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Champion Petfoods explains Orijen cat food recall

by Therese on November 26, 2008

in Cats, Pet Food Recall, Pet Health

logo-orijen.jpgChampion Petfoods has posted a rather lengthy, and detailed, explanation on their website regarding the recent problems associated with Orijin cat food. Here’s a small bit of it…

On November 20th, 2008 Champion Petfoods announced a VOLUNTARY RECALL of ORIJEN brand cat food sold in Australia.

The recall is restricted to AUSTRALIA ONLY and was issued in response to reports from the Australian veterinary community of 27cats showing neurological symptoms after consuming ORIJEN.

While there is no definitive link between ORIJEN CAT food and illness in the Australian cats, we have recalled our product from Australia as a precautionary measure.


A: No, The recall is for AUSTRALIA ONLY



  • ORIJEN was sold in Australia only for a 9 month period of February through October 2008.
  • During this time ONLY 6 PALLETS of ORIJEN CAT food actually entered retail distribution in Australia. This equates to 200 Australian cats fed daily over the 9 month period.
  • Of these 200 cats, 27 are reported having the syndrome of which 4 have been unfortunately euthanized and 4 that are thankfully recovering.
  • During the same nine month period, shipments of ORIJEN CAT food equivalent to feed 85,000 cats were made to 49 other countries.
  • ZERO cases were reported outside of Australia.



A: Champion Petfoods has examined the issue of safety in dogs very closely.

  • ORIJEN dog diets have been sold and consumed in Australia over the same 9 months that ORIJEN Cat has been sold, only in much greater quantities.
  • NO DOGS HAVE BEEN AFFECTED. Dogs and cats are two different species with different nutritional needs and metabolic pathways. For example, cats require higher levels of vitamins than dogs (AAFCO 2008), and cats are highly sensitive to changes in vitamins or oxidative by-products (such as occur from irradiation).
  • There are no reports or scientific studies linking irradiation to health problems in dogs.


A: NO.
Veterinarians in Australia have recently reported households where both dogs and cats are present and cases where cats prefer ORIJEN dog food over the brand of cat food they receive.

  • Of the 27 cases of illness, at least 2 cases involve cats eating ORIJEN dog food.
  • As we are unable to control for cats consuming ORIJEN dog food, there is a small but measurable risk of cross-feeding in dual pet (dogs and cats) households.
  • Implemented as a precautionary measure to prevent cross contamination, Champion Petfoods has elected to stop selling ORIJEN dog foods in Australia.

The Orijen website has more information, including an explanation about the irradiation and what it does to the food.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Public Informer September 13, 2009 at 6:10 am

Hello, here is an update for you
Peter Muhlenfeld of Champion Petfoods spoke to one owner by phone and claimed they did not find out about the irradiation until August 2008.
Documents obtained from the Australian Government under the freedom of information act show that their importer told Champion about the irradiation in August 2007 and got their consent to irradiate. Media reports all talk about Australian Quarantine “insisting” or “requiring” the food to be gamma irradiated. This is not the case. It is offered as an OPTION. The alternatives are further moist heat treatment (which might not always be appropriate) or just don’t bother importing it into Australia unless the food is cooked to 100 deg C for 30 minutes during manufacture. The importer (and by implication Champion, since he claims to have corresponded with them to obtain their blessing for the irradiation) were given warnings to take independent advice as to whether irradiation would be suitable for the product before going ahead as are ALL importers. They didn’t bother. Only AFTER the trouble arose did they irradiate samples themselves and run tests. They took over 2 months to recall the food even though the balance of probability was that it was their food causing paralysis and deaths in the cats as it was the only common denominator in all cases and no cat presenting with the issues had NOT been fed Orijen. Meanwhile owners, kept unaware, continued to buy and feed the product. They are failing to meet all the expenses of the affected owners and are failing to communicate with them in anything like a timely or transparent manner.


