WASHINGTON – Bravo Packing Inc., a Carneys Point, NJ-based dog food manufacturer, agreed to stop selling, manufacturing and distributing raw pet food until the company takes adequate precautions to prevent animal food from becoming contaminated, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) said. This action marks the first consent decree of permanent injunction against an animal food manufacturer for violating public safety standards. Bravo Packing is not affiliated with Bravo Pet Foods, a separate manufacturer of frozen raw and freeze-dried pet food and treats.

US District Judge Noel L. Hillman entered the consent decree between the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Bravo Packing, and the company’s owner and secretary, Joseph Merola, and its president, Amanda Lloyd. The defendants cannot receive, pack, hold, label and/or distribute pet food until the company completes corrective actions, according to the FDA.

The defendants agreed to settle the complaint and be bound by a consent decree of permanent injunction.

“Animal food manufacturers must ensure that their products are safe,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The department will continue to work closely with the FDA to ensure that pet food is manufactured in compliance with the law.”

The DOJ said that in a complaint filed March 15, the government alleged that Bravo Packing, Merola and Lloyd, violated the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) by distributing adulterated animal food and by causing animal food to become adulterated while held for sale. Inspectors found evidence of “significant food safety violations” during inspections of the Bravo Packing premises in 2019 and 2021. The agency issued a warning letter to the facility in 2020.

“During these inspections, the FDA found evidence of significant food safety violations including grossly insanitary conditions and the failure to follow CGMP regulations for animal food,” the agency said. “Multiple samples of finished raw pet food products collected during the inspections tested positive for Salmonella.

“Pet food that is contaminated with Salmonella can lead to illness in both the pets consuming the food, as well as humans, who handle the food and care for the pets,” FDA said. “Some of these finished samples as well as environmental samples from the two inspections also tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes.”

The decree also empowers the FDA to order a shutdown, recall or other corrective action in the event of future violations and requires the defendants to pay the costs of inspections performed. Failure to abide by the consent decree can lead to civil or criminal penalties, the agency said.

“The food we give our pets should be safe for them to eat and safe for people to handle,” said Steven Solomon, DVM, MPH, director of FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. “The FDA has taken this action to protect public health because, despite multiple inspections, notifications of violations, and recalls, this firm continued to operate under insanitary conditions and produce pet food contaminated with harmful bacteria. We will not tolerate firms that put people or animals at risk and will take enforcement actions when needed.”