FDA investigating potential link between chicken jerky dog treats from China and spate of pet illnesses

china-dog-treats-linked-illnessWith thousands of reports of illnesses suffered by pet dogs in the U.S. already on the record and some new cases being reported as recently as last month, federal health officials said this week they’ll begin to investigate a possible link between the illnesses and dog treats processed and shipped from China.

Pet owners across the country believe that chicken jerky-style treats imported from China by some of the biggest purveyors of dog and pet treats in the U.S. are responsible for a spate of illnesses affecting thousands of pets in the last five years. Among the 2,674 reports of illness suffered by dogs believed to be caused by a contaminated chicken jerky treat are at least 501 pet deaths.

These treats are made with Chinese chickens and this particular poultry has never been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for sale domestically. The agency maintains its concern over the safety and sanitary conditions at China-based processing facilities and believes that chicken imported from the East could be infected with “bird flu” and other diseases. 

While the companies responsible for the suspect treats maintain that their products are safe and not responsible for the thousands of illnesses reported since 2007 in the U.S., the FDA said recently that it will begin to investigate a possible link between the products and the sick pets. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the FDA is tapping “toxicologists, epidemiologists, microbiologists, forensic chemists, and veterinary researchers to investigate whether the treats could be causing dogs to suffer Fanconi syndrome. The report notes that Fanconi syndrome is marked by a failure of the kidneys and progressive kidney dysfunction.

Meanwhile, the FDA has stopped well short of confirming that the chicken jerky treats are responsible for the illnesses to American dogs, mostly. The agency and makers of these treats have not offered any alternatives as to what may be causing these pets to be stricken with illness. Therefore, the agency has been hamstrung and not been able to order any recalls on potentially contaminated or suspected tainted dog treats in the U.S.

The agency has identified specific products which it believes could be linked to the illnesses. None of the companies are willing to budge from keeping their products on store shelves until any form of confirmation between them and the illnesses are established. The report identifies the following companies and the brand names of chicken jerky dog treats which are under the FDA microscope:  Milo’s Kitchen, a division of Del Monte Foods Co.; Dogswell, the brand for Arthur Dogswell LLC; Smokehouse Pet Products Inc., owned by California-based Aries Prepared Beef Co.; Nestle SA’s Waggin’ Train; and Kingdom Pets, a brand of California-based Globalinx Pet LLC.

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