Chicken jerky treats are reportedly making some dogs ill, and some pets have even died. So far this year, the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine (FDA CVM) has received over 800 complaints of pets sickened due to jerky treats, according to Dr. Dan McChesney, director of the Office of Surveillance and Compliance at the FDA CVM.
The story began in June 2011 when several Canadian veterinarians reported dogs starting to display symptoms of kidney disease associated with the treats made in China. Actually, concerns and calls for recalls date back to 2007,
Of course, some cases are not substantiated, and other pets may have been affected but their owners never complained or associated a pet's problem with the treats, McChesney notes. In any case, he concedes there's clearly an apparent issue with chicken jerky treats.
So what exactly is going on? Despite working very hard to determine the answer -- even visiting Chinese manufacturing plants -- the FDA CVM and additional independent experts have come up empty. Therein lies the problem. The U.S government isn't legally allowed to stop companies from distributing products, or suggesting a recall without solid justification. Some people argue that deaths and illness -- even though the cause is mysterious -- is reason enough.
Duane Ekedahl, president of the Washington-D.C. based Pet Food Institute, points out that most pets have no apparent affect after eating chicken jerky treats, aside from a wagging tail.
That was hardly the experience of Terry Safranek, of Brooklyn Heights, OH. She's confident that Waggin' Train Chicken Jerky Tenders caused her best friend, Sampson's, death Jan. 13. Nestle Purina PetCare, which make the treats, has done nothing, despite many complaints, and nearly 63,000 signatures on Safranek's Change.org petition. However, clearly stated on Waggin' Train website are the FDA's concerns about such products. (below is cut 'n pasted from the site)
In February, I wrote about how U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio tried to intercede, so that the problem with the treats could be nailed down and the product removed from store shelves. He was unsuccessful.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine answers questions regarding chicken jerky treats HERE.
McChesney suggested frustration at not finding the source of the presumed problem, which appears to seriously affect some dogs and not others. After all, chicken jerky treats are a pretty straight forward product - there isn't much to it. Still, something must not be right.
Perhaps the best tool to solve this problem this issue is the old supply-and-demand model. If demand dissipates, chicken jerky suppliers will be far more motivated to correct the problem. While I realize most pets suffer no ill effects from the treats, what if it's your pet that gets sick?
Is buying chicken jerky really that important? Call it a boycott if you like, but I think it's less risky to choose an alternative treat.
Tags: boycott chicken jerky dog treats, chicken jerky treats, Dr. Dan McChesneyl, Duane Ekedah, FDA-CVM, Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine, Nestle Purina, Pet Food Institute, Steve Dale archives, Terry Safranek, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, Waggin' Train Chicken Jerky Tenders