I will begin with the take home sentence first: Don't buy chicken jerky treats. Call it a boycott - if you like.
I just don't understand how it's worth the risk when the only benefit of chicken jerky treats is that dogs like them. There is no compelling nutrtional benefit. And the risk - though relatively small, by all accounts, is that your dog can get sick and may die.
I received one email: "I understand that the there's a minimal risk, but my dog really enjoys chicken jerky treats."
My email back read: "Your dog may even more enjoy chicken jerky treats you can make yourself, or baby carrots, or any of literally hundreds of manufactured dog treats - some have nutritional and/or dental benefits. You don't Need to feed your dog chicken jerky treats!"
So, what's at issue? Well, though most dogs chow down the treats, from Chna, with no discernible problem - a small percent get sick, and some of those dogs die (of kidney related issues).
So far this year, the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine (FDA CVM) has received well 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. There's no recall on the products (which I will explain), but the FDA CVM has issued a warning and more recently, in June of this year offers Questions & Answers about chicken jerky treats.
Of course, some complaints are not substantiated, but other pets may have been affected but their owners never complained or associated a pet's problem with the treats, McChesney concedes there's clearly an apparent issue with chicken jerky treats.
In June 2011 several Canadian veterinarians reported dogs starting to display symptoms of kidney disease associated with the treats made in China and by Fall of last year the issue heated up in the U.S., again. Actually, concerns about Chinese-made treats date back to 2007. Five years ago - and nothing has been done.
Though the FDA remains mystified, some contend the FDA CVM have done all they can to determine the problem, even sending an inspector and expert to China. Others - such as truthaboutpetfood.com - suggests the FDA CVM should be doing much more.
Because the FDA CVM has not found anything definitive - they can't legally suggest a voluntary recall.
In her healthypets blog Dr. Karen Becker wondered out loud if the FDA is even up to the task of figuring out what's going wrong with the treats. It made me think, in the 2007 pet food recall, it was a pet food company and as I recall a lab in Canada and another in the U.S. that contributed to determine cause. It wasn't the FDA.
I believe an effective boycott would motivate those who make the chicken jerky treats to either find a solution themselves (as the pet food company did in 2007) or to decide to stop selling the product - either way, I'm all for it because meanwhile, more pets won't be sickened, at least yours won't be if you're not buying the product.
Maybe a real boycott could be even a more motivating solution than lawsuits.
A class action lawsuit claims Chinese-made treats sold by Del Monte subsidiary Milo’s Kitchen kills dogs and make them sick. The Milo’s Kitchen class action lawsuit was filed by dog-owner Lisa Mazur, says her healthy 7-year-old dog, Riley Rae, suffered kidney failure and had to be euthanized after being fed Milo’s Kitchen Chicken Jerky Dog Treats.
Mazur claims the only change in Riley Rae’s diet was during January 2012 when she fed the Chicken Jerky Dog Treats to her dog “on occasion.” On February 1, Riley Ray became ill and was taken to the veterinarian, where she was diagnosed with kidney failure. Riley Rae was administered intravenous fluids for four days without improvement, forcing Mazur to euthanize her on February 5.
Defendants’ packaging did not warn of any dangers from feeding its content to dogs… [and] the warning is downplayed” on the Milo’s Kitchen website, the class action lawsuit says. (According to Del Monte’s annual report, the corporation generated approximately $3.7 billion in net sales in fiscal 2012. Their pet food and pet snacks brands include well-known household brands such as Meow Mix, Kibbles ‘n Bits, Milk-Bone, 9Lives, Pup-Peroni, Gravy Train, Nature’s Recipe, Canine Carry Outs, Milo’s Kitchen and other brand names).
Also, a few months back, Edelman, Combs, Latturner & Goodwin, LLC of Chicago, IL filed the first class action lawsuit against Waggin' Train Jerky Treats and Walmart. They represent plantiff Dennis Adkins, "on behalf of all consumers who purchased certain dog treats manufactured, marketed, distributed or sold by defendants Nestle Purina Petcare Co.
With more lawsuits potentially on the way, by all accounts, this only prompts notifications of further warnings on websites (if we do this or this we'll cover our you know whats). For example, check out the warning on the Waggin' Train site. Also, on the same website: "The quality and safety of our products are our top priorities, because everything we do is focused on keeping pets happy and healthy."
Bottom line, the products with the same problems are still being sold to whoever buys them. I suggest you not buy them. And then, at least in your home, problem solved.
Tags: boycott chicken jerky dog treats, chicken jerky treats, Dr. Dan McChesney, Dr. Karen Becker, FDA-CVM, Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine, Lisa Mazur, Milo's Kitchen, Riley Rae, Steve Dale, Steve Dale archives, truthaboutpetfood.com, Waggin' Train