Last month I wrote about the mounting complaints about dogs getting sick and dying from chicken jerky made in China. Yet, there have been no recalls and very little press except on pet-related blogs. Finally major media picks up the story.
“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.
Priority 1 cases are those in which the animal is aged 11 or younger and medical records that document illness are available an FDA spokeswoman said. In many cases, samples of the suspect treats also are collected.”
The FDA has been cautioning the public about chicken jerky since 2007 and testing products but have come up with no contaminants. The FDA posted this fact sheet about chicken jerky treats from China on March 9, 2012.
“What are the products involved?
The cautionary update specifically refers to chicken jerky products that are imported from China. These dried chicken jerky products, intended for dogs, may also be sold as tenders, strips or treats.
What are the signs of illness that are being reported?
The signs that may be associated with chicken jerky products include decreased appetite; decreased activity; vomiting; diarrhea, sometimes with blood; increased water consumption and/or increased urination. These signs may occur within hours to days of feeding the products.
Laboratory tests may indicate kidney problems, including Fanconi-like syndrome. Although many dogs appear to recover, some reports to the FDA have involved dogs that have died. FDA continues to investigate the problem and its origin. Some of the illnesses reported may be the result of causes other than eating chicken jerky.”
Maybe now that mainstream media has addressed the problem, more people and stores will take note.
I saw Dogswell chicken breast strips made in China at Sunflower Market here in Tucson. I contacted Sunflower asking why they still had the product on their shelves when chicken jerky from China has been problematic. They took the question seriously. Here’s the email string:
We are aware of these concerns and have been assured that the Dogswell Chicken Treats we sell are safe and tested regularly for harmful contaminants. We will continue to monitor these and if they are ever found to be unsafe in any way, we will remove them from our shelves immediately. Thank you for the info and concern for these items. Please feel free to contact me or Dogswell directly with any additional comments of concerns.
Grocery Category Manager
Sunflower Farmers Market
20430 N. 19th Ave. Suite 230
Phoenix, Arizona 85027
From: Richard Rodriguez
Sent: Friday, March 09, 2012 11:04 AM
To: Marc Orlich
Cc: Phoenix Receptionist
Subject: FW: Contact Us Submission
I figured you would like to respond to this customer- we do in fact have this product on the shelf but I am unaware of any media publications that state what this customer is claiming. Not sure if communication to the stores is appropriate if his statements are accurate. I’ll wait to hear from you.
Sent: Friday, March 09, 2012 9:37 AM
To: Richard Rodriguez
Cc: Marc Orlich
Subject: FW: Contact Us Submission
Can you please respond to this customer?
Sunflower Farmers Markets
Phoenix Support Office
20430 North 19th Avenue, Suite 230
Phoenix, AZ 85027
Office – 602.283.2476
Fax – 602.288.5547
From: Sunflower Markets [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, March 09, 2012 9:22 AM
Subject: Contact Us Submission
Thank you for contacting us!
• Name: Karyn
• Address: XXXX
• City: Tucson
• State: Arizona
• Zip Code: 85711
• Phone: XXXX
• E-mail Address: XXXX
• Store: Arizona – Tucson Speedway & Swan
• Compliment or Concern: Concern: Back on Nov. 18, 2011, the FDA cautioned consumers that chicken jerky dog treats from China may be associated with a rising number of dog illnesses. This followed earlier warnings of the same issue in September 2007 and December 2008. After a drop in 2009 and 2010, reports of dog illnesses have spiked once again. More pet owners are speaking out now than ever before. This was in the Food Safety News. Also other pet health sites mention it. Your stores sells expensive chicken jerky (chicken breast strips) from Dogswell made in China. Why have you not removed it from shelves in an abundance of caution?
To their credit Sunflower Markets took my question seriously and pushed it up the ladder instead of sending me a canned response. I did also receive a document stating quality assurance but it was dated August 4, 2011 and a Dogswell brochure.
Dogswell is not listed in the list of offending chicken jerky makers.
However, what bothers me the most is – remember the huge peanut butter salmonella problem in 2009? The Peanut Corporation of America in Georgia made more than 125 products for different brands ranging from the upscale Whole Foods Market to bargain basement deals. This was made in the USA and it took weeks to nail down the problem. The chicken jerky problem made in China has been problematic since 2007.
What pet food companies also slap their own private labels on products made by mega companies like Del Monte and Nestle-Purina?
Here’s a petition you can sign to try to ban all pet treats from China. While I think it’s a great idea, I don’t know how effective it would be. Petitions against Rush Limbaugh and Susan G. Komen Foundation were effective but involved different issues and didn’t deal with governmental bureaucracy. Most importantly, vote with your wallet.