Waggin Train Treats – a Purina Pet Food brand – has a dedicated website in defense of their jerky treats imported from China. This new website – www.chickenjerkyfacts.com – offers consumers a ‘Myths vs. Facts’ page. Here’s what ‘they’ say, and here is our facts.
The Purina website states there “are several misperceptions related to chicken jerky dog treats. We know you want to be able to distinguish fact from fiction.” Yes, we do want to know the facts, however it doesn’t appear ChickenJerkyFacts.com provides all the facts.
“Fact: The FDA has not requested a chicken jerky dog treat recall related to these reported illnesses. The FDA does caution pet owners that dog treats should be fed as part of a healthy and balanced diet and should not be fed as a replacement for main meals.”
Our Fact: Purina (Waggin Train), DelMonte (Milo’s Kitchen), Dogswell, and others could issue a recall or product pull out of precaution – but none have bothered to do so. Hundreds of thousands of signatures on petitions from consumers have asked them to do something – but not one has. The FDA states: “There is nothing preventing a company from conducting a voluntary recall. It is important to understand that unless a contaminant is detected and we have evidence that a product is adulterated, we are limited in what regulatory actions we can take. The regulations don’t allow for products to be removed based on complaints alone.”
The FDA has specifically stated these treats are a risk. “The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is again cautioning consumers that chicken jerky products for dogs (also sold as chicken tenders, strips or treats) may be associated with illness in dogs.”
“Fact: The FDA has said that chicken jerky products are still safe dog treats and should not be substituted for a balanced diet and are intended to be fed occasionally in small quantities and as part of their healthy diet.”
Our Fact: I could find no mention – anywhere on the FDA website – of Purina’s claim “the FDA has said that chicken jerky products are still safe dog treats”. To the contrary, the FDA has stated “The signs (of illness) that may be associated with jerky pet treat products include decreased appetite; decreased activity; vomiting; diarrhea, sometimes with blood; increased water consumption and/or increased urination. These signs may occur within hours to days of feeding the products.” And “FDA is advising consumers who choose to feed their dogs chicken jerky products to watch their dogs closely for any or all of the following signs that may occur within hours to days of feeding the products: decreased appetite; decreased activity; vomiting; diarrhea, sometimes with blood; increased water consumption and/or increased urination.” Again, there is no mention on the FDA website of Purina’s Waggin Train claim the FDA has said that chicken jerky products are still safe dog treats – none.
“Fact: There has been extensive testing done by the FDA and others over several years. The FDA has used a wide variety of experts at the FDA including toxicologists, epidemiologists, veterinary researchers, forensic chemists, microbiologists, field investigators and senior agency officials. To date, the FDA has not been able to find a definitive cause for reported illnesses.”
Our Fact: The FDA has stated they have “been actively investigating the cause of illness in pets reported in association with the consumption of chicken jerky products.” As well, the FDA states “samples have been tested by FDA laboratories, by the Veterinary Laboratory Response Network (Vet-LRM), and by other animal health diagnostic laboratories in the U.S. for multiple chemical and microbiological contaminants.” I could find no mention on the FDA website of Purina’s claim that “toxicologists, epidemiologists, veterinary researchers, forensic chemists, microbiologists” have been involved in the investigation. Perhaps the FDA has privately informed Purina of these experts involved, the public has not been privy to this information.
“Fact: Irradiation is a common process used for many human and pet food products to eliminate various naturally occurring microbes. Many chicken jerky products for dogs are irradiated through a process approved for pet food by the FDA. There is no link between the irradiation process and the reported illnesses in pets. A similar irradiation process is used in sterilizing many food items for humans, such as spices, apples and tomatoes.”
Our Fact: What Purina neglected to share is human foods that are treated with irradiation receive far lower levels. Per the Code of Federal Regulations, animal food, animal treats and chews are allowed levels up to 50 kiloGrays.
Human foods on the other hand are treated with much lower levels; “3 kiloGrays for fresh shell eggs to eliminate salmonella, for instance.”
Our Fact: FDA’s Dr. Dan McChesney stated to industry in October 2012 “On average, about 40 complaints regarding chicken jerky are filed every week when there is little to no press coverage occurring,” he said. “The number of reports per week raises drastically whenever the media turns it’s attention to the issue, however.” Dr. McChesney also stated “there’s clearly an apparent issue with chicken jerky treats.”
Purina and all other importers of pet treats from China: Do the right thing – remove the treats until they are proven safe.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author, Buyer Beware
Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
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