Tag Archives: treats

Stale Dog Treats Repacked & Re-dated (Canada)

4 Jul

Normerica repackaged, re-dated stale dog treats, say ex-employees

‘It was disgusting … the warehouse wasn’t clean enough to have open food,’ ex-employee says

Duck, sweet potato and chicken jerky treats imported by Normerica, Inc. and sold by Loblaw, Costco and other retailers are among brands suspected of making dogs ill. (CBC)

Two former Normerica Inc. warehouse workers claim the Ontario-based pet product company had employees routinely switch pet treats between different brand name packages and re-date them after they were imported from China and Thailand.

They claim mouldy and stale pet treats were sent out to stores for sale.

Duck, sweet potato and chicken jerky treats imported by the company and sold by Loblaw, Costco and other retailers are among brands suspected of making dogs ill.

Dog treats warehouse

The former Normerica employee said warehouse staff used heat guns to remove old product labels, before repackaging old dog treats under a new label. (CBC)

The accusations from former employees came after CBC’s Go Public revealed Costco is continuing to sell pet jerky treats from China, despite being warned by a pet owner whose veterinarian believes treats purchased there killed her puppy. The treats are imported into Canada by Normerica Inc.

The company has since had the Duck Tenders the dog consumed tested by the lab it uses.

“The results of the testing confirmed the absolute presence of poultry as a single ingredient, that being duck,” said Mortec’s report. “We concluded no untoward unwanted suspect substances were present in the finished product.”

Numerous tests by the FDA on jerky treats also found no substance that would cause the illnesses, but it is still investigating.

The two former employees who said they worked in an Etobicoke warehouse for Normerica contacted Go Public to report concerns they had over how the products were stored and handled.

One sent pictures to back up their claims. They said they did not take the pictures to make them public, but decided to do so after reading Go Public’s piece on the potential link between the treats and dog deaths.

Treats ‘sitting there for years’

Both former employees spoke on the condition they would not be named. Go Public also agreed not to disclose the duration of their employment. Both worked for Normerica in recent years.

Dog treats warehouse

According to warehouse employees, these packages were cut open so the product could be put in new packages under different brand labels. (CBC)

One said a large part of their job was removing old product from packages that were stale or overstocked, then repackaging or relabelling it in different brand name bags — with a new date stamp.

“Some [of the jerky treats] had been sitting there for years. Dated back to 2008. We would use X-Actoknives to open the packages and then repackage them under new [product] labels and change the date on the new package [to 2011 for example],” said the former employee.

“It was disgusting … the warehouse wasn’t clean enough to have open food.”

Company denial

Normerica president Colin Gleason denied packaging dates are changed, but didn’t explain the photos of products being repackaged.

Jerky treats

Two former Normerica Inc. employees say they repackaged and re-dated stale dog treats while working in an Ontario warehouse. (CBC)

“We do not repackage stale product and sell it with a new date code,” said Gleason in a statement. “Our company policy on any product that is approaching the date code is to donate it locally to animal shelters.”

“Some [treats] that were not packaged properly got mouldy,” said the other former employee.

As a result of these allegations, Loblaw said it is removing all products from Normerica off its shelves.

“Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. We are taking it very seriously,” said a statement from Kevin Groh, vice-president, corporate affairs and communication.

“We have been in contact with the vendor and are in the process of removing the implicated products from our store shelves as a precaution until our investigation is complete.”

Costco said none of the products imported by Normerica and sold at Costco are stored at the Ontario warehouse in question.

“We receive the treats directly from Asia to the Port of Vancouver where it is sent to our distribution centres,” said Costco spokesman Ron Damiani.

“Random testing is also conducted on each container of product before it ships.”

Customers shocked by mould

Two customers also contacted Go Public to say they bought treats packaged under the Vitalife brand and were shocked when they opened the bags and found mouldy product.