elaine hunter January 24, 2010 at 1:58 pm

i have recently had a serious problem with one of my golden retrievers and orijen dog food.
i changed to this food thinking it would be good for my dogs. after about a month and half one of them..the younger one became weird. just not herslf. then she bgan to have seizures, and for a few days had many of them about 2 hours after eating orijen red meat and onwards through the days.
i had her checked out thoroughly at the vets..even heart check etc.. no problems…. and i took her off this food, she has been fine since. i cannot for sure say it was the food, but i will never feed my dogs orijen again.
elaine…anyone else had this problem please let me know.


l oltman March 27, 2010 at 5:00 pm

The past two years I have fed my two dogs three varieties of Acana (fish, chicken and Lamb). Several weeks ago the pet store told me about Orijen Red, thinking my dogs would like the meat I purchased it. I fed Orijen Red to my 22 lb and 85-90 lb dog, they both began experiencing diarrhea, throwing up shortly after they ate and dry heaves throughout the day. At first I thought both dogs had the flu, however after 1 ½ weeks I became suspicious about the food especially since they are house dogs and the food is the only thing newly introduced. Yesterday I called Orijen letting them know how ill my dogs are and that I am stop feeding them Red and then I called the vet. I do not know for sure if the symptoms are related to the food, but it seems coincidental that both dogs were healthy and now very ill. I have them both on a bland diet they seem to be improving.


joanne June 27, 2010 at 10:53 am

I had switched my Shepherd cross to Orijen Adult last fall due to allergy concerns. I eventually switched to Orijen 6 Fish in January of this year. In April, my dog experienced a minor seizure. The vet had no answers. I thought maybe he got into something in the back yard. 6 weeks later, he had another minor seizure and then onther a week after that. Blood work and disease screeing came back negative. My vet is still at a bit of loss diagnostically. I don’t know if the food is involved, but I suspect it. I’ve switched him to a Medi-Cal brand and he seems completely back to normal. I, as well, will never recommend or buy another Orijen product. How is your dog doing now?


The Cats Mother February 13, 2010 at 1:16 am

Hi Elaine
So sorry to hear you had that scare with your dog.
There have been four isolated reports of cats who have developed neurological symptoms after being fed Orijen cat food in the UK, Malaysia, and the USA.
Those of us in Australia who were affected during the Orijen recall have been watching this brand very closely indeed. In our case in Australia, the food was irradiated upon import and caused neurological damage (ataxia, paralysis and seizures) to our cats due to the irradiation (substantiated by scientific research which has proved that this is an effect of feeding irradiated food to cats). During the many forum discussions that took place, some four owners of cats IN OTHER COUNTRIES who had been fed NON-IRRADIATED Orijen reported seeing neurological symptoms. In one instance the manufacturers silenced her with threats of litigation. There is no substantive evidence in any of the cases that it was Orijen that caused the symptoms but it’s a mighty strange coincidence, and now I read your experience it really has me thinking. Many dog owners feed it and swear by it in the USA the UK and elsewhere, but no matter where I lived I would never touch this food again for any of my pets. The way the manufacturers, Champion Petfoods in Alberta Canada, lied about foreknowledge of the irradiation, failed to meet all costs of the owners and the way they handled the recall etc, was not good (see the post above yours).
Elaine, I hope your dog is absolutely fine now and its health is not in any way impaired by the experience. Goldies are lovely, my sister used to have one.


The Cats Mother February 13, 2010 at 1:21 am

Hi again Elaine

I just found this – another reference to a cat with ataxia after eating Champion Petfoods products – Acana this time


Again, no firm proof, all circumstantial etc etc – but why aren’t we seeing these reports in relation to any other manufacturer’s food?


l oltman March 29, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Both dogs are doing much better after we stop feeding them Orijen Red and putting them on a bland diet for a couple of days.


Dan Orive May 30, 2010 at 11:12 pm

I would encourage pet owners to thoroughly research and compare pet food ingredients before tossing out anecdotal information.

You have basically three choices when it comes to food for your pets:
1) 100% natural food- ideal provided you’re wiling to invest the intiial research to truly understand dog/cat nutrional needs, can afford the extra costs, and can commit the time to prepare meals.

2) Mainstream pet foods which are loaded with inexpensive carbohydrate fillers (corn, rice, beet pulps, etc) and proteins which are little more than road kill in many cases.

