It’s official. Del Monte and Nestle Purina have both announced that they will have their chicken jerky treats back on store shelves in March. It’s been a year since they ‘voluntarily’ recalled the tainted treats after the FDA found illegal antibiotics in them.
(See part 9 above.)
Neither manufacturer has admitted any wrongdoing, and they aren’t likely to, since multiple lawsuits have been brought against them by consumers. Any admission of guilt could cost them millions.
As for the FDA, although they discovered the drugs in the chicken jerky, they’ve stopped short of blaming the antibiotics for the deaths and illnesses of thousands of dogs. But just because they don’t say it, doesn’t mean it isn’t so. The FDA maintains that although it appears there is a link between the chicken jerky imported from China and the illnesses and deaths of pets, they have not been able to name a culprit.
Blah blah blah.
Unable to name a specific cause, the FDA is unable (or unwilling) to keep the treats off of store shelves, and Nestle and Del Monte have been planning a huge rollout.
So, what have the two treat manufacturers been up to, and what are they saying about the treats? Del Monte (makers of Milo’s Kitchen Chicken Jerky and Chicken Grillers) says they will be sourcing all of their meat for their chicken grillers in the U.S.
This information is telling. It suggests, at least on the surface, that Del Monte knows (or suspects) that there is a problem with producing the treats overseas, and that the problem is in the meat supply chain.
(And here’s a warm and fuzzy thought: the USDA has recently OK’d the sale of chicken imported from China for human consumption. You might want to rethink keeping chicken as part of your diet!)
Nestle Purina (makers of Waggin’ Train Chicken Jerky) Pet Care officials say they will be reintroducing chicken jerky treats sourced entirely in the U.S. and other jerky treats sourced and made from a single supplier in China. But guess who the supplier in China is? Simmons Foods – the parent company of Simmons Pet Foods (remember all the pets that died in 2007 as a result of melamine poisoning by Menu foods? Guess who owns them?)!
Don’t be fooled by the new packaging! Purina’s Waggin Train treats are being re-imaged. They will be Smoky Jerky Snacks, Jerky Duos and Chicken Jerky Tenders. The new packages also indicate pet size, with none of them recommended for dogs under 5 lbs, and the jerky tenders not recommended for dogs under 11 pounds. Are you wondering why that disclaimer is significant? Because although thousands of pets got sick from the treats, most of the fatalities were small dogs.
Meanwhile, with major brands off the shelves, pet parents have been turning to brands they can trust, and instead of giving their dogs Purina and Milo’s jerky, they’ve been making their own, or feeding trusted brands like Zukes, who source ingredients and manufacture in the U.S.
But while the world slept…Nestle acquired Zukes! I guess it makes good business sense; when a competitor is selling product and you are not; when the competitor is trusted and you are not; when the competitor is small and you are not; buy them out.
While Zukes maintains that their treats will be the same superior quality, consumers are wary. Zukes’s Facebook page is full of comments calling them ‘sell-outs’ and making it clear that the buyout is creating distrust in the product because the foxes are watching the hen house….and not so much metaphorically.
So, what does the reappearance of Waggin Train and Milo’s Kitchen mean to your pets? Veterinarians, pet parents, and pet food safety advocates warn us not to be duped into a false sense of security. The FDA hasn’t come to a definitive conclusion, and without that, and without any admission of guilt, Chicken Jerky manufacturers are only guessing as they make changes to their process. How sure do you think they are that their products are safe, if they are including weight disclaimers on their new packages?
There are still too many unanswered questions to make feeding the treats to your pet anything less than a crap shoot.
Your pet’s safety is in your hands. Be wary, be safe, be sure. Be smart.