Manufacturer Food Withdrawls, Product Pulls, Summaries of “Class I” FDA Recalls
& State Agriculture Dept. Consumer Advisories
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CVM Notification:FDA Continues to Caution Dog Guardians About Imported Chicken Jerky Products
Original Post/ Background & Summary;
18 November 2011:Multiple Updates Below:
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 with the development of Fanconi-like syndrome in dogs who have been fed the treats on a regular basis. In the last 12 months, an increase in the number of complaints reported to the FDA by dog guardians and veterinarians appear to be associated with consumption of chicken jerky products imported from China.
In June 2011, the Canadian Veterinary Medicine Association (CVMA) notified the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) of an increase in reports from several of its provinces of a canine kidney affliction mimicking the genetic disease Fanconi syndrome; AVMA transmitted the advisory to US veterinarians. The FDA had issued a cautionary warning regarding chicken jerky products to consumers in September 2007 and a Preliminary Animal Health Notification in December of 2008; in 2011, US complaints have risen dramatically. FDA warns that chicken jerky products should not be substituted for a balanced diet and are intended to be fed occasionally in small quantities.
Fanconi syndrome is a disorder in which the proximal renal tubules of the kidney do not properly reabsorb electrolytes and nutrients back into the body, but instead "spill" them in the urine. This can lead to an early misdiagnosis of diabetes. However, while both Fanconi syndrome and diabetes show glucose in the urine, only diabetes shows glucose in the blood. Symptoms include polydipsia (excessive drinking), polyuria (excessive urination), and glucosuria (glucose in the urine). Although most dogs appear to recover with veterinary intervention, without treatment, muscle wasting, acidosis (increased acidity of the blood and other tissues), and renal (kidney) failure will also prevail; followed by death.
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. If your dog shows any of these signs, stop using the product. Owners should consult their veterinarian if signs are severe or persist for more than 24 hours. Blood tests may indicate renal (kidney) failure (increased urea nitrogen and creatinine); urine tests may indicate acquired Fanconi syndrome (increased glucose).
There have been two prior clusters of acquired Fanconi-like syndrome in dogs. The 2007 US cases were linked to melamine contamination of treats that were manufactured in China. In 2009, a number of cases in Australia were linked to the consumption of chicken treats or dental chews made with corn, soy and rice; subsequent to product recalls, incidence of the syndrome declined.
FDA states that it is working with animal health diagnostic laboratories in the U.S. on chemical and microbial testing to investigate, but have been unable to determine a definitive cause for the illnesses, (except that all the affected dogs were fed imported chicken jerky treats). Nevertheless, at least one recent report offers epidemiological evidence of a causal link involving regular consumption of chicken jerky treats. FDA asks that consumers report problems with chicken jerky or other treats to their state's FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator, or go to: http://www.fda.gov/petfoodcomplaints.
19 February 2015 Update: FDA Issues Update on Jerky Pet Treat Investigation Under continuing criticism, the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) posted that it has received approximately 5,000 complaints of illness associated with consumption of chicken, duck, or sweet potato jerky treats, most of which involve products imported from China. The reports involve more than 5800 dogs, 25 cats, three people, and include more than 1,000 canine deaths.
These numbers include approximately 270 complaints received since the FDA’s last update in May 2014. Citing this “significant decrease from the previous period (October 2013 to May 2014),” in which the FDA had received 1,800 complaints, the agency disclosed that it was planning to shift from biannual routine reporting to issuing annual updates. Adding that “This shift in reporting cycles does not mean that the FDA is reducing its effort to investigate the cause of these illnesses,” adding that it would continue to work with its Vet-LIRN (Library and Information Resources Network) partners to collect and analyze information as may become available, and encouraging dog guardians to report suspected illness or injury to the agency through its reporting portal, since “each report is valuable and becomes part of the body of knowledge that helps to inform our investigation.” “The FDA continues to devote significant resources to its investigation,” the statement concluded, and to continued derision of its critics, commented that it “...continues to believe that there is an association between some of the reports and consumption of jerky pet treats.”
