By Dr. Becker
Here's another disturbing update on the China-made chicken jerky dog treat contamination problem that has sickened or killed over 2,000 dogs since 2007.
Several sources, including NBCNews.com and the non-profit organization Food & Water Watch, are reporting the FDA has just revealed that during its visit to several Chinese jerky treat manufacturing plants in April, Chinese government officials refused to allow U.S. inspectors to collect product samples for independent analysis.
The chicken jerky dog treats in question are sold in the U.S. by Nestle Purina PetCare.
Chinese Government Refuses to Allow FDA to Collect Jerky Treat Samples
According to NBCNews.com:
"Investigators with the federal Food and Drug Administration came away empty-handed after conducting April inspections at four jerky treat manufacturing sites in Liaocheng and Jinan, China, according to the records."
It seems that Chinese officials stipulated the FDA could only collect samples if those samples were tested in Chinese government-run laboratories. So according to an FDA investigator who made the trip, "no samples were collected during this inspection."
The FDA did learn during their plant visits that there are no or only infrequent tests of the raw materials used to make the treats. The agency also discovered a problem with record-keeping practices. At one plant, receiving documents for glycerin – an ingredient in the jerky treats – were falsified. The FDA is investigating glycerin as a potential source of contamination.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio had this to say: "It's hard to believe the FDA would send a team of inspectors over to China without first getting a guarantee that they could bring samples back. They're doing nothing of consequence. The FDA's tone-deaf on this one."
Despite the Chinese government's lack of cooperation and problems the FDA uncovered during their inspections, no FDA import alerts or import refusals have been issued for the companies whose plants were visited.
Kucinich believes China's refusal to release samples to U.S. inspectors is grounds for either banning those products from import, or for a mandatory recall.
Non-profit Food & Water Watch Blasts FDA
On August 24th, the executive director of Food & Water Watch issued the following statement criticizing the FDA's handling of the toxic chicken jerky dog treat situation:
"Since 2007, thousands of American dogs have fallen ill or died after eating jerky treats made in China. In the past of couple days, it has come to light that Chinese government officials overseeing the factories that make the questionable treats refused to allow US inspectors to collect samples for independent analysis."
"While this lack of cooperation shows an unfortunate disregard for health and safety on behalf of the Chinese government, it's the Food and Drug Administration who has shirked its responsibility to keep U.S. citizens and their pets safe and it's the FDA who must step up and block these potentially deadly treats from harming more animals."
"The FDA waited until it received 2,000 reports of illnesses and deaths in US dogs before launching its investigation. Although the China investigation took place in April, it took the FDA four months to admit that they were denied permission from collecting samples from the Chinese facilities. As the FDA dragged its feet, the suspect treats remained on store shelves and put thousands of dogs at risk."
"What's more disgraceful than the FDA's dawdling is the fact that it has full authority under Section 306 of the Food Safety Modernization Act to refuse shipments of these treats from China now. Enough is enough. It's time for the FDA to issue an import alert on all pet food manufactured in China before more animals and the humans that love them suffer needlessly."
My goal in continuing to update readers on the situation with toxic pet treats from China is to reach as many people as possible who may still be buying and feeding potentially deadly treats to their dog or cat.
Please be very careful in selecting treats for your pet. I recommend you buy only products made in the U.S., with ingredients sourced in the U.S., or make your own treats at home.