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Evangers Dog Food Review

Nutritional Dog Food Information

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3 Paws

3 PAWS


See The Top Selling Evangers Dog Food Blends Here


According to Evanger’s, their company was started by Fred Evanger in 1935 when he began making canned meat foods to feed his champion Great Danes. Holly and Joel Sher say that the company, located in Wheeling, Illinois, has been independently owned for over 75 years. In 2002 they developed the concept of “hand packed pet food.” According to the Shers, they are the only family-owned and operated pet food cannery in the United States.

Evanger’s foods have a superior reputation as ultra premium canned food though they actually have eight lines of dog food: Nothing But, Natural, Dry Food, Super Premium, Grain Free Hand Packed, Grain Free Game Meats, Evanger’s Organics, Classic Dinners, and the Signature Series. Their foods are very expensive and are sold in pet stores and pet boutique type stores. The company also makes cat food and treats. In addition to their own foods, Evanger’s also manufactures canned foods as private label food for other dog food companies as seen here.


See The Top Selling Evangers Dog Food Blends Here


History Of Problems With The FDA

Unfortunately, Evanger’s has had a history of run-ins with the FDA. Contrary to what many dog food consumers have been told, the FDA actually does inspect dog foods, visit factories, and take a look at the ingredients used. They probably don’t get to look at pet foods as closely as some people would like, but they are not completely ineffective either.

In 2008 the FDA told Evanger’s:


“A recent inspection revealed significant deviations from prescribed documentation of processes, equipment, and recordkeeping in the production of the company’s thermally processed low acid canned food (LACF) products. These problems could result in under-processed pet foods, which can allow the survival and growth of Clostridiumbotulinum (C. botulinum), a bacterium that causes botulism in some animals as well as in humans.”


 

The FDA told Evangers they had to stop producing their canned food and had to obtain a “special permit” before they were allowed to continue processing and distribution. An “emergency permit.” Although Evanger’s tried to pooh-pooh the problem and pass it off as something like a paperwork error, the FDA didn’t buy it.

More Issues Surrounding Evanger’s Dog Food

The firm had serious deviations form the mandatory provisions of 21 CFR parts 108 and 113, including lack of documentation of process adequacy and lack of processing filing with FDA for most of their processes. The firm was operating the retorts improperly (not venting), failing to record critical process information including initial temperatures, temperature recording devices were recording temperatures higher than the mercury-in glass thermometers. The firm’s retort supervisors had not attended the required training schools.

As correctly stated in the press release, the firm is operating under an Order of Need for Emergency Permit, which means it cannot introduce or deliver for introduction in interstate commerce any of its low-acid canned pet food. The regulation does allow the firm to have a processing authority evaluate the processing of each lot for adequacy and to submit release requests in writing to FDA for specific lots. In 2011 the FDA again found issue with Evanger’s products, as seen in this letter. In short, the FDA found several violations.

Their plant has also had a history of issues with the village of Wheeling, Illinois.


See The Top Selling Evangers Dog Food Blends Here


Recall History

For what it’s worth, Evanger’s has not had any formal recalls via the FDA but with their history of problems with the FDA, that seems moot. I think being shut down by the Food and Drug Administration is possibly worse than a recall. And they were shut down in 2008 when the FDA told them to stop operating on their emergency permit and take care of their problems.

Evanger’s has had what is called a silent recall. Metal parts which are attached to poultry as ID were found in some of their canned chicken formulas in 2009. Rather than have an FDA recall, the company had a silent recall, contacting their distributors and asking them to pull the products from the shelves with the hope that no more consumers would find the metal parts in their pets’ dinner – or that pets would eat them. However, in 2012 some of these cans resurfaced. The problem with silent recalls is that consumers never hear about them so if they have some of the food, they may still feed it. And some distributors may not remove the food from their shelves.

Additional Company Concerns

As if FDA problems weren’t enough, the company’s owners were also charged with stealing $2 million in utilities for their company, as seen in this Chicago Tribune News article.

Another time, prosecutors say, the worker was ordered to use a jackhammer to tear up concrete and asphalt so gas could be diverted to the plant in Wheeling. The smell of gas fumes wasn’t unusual at Evanger’s Dog & Cat Food Co.

