The FDA recently issued a warning regarding Chinese-made pet treats. As this information is spread on social media, some have asked if the story has it become exaggerated? We'll attempt to straighten out some of the details here.
The FDA warning is real. You can read the warning, entitled Caution to Dog Owners About Chicken Jerky Products in which they spell out specific issues with “chicken jerky treats” in complaints received from pet owners and veterinarians, though later they state that some complaints have come from treats other than chicken jerky. Several hundred dogs have died, while around 2000 more have been sickened by Chinese-made pet treats.
In response to this warning, several graphics have been circulated on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. One particular graphic lists many popular dog treats and brands as those to avoid as part of the FDA warning. It should be noted, however, that graphic contains some errors and should not be your sole judge on which pet treats to avoid. One such error is that it includes “Hartz Snausages” – but Hartz does not make this product, nor are Snausages included in the list of complaints. Snausages are produced by Del Monte, as is Pupperoni, which is also on the list.
If you read the actual FDA document listing the complaints, you’ll find a variety of products listed, though only a few have a significant number of complaints. Let’s compare the number of complaints in the FDA document with those listed in the graphic being circulated online.
- Waggin’ Train – 60+
- Canyon Creek Ranch – 4
- Dogswell – 4
- Snausages – 0
- Booda Bones – 0
- Aspen Pet – 0
- Milo’s Kitchen – 15+
- American Kennel Club – 1
- Dingo’s – 2
- Beefeaters – 2
- Cadet Sargents – 3
- Ever Pet – 0
- Home Pet 360 – 0
- Walgreen’s Simple – 0 (There was one for Walgreen’s Pet Shoppe brand)
- The Kingdom’s Pets – 30+
- Benefuk – Actually Beneful is listed, but only as normal food dogs were eating, not as tainted treats.
- Beggin’ Strips – Mentioned in document, but not listed as a tainted treat
- Pupperoni – Also listed as a normal treat, not as a tainted one.
- Canine Carryout – 0
- Waggin’ Train
- Kingdom Pets
- Canyon Creek
- Bestro’s Enterprises
We wrote to Del Monte about this issue and received the following response:
Thanks for your e-mail and your interest in Del Monte Pet Products.
The majority of Del Monte Pet Products are produced at our pet food facilities here in the United States. A small percentage of our products are produced in other countries. It may be helpful for you to know that Federal regulations require a product to list the country of origin if it has been produced outside of the United States or one of its territories. So if one of our products does not specifically state the country of origin, then you can assume it was produced in the United States or a U.S. territory. Regardless of the country of origin, please know that Del Monte Foods’ strict U.S. quality and operations standards apply to all of our products.
I appreciate the opportunity to respond and hope this information is helpful.
Donna, Del Monte Foods Consumer Affairs
Despite this reassuring response, Del Monte has been recently named as a class action lawsuit for their Milo’s Kitchen line of dog treats, which is one of the three named brands in this controversy.
What is upsetting to many pet owners is that the Chinese-made dog treats specified by the FDA warning continue to line the shelves of most stores that carry such products. There is no legal means for them to remove the products and many of them are dodging the issue by pointing out that no recall has been issued. This doesn’t sit well with many pet owners. “Now I have to carefully inspect the packaging of every pet product I buy, and that should be the job of the FDA, not me,” said George M. of Henderson, Nevada, who we spoke with outside of a local Target.
Another frustration is that the toxins that have killed or sickened pets in the U.S. has yet to be found, despite ongoing testing. As the list of “known” toxins has not generated any matches, it may take some time to identify these unknown toxins that are harmful to pets within these products from China. The FDA stated, “No specific products have been recalled because a definitive cause has not been determined.”
How to Avoid Chinese Dog Treats
Inspect the packaging carefully. If there a country of manufacture is not specified, it is most likely made in the U.S. You can also look at the list above and keep that in mind as you shop for dog treats.
The following text was spotted being circulated on Facebook this week:
FDA Warns to Avoid Chinese Manufactured Pet Treats
Consumer advocacy groups are warning pet owners to avoid feeding their dogs pet jerky treats manufactured in China. These jerky treats have been implicated in illness in 2200 dogs and death in 360 dogs and one cat. The FDA is still not sure what is causing the pet illnesses but is telling consumers to stop feeding them until they know for sure what the problem is. Definitive laboratory proof of the problem is still forthcoming.
The FDA is now concentrating on the irradiation process as a potential source of the problem. Investigators are hoping it will shed light on the problem of dogs getting sick with vomiting and diarrhea and in some cases kidney disease and death. The majority of complaints involve chicken jerky (treats, tenders, and strips), but others include duck, sweet potato, and treats where chicken or duck jerky is wrapped around dried fruits, sweet potatoes, or yams. In the last 18 months cases have been reported in all 50 states and 6 Canadian provinces. No specific products have been recalled as of yet, but that could change quickly.
The FDA has conducted 5 plant inspections in China this year. The firms were selected based on the number of dogs who got sick eating jerky treats from those plants. The FDA has also reached out to U.S. pet food firms to enlist their help in this public health investigation and is seeking further collaboration on scientific issues and data sharing.
Since jerky treats are not needed in pet diets, it is recommended to stop feeding them–at least until the FDA rules on the problem. If you have feed these treats, watch your pet closely for signs of GI illness or increased drinking or urination. If you are concerned about your pet, be sure to take him or her to your veterinarian and voice your concerns. In the mean time, why not make your own pet treats? Dehydrated chicken strips are easy to prepare and your pet will thank you immensely.
HAVE YOU FED THIS TREAT TO YOUR DOG OR CAT?
Have you had first-hand experience with dog treats made in China? If so, let us know of your experience in the comments below.
- Caution to Dog Owners About Chicken Jerky Products
- How to file a pet food complaint with the FDA
- FDA Investigates Animal Illnesses Linked to Jerky Pet Treats
- Nutritious, Delicious Pet Treats You Can Make in a Flash