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Jerky Dog Treats from China: What You Need to Know

By: Maria Ringo

For a number of years Americans have been submitting complaints to the government over potentially dangerous jerky dog treats originating from China.  Thousands of illnesses and deaths of U.S. dogs have been reported. Yet it appears that we are not any closer to solving this problem .

Amid growing concerns that these products are causing serious illness amongst dogs in the U.S. and Australia, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently sent inspectors to manufacturing sites in China to investigate. However  these inspectors were not allowed to conduct their food tests using their own protocol.   According to a recent article from NBC News, “Chinese officials stipulated that FDA officials could collect samples only if they agreed to specific conditions, including a requirement that the samples be tested in Chinese-run laboratories.”

In June, I wrote an article for Dogs Naturally Magazine about the unfathomable trend of Pet Food Recalls. In it, I discuss the harsh reality that pet foods aren’t subject to the strict controls and testing applied to grains, meats, and other food products meant for human consumption.  It is likely that the jerky treats currently under suspicion are contaminated somehow.

Unfortunately, the problem is not limited to jerky but also duck and sweet potato treats as well. Despite customers widely voicing their fears, FDA officials have said they can’t force a recall based solely on customer complaints. So, are we to stand idly by as our dogs consume potentially harmful treats without measured intervention by federal authorities?

In November of last year, the FDA released a statement cautioning dog owners against chicken jerky products imported from China. A preliminary notification from the FDA was actually posted late in 2008.

Even with numerous complaints, reported illnesses, dog deaths, FDA statements and investigations, these jerky dog treats still line the shelves at your local grocery store. The FDA states that,

“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. […] Currently, FDA continues to urge pet owners to use caution with regard to jerky pet treat products.”

This issue with jerky treats highlights the need to fight our own ignorance. Pet owners must learn more about where their pet food comes from. It is the responsibility of pet owners to learn how to read labels and understand the ingredients in pet food. When you know what an ingredient really is and have a better understanding of where it came from, you will be better able to avoid foods that could potentially harm your pet.

Learn to read labels. Ask the right questions. Understand where you pet’s food comes from.