The first FDA warning on all chicken jerky treats made in China was issued a very long four and a half years ago, in September 2007, but it has taken a suit filed in Chicago Federal Court to bring the situation out of the “animal” press and into the spotlight.
Nestle Purina Petcare Co. and Wal-Mart, were sued by Dennis Adkins, who says that his 9-year-old Pomeranian, Cleo, became sick and died of kidney failure last month after eating Waggin’ Train’s “Yam Good” chicken-wrapped treats, according to the complaint filed in federal court in Chicago. The case is Adkins v. Nestle Purina Petcare Co. - you can read about it here.
In December, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reiterated what it called a “cautionary warning to consumers” about a potential association between dog illnesses and chicken jerky-based products. The FDA first issued the advisory in 2007 and has issued several warnings every year since then. “The products —- also called chicken tenders, strips, or treats -— are imported from China” and according to the agency, “FDA has conducted extensive chemical and microbial testing but has not identified any contaminant.”
The FDA continues to delay recalling the treats, in spite of thousands of sick and dead pets since their first warning to consumers four years ago, and now pet owners are starting to demand action.
You can get involved too – join other pet owners and put pressure on retailers to voluntarily pull chicken jerky treats made in China off store shelves and contact public officials to demand faster and more decisive action from the FDA.
As reported by Truth About Pet Food.com, Pet Owner Suzi Faulkner took her complaints of a sick pet believed to be linked to Chinese imported jerky treats to Loew’s. Armed with printed copies of newspaper articles and FDA warnings linking the jerky treats to pet illness/death, this pet owner made a significant impression on Lowe's manager Joel Wood. And it appears that corporate Lowe's is listening too – they are reportedly "in the process of getting a stop sell" on the jerky treat products. They are "reviewing our product quality concerns with the manufacturer" and reportedly, in the Mooresville North Carolina store, "all of the treats made in China are in the return to manufacturer cage".
The FDA's position is they will not implicate nor recall products until a specific contaminant has been identified. The agency maintains chicken jerky treat samples have been tested for drugs, poisons, mycotoxins, heavy metals and certain chemicals, yet the problem remains a mystery. The FDA continues to state that, "No specific products have been recalled because a definitive cause has not been determined."
Although the FDA hasn’t identified what's causing the problem, pet owners and veterinarians in the U.S., Canada, and Australia have their own suspicions. These include:
- Ongoing melamine contamination
- Irradiation of ingredients in jerky treats
- An as-yet unidentified chemical preservative
- Diethyelene glycol (a toxin)
The number of reported incidents varies widely, depending on the source, but the number is now in the thousands and rising quickly – there have been over 600 new reports since the FDA warning in November 2011. Symptoms include loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), increased thirst and/or urination, and decreased activity and appear within a few hours to days after a dog eats the chicken jerky treats. Pets who become severely ill or have symptoms lasting more than 24 hours should be seen by a veterinarian immediately. Blood tests may show markers for kidney failure and an urinalysis may point to acquired Fanconi syndrome.
Recently MSNBC.com got their hands on copies of internal FDA documents which included a log of complaints from pet owners and vets naming three popular brands of jerky treats linked to kidney failure and other serious illness in pets.
"Of 22 "Priority 1" cases listed by the FDA late last year, 13 cited Waggin' Train or Canyon Creek Ranch jerky treats or tenders, both produced by Nestle Purina PetCare Co., the records show. Another three listed Milo's Kitchen Home-style Dog Treats, produced by the Del Monte Corp. The rest listed single brands or no brand."
If you are a pet owner …
- PLEASE don't buy or feed chicken jerky treats, chicken tenders, chicken strips or chicken treats made in China to your pet. Buy only food and treats made in the U.S. and with U.S. INGREDIENTS. Buying pet food made in this country won't remove all risk of winding up with a tainted product, but it will certainly improve your chances of keeping your pet safe.
- You can play it even safer by making your own chicken jerky right at home. Buy some boneless chicken breasts, clean them, and slice into long, thin strips – the thinner the better. Place the strips on a greased or non-stick cookie sheet and bake them for at least three hours at 180 degrees. The low temp dries the chicken out slowly and the strips wind up nice and chewy. Let the strips cool, and then store them in plastic bags or another airtight container. You can also freeze them.
- Animal Parents Against Pet Treats Made in China
For more info: If you are interested in learning more about the power of positive training or different ways to solve problems and communicate with your dog, there are many places you can start, including this link to www.clickertraining.com. As always, you can email me at TAMIam@training-spot.net with any questions or comments, or for help with specific issues that you are having with your dog. There are links to more resources at Training Spot .