3) A quality, expensive product from a family-ownede, non-multinational company like Champion. High quality ingredients in the correct ratios for carnivores like cats and dogs.

Bottom line: do your research, and then decide which option you want to pursue. If you want to cheap out, then please stay with the lower cost food- your vet will thank you because you’re a guaranteed revenue stream.

I want my dog and cats to be healthy, so the foods I feed them will be the right ones, not some crap product better suited to fattening livestock.

Peace out,



Ginger June 6, 2010 at 10:59 am

l oltman,
I have been feeding my dog Orijen since I rescued her when she was 4 months old. Our vet asked me what I feed her because her coat and teeth are perfect. She is healthy and happy times 100! I’m not sure why your dogs got sick but you said, several weeks ago…. It can take several weeks to change a dogs diet. The pet store should have told you that you need to gradually introduce new food into a dog’s diet. It would explain the vomiting and diarrhea and it would make sense that bland food would help settle their tummy’s. If the pet store didn’t explain the fact that you can’t just give your dogs a different type of food, I hope you’ll go in there and tell them how sick your dogs got. : o ( Either way, I am happy your dogs are feeling better, that must’ve been really frustrating.


JARET July 2, 2010 at 12:44 am



C McEwan September 7, 2010 at 11:30 am

Interesting that people are complaining about seizures in their dogs. On another site I found a post from a lady who said that Rosemary Oil in her pet’s food was exacerbating it’s epilepsy and she now avoids any food containing Rosemary or it’s Oil.

I’m looking for a good quality food for my dog who has a sensitive tummy, but nothing seems to be available without a lot of additives. Orijen seems to have a lot of plant material that’s unneccessay for canine nutrition. All the herbs included are OK for humans but dogs don’t need them. It makes me suspicious that Orijen just include them to fool the public into thinking it’s super-healthy because it’s full of herbs and stuff.


Rochelle June 16, 2013 at 10:09 am

My dog was quite ill before I tried Orijen, from what appeared to be nerve/neurological originating from his back as well as allergy problems. I only bought expensive, high quality dog food. I was considering putting him down when my brother suggested trying Orijen to see if his health would improve. This food improved my dogs’ health so much that it gave him another 2 yrs of life, and significantly reduced disease symptoms, even eliminating them all together for over 1 year. I foster cats for a cat rescue and have bought Orijen or Acana for my very sick cats and those with digestive issues. Every time, this food has done wonders and I have tried all kinds of high quality foods, including grain free and hypo-allergenic type foods that didn’t even come close. This company out-shines and out-performs them all. Orijen uses only human grade ingredients, and Canadian standards for human grade are higher than the U.S. If I would’ve tried Orijen earlier and my dog started to exhibit the signs of his illness around the same time, I might have associated it with the food, not knowing any better. It is common for animals to have diarrhea and even some vomiting when you change their food if you don’t do it gradually – but this usually resolves after 2 weeks. I think it is just coincidence that some people’s animals got sick around the time of switching to this food, or in some cases could’ve been an allergy to an ingredient, which in no way reflects on quality. If you do your research on what is put in pet food, you will be shocked and horrified that it is even legal. There is a reason this food costs considerably more, although the smaller quantity needed because of the nutritional density does compensate, I have not found ANY pet foods that come even close to matching the quality of this food. It is unfortunate about the irradiation process that killed and injured the felines in Australia, but I think people have just gotten paranoid and are ignorantly blaming this food for problems that have nothing to do with Orijen. It may not be the best food for every cat and dog out there with special situations/conditions, but I am convinced it is the best food out there.


Kim September 8, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Been there done that… dog with colitis, dog with allergies, no more kibble for us.. I feed “The Honest Kitchen” and I cook for them using the guidelines from Lew Olson, PhD. Her diets saved my dog with colitis/IBD. “Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs” you can get this book on Amazon.com


Sara October 13, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Kim mentioned the honest kitchen, they use ingredients from China, so I refuse to buy their food. At least Champion Pet Foods never use ingredients from China. Lew Olson’s book promotes her berte’s vitamins all over her book, who knows where they come from. Sounds like a conflict of interest to me. Lew tells you your dog needs Vitamin C in supplements, this is not true at all. Lew is just trying to promote her own products.

