FACT CHECK:   Have pet owners found wire pieces and other foreign objects in Pedigree brand dog food?

Claim:    Pet owners have found wire pieces and other foreign objects in Pedigree brand dog food.

  UNDETERMINED

Example:   [Collected via Facebook, August 2015]

My dog has been feeling sick and not eating and couldn’t find anything wrong until this morning making his breakfast I noticed what I thought was a hair and went to pull it out and was surprised it was a wire inbeded in the grain so I started looking through the bag of pedigree and there is more of the wire through out the bag of dog food. This needs to get out before a love one passes from this.

Origins:   On 15 August 2015, Facebook user Missie Carter shared the comment and photograph reproduced above to the timeline of Columbus television station WSYX, reporting that she had found a piece of wire in Pedigree brand dog food. Subsequently, a flood of users published similar claims to the walls of both WSYX and the Pedigree brand:

If you look at the tips of the food, you’ll see it, and you can feel that one in the middle.

I also found wire in my dogs bag of pedigree dog food! I am from Springfield Missouri and I seen you guys are following a story like this just wanted people to know I found the wire too!

THESE were sticking out of almost every piece of my dogs food… are you going to pay my vet bills?? What is this?? ‪#‎plasticinpedigree‬

My Saint Bernard has been refusing to eat her dog food. I haven’t been able to understand why because she has eaten only this food for years. After seeing the posts on Facebook I decided to examine her dog food and this garbage is what I find!! This is so hard it’s almost like fishing line!! We trust that you provide quality food for our loved ones and this is what we get?? I would like to know about a recall and a refund! The thought of my dog getting this junk absolutely makes me sick!!!

Multiple social media users have so far shared images of debris of undetermined nature and origin embedded in pieces of Pedigree brand dry dog food (as well as some other brands that have also been swept up in the rash of pet food adulterant claims). However, the unidentified material in question varies in appearance (sometimes described as plastic, other times as metal); and whether any specific lots of Pedigree dog food have been affected by such contaminants has not been definitively confirmed. (An earlier, unrelated wire contamination incident involving Kraft Mac and Cheese was caused by a disintegrating wire brush, but debris in that instance was uniform and consistent in composition.)

In 2014 the potential presence of metal fragments prompted a Pedigree recall; but the company indicated that the debris was loose in bags and not embedded in the nuggets of dog food:

At PEDIGREE®, we care about all dogs and their safety and well-being is extremely important to us, and to our mission — to make a Better World for Pets. For that reason, we have announced the extension of a previous voluntary recall of PEDIGREE® Adult Complete Nutrition dry dog food products due to the possible presence of a foreign material. The voluntary recall still affects 22 bags shipped to Dollar General across four U.S. states, but it now is being expanded to 55-pound bags of PEDIGREE® Adult Complete Nutrition dry dog food products sold in Sam’s Club in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.

Bags may contain small metal fragments, which could have entered the packages during the production process. The foreign material is not embedded in the food itself, but may present a risk of injury if consumed.

On 17 and 18 August 2015, Pedigree representatives replied to Facebook comments (on an unrelated post) and stated that the fibers were safe to consume:

We understand your concern, as product quality and safety for pets is our first priority. We have conducted testing on the affected kibble and determined these are naturally-occurring fibers from meat and bone meal, like pig hair, and are completely safe for your dog to consume.

We’ve contacted Pedigree about the wire and plastic debris rumors, and received the following statement in response to our query:

We’ve heard from some consumers that they’ve seen some pieces of kibble with what they think is a wire sticking out, but we’ve confirmed it’s actually natural fibers. Because PEDIGREE is manufactured using meat and bone meal, it’s possible for natural fibers, like pig hair, to appear in the finished kibble. There is absolutely no quality or safety concern with the natural fibers. They are completely safe for dogs to consume. We take every product complaint very seriously, and encourage consumers with questions to contact us at 1-800-525-5273.

Last updated:    18 August 2015

Originally published:    17 August 2015