So, let’s recap. Evanger’s foods has a great reputation, especially for their ingredients. However, FDA testing showed that the lamb in the food tested was beef. The duck tested was not duck. They didn’t say what it was. Presumably Evanger’s rectified this problem. But the company seems to operate with some less than ethical practices, especially for a “holistic” pet food company.

Product Overview

Evanger’s produces seven lines of canned foods and one line of dry kibble. Their foods are marketed as premium/super premium brands. To explain their manufacturing process (which seems to upset the FDA so much), Evanger’s says that their cans are packed with natural raw ingredients “in their own natural juices.” The ingredients are then cooked entirely inside the sealed can “to lock in the nutrients and flavor of each variety.”

Dry Foods

  • Pheasant & Brown Rice Dry Dog Food
  • Whitefish & Sweet Potato Dry Dog Food
  • Chicken with Brown Rice Dry Dog Food
  • Grain Free Chicken with Sweet Potato & Pumpkin
  • Grain Free Meat Lover’s Medley with Rabbit Dry Food

Canned Foods

  • Super Premium
  • All Fresh Vegetarian Dinner
  • Duck & Sweet Potato Dinner
  • Beef Dinner
  • Chicken Dinner
  • Turkey Dinner
  • Lamb & Rice Dinner
  • 100 percent Grain Free Sweet Potato for Dogs & Cats

Grain Free Hand Packed

  • Roasted Chicken Drummet Dinner
  • Braised Beef Chunks with Gravy
  • Catch of the Day
  • Hunk of Beef
  • Whole Chicken Thighs
  • Chunky Chicken Casserole
  • Wild Salmon for Dogs & Cats

Grain Free Game Meats

  • Grain Free Chicken for Dogs & Cats
  • Grain Free Wild Salmon for Dogs & Cats
  • Grain Free Pheasant for Dogs & Cats
  • Grain Free Rabbit for Dogs & Cats
  • Grain Free Duck for Dogs & Cats
  • Grain Free Buffalo for Dogs & Cats
  • Grain Free Beef for Dogs & Cats
  • Grain Free Pork for Dogs & Cats

Evanger’s Organics

  • 100% Organic Cooked Chicken
  • Organic Turkey with Potato & Carrots Dinner

Classic Dinners

  • 100% Beef
  • Cooked Chicken
  • Beef with Chicken
  • Beef & Bacon
  • Beef with Chicken & Liver
  • Liver Snacks
  • Chicken & Rice Dinner
  • Puppy Food
  • Senior & Weight Management Food
  • Lamb & Rice Dinner

Signature Series

  • Slow Cooked Chicken Stew
  • Slow Cooked Turkey Stew
  • Slow Cooked Beef Stew
  • Slow Cooked Lamb Stew

Snacks

  • Natural Pheasant with Fruit & Vegetables
  • Organic Chicken with Fruit & Vegetables
  • Natural Buffalo with Fruit & Vegetables
  • Natural Venison with Fruit & Vegetables
  • Raw Freeze Dried Beef Liver
  • Raw Freeze Dried Beef Tripe
  • Raw Freeze Dried Wild Salmon
  • Raw Freeze Dried Beef Lungs
  • Raw Freeze Dried Beef Hearts
  • Raw Freeze Dried Beef Tongue

 

Review of Evanger’s Organic Turkey with Potato & Carrots Dinner (Canned)


Ingredients in Evanger’s Organic Turkey with Potato & Carrots Dinner

Organic Turkey, Organic Chicken Broth, Organic Potatoes, Organic Carrots, Organic Guar Gum, Vitamins {Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Thiamine Mononitrate (Source of Vitamin B1), Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Source of Vitamin B6), Riboflavin Supplement (Source of Vitamin B2), Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D2 Supplement}, Minerals {Zinc Sulfate, Iron Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Selenium Yeast, Potassium Iodide}.


 

Overview Of Ingredients Used In Evanger’s Dog Food

Aside from the vitamins and minerals, there are very few ingredients in this food. It is listed as “organic” (see below for a discussion about the term “organic” and the FDA). It contains organic turkey,organic chicken broth,organic potatoes, organic carrots, and organic guar gum as the first five ingredients – really the only ingredients in the food. As the first ingredient we can expect turkey to make up the greatest amount of food in this canned product. Canned foods typically contain more meat and less grain than their kibble counterparts. This food happens to be grain-free. They also contain lots of liquid which kibbles don’t have and here we see chicken broth. Both of these ingredients look fine and dogs should like them.

