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The Heart of the Matter

We don’t receive too many complaints about our products, but when we do, we take them very seriously. We recently received this e-mail from a loyal customer named Susan.

Hi, I want to start out by saying how much I love all your recipes, especially the lamb. I have 3 rescue dogs whose health have improved dramatically since eating your product for the last few years. I recommend it to everyone who has dogs. Lately I have found small pieces of rubber glove mixed in with the food. Thinking it was a fluke, I ignored the first pieces, but unfortunately I continued to find rubber in other packages. Someone got too close to the shredder, perhaps? I know you would want to know about this problem, and like I said previously, I love the product. Please check into this. I buy my supply from Raw Connection in Carmel, Ca and have told them about the problem.

I barely made it to end of the email before calling her. I told Susan that my initial instinct was that the little pieces of “rubber glove” were not rubber at all, but collagen from arterial walls of the hearts in our food. Collagen has an elastic structure and sometimes does not get as ground as the rest of our product because it can stretch through the very small grind plate. All of our recipes use heart, but it is the most visible in our Lamb Recipe. Collagen is also incredibly beneficial and is even having a “superfood” moment. Bone broth, anyone? That said, I assured her, we take any complaint like this very seriously and would thoroughly investigate. In a serendipitous twist, Alison—who had the exact same theory as I did about the source of these mystery rubber pieces—was driving down to Carmel the next day to deliver food to Raw Connection. Luckily, Susan was able to meet her there, so Alison could inspect them firsthand.

Lamb hearts in the mixer. Yum!

We both agreed that foreign objects in our food would be a devastating development, especially given how much care we take to avoid this type of thing. Given the machinery and processes in our kitchen, we did not logically understand how pieces of glove could get in without a hand going in with them (sorry for that visual). If something that awful were to happen on the production floor, Alison attends production and would certainly have been privy to it. Additionally, the gloves used in the kitchen are thin and white, not flesh colored and rubbery as described. That evening, in preparation for her trip, Alison scooped fresh free samples for Raw Connection and picked out every tiny little bit of collagen that she could find, putting the pieces in a sample cup for comparison.

Sample Cup with Heart Bits

When Alison arrived at Raw Connection, Susan was there waiting. Alison immediately produced her little sample cup of collagen for comparison purposes. It was instantly apparent that the bits of rubber were, as we had suspected, collagen. To further demonstrate the integrity of our products, Alison threw back her head and downed a shot of the lamb heart bits. She went on to explain that while people want things to be as minimally processed as possible, the reality is that organ meats are icky looking but also highly nutritious. In the end, we care more about providing the best products we can for dogs, which is why we include offal—even though it’s not pretty.

While what Susan found was “normal” for our food, we’re grateful to her for bringing it to our attention. She can’t be alone in wondering what those little rubbery bits are, and we are “heartened” (get it?) that she cared enough about our products to reach out to us directly. This experience created a learning opportunity for everyone involved—in turn allowing us to share it with you.

No matter what brand you feed, mistakes are human, and there’s always a chance things can go wrong in production. Should you find something amiss with a food (or frankly, any product) you purchase, it’s important to save or photograph the problem and contact the company directly about it. How they respond speaks volumes about their integrity and how firmly they stand behind their products


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