This bag of mouldy Vitalife Chicken Fingers was returned to the Costco in Nepean, Ont., by dog owner Andrea Challis. (CBC)

Andrea Challis said she bought Vitalife’s chicken fingers in February at Costco in Nepean, Ont. Unlike its duck and sweet potato treats, that Normerica product is made in Canada.

“I bought the treats for my three-year-old mini golden doodle Avery, thinking they were a good alternative to the treats made in China,” said Challis.

“When I opened the bag, there was mould everywhere. The best-before date was November 2015. I wrote to Vitalife and never received a response. I returned the treats to Costco, filled out a report and was told that someone would follow up,” said Challis.

“Costco’s response was nonchalant … like they’d heard it before. I never heard back.”

Refunded after purchase

Cathi Iacuitto of Vancouver said her Havanese shih tzu Cooper has been chronically ill, with digestive problems, since eating Vitalife treats she purchased at Superstore and Costco.

She said she returned a bag of chicken jerky because it was mouldy.

“Under close examination of the treats using a magnifying glass there was a mould growing similar to a light Fusarium, which could be toxic,” said Iacuitto, who inspects grain shipments for the federal government.

“I explained to Vitalife that their product made my dog sick and they should have to pay the vet bills. They took no responsibility and instead sent me a refund for the product I returned to them,” said Iacuitto.

“Right now is the third time he has gone in [to the vet]. This bill so far is quoted at $711 and after the lab results may cost me more.”

The former Normerica employees said the repackaging and re-dating of Vitalife and other products was done after shipments from overseas arrived in large containers. The treats had been irradiated and packaged already, in Asia, under various brand names.

They said some of the shipping containers arrived with bugs in them. They also said the warehouse was not air-conditioned or properly ventilated, so some of the products sat for months in overheated conditions.

Cooper’s owner said she’s taken him to the vet several times, suffering from digestive problems. She fed him Vitalife chicken, duck and sweet potato treats. (CBC)

“We have no record of “bugs” showing up in containers coming to that facility,” said Gleason, the Normerica president.

“We do, however, have a policy in place … that should a container show up with “bugs” it would immediately be placed in quarantine and the pest control company would take the appropriate actions to deal with the issue. We have used the services of Abell Pest Control for the last five years.”

‘Nothing got thrown out’

“A bunch of times we would get product and there were bugs in the containers,” the former employee said. “Nothing got thrown out.”

They said all the repackaging happened long after samples were sent to a Canadian lab for testing. Most of the products ​were never tested, they said, and were then interchanged in packages under the Vitalife, Canyon Creek and President’s Choice labels.

Mouldy jerky

Vancouver pet owner Cathi Iacuitto returned a bag of Vitalife chicken jerky treats after seeing the mould. (CBC)

“There were multiple brands in each [shipping] container,” the first source said.

“They would unpack and repackage the stuff in different brand name packages,” said the other source. “I would repackage and then down the line they would be re-dated.”

They said workers often didn’t wear gloves and did the repackaging on cardboard surfaces that weren’t clean. One of the ex-employees estimated they would repackage and re-date approximately 1,800 individual packages of dog treats every two weeks.

“If we needed to ship out an order of Vitalife treats and we didn’t have enough, we would open up the President’s Choice bags and put them in Vitalife bags.”

“You could really notice the treats when they got old because they would crumble in your hands [when the package was opened for transfer to another package].”

Both sources said they believe customers are charged more for treats packaged under the Vitalife label, but they said all were the same product.

Jerky treats 4

One of the two former employees submitted pictures to CBC’s Go Public to back up their claims of concern about how imported pet treats were handled at the warehouse. (CBC)

Gleason said the practices at the warehouse are subject to outside scrutiny.

“Our manufacturing facilities are certified with the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). As such they are audited annually and certified to the same calibre as any human food manufacturing facility. Additionally, we are subject to random audits by our retail customers as well as inspections by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.”

However, the first former employee also said that when Normerica was expecting clients or other visitors to the warehouse, they were told to pretend they were doing other jobs

“They would come in, and we would be told to make it look like we were doing inventory.”