The problem with Orijen in Australia, wasn’t Orijen, it was Australia and their need to force irradiation on imported pet food. It was their fault. Not Champion Pet Foods. I’m glad Orijen refuses to sell any Orijen in Australia anymore. It was a smart move on their part because otherwise, like they said, cats would eat the dog food in multi-pet houses and get sick again because of the irradiation. I’ve never heard of any serious side effects from Champion Pet Foods anywhere else where they don’t irradiate the food.

Out of all the commercial pet foods, Champion Pet Foods is the only one that is trustworthy. They own their own plant, they don’t rely on China, and they stand by their product.
With that said, I think the healthiest feeding for any pet is RAW, not kibble. But if you have to go with kibble, Orijen or Acana are the world’s best.


shannen January 28, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Very Interesting… did you actually research the Honest Kitchen? For if you had you would have known, It is the ONLY pet food made in a human food facility, ALL ingredients have been PASSED for HUMAN consumption, no GMO, NO ingredients from China. As for Orijen, the marketing is awesome, the product not so much, I am in the industry of canine/feline nutrtition, and have seen pets do extemely well on Champions line of foods, but I have also seen Many pets get very sick, pancreatitis, kidney disease, IBS, as well as seizures to name a few. Never did a test prove conclusively that Champions food was to blame, but funny how these pets have a ‘miraculous’ recovery after switching foods. Every pet is an individual just like us humans, knowing your pet, researching and educating yourself with the CORRECT information is the best preventative medicine. Knowledge is power. Just make sure you know what your talking about so you are not spreading false information.


Teri April 5, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Just became aware of Orijen recall. There seems to be something very wrong with alot of the pet food. I work with pets every day. Many of them are hungry all the time even though they are eating premium pet food. The only one common factor I could find was chicken. Wondering what was in the chicken. The food they are being fed, new chemicals in some herbicide? Many premium foods say they know personally where the chickens are grown. There is something going on. Many of the pets I have seen lately are nervous wrecks. One dog wanted to get out of the room he was in so badly he used his head as a battering ram on the door. Howling all the time. Scared to death. Ran down to the basement and got into a dark corner shaking. So glad this web site is here. Must do more research, there is something very wrong with a lot of pet food out there. If anyone out there has more info please email me.


Nadine December 31, 2012 at 4:52 pm

One thing that can be going on with this pet food problems is that the animals they use for their protein sources are eating something that is making our pets sick. So our pets are basically indirect affected by the farm animal’s feed. One feed poison could be that farmers feed their farm animals with soy which is proven to be toxic for humans. Its the the Food Industry trying to make profit and allowing soy to be put in all products. And we do not know what else they put on farm animals feed and also what they feed the wild caught fish in the lakes. The Food Industry needs to realize that health is not a business and anything that is done to speed up farm animals growing process or making them artificially fat for weight and profit purposes will sooner or later prove to make us and our animals sick. The only way to stay healthy is to follow nature’s rules and feed animals and us what we are supposed to eat by nature and not try to change it behind our backs and give us false beliefs with propaganda. The best way to keep you and your pets healthy is to buy organic foods and prepare it yourself! You cannot trust the food industry completely and if you have to buy processed products you need to do research yourself to stay informed of whats is safe or not safe or changes that might occur.


connie belanger February 21, 2013 at 11:23 pm

I have been feeding my dogs Orijen for a year or so off and on. The last bag of Orijen that I opened seemed to be a little more “stinky” for lack of a better word. My 115 lb. Bloodhound, and my 12 lb Chihuahua both were eating out of this particular bag for about a week. my Bloodhound, suddenly stopped eating, and she wouldn’t drink any water. Then she started vomiting, She went out every couple of hours and vomited. flem, bile, and little bits of blood. I took her to the vet the next day. They put her on an i.v. to re-hydrate her and give her some antibiotics. I brought her home that night, and she had three bouts of full boar projectile bloody diarrhea. about a quart each time. It was digested blood, from upper g.i. The vet said that it was something that she ate. She does go out into the woods sometimes, so she could have gotten into something.?But, my Chihuahua started getting yellow diarrhea the next day. I think that it was the dog food. they are still on meds. I am not going to feed any more Orijen. I can’t afford to have the dog food tested for ? what ever.. scary I hope that my dogs come out of this OK