Potatoes are a source of carbohydrates and starch even though the food doesn’t contain any grains. They are a good source of energy and provide highly digestible complex carbohydrates. They also contain potassium and magnesium as well as vitamin B6 and vitamin C. Now, before someone starts thinking about acrylamide, which has been linked to cancer, it is true that lots of starchy foods can contain this substance when they are prepared in certain ways and they can be found all through the foods we eat. But there’s no particular reason to think that the potatoes in dog food are browned or toasted in the way that produces acrylamide. So, I’m not going to diss a dog food company for using potatoes for that reason. I don’t think potatoes are the most nutritious thing you can add to a dog’s dinner, but I don’t think they are harmful either.

Carrots are kind of a self-explanatory ingredient. They are full of beta-carotene and they are also a good source of Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate and Manganese, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Potassium.

That just leaves the guar gum. Guar gum is a thickener with eight times the water-thicking potency of cornstarch. It is frequently used in gluten-free recipes. It also acts as a water-soluble fiber. Guar gum is obtained from guar beans. Its presence in this food is probably to act as a thickener and possibly to add some fiber.

Evanger’s states that the food is: Certified Organic by Oregon Tilth, Hormone and Antibiotic free, and Grain Free.


See The Top Selling Evangers Dog Food Blends Here


Quality Of Ingredients

The ingredients look very good. Evanger’s says on their site that they use “human-grade” ingredients in their foods. That’s a big No-No and that kind of statement will get them in trouble again, especially if it’s on their labels. Pet food companies are not supposed to make claims like that, even if they use ingredients right from the local grocery store or a nearby farmer. By law, theUSDA does not allow pet food companies to label their foods “human grade.” Otherwise, you might have people trying to eat pet food. Even if a company uses foods that started out as human grade, once they come to a pet food manufacturing plant, they are feed grade. Companies that make human foods are inspected much more often and more intently than any pet food manufacturer. However, you can look for foods that are hormone-free and antibiotic-free; free-range or pasture-raised if that floats your boat, though you will naturally pay more. One thing you should know is that ALL poultry in the U.S. is hormone-free. All of it. So don’t be deceived by pet food companies that advertised hormone-free poultry. It’s not a big deal.

What Does “Organic” Really Mean?

Ah, “organic”! That wonderful word that pet food makers love to throw around. Along with “natural,” “holistic,” and some other phrases. Well, “natural” and “holistic” don’t really have any meaning, according to the FDA. Any company can use them, plaster them all over their products, and they don’t mean anything. But “organic” does have a meaning now. However, Evanger’s doesn’t define how they are using the term on their site. We have to look up “Oregon Tilth” to find out about the food’s organic certification. On their site we find the following statement: “Oregon Tilth Certified Organic (OTCO) is an internationally recognized symbol of organic integrity. OTCO provides a system that combines strict production standards, on-site inspections, and legally binding contracts to protect the producers and buyers of organic products.” However, that’s not what we, as pet food consumers, need to see.

There are several different forms of organic certification and Evanger’s is not telling us what level of certification they are using in their food. For example, if you check Newman’s Own site (which makes some excellent organic pet food – my dogs love their food), you will find some information about how the food is raised, as seen in their FAQ section. They state upfront that their food is more than 70 percent organic. Here’s what the FDA says about organically labeled food:


Are All Organic Products The Same? No, but there are strict labeling requirements that enable consumers to know the differences between products. A product with 70% to 94% organic ingredients can say on its label, “Made with organic” but it cannot include the USDA logo (however, it is still certified by an independent third party). Products with 95% to 100% organic ingredients can use “organic” in the product name, and will bear the USDA logo. Both categories of organic products must include the name and contact information for the organic certifying agency on the back of the package.”


 

So, you see there can be a big difference in the meaning of “organic.” There’s nothing wrong with a food that is 70 percent or more organic. It can still be a very good food. What is wrong is if the company tries to mislead customers into thinking the food is wholly organic. It would certainly be better if Evanger’s provided more information about their “organic” foods and what percentage of organic food they contained. It’s possible that Evanger’s Organic Turkey with Potato & Carrots Dinner is 95 to 100 percent organic but they don’t tell us that fact anywhere.

