The story behind Darwin’s Natural Pet Products centers on a dog named Max. On the pet food company’s website, founder Gary Tashjian describes his desperate attempts at solving his 10-year-old sheepdog’s debilitating arthritis. After a tip from his vet, who suggested a raw food diet, Tashjian began grinding meats and vegetables for Max, at which point his condition made a dramatic turn for the better.

He said he then decided to start Darwin’s “in order to make it easy for pet owners to feed a nutritious high quality raw diet.” But reports say Darwin’s customers have been getting more than just food – they’ve been getting food poisoning. And worse? Food Safety News says a recent inspection report shows the company was aware of potentially deadly pathogen problems within the plant.

In an 11-month period in 2017, company logs showed 332 customer complaints, ranging from foreign object contamination like rubber bands, hairnets and metal, to leaking packages and spoiled products – even reports of pet illnesses and deaths. Additionally, documents revealed Darwin had repeatedly tested for, and discovered, Salmonella within the facility, but no corrective action was recorded.

Darwin’s has faced a flurry of recalls after investigations by the FDA revealed Salmonella and Listeria-infected products – nine, in fact, between October of 2016 and February of this year. If that weren’t bad enough, this week it was reported that the FDA has tested for, and found evidence of, deadly E Coli.

Food Safety News stresses that “foods that are contaminated with bacteria, viruses or parasites pose a risk to people who handle the foods as well as their pets.”

As for Tashjian, it’s been reported that he told investigators he hadn’t received any specific complaints regarding Salmonella, E. coli or Listeria and that their policy required a customer to submit a veterinarian-validated test in order for Darwin’s to then pursue tests of those specific products.

The FDA encourages consumers to report any complaints about this, or other, pet foods at its online Safety Reporting Portal.

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