Former Employees Accuse Pet Treat Company of Unethical Procedures

June 12, 2014

CBC Canada reported that a Canadian pet treat company, Normerica, is the subject of complaints by two former employees.  Normerica is accused of routinely requiring warehouse employees to switch out pet treats between two different brand name packages and changing the dates on the packages.  The treats are imported from China and Thailand and then distributed to stores like Loblaw and Costco and others.

The treats are shipped to Normerica with several brands of treats in one large container and warehouse employees pull from those containers to fill orders.  If they should run out of a product, such as Vitalife, they just pull treats from another brand in the container and those are mixed in with Vitalife treats, repackaged and date changed.  The two former employees stated that this is common practice with the company.

Before the treats are repackaged, samples are pulled for testing at a Canadian lab, and most of the products are never tested.

Below are some of the accusations against Normerica that were mentioned in the CBC report:

• Workers often didn’t wear gloves when handling the pet treats.
• Repackaging took place on surfaces, like cardboard, that were dirty and unsanitary.
• Moldy pet treats were shipped to stores to sell.
• The customer paid for a particular brand of treat but actually may have received a cheaper brand.
• Two customers interviewed by CBC’s ” Go Public,” an investigative news show, said they bought Vitalife treats that were moldy when opened.
• One former employee said that the warehouse was not clean enough to have open pet food.
• Treats dating back to 2008 were repackaged and then current dates were added.
• Some of the shipping containers arrived with bugs in them.
• Warehouse was not air-conditioned or properly ventilated, so some products sat for months in overheated conditions.

When contacted, a spokesman for Normerica denied all the charges, stating that their facilities are “subject to scrutiny….audited annually and certified to the same caliber as any human food manufacturing facility.”  He added that they are also “subject to inspections by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.”

One of the former employees told CBC reporters that when the company was expecting clients or other visitors at the warehouse, the employees were told to pretend they were doing other jobs, such as “doing inventory.”

Costco, which sells the Vitalife Pet Treats, said that none of their treats come through the Normerica Distribution Center in question, adding that they receive the treats directly from Asia to Port of Vancouver and then they are sent on to Costco distribution centers.  Another retailer, Loblaw, is removing all suspect products from Normerica from their shelves, pending the completion of the investigation.

CBC’s “Go Public” received photos from the former employees who filed the complaints to back up their claims.

It will be interesting to learn the results of the investigation but either way, I won’t be purchasing any of the products mentioned in the report, which included Vitalife, Canyon Creek and President’s Choice.

I recommend that all pet owners carefully research the source of any treats or food you give your pets.  Be certain they were not made, processed or sourced in Asia.   Of course, “made in America” doesn’t guarantee a healthy product, but it’s a good way to begin when you don’t really know a company’s manufacturing procedures.  Some ingredients, such as lamb, will most likely be sourced in another country.  Most of it comes from New Zealand.  If the manufacturer of the pet treat is known to adhere to high quality standards, uses only natural ingredients, and includes no unnecessary ingredients, I would feel comfortable feeding their products to my pets.  Many experts will tell you to be certain the product carries the AAFCO seal of approval.  That is important, but there are a few smaller companies that create wonderful products and for whatever reason, don’t have that seal on their packages.  Do your research and know what you are buying.

If you would like my personal recommendations for treats, email me at carol@seniorsforpets.org.
(http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/normerica-repackaged-re-dated-stale-dog-treats-say-ex-employees-1.2670465)

 

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