Chinese pet products are in the news again and not for any good reason this time either. Tainted chicken jerky dog treats are again suspected for pet health problems.
Chicken jerky dog treats appear to be at the center of another problem for pet owners who like to favor their favorite pooch with a tasty snack. The problem products don't appear to widespread, but the reported number of cases of both illness and in some cases the deaths of the pets affected.
The treats may be listed and sold as chicken "tenders", "strips" or "treats". No specific causative agent has been found and the FDA is still working to find the specific locus of the apparent outbreak of sick pooches.
The symptoms of illness as noted at the FDA link above from the tainted products include; decreased appetite; decreased activity; vomiting; diarrhea, sometimes with blood; increased water consumption and/or increased urination.
While the numbers of animals being reported by veterinarians and owners as sickened by the treats has risen again in the last twelve months, the total number of pets hasn't reached the stage of requiring a recall of any of the products.
The FDA in their warning does note the lack of definitive answers but also states that the treats should remain as treats and not be used as a meal replacement for pets. While some of the dogs which have been reported to FDA have died, most of the dogs have recovered after being taken off the chicken treats and being treated by veterinarians. Those with concerns or questions should take their dogs to a veterinarian, if blood tests show increased urea nitrogen and creatinine levels it may well be a sign of kidney failure. If urine tests show increased glucose it may be a signal of Fanconi syndrome.
The chemical and microbial testing being performed by both FDA and several Veterinary Laboratory Response Network (VLRN) are still actively working on finding an answer to the problem and FDA is recommending that both veterinarians and owners who suspect a pet's illness may have been caused by tainted treats should report the problem to FDA. The Agency has provided a website to allow easy reporting, which also offers the information on what type of data is required for a report. The primary website has links to both the FDA Safety Reporting Portal and the State Consumer Complaint Coordinators which includes the telephone numbers for all regions.
This is not the first time the problem of tainted pet food products have been found in pet food with ingredients originating in China, there was also an outbreak of pet foods contaminated by melamine which was sourced from China in March, 2007. The outbreak in question prompted a recall of animal feed products, some of which had been fed to animals intended for human consumption. The findings of the FDA and USDA also prompted charges being brought against two Chinese nationals, one US company and both the companies President and its CEO on Feb 6, 2008. The US company was Chem Nutra and the owners were Stephen Miller and his wife, Sally Qing Miller. The telephone number for Chem Nutra went unanswered today and the website for the company is no longer active.