Nearly 1,000 dogs have been sickened after eating chicken jerky pet treats produced by firms located in China. The majority of illnesses have occurred over the past six months.
This issue came to the forefront again in Nov. 2011 as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned pet owners about continued problems with these types of pet treats. Digital Journal reported on the issue at this time, and since November the number of complaints has soared, 900 having been logged since then, bringing the total close to 1,000 dogs.
According to MSNBC, inspectors were recently sent by the FDA to Chinese plants, but no results are available at this time, said the FDA.
Officials have been unable to determine a specific toxin in the pet treats, which has been a complaint since 2007, with three additional FDA-issued warnings issued since this time.
Suspect are three brands: Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch brands produced by Nestle Purina PetCare Co., and Milo’s Kitchen Home-style Dog Treats, produced by the Del Monte Corp.
MSNBC reported the two Chinese firms involved with production of the dog treats say they have found no problems associated with their pet products. Despite this, they are reported to be working out agreements with some pet owners individually. Purportedly, the companies have paid some owners small sums, as a good-will gesture. In exchange, the pet owner signs a release form, absolving the companies from any further liability.
Robin Pierre, 50, of Pine Bush, N.Y., says Waggin’ Train chicken jerky treats were responsible for the sudden death last fall of her previously healthy 2-year-old pug, Bella. Bella died of kidney failure.
"Right now the laws are protecting the rights of these manufacturers and we as victims/consumers have none," Pierre wrote in an email to MSNBC.
Pierre has established a petition to ban chicken jerky treats imported from China. At time of publish, this petition has almost 13,000 digital signatures.
Many pet owners have simply stopped buying any pet foods imported from China. One owner of a 3-month-old puppy came home to find her dog lethargic.
Sarah Lipton came home from work and found her 3-month-old puppy Riley lying listless in his playpen, reported WPXI. She checked the Internet looking for information, and found a warning about chicken jerky treats.
"My dog treats, 90 percent of them were made in China. That's exactly what they were talking about online," said Lipton. A few days after she stopped feeding the treats to her pup, he was better. She called it a "close call."
At this time no recalls or bans have been issued. What should pet owners do? The FDA suggests:
"There is nothing preventing a company from conducting a voluntary recall. It is important to understand that unless a contaminant is detected and we have evidence that a product is adulterated, we are limited in what regulatory actions we can take. The regulations don't allow for products to be removed based on complaints alone. This is an ongoing investigation and FDA will notify the public if a recall is initiated. Currently, FDA continues to urge pet owners to use caution with regard to chicken jerky products."