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"Chickity China, the Chinese Chicken...."

by Katie McKay | Feb 24, 2013

"...Ya have a drumstick and your brain stops tickin'..."  Thank you Bare Naked Ladies for this hilarious lyric that fits so nicely in to my blog today.

About a year ago (March 2012), I sent out this email to our fosters and volunteers.

“There has been a large movement against the Chicken jerky treats made in China and their link to a possible 600 illnesses and death in our canine friends.  However, some of these treats have not been formally recalled.  This means that they are still on the shelf and still being sold at local pet stores.  The FDA is testing the products and has stated that the companies can make voluntary recalls, however the FDA will not issue a formal recall that is driven by consumer reports (sad I know).  There are many politicians involved now in states like Ohio, that are pushing the recall of the products due to the questionable safety, but so far, the testing has not produced a "viable safety concern."  My advice to you.....make sure you read the labels of anything and everything you buy for your pups.  Companies like Nestle and Del Monte still import products from outside the United States, so just because it says Nestle, make sure you look for the "Made in .... " label.  The major one right now seems to be "Waggin Tails" and Milo's Kitchen home style dog treats.  Make sure it says ”Made in the USA.”

In an update from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released in January 2013, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets found antibiotic residues (unapproved in the United States) in chicken jerky treats from China.  Nestle Purina (Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek) and Del Monte (Milo’s Kitchen) issued formal recalls of their jerky treats that were manufactured in China.  Note the package says DISTRIBUTED for Nestle San Francisco, California….but keep looking and you’ll see that it’s manufactured in China.  I know I keep telling you to read the labels of everything, but at least I’m telling you what to look for, right? 

The FDA said that this issue does not “pose a health threat” and is “unlikely” to be associated with all the illnesses that have been reported.  So while I commend Nestle Purina and Del Monte for their recalls, though it took almost a year, there are still treats like these on the shelves of pet stores everywhere.  You can find complaints about these treats dating back as far as 2007.  Last fall, my aunt purchased Milo’s Kitchen chicken jerky treats and brought them for my dogs when she came for a visit.  I threw them in the trash and explained all the concern surrounding these treats.  Granted, these were not part of the recall, but who wants to risk that? Not me!  Luckily she went home and threw hers away before giving them to her own dog. 

What I find interesting is that the FDA mentions that although these treats “do not pose a health concern” and are “highly unlikely” to be associated with the on-going reports of illness and death, they do say this; “FDA reminds pet owners that jerky pet treats are not necessary for pets to have a fully balanced diet, so eliminating them will not harm pets.”  I work in the hospital and the cells that we use for bone marrow transplant are regulated by the FDA (among others).  They have to be safe, pure, and work properly and to be 100% sure 100% of the time, we follow FDA regulations with every single thing that we do. For example, when I so much as wipe a counter top with cleaner, I have to document the date and time along with my signature or initials.  When they “recommend” something, we interpret that as, do this or we will shut you down.  After all, if it was your family member, wouldn’t you want that?  So that the FDA is saying these treats aren’t necessary to feed your dog….MY interpretation is they are telling us, better to be safe than sorry, and steer clear of these treats.

The FDA is looking out for us and our pets. They are the ones who officially release recalls and safety issues.  It’s an easy web site to remember www.fda.gov.  Click on the Animal and Veterinary tab at the top of the page and you’ll see a wealth of information.  In two small boxes on the right, you’ll see SPOTLIGHT and RECALLS AND ALERTS and although the FDA web site can be daunting and overwhelming, this is where you’ll find the highlights and important stuff.  You can also get information about Pet Food and how the FDA regulates food and snacks for our pups.  Obviously I’m on their web site most days and they email me with various alerts due to the nature of my job.  Luckily that’s how I find out so quickly about most recalls…see you should keep me around, I’m handy.

Safe shopping!



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