The Dinner Rule

By the way, since I’m fussing about the label, I might as well remind readers that when a product states that it is made “with xxxx,” ingredient or that it’s a “dinner,” it means different things. The “dinner rule” means that the ingredients named in the label are supposed to make up at least 25 percent of the food (not counting the water for processing). Each named ingredient has to make up at least 3 percent of the whole. When you see the word “with” in the title, then each ingredient that is included “with” the meal must be at least 3 percent of the total food – which in this case would be the potatoes and carrots. Words mean a lot on a pet food label.

Reading A Canned Food Label vs A Kibble Label

As you can guess, there’s a big difference when you look at the label of a can of dog food and a bag of kibble. While a bag of kibble can say it has 28 percent protein and 18 percent fat (or some such), you will never see figures like that on a can of dog food. That’s because canned food contains so much moisture. A can of dog food usually has about 75 percent moisture while kibble is usually about 10 percent moisture. In order to compare dry kibble to wet food, you have to do a little math to put them on equal terms. We have to convert them to their “dry matter basis.”

We’ll use the figures for Evanger’s Organic Turkey with Potato & Carrots Dinner and one of their dry dog foods – Chicken with Brown Rice Dry Dog Food. The guaranteed analysis for the canned food is below.

Evanger’s Organic Turkey with Potato & Carrots Dinner Guaranteed Analysis

  • Crude Protein, not less than . . . . . . . . . . 8.0%
  • Crude Fiber, not more than . . . . . . . . . . 1.5%
  • Moisture, not more than . . . . . . . . . . 78.0%
  • Crude Fat, not less than . . . . . . . . . . 4.0%

Evanger’s Chicken with Brown Rice Dry Dog Food

  • Crude Protein, not less than . . . . . . . . . . 26.0%
  • Crude Fiber, not more than . . . . . . . . . . 4.0%
  • Moisture, not more than . . . . . . . . . . 10.0%
  • Crude Fat, not less than . . . . . . . . . . 15.0%

In order to convert the canned food to a “dry matter basis” we’ll do the following:

  • 1. Calculate the dry matter of the canned food by deducting the moisture percentage (78%) from 100 (100 – 78 = 22%).
  • 2. Now, using this dry matter figure of 2%, apply the formula to each of the components, as follows:
  • Protein: 8 divided by 22 x 100 = 36.36%
  • Fat: 4 divided by 22 x 100 = 18.18%
  • Fiber: 1.5 divided by 22 x 100 = 6.81%

You can do the same thing for the kibble by subtracting the moisture content (10%) from 100, i.e., 100 – 10 = 90%. Then follow through with the rest of the calculations. But most people don’t usually do these calculations for kibble because the moisture content is relatively low. If you are comparing kibble to kibble it’s not usually necessary to make these calculations; and if you are comparing one canned food to another you probably won’t need to make them because the moisture content will be similar. However, when you are comparing canned food to kibble or trying to find out how much protein is in a canned food, it helps to make the conversion.

So, on a dry matter basis, Evanger’s Organic Turkey with Potato & Carrots Dinner has 36 percent protein and 18 percent fat. This may sound like a lot but for a canned food but these figures are a little low.

Evanger’s Organic Turkey with Potato & Carrots Dinner is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages. Puppies, pregnant and nursing dogs may require 2-3 times above amounts, and reduced for less active or older dogs. Amount of food your dog requires depends on activity, age, environment and breed. Certified Kosher for Passover by cRc.

Company Reputation And Quality Control Issues

I think there’s a lot to dislike about the way Evanger’s does business and some of the information on their web site seems misleading. Their problems with the FDA do not inspire confidence. I’m not sure that customers can always be certain they are buying what is advertised on the product labels.

Bottomline

Evanger’s Organic Turkey with Potato & Carrots Dinner looks like a very good food. All of Evanger’s foods sound good when you read about them but I think they have some trust issues to work on with their customers. While this normally would have received a 5 paw rating, the less than trustworthy business practices of this company makes it a 3 paw rated dog food. If there was only one or two issues, we wouldn’t drop the rating that far. But it seems they can’t get along with any oversight agency and that makes us very uncomfortable.

Evangers Dog Food has received our 3 paw rating.


 

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