Here we go again.
I just heard through the grapevine that Waggin Train Chicken Jerky Treats could be back on store shelves in time for Christmas 2013. Purina began importing the treats again in October, suggesting (though unconfirmed) that they are satisfied they have “fixed the problem” that caused the deaths of more than 580 dogs and sickened 3,000 more since 2007. Except, the shipments of treats since October are still coming from China, and as we’ve been taught by experience, “fixed the problem” and “coming from China” are contradictions.
I’m not buying it, and I’m not buying the treats, and I hope for your pet’s sake you will not buy them either. The best gift you can give your dog for Christmas this year is his life.
Several manufacturers of Chicken Jerky treats made in China voluntarily recalled their products in February of this year. They made the decision based on FDA findings of trace residue of illegal antibiotics in the treats. The FDA told the public that the antibiotics were nothing to be concerned about, and they issued a statement that they didn’t think that the residue was responsible for pet sickness or death, but they weren’t ruling it out. The manufacturers said that they were just pulling the treats as a precaution.
But…the devil is in the details.
I’ve been covering this story since a family in Cleveland went to the media about their dog who they claimed died after eating Waggin Train treats. As the story got out, more and more pet owners came forward who had sick or dead pets and who all had one thing in common: Chicken Jerky from China.
It’s been a long, sordid ordeal. I’m not going to recap it all here, but you can catch up on how the story progressed if you read my series of posts in the Special Woof Reports section. I’m not trying to vilify Purina or any other pet treat manufacturer, but they really need to get off the Chinese bandwagon if they have any hope of staying solvent. Pet owners did not take the Chicken Jerky Debacle lying down, and they are not through fighting. There was a time when I really trusted Purina — but then they were bought out by Nestle, a company that has a dubious reputation when it comes to caring about the health and well-being of consumers.
Susan Thixton, author of “The Truth About Pet Food”, just uncovered a troubling discrepancy in the FDA findings about the chicken jerky treats. The ‘trace’ amounts of antibiotic residue that they reported in February don’t match the findings as reported by the New York laboratory that did the actual testing. The discrepancy looks like this:
The FDA told the public that the NY lab had found Sulfaquinoxaline below the legal tolerance…but the NY lab reported that they found several treats which had exceeded the Sulfaquinoxaline legal tolerance…and the same proved true of the other drugs.
Now, before you get stuck on the words “several treats”, you need to understand exactly what the laboratory was testing. They were not testing a gajillion treats as they came into the country. They were testing the leftover treats that pet owners had provided them after their pets had become sick or had died.
The Sufaquinoxaline results were just one of 6 antibiotics found. The antibiotics in the treats are the types used in farm animals such as chickens and pigs to ward off certain diseases. There are thousands of chicken suppliers in China, yet Purina would have us believe that they have ‘fixed’ the problem with the Chinese suppliers. Wouldn’t that mean that the farmers would have to stop or change the antibiotics? Where’s the proof that’s happened? If you are thinking that the FDA is overseeing that, you’re mistaken.
Remember where I mentioned above how the FDA said they didn’t think the antibiotics and the sicknesses/deaths were related? Let’s go over a few of the facts again:
- Some pet owners reported that they fed their dog one treat and the dog died.
- Some pet owners reported that their pets had eaten several treats from a bag and suffered no symptoms, then suddenly fell ill or died.
- Some pet owners reported that they had more than one pet sharing a bag of treats, and one pet became ill or died, and the other was fine.
- Some pet owners reported that multiple pets had become ill while sharing a bag of treats.
- Many of the pets who died (opposed to those who were just sickened) were small.
Not related? Then why does the following statement from Robert Sheridan, Chemist for New York State Department of Agriculture appear to completely substantiate pet owners’ accounts of what happened?
“In all we found six antibiotics including Sulfaclozine, Sulfaquinoxaline, Sulfamethoxazole, Tilmicosin, Trimethoprim and Enrofloxacin. The concentrations of these drugs ranged from 1.0 to 2000 ng/g (ppb). Not every jerky treat contained one of these drugs and many contained more than one. Almost every bag had several pieces that contained at least one of the six drugs. (Sulfaquinoxaline is approved by FDA to be used in chickens bound for consumption as long as residues in chicken meat are below a set level. Several jerky treats with that antibiotic exceeded the FDA maximum allowable level. The other drugs are not allowed by FDA at any concentration in chicken.)”
– Robert Sheridan, Chemist for New York State Department of Agriculture …(bold added)
That would be some kind of crazy coincidence.
And then there’s this little snippet of information from several health sites about Fanconi Syndrome, the consistent diagnosis of the pets who became sick or died from eating Chicken Jerky: ingesting certain expired antibiotics can cause acquired Fanconi Syndrome.
More than 4.5 million pounds of jerky treats are on their way from China to U.S. pet stores — maybe in time for holiday gift giving. Don’t make this your pet’s last Christmas — there are plenty of other safe treats on the market.