Emma September 29, 2013 at 11:04 am

Hi there. I have been feeding my 5 cats Orijen for the last 2 weeks. After hours and hours of research this was by far the best food for cats from what I could find. They were always on Hills Diet and were fine on this but despite the well-known phrase ‘If it aint broke, don’t fix it’ I still wanted to change them to a more natural high quality food, as even Hills (as much as it is portrayed as one of the best) is not that! So…….I bought a bag of Orijen Chicken, and also I bought 12 tins of the Ziwipeak raw meat. I have fed them the Orijen as a main diet and then I give them the Ziwipeak twice a week in place of one of their evening meals of Orijen. Now I hands up admit I did change their food too quick, and I would never normally do this but as I had completely run out of their former diet (and DPD cocking up with delivery) I had no choice but to switch them straight on to the Orijen and Ziwipeak when it arrived. I have changed my cats diets occasionally over the years )as you know cats get bored and are reluctant to eat the same every day) and they have been fine, they say cats adapt fast and it is good to change it now and then – they have never had any problems with this. However, the last 2 weeks since feeding the Orijen they have had bouts of diarrhoea and vomiting! The only cat that vomited on a daily bases and normally hairballs, was our senior (he is 12) and the vet always says it is his age and digestive system…other than that he is in tip-top condition and she is very pleased with how he is for 12. My other 4 cats have never vomited and now are! Three of the cats do eat the Orijen but the other 2 are not having any of it, they will wait until they are practically starving before they eat it and then it is just a few seconds at the bowl before they walk off in a huff – so I have given in and fed them more Ziwipeak! As for the Ziwipeak, they cannot get enough! Now at £18 for 12 tins of the Ziwipeak and with 5 cats this would cost me £170 a month! :O So as you can understand (as much as I would love to) it is not possible for me to feed them this solely. I am now confused as to whether it is the quick transition of the diet that is making the sick and have diarrhoea, or the Orijen, or the Ziwipeak? Also 2 weeks on and still having these symptoms…can this be a normal thing? The last thing I want is to see my cats poorly and being sick, and also it is wasting their good nutrition! I am about to run out of the Orijen and need to order some more in the next 2 days; and was going to order the 6.8 kilo bag, as it saves £20 that way. Do I order more and wait for them to fully adapt to it, or give up and try something else? I really wanted this food to work as it is such high quality :/ Nothing else fits the bill and believe me I have looked! Any help would be so appreciated! Many thanks, Emma 🙂

PS) My cats are 2 years old, 5 years old, 3 and 12.


Cathy November 10, 2013 at 2:41 pm

I would change out their food to something blander to see if they improve. Weeks of diarrhea is WAY too long. After they improve you may want to try them again on a bit of it to see if they get sick again. My little cat has been eating it and doing nicely for a few years but just recently got very ill….diarrhea and vomiting for a week. She is better now on a bland (new food) and she started to improve immediately.
I am carefully trying her on a few of her Orijen crunchier to see if she gets sick again. I have opened a new bag for this so will update with the results.


Justin G December 16, 2013 at 10:14 pm

Champion food made promise after promise to get independent retailers to carry and promote their food. The promise was not to sell to large franchises.

During 2012 the company had great difficulties producing enough dog/cat food for the retailers demands. This continued for throughout the year and straight into the better half of 2013.
In the summer Champion decided to go back on their word and sellout by signing up with Pet Valu.
Independent retailers were confused due to the fact that the company could not keep up with the demand already as it is.
One month later Champion demanded their supplier to increase to minimum quantity for ordering Orijen and Acana. They increased it more than 2.5times the amount it.

Obviously this was a scheme to drive out the independent store owners to be able to provide to Pet Valu. Many stores went out of business after marketing their product for years only to lose their customer base to Pet Valu.

Champion pet food has bankrupt and put hundreds of people on the street.

Stay clear away from the company.


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