken Thighs because he was so confident that this would relieve me.

He was definitely right. All I have to say is I'm so grateful to Evanger's that I do not have to home cook any more. I have had nothing but great experiences with Evanger's. I am happy to support a small company, and I am entirely comfortable feeding the "hand packed" line because I can see exactly what I am feeding. They have given me some of mine and my dog's life back!!

Jan 19, 2011
Dogs Won't Eat "Gray" Mush
by: Anonymous

I have a small grooming shop in So Cal & carry 3 lines of what are considered to be high end pet foods.

The only Evanger's product carried the past couple of years is canned Duck & Sweet Potato. All customers (both 4 & 2 legged) are very fond of this product.

Over the past 3 months, I have returned approx a dozen cases of this product due to varying degrees of questionable appearance, texture & smell. Unfortunately, my dogs will eat anything, including something that may be contaminated. Fortunately, my customers' dogs are more discerning & refused to eat it. First return appeared to be possible failure of pop-top seal; subsequent returns (incl 4 cases just received yesterday that are going back) seem to be more of the product being contaminated in some way prior to or in the canning process.

Have never, ever had a response from the Shers & haven't seen any internet posts recently on this topic.

I also recently ordered the 100% duck as my 3 dogs just love it. No warning......product now contains what can only be considered "filler" - chicken liver & guar gum. Of course, no more 100%. The other companies that advertise 95% meat are no different (ie Wellness, currently owned by an investment company, loaded w/cheap carbs & worse, lots of canola oil, not well tolerated by dogs). I'm done w/Evangers.

My dogs also love salmon. I will scour stores for wild canned salmon, will thoroughly flush the excessive sodium & probably freeze in meal size portions.

Jan 07, 2011
Contamination still an issue in 2011?
by: Anonymous

My puppy has been on Evangers since weaning, so about 10 months.

About 3 months ago I opened a bag of dry food and he wouldn't touch it. Then both of my dogs developed tapeworm. My dogs don't have fleas and are not in an environment with fleas, so I've been very puzzled how both my dogs ended up with tapeworm (my older dog likes to eat the remainder of the puppy's food). I wondered about the food.

Then today I opened a new bag of food and the pellets were contaminated with sharp objects.

Now, after reading all of these issues Evanger's has been having, and looking back on my own experience with the food, some of these unexplained instances with the tapeworm and not eating are looking more clearer to me and I will no longer be giving my puppy this food.

Sep 07, 2010
by: Anonymous

I switched to Evanger's after the big menu foods recall. My dogs LOVE this food and do well on it. Never had a problem. That is all.

May 25, 2010
Contaminated dog food
by: Anonymous

I happen to be one of the pet owners who worked very closely with the FDA in their efforts to get Evanger's to clean up their act. Two of my dogs ate from the same can of dog food and had been diagnosed with botulism. I spent over $7000 treating my dogs and one has since passed away.

Evanger's own employees reported unsanitary conditions and faulty food processing. These people allegedly stole natural gas and electricity, at the cost of safety of their employees lives, they are hardly animal lovers. They cut corners for profit and many of us have had our pets suffer because of their greed.

There are many, many cases documented that involve sick dogs and Evanger's canned dog food, this is not just heresy and coincidence. Joel and Holly Sher have never taken any responsibility for their actions, they have hung up on consumers, lied about the fact and spent a lot of time going around the Internet posting as "huge fans of Evanger's pet food" to try to clear their name. These are dishonest people and their $1000000 dollar bail each shows that karma does exist.
Added by Dog Food Scoop Editors: Corroborating link regarding Evanger's alleged diversion of gas and electricity.

May 04, 2010
Problem with their food
by: Anonymous

I had used Evangers canned food for a long time and then their food in the cans was not the same quality from batch to batch.

This was brought to their attention and examples given to them but they refused to acknowledge that they had a problem in their processing.

My dog never got sick but I stopped using their products. All this was during late 2008 and early 2009.

Apr 16, 2010
Evangers makes a great dog food
by: Anonymous

My dog was diagnosed with chronic kidney failure in January 2009, she was 15 years old at the time. It was the only dog food she would eat and keep down. It was a life saver at this difficult time. She will be 17 in August and is doing fantastic.

I am very picky about what I feed my dogs. I check the ingredients in any and all dog food products and research the company before I purchase my pets food. At the time this whole FDA thing came out I called and spoke with Holly Sher so I could get more information about their food and I also needed to know what their side of the story was. Holly was more than willing to speak with me and gave me the information I was looking for.

I have worked with both the USDA and the FDA and although I and no one else seems to be able to get their side of the story I find it quite odd that Evanger's food has never been recalled and or pulled off store shelves. Also, why has the FDA not given the consumer an update about Evanger's??? I find it very disturbing that the FDA has said nothing.

In my opinion Evangers makes a great dog food

Mar 30, 2010
Process Safety
by: Anonymous

if an fda inspector make the process safer!
does that mean if there is no inspector you dont follow the rules?

No complaints about your food ? read your mail and e-mails, listen when picking up the phone by ignoring them only justifies negative blogs!

It seems FDA is wrong?

They dont jump on a wagon just for fun! They sure as hell dont slap on a special permit just for improper paper work!

A canned product should have vacuum not over pressure inside!

These are only a few questions and comments knowing they will never be posted its a shame but China and other countries do it too!

Mar 27, 2010
FDA is confused and confusing
by: Jim Farwell

I have worked for two US Gov't agencies, and this SNAFU is just one of a long line of bungled efforts I have seen.

I am not trying to indict ANY gov't agency with evil deeds or purposeful acts of malice, but I definitely AM convinced that most federal regulatory agencies are staffed with folks who are under-trained, often poorly paid, and usually overworked.

The primary problem is a system of long, confusing, redundant regulations which are difficult to read due to BOTH their extreme length AND their baffling phrasing and terminology. Not only are they mind-boggling in volume and content, often one regulation will contradict another. I honestly believe that the FDA inspectors mean well, but like the employees of other federal agencies, they are overwhelmed with the bureaucracy and the huge mass of regulatory verbiage.

I have no personal knowledge of Evangers or its products, but I would be slow to judge them guilty of anything based on this medley of innuendo and confusion.

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