 Go Public is an investigative news segment on CBC-TV, radio and the web.

Follow @CBCGoPublic on Twitter

DIY Frozen Star Dog Treats

3 Jul

I found this adorable and super EASY tutorial on making some icy, cool frozen fruit treats for your dog. It’s been so hot here in Toronto, i couldn’t help diggin’ this great idea from Irresistible Pets blog.  You can use strawberries, which are in season at the moment. YUM YUM!

 

This is a quick and easy DIY dog treat recipe that you can make at home. It’s so easy, even the kids can help out! These treats are fun, patriotic, and your dog will find them “irresistible” on a hot Summer day! They make a perfect treat for the pets!

Tools You Need

  • Star Shaped Ice Cube Trays
  • Blender
  • Cake Decorating Tip (to help pour)
I picked up these star shaped ice cube trays up at Target a few months back for $1 each. I’m not sure if they still have them but I did find a similar one on Amazon.

Ingredients You Need

  • 1 Cup Water
  • 8 Strawberries
  • 1/4 cup Blueberries
*I made 16 ice-cubes and how lots of liquid left over for an additional project that I created. You may want to use more or less depending on how many you plan on making!*

Time Required

  • 15 minutes + Freeze Time

Instructions

These instructions are based on the DIY Frozen Star Dog Treats that I created in this picture. If you want to learn more, keep reading!

Note – Always ensure your pet is not allergic before introducing any new food into their diet. If unsure, call your vet.

Directions

Step 1

Rinse strawberries and blueberries. Set aside.

diy pet treats

Step 2

Cut stems off of strawberries

Step 3

Mix 1/2 cup water and all 8 strawberries in the blender. Blend until liquefied. Repeat with Blueberries. (Mixing 1/4 cup Blueberries with 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of water).

diy pet treats

Step 4

Pour berry/water mixture into ice cube trays using a cake decorating tip to help prevent any leaks. View my DIY Frozen Luau Dog Treats to see this technique. Repeat with the blueberry mixture.

diy pet treats

Step 5

Freeze for 2-4 hours or overnight.

Once they are frozen, pop them out and serve 1-2 cubes to your Irresistible Pet! You can put the remaining cubes into a plastic container and store them in the freezer. Now when your dog is hot you will have a quick, tasty, frozen treat on hand to cool them off!

Foobler dispenses food and fun for Fido

14 Jan

Dog lovers are always concerned about keeping their furry friends happy, which typically means keeping them well-fed and occupied. That requires some dedication, but now a team of designers has come up with an automated device called Foobler that ticks both these boxes.

The Foobler, which is a portmanteau of “food” and “tumbler,” was designed by Tristan Christianson, Greg Snyder and Fred Schechter, who have a background in industrial design, engineering and pet products, and who consulted with a dog behavior specialist when developing the device.

The Foobler is designed to keep dogs fed and occupied throughout the day

Described as a “self reloading puzzle feeder,” the device features an automated mechanism that dispenses kibble and treats gradually over the course of nine hours. This way, dogs are fed smaller portions throughout the day rather than one big meal, while being challenged to “hunt” their food. The creators see it as ideal for times when dogs need to be left on their own or to keep them busy during outings.

Six feeding pods within the device dispense food using a time delay mechanism. The pods are inserted into the puzzle feeder and dispense timers can be set for 15, 30, 60 or 90 minutes, totaling up to nine hours of play and food. Dog food or treats up to 3/4 in (1.9 cm) in diameter fit in the unit and pass through easily. When a pod is full and it’s time play with the Foobler again, a bell will ring to alert the dog. The device is powered by two AA batteries.

Six feeding pods within the Foobler dispense food using a time delay mechanism

The designers have already produced prototypes and are seeking funding via Kickstarter in order to bring the product to market. A pledge of US$45 is the minimum required to stake a claim for a Foobler, with the funding goal having already been reached with two weeks to go. The team says deliveries are due to begin in April.

The Foobler pitch video can be viewed below.

(Via: Gizmag)

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