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Nestle & DelMonte jerky treats may be to blame for pet illnesses

Posted Mar 13 2012 4:27pm

FDA investigating jerky treats manufactured in ChinaA few days ago, I posted about the FDA testing of jerky treats that’s been going on since 2007. The FDA has advised pet owners to be cautious of jerky treats made in China, but they haven’t released the brand names of any of the treats in question. Just today though, MSNBC is reporting a possible link between some big brand jerky treats and illnesses in dogs. The brands named are Waggin’ Train or Canyon Creek Ranch jerky treats or tenders produced by Nestle Purina PetCare Co., and Milo’s Kitchen Home-style Dog Treats, produced by the Del Monte Corp. The information comes from an FDA report MSNBC obtained through a public records request.

A log of complaints collected from pet owners and veterinarians contains references to at least three popular brands of jerky treats that may be associated with kidney failure and other serious ailments, according to internal Food and Drug Administration documents obtained by msnbc.com.

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 report, obtained through a public records request, is the first agency indication of any brands linked to illnesses that have climbed since the FDA warned pet owners about jerky treats in November. That was the FDA’s third caution about the pet products since 2007.

Nestle Purina and Del Monte officials said their treats are safe and FDA regulators said repeated tests have shown no absolute tie to any brand or manufacturer.

[...]

Since 2007, FDA scientists have analyzed jerky treats for evidence of dangerous toxins, including heavy metals, melamine, melamine analogs and diethylene glycol, chemicals used in plastics and resins.

So far, they’ve found nothing convincing, a point emphasized by Keith Schopp, director of communications for Nestle Purina.  He noted that FDA officials also suggest that illnesses may be a result of causes other than eating jerky treats.

“Our chicken jerky treats are safe to feed as directed,” said Schopp. “The safety of our products — and the pets who consume them — are our top priorities.”

The company has a comprehensive food safety program in place, he said, including at manufacturing plants in China.

Read the rest of the MSNBC article: 3 big brands may be tied to chicken jerky illness in dogs, FDA records show .

The pet food companies say the treats are safe and, as Schopp says, pets are their top priority, but I’m not convinced. The fact that he FDA is continuing to get complaints about the treats makes me question the treats and the companies selling them. Just since November, 2011 the FDA has received over 530 complaints from pet owners who say their dogs have become ill or died after eating jerky treats manufactured in China. With that many complaints, I would expect any ethical company to look at their products – products they’re having manufactured in a country with a questionable history in the food industry. Instead, this garbage can still be found on shelves everywhere.

It’s easy to sit behind our computers and cuss out the companies selling this crap, but that’s not going accomplish much. So here are a few suggestions on what we can all do to make some noise:

I know I’ll sound like a broken record, but I’ll say it again anyway, please don’t let your dogs eat jerky treats manufactured in China! Sure, your pet may be OK, but he may not. Just ask someone who lost their dog to jerky treats, or to tainted pet food in 2007, and they’ll tell you it’s just not worth it.

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