“Millions of roaches,” among other things, were found in the facility where Mars pet food is produced.
Credit: Cooking Light

Mars Petcare U.S. manufactures popular dog and cat foods such as IAMS, Pedigree, Royal Canin, Sheba, Eukanuba, Cesar, Whiskas, Greenies, and Nutro—but you might want to think twice before buying them for your furry friend.

An FDA investigation triggered by a 2016 recall of Mars pet foods recently closed, but the gruesome details surrounding the investigation are just coming to light.

According to Food Safety News, between October 2016 and July 2017, Mars’ production facility in Columbus, Ohio was crawling with an “infestation of German cockroaches.”

During this time, multiple consumers also complained about finding hard plastic pieces and elastic material in their pet’s food. The plastic was traced back to broken equipment at the plant. After consumers discovered foreign material in the canned food in 2016, Mars recalled 54,255 cases of CESAR Classics Filet Mignon Flavor.

Later inspections of the plant confirmed Mars had not completed the repairs that were causing the problems—and the environment actually was in worse shape than expected. During one inspection, investigators from the Food and Drug administration observed roaches “where raw materials and ingredients were maintained.”

During a 72-day period between 2016-2017, there were 99 reported instances of pest activity. One instance even described “millions of roaches” being present. Employees also reported seeing birds, spider webs, beetles, multiple flies, maggots and larvae.

The FDA eventually found the source of the pests: Disrepair of dock doors and the building, spillage of raw materials, and “damaged cans ‘covered in flies’.”

And as for the plastic shards in pet food? Mars responded by changing the color of their plastic from white to blue to identify it more easily, but as of the July 2017 inspection, they were still receiving complaints from customers about foreign objects in their pet food.

The FDA also reported Mars officials for refusing to comply during inspections. Mars would not allow photography during the inspection, refused to permit the review of customer complaints, and would not provide photocopies of consumer complaints, manufacturing, shipping and pest control records.

A representative from Mars said, "We want to assure pet owners we take all feedback received from regulatory agencies and consumers about product safety and quality very seriously. We took swift and direct action to address the issues highlighted by the FDA during their July 2017 inspection—which has been subsequently closed."