16 May 2014 Update: Insect Repellent, Antiviral drug Detected in Jerky Treats; CVM Progress Update Independent testing of Chinese-made chicken jerky products has found N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide (known as DEET: used topically to repel biting insects; also used as an insecticide) in samples obtained through a survey of US veterinarians coordinated by the Veterinary Information Network, beginning in early 2013. Also detected was the antiviral drug amantadine, used in Asian poultry agriculture as a prophylactic against avian influenza. The samples were collected from veterinarians whose patients became ill after eating the treats and sent for analysis to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYSDAM) Food Laboratory in Albany. A veterinary pathologist with VIN observed: “The clinical significance is unknown … but the illegal residues tell us is that we have a contaminated food source.” The researchers are seeking more samples.
During routine sampling of retail products in January 2013, NYSDAM detected illegal antibiotics in pet treats containing chicken imported from China. The discovery led to recalls of jerky and related treats for dogs, including leading brands sold by Nestlé Purina PetCare Co. and Del Monte Corp., (now named Big Heart Pet Brands: a Phillipines-based company that purchased Del Monte’s consumer products division). Those Purina and Big Heart Pet brands— Waggin’ Train®, Canyon Creek Ranch® and Milo’s Kitchen®— have since returned to the market.
Also on 14 May 2013, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a new update to its ongoing jerky treat investigation. The agency’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) has now been researching this issue for more than seven years (see: updates below). With 1,800 additional case reports since October 2013, the FDA has reports involving more than 5,600 dogs falling ill after consuming jerky treats containing chicken, duck, or sweet potato imported from China; including 24 cats, three people, and include more than 1,000 canine deaths. Because humans have now been injured by the treats in 3 separate incidents (both domestic and imported treats), the FDA is now partnering with the US Center for Disease Control (DCD) to further its investigation. Among its focus will be a “control study” comparing foods eaten by sick dogs with foods eaten by dogs that do not get sick, to determine whether sick dogs are eating more jerky treats than healthy dogs. The FDA has completed a project to adapt the NYSDAM method to its own field laboratories for future testing, regulatory and enforcement purposes.
The FDA stated that about 60% of the cases report gastrointestinal liver disease; 30% kidney or urinary disease; and the remainder, a range including convulsions, tremors, hives and, dermatologic and immunologic symptoms. Of the kidney and urinary cases, about 15% tested positive for Fanconi syndrome (see: above). FDA testing of jerky pet treats from China that were available a year ago has also revealed the presence of the drug amantadine in samples containing chicken. Although presently the FDA does not believe that amantadine contributed to any reported illnesses “because the known side effects or adverse events associated with amantadine do not seem to correlate with the symptoms seen in the jerky pet treat-related cases,” it has notified Chinese authorities (and certain US manufacturers) that it represents an adulterant, and therefore subject to FDA intervention in the marketplace. Food safety advocates are critical that the FDA notified manufacturers, but did not order a recall. Amantadine was prohibited in the United States in 2006 for use in poultry. It is used legally in an extralabel manner in dogs for pain control, and for treatment of Parkinson’s disease in people. DEET was not among the FDA findings, as it was not part of their testing; FDA will now test both imported and domestic jerky pet treats for amantadine and other antivirals.
Following an October 2013 request for veterinarians to share case information (the “Dear Veterinarian Letter”), the FDA fielded many well-documented case reports; pursuant to which the agency perfomed necropsies (post-mortem examinations) on 26 dogs, half of which it identified as possibly linked to jerky treat consumption. Eleven of the dogs displayed symptoms of kidney disease. The agency has not completed an update to its online case spreadsheets. FDA asks that should a pet die from consuming the jerky treats, to donate the body in order for FDA scientists to research: “...having the chance to examine tissues may fill gaps in information that can help us pinpoint a cause for the reports of injury and death.”FDA states that “Chinese authorities have assured us that they will perform additional screening and will follow up with jerky pet treat manufacturers.”
Chicken Jerky Treats Returning to Market Nestlé Purina Petcare Co. (St. Louis, MO) in January announced its Waggin’ Train® chicken jerky treats will be returned to the market in February. The China-made treats were withdrawn in January 2013 after the NY State Department of Agriculture & Markets (NYSDAM) found trace amounts of unapproved antibiotic residue during routine sampling of consumer products (the antibiotics are permitted by Chinese and European Union regulators). Since that time, Nestlé Purina has defended the products as safe, and import documents indicate new shipments began several months ago. The federal class-action lawsuit from consumers who allege the treats caused their dogs harm (see: 13 July 2012 Update, below)
Nestlé Purina bought the Waggin’ Train business in 2010, when it was the fastest growing maker of dog jerky treats, with $200 million in annual sales that had risen 30% over the previous year.
Nestlé Purina executives have met with FDA representatives at least 3 times over 2013, but the subject of discussion remains “confidential.” The company has overhauled its manufacturing process, and will introduce a parallel product made in the US. Food safety advocates are critical of its declaration (on a revamped website): “Waggin’ Train has worked hard to strengthen our already strict quality controls,” and among numerous issues, note that fraudulently labeled industrial strength glycerin was found in the Chinese manufacturing plant (see: 23 May 2012 and 20 August 2012 updates, below). For the China-made lines, Nestlé Purina states it will now test for common adulterants and prohibited antibiotics: “Purina has further enhanced our product testing. We test each batch of our Waggin’ Train Chicken Jerky Tenders for Salmonella, melamine, di-ethylene glycol and antibiotics. Additional routine testing includes assessing for heavy metals, pesticides and mycotoxins.”China-made treats will continue to be irradiated.Irradiation is used to treat possible contamination with microorganisms, bacteria, viruses, or insect infestations: “All Waggin’ Train products go through many strict product quality steps based on a thorough food safety risk assessment. Products coming from China spend several weeks in transit. The irradiation process and level approved for pet food by the FDA is an extra step taken
to ensure product quality.”
Food irradiation (ionizing radiation sterilization) exposes food to the equivalent of millions of chest X-rays. Ionizing radiation strips electrons out of atoms and creates free radicals that interact with components in the food ingredients. The radiolytic byproducts created may be toxic (benzene, formaldehyde, lipid peroxides: discovered in beef); since they can damage DNA beyond its ability to repair, break-down cell membranes, and interrupt enzymic cell pathways. Certain radiolytic byproducts may be unique to irradiated foods, such that the impact of long-term exposure is unknown. According to consumer watch groups, studies on animals fed irradiated foods have shown increased tumors, reproductive failures and kidney damage.
Nestlé Purina now cautions consumers that the treats are “not recommended for puppies or adult dogs under 5 pounds.” According to Nestlé Purina, “New Waggin’ Train® Chicken Jerky Tenders are made with real white meat chicken in China, where we now source our chicken exclusively from a single, trusted chicken supplier, which is part of a U.S.-based company.” The supplier is Simmons Foods, (Siloam Springs, AR: parent company of Simmons Pet Foods). Simmons Foods purchased Menu Foods (Menu Foods Income Fund: Toronto, ON, Canada) in August, 2010. Menu Foods issued a US nation-wide recall for dozens of brands of dog and cat foods produced at two of its facilities between December 3, 2006, and March 6, 2007. Because there is no centralized reporting database, the full extent of pet illness and death caused by contaminated food is not determinable, but the FDA received reports of the deaths of at least 1950 cats and 2200 dogs.
In what appears to be breaking new ground in the consumer-manufacturer relationship, Nestlé uses contract language to disclaim responsibility for statements about its new jerky treats: “Any use of this site constitutes your acceptance of the Terms and Conditions set out herein. While we use reasonable attempts… we are not responsible if the information that we make available on this website is not accurate or complete. Any reliance upon the material on this website shall be at your own risk. You agree that it is your responsibility to monitor any changes to the material and the information contained on this website.”
Kato: mulling whether to enter the fray...
21 January 2014 Update: AVMA Resolution
on Jerky Treats Dies The House of Delegates of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), which enacts policies for its 85,000-member veterinary profession, failed to adopt a resolution that would have discouraged the feeding of jerky treats to pets at its winter session on 10 January in Chicago, IL. Appearing to be on its way to approval, the resolution was referred back to the AVMA Executive Board after discussion about the measure and after supporters failed to show up for the vote. Reports suggest that comments by FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) Director Dr. Bernadette Dunham on the contamination issue appeared to weaken support for the resolution.
The petition, submitted by more than 100 veterinarians, signified anxiety that the FDA has received more than 4,500 complaints of pet illness and nearly 600 deaths linked to the ingestion of jerky treats. The FDA has cautioned pet owners for years about a “potential association” between the treats and the illnesses but—after more than five years of testing—not yet a warning to avoid them. The petition had asked the AVMA to adopt a position statement discouraging the feeding of jerky pet treats and to prominently utilize a display and notification summary similar to the requirements reflected in Section 211 of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (2011).
“Resolution 2: 2013” states in part, “Adulterants have been found in jerky pet treats, and to mitigate the risk that the pet may become sick and potentially die from ingesting them, the AVMA discourages the feeding of jerky pet treats until further information on their safety is available. The FDA has issued warnings against consumption but never issued a government enforced recall of these products. Therefore, there is no process in place to prevent further sale of these products at this time. These products are currently labeled “USDA inspected,” “wholesome,” “all natural,” and in some instances “organic,” which may be misleading to the lay public. The public places a great deal of trust in the accuracy of labeling and in organizations such as the FDA and AVMA to safeguard the public health of all consumers.”
Dr. Dunham was quoted as saying the jerky treat investigation “deserve(d) our best effort, and we are giving it.” Subsequent to discussion, AVMA David Kirkpatrick described that the resolution was rejected because “we don’t have the scientific proof to say, ‘Don’t do it.’” The resolution was referred back to the AVMA Executive Board with the following recommendation: rather than developing a policy, the AVMA encourage its members to provide input to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on incidents and conditions, which could be associated with pet food and treats; and continue to work with FDA to enhance efforts in safeguarding a healthy pet population through quality control of pet food and treats.
Food safety advocates note that FDA declined to provide details about discussions it has held with Nestle Purina (February, June, and December 2013) regarding the company’s quality control and testing methodologies.
22 October 2013 Update: FDA Releases Progress Report on Chinese Jerky Pet Treat Investigation.
The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) released today an update on its investigation into pet illnesses and deaths associated with jerky pet treats from China. The update includes a description of the extent of the agency’s testing and current findings, as well as a “Dear Veterinarian” letter and Fact Sheet for dog guardians to be posted in veterinary offices and retail outlets.
As of September 24, 2013, FDA has received more than 3600 complaints of dog illness related to consumption of chicken, duck, or sweet potato jerky treats, including more than 580 deaths. The cases range across dogs of all breeds, ages and sizes. The pace of the reported illnesses appears to have slowed since January, when certain products were recalled when routine testing by the NY State Department of Agriculture & Markets (NYSDAM) revealed trace amounts of prohibited antibiotic residue in several brands (see, Dog Food Recalls: 12 January 2013). While continuing to investigate the issue of antibiotics, FDA states that they believe that the drop in complaints is linked to a decrease in the availability of jerky treats themselves by two of the largest resellers. Del Monte pulled Milo's Kitchen® Chicken Jerky Treats and Chicken Grillers and Nestle-Purina recalled Waggin' Train® and Canyon Creek Ranch®dog treats. The report, however, did not address general supply-chain issues (other non-recalled brands source from the same China-based factories), and despite elevated consumer awareness, the agency continues to receive approximately
20 complaints per month.
The report explains the testing conducted by FDA:  Microbiological Testing: bacterial culture for Salmonella; bacterial enterotoxin; mold and yeast culture; mycotoxins;  Compositional Testing: physical characteristics evaluation; composition with glycerol content; Vitamin D content; DNA analysis;  Chemical Toxicology Testing: general screening for toxins on restricted list; heavy metals; glycols, (diethylene glycol-DEG; ethylene glycol-EG; propylene glycol-PEG; dihydroxyacetone (DHA); and 1,3 Propanediol); general screens for toxic compounds on restricted list; Glycerin metabolites (glycolic acid, diglycolic acid, and lactic acid); Sugar alcohols: xylitol (added in 2013), sorbitol (added in 2013), glycerol; Other organics: hexachlorobutadiene, paraquat, aristolochic acid, and oxalic acid (2013); Antibiotics: gentamicin, tetracycline degradation products, sulfonamides (sulfaclozine, sulfaquinoxaline), trimethoprim, enrofloxacin, tilmicosin; sulfamethoxazole, sulfamethazine, sulfadiazine, sulfathiazole, sulfanilamide, sulfadimethoxine, sulfasoxizole, chloramphenicol, and gatifloxacin (both added in 2013); Drugs: monensin, quinocetone, and additional forensic drug screen (list-restricted information); Biogenic amines: putrescine, cadaverine, histamine, agmatine, spermidine, and spermine; Phorbol esters: atropha curcas toxins; Additives/preservatives: nitrites, sulfites; Tanning agents: tannic acid and gallic acid; Flavoring agents: monosodium glutamate-MSG (added in 2013), malic acid, maleic acid, methyl-4-pentenoate (added in 2013), and fumaric acid (added in 2013); Illegal dye agents: Auramine, Bixin, Butter Yellow, Fast Garnet, Metanil Yellow, Orange II, Orange Oil SS, Para Red, Rhodamine B, Sudan Black B, Sudan I-IV G, Sudan Orange, Sudan Red 7B, Sudan Red B, Sudan Red G and Toluidine Red; Evaluation of Jerky Treat Irradiation (see discussion: 13 September 2012 Update, immediately below): Furan analysis, 2-dodecylcyclobutanone (2-DCB).
FDA has been investigating the issue since 2007, upon reports of dogs suffering gastrointestinal and kidney problems (including acquired Fanconi syndrome) after eating the popular jerky treats. Veterinary clinical pathologists tracking the problem state that the specific compound or food/chemical interaction responsible for the illnesses continues to elude experts. FDA testing has been inconclusive and disappointing, and although the agency would not acknowledge a connection between the drug residues identified in the NYSDAM reports and pet poisonings, they will likely examine the issue of sulfonamide hypersensitivity syndrome, and the possible effects of long-term exposure to low levels of these prohibited antibiotics. Now, in an open letter to US veterinarians, FDA officials are asking the vets to track and send detailed information about any animals sickened by jerky treats, including results of blood and urine tests. The agency is additionally asking that urine samples from suspect injured dogs be sent for detailed analysis. Once available, the testing will allow FDA to determine how many of the suspected cases involve Fanconi syndrome, whether or not the pets display symptoms of kidney or urinary disease.
The agency emphasized that confronting consumers is the issue that current regulations do not require manufacturers to disclose the country of origin for each ingredient used in their products, so packages that do not state on the label that they are made in another country may still contain ingredients sourced from China or other countries that export to the U.S.
Consumers and food saftety advocates have been sharply critical of the pace and focus of the FDA’s process, repeatedly calling for an order to remove the products from the market (see: July and August 2012 updates, below). But Martine Hartogensis, a deputy director for the CVM, stated in the report “In terms of doing a blanket recall, at this point we don’t have enough evidence to do a blanket recall within the authority that we have.”
09 January 2013 Update:FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) Reports Deaths of 501 Dogs
Linked to Consumption of Chicken Jerky Treats
Made in China.
A new tally of reports filed with federal veterinary health officials of the Food and Drug Administration shows the agency has received 2,674 reports of illness involving 3,243 dogs, including over 500 deaths. The FDA has been unable to confirm a link between the treats and the ailments. The new figures come less than a week after two of the largest vendors of chicken jerky treats issued recalls of several popular brands after New York state agriculture officials detected unapproved antibiotics in the products. See: 13 September 2012 Update, immediately below,
As part of its ongoing investigation, FDA is anticipated to reconstruct in its own labs the manufacturing process of jerky treats as it is done in China. At the present stage, FDA is understood to have made test jerky treats to determine a baseline (a foundation that represents the treats prior to treating food with a specific dosage of ionizing radiation: a treatment used to slow spoilage in agricultural goods by retarding enzymic action or destroying microorganisms). It is expected that FDA will irradiate these treats and re-test for comparison to the baseline batches, in order to explore how irradiation alters the treats. Chinese manufacturers irradiate jerky treats within the packaging. FDA is expected to investigate if the packaging affects the treats through irradiation, or if the desiccant within the package (generally silica gel, that helps to maintain dryness over extended storage periods) may cause contamination of treats (especially those treats closest to the desiccant package).
13 September 2012 Update:FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine Issues First Summary Report of Pet Deaths Linked to Chicken Jerky Treats.
The report confirms 360 dogs have died in the U.S. over the last 18 months after eating chicken jerky pet treats made in China, with claims of illnesses tied to the products over 2,200.The report includes (an oddly worded) suggestion that pet guardians might consider avoiding the products entirely. The treats are part of an estimated nearly 86 million pounds of pet food imported to the U.S. from China each year, which has grown 85-fold since 2003.
The report indicates that the FDA will begin testing treats to determine whether irradiation (ionizing radiation) of the products may have contributed to reports of treat-related problems ranging from diarrhea and vomiting to kidney failure, acquired Fanconi syndrome (see above) and death. Irradiation is a treatment used to slow spoilage in long-term stored agricultural goods by retarding enzymic action or destroying microorganisms. US regulations allow pet food, including pet treats, to be irradiated up to a maximum of 50 kiloGrays to provide microbial disinfection or elimination of other pathogens; (most foods for human consumption are limited to far lower levels: 1 kiloGray maximum for fresh foods and 3 kiloGrays for fresh shell eggs to eliminate salmonella; the upper limit is 30 kiloGrays for spices or dry dehydrated seasonings). In 2009, the Australian government halted irradiation used to sterilize cat food after reports of paralysis and other problems appeared to be linked to the process: 90 cats were sickened, of which 30 died, according to press reports.
It is unclear whether or how irradiation may contribute to illnesses in pets. The process is widely regarded as safe and even necessary by industry food safety experts. Consumer food safety advocates however, draw attention to that issue of necessity itself—and the high levels permitted for pet foods—as an indication of institutional problems within the sourcing processes for modern pet food manufacture. Nestlé Purina PetCare Co. confirmed that its Waggin' Train® products are irradiated. FDA officials indicated they would ask NASA—knowledgable about the effects of irradiated food—
for support in their analysis.
FDA indicates that chicken jerky treats are the fastest growing segment of the pet food market. Consumers question why the overwhelming volume of these types of products are sourced from China.The reasons are generally linked to profit metrics for the US vendors pursuing “least cost mix” protocols. Human consumption of poultry in China largely consists of dark meat of chicken, leaving a large amount of (thereby-devalued) light meat products available for low-cost export. Much of that has been funneled into pet treats, including pet jerky treats. The pet treat manufacturers have repeatedly insisted that their products remain safe to feed as directed. The FDA has so far been unable to identify a contaminant, and cannot recall products based on consumer complaints alone. Food safety advocates are especially critical of this limitation.
The agency sent inspectors to 5 China manufacturers of the treats in April (see: 20 August 2012 Update, immediately below), but the Chinese authority, the Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), refused to allow samples be analyzed outside of the country, insisting they be tested only in China. The FDA released inspection results for 4 of the 5 plants. FDA officials stated one firm had falsified receiving records for glycerin, a primary ingredient in jerky treat products (see: 23 May 2012 Update, immediately below). AQSIQ subsequently informed the FDA it had seized products and suspended their export until the problem was corrected. FDA officials would not reveal
20 August 2012 Update:FDA Releases Report of Inspections at China Manufacturing Plants.
In April, FDA investigators conducted inspections at 4 manufacturing sites in Liaocheng and Jinan, China that produce treats for Nestle Purina PetCare Co. (St. Louis, MO), including the popular Waggin’ Train® chicken jerky brand. However, China government officials did not allow US inspectors to collect and remove samples for independent analysis. Representatives from China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) stipulated that FDA officials could collect samples, but only pursuant to specific conditions: including a requirement that the samples be tested in Chinese government-run laboratories. As a result, no samples were collected.
The FDA reports just released, called Establishment Inspection Reports, trace the production of jerky treats from raw meat through final packaging. Food safety advocates note that the reports were heavily redacted (edited/blacked out). The reports indicate that the China plants conducted none or only periodic laboratory tests of the raw materials, including meat. NBC News quoted Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), who has been critical of the FDA: “They’re doing nothing of consequence.” Kucinich said that Chinese officials' refusal to release samples to U.S. inspectors should be grounds for banning the products from import, or, a mandatory recall. However, FDA officials continue to assert that they cannot order a recall based solely on customer complaints. A Hartford, CT woman who says her two Boston terriers died after eating tainted treats, calling on Nestle Purina to release samples to the FDA. Nestle Purina responded that the inspections demonstrated no problems with the firm's products and no evidence that they’ve led to illnesses in animals in the U.S.
12 August 2012 Update:FDA Office of Regulatory Affairs Releases Lst of 171 Consumer Complaints about Chicken Jerky Treats.
Food safety advocates are critical that the release is obviously incomplete (FDA earlier reported logging in 1,800 consumer injury/death reports); impossible to group by criteria other than the assigned complaint number; and impossible to correlate to the lab analysis issued on 20 July 2012; (particularly because the document was released as a PDF rather than as the original spreadsheet). See: 20 July 2012 Update, below.
Under intense criticism for its lack of focus and progress on this issue, critics label the release as a “data dump” intended to quiet disparagement about FDA “lack of transparency,” while not being actually informative.
20 July 2012; Update: FDA Abruptly Posts Results of “Jerky Treat” Lab Analysis. Food safety critics note that the unprecedented move came immediately after an msnbc.com report about pet illnesses and deaths being blamed on chicken jerky pet treats, and describing FDA refusal to a “public information request” (Freedom of Information request) for release of its data (see: 13 July 2012 Update, below).
Critics note that the report does not identify any selection criteria for the samples or how they were collected (as  routine market surveillance,  consumer or “adverse event” report, or  FDA production plant inspection). The FDA draws no conclusions at this time: all tests results are “negative,” (no regulatory action indicated), except for the finding of undeclared propylene glycol in 12 samples (propylene glycol is an industrial solvent, used as a humecant in pet foods). FDA did not test for presence of heavy metals or non-fluid forms of glycols (see: 23 May 2012 Update, below). FDA only tested products with the word “Jerky” on the product label or in the product description: therefore a product labeled as a “Pet Treat” or “Pet Chew” would not be part of this data.
13 July 2102; Update: FDA Logs 1,800 Reports of Illnesses and Deaths Related to Chicken Jerky Strips, Treats and Nuggets, (see: 23 May 2012 Update, below); Class-Action Suit Filed Against Nestlé Purina.
Dog guardians in 8 states who believe contaminated chicken jerky treats from China sickened or killed their pets are joining a class-action lawsuit against Nestlé Purina, the maker of two popular brands of the canine snacks, and “big box” retailers (Dennis Adkins [for himself and other persons similarly situated] Plaintiff, v. Nestle Purina PetCