Dog owners Kevin and Candace Thaxton told ABC News in a TV report March 16 that “their 10-year-old pug Chansey died after eating chicken jerky dog treats made in China. In turn, this story of imported chicken dog treats sickening dogs in the U.S. continues after “the Food and Drug Administration has fielded over 530 complaints from pet owners over the past four months claiming their dogs suffered illness or death after eating jerky treats made in China,” officials told ABC News. At the same time, the ABC News report explained how “the FDA has issued three separate warnings about Chinese jerky treats in the past four years” by advising owners who give their pets the snacks to watch the dogs closely for signs of illness. In turn, ABC News did not list each of these three separate warnings. However, the FDA website includes a record of the FDA’s activity on this recent pet food issue.
Moreover, since the agency says it has yet to find a "definitive cause" for the mystery ailments, ABC News reported March 16 that “it hasn't blamed Chinese treats for the illnesses, it hasn't named any of the well-known American firms like Purina that sell them, and it hasn't recalled any of the products. Dog owners and legislators are now demanding action.”
China’s toxic dog treats known since late 2011
At the same time, an ABC News TV station in Los Angeles (KABC) reported on Dec. 29, 2011 that the same thing that’s happening now in 2012 also took place just three months ago when it reported how “the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating a dog treat after receiving hundreds of reports of dogs getting sick, some fatally. Over the past month, there have been more than 350 reports of dogs being sickened or dying after eating chicken jerky treats imported from China.”
In turn, the FDA stated that “it is actively investigating the matter and conducting analysis for different contaminates. However, ABC TV News in L.A. reported no results back in late December after the FFDA tested different brands and products.
Thus, the FDA stated “it still has not found any contaminants,” and why the FDA said back at the end of December “that's why a recall of the products has not been issued.”
Thaxton dog’s death an example
These toxic chicken dog treats imported from China stated harming American dogs last year, add the FDA when sharing the latest information on the government website.
For instance, ABC News reported – in a very emotional TV report March 16 – how Kevin and Candace Thaxton's 10-year-old pug Chansey got sick late last year.
In turn, the couple told ABC News that they “assumed at first it was simply old age. The small dog started showing symptoms of kidney failure -- drinking water excessively and urinating in the house. By the time the Thaxtons got her to a veterinarian, Chansey's kidneys had shut down and she was in extreme pain. She died two days later.”
"It was so hard. It was just devastating," Kevin Thaxton told ABC News.
Also, the Thaxtons would go through the ordeal again just weeks later -- leading them to a new theory behind Chansey's death -- when their new Pekingese-mix puppy Penny exhibited the same symptoms, finally resulting in kidney failure.
For instance, Candace Thaxton told ABC News that when she “stumbled on a Food and Drug Administration warning that there'd been ‘an increase in complaints’ about chicken jerky dog treats made in China, she says she knew immediately what had happened to her beloved dogs.”
"I grabbed the bag of treats and turned it over," Candace said. "At first I saw it said 'Manufactured in South Carolina' so I thought I was safe. Then I looked harder and it said 'Made in China' and I just said 'Oh no.' "
What’s going on with pet food safety?
The owners of a dog named “Suzie,” told Huliq during a recent interview that “we’re so worried about what she eats that we’re now restricting the usual dog treats that our Suzie gets when at coffee or food drive-ins. Everybody likes to give dogs treats, but we’re now asking where are those treats coming from?”
Also, a dog named “King” has been “real sick.” King’s owner Frankie said his dog has been ill for some time, and he now wonders if it’s “those dog snacks from China?”
Such alarming news of the possible risk to dogs comes at a time when the safety of imported food is being heavily scrutinized.
For instance, on March 15 the Centers for Disease Control reported that foods imported from other countries are to blame for dozens of recent foodborne disease outbreaks. ABC News explained that the CDC looked at outbreaks from 2005 to 2010 and concluded that 39 outbreaks and over 2,300 illnesses came from food imported into the U.S. Nearly 45 percent of the foods that caused the outbreaks came from Asia.”
In turn, the FDA says it is “actively investigating reports of illness and death and has been conducting tests on samples of the treats. An FDA spokesperson said the samples came from around the country but would not cite specific sources that provided the samples.”
FDA offers Qs and As on dog treats
Concerned dog owners can go to a new special Q and A section of its website at www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/ProductSafetyInformation/ucm295445.htm - 12k - 2012-03-09 for specific details about these toxic dog treats from China.
For instance, this FDA “Questions and Answers” section explains when the agency first reacted to reports from dog owners about these toxic dog treats.
In 2011, FDA stated on its website that it “saw an increase in the number of complaints it received of dog illnesses associated with consumption of chicken jerky products imported from China. FDA previously issued a cautionary warning regarding chicken jerky products to consumers in September 2007 and a Preliminary Animal Health Notification in December of 2008. The number of complaints being received dropped off during the latter part of 2009 and most of 2010.
However in 2011, FDA once again started seeing the number of complaints rise to the levels of concern that prompted release of our earlier warnings.
Since the issuance of the CVM Update on November 18, 2011, the agency has received numerous additional complaints regarding chicken jerky products, the FDA added.
As for what products are involved, the FDA explains: “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.”
FDA explains signs of illness being reported
Dogs that have become ill show “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,” stated the FDA.
Since 2007, FDA also explained how it’s been actively investigating the cause of illness in pets reported in association with the consumption of chicken jerky products. For example, the FDA website noted how “samples have been tested by FDA laboratories, by the Veterinary Laboratory Response Network (Vet-LRN), and by other animal health diagnostic laboratories in the U.S for multiple chemical and microbiological contaminants.”
In turn, the FDA stated how product samples were tested for Salmonella, metals, furans, pesticides, antibiotics, mycotoxins, rodenticides, nephrotoxins (such as aristolochic acid, maleic acid, paraquat, ethylene glycol, diethylene glycol, toxic hydrocarbons, melamine and related triazines) and were screened for other chemicals and poisonous compounds. DNA verification was conducted on these samples to confirm the presence of poultry in the treats.
The FDA stated, for example, how “samples have also been submitted for nutritional composition (which includes glycerol concentrations), vitamin D excess and enterotoxin analysis. Some samples from recent cases (2011-2012) have been submitted for multiple tests and we are awaiting results. More samples are in the process of being collected for testing.”
At the same time, the FDA stated that the “results of the testing” are from “samples collected from all over the United States have been tested for a wide variety of substances and to date, scientists have not been able to determine a definitive cause for the reported illnesses.”
Meanwhile, the FDA website explained how it looked for “metal contamination” in these chicken jerky products produced in China. “FDA’s previous testing of chicken jerky product samples did not show toxic levels of metals. In addition, results from March 2012 toxic metal analyses, which included tests for heavy metals, have again shown samples of chicken jerky products to be negative for toxic metals.”
No specific brands recalled by FDA
Also, of concern, say dog owners, is the FDA admission that “no specific products have been recalled because a definitive cause has not been determined. The FDA continues to actively investigate the problem and its origin.”
In turn, if the FDA identifies the cause, the agency said it will “take appropriate action and notify the public.”
As for the question from dog owners about why aren’t these products being taken off the market, the FDA website stated: “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.”
FDA guidance on feeding chicken jerky treats to dogs
According to the FDA website about this specific issue, “chicken jerky products should not be substituted for a balanced diet and are intended to be fed occasionally in small quantities.”
In turn, the FDA is advising consumers who choose to feed their dogs chicken jerky products to watch their dogs closely for any or all of the following signs that may occur within hours to days of feeding the products:
-- decreased appetite
-- decreased activity
-- diarrhea, sometimes with blood
-- increased water consumption
-- increased urination
Also, the FDA stated that “if the dog shows any of these signs, stop feeding the chicken jerky product. Owners should consult their veterinarian if signs are severe or persist for more than 24 hours. Blood tests may indicate kidney failure (increased urea nitrogen and creatinine). Urine tests may indicate Fanconi-like syndrome (increased glucose).”
In addition, the FDA guidance states: “If your pet has experienced signs of illness, please retain the opened package and remaining pieces of the chicken jerky product that are in the original packaging. It is possible that your samples will be collected for testing. If your product samples are collected, please be sure to provide the FDA official with all of the sample that you have. The extensive testing that is being conducted may require multiple pieces from the package. It is also possible that a toxicant may be present in some of the samples in the package, but not all. We may be able to get better or more accurate testing results with a larger sample size.”
Additional information on what happens when a problem is reported can be found at the following link:
FDA responsible for dog food safety
Also, according to the FDA website about pet food safety, this government organization is tasked to “regulate that can of cat food, bag of dog food, or box of dog treats or snacks in your pantry. The FDA’s regulation of pet food is similar to that for other animal foods. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) requires that all animal foods, like human foods, be safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled.”
At the same time, ABC News reported March 16 that “the FDA issued its first warning about chicken jerky treats from China in 2007, in response to the first wave of consumer complaints, and then issued a second in 2008. When the FDA issued a third warning in late 2011, based on another increase in complaints that year, it asked consumers to report any other purported incidents directly to the agency. Since that update, hundreds of dog owners have come forward to share their concerns.”
For more information, check out the FDA website at http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/Products/AnimalFoodFeeds/PetFood/default.htm
Image source of a dog named “King” with owner Frankie who said his dog has been ill for some time, and he now wonders if it’s “those dog snacks from China?” Photo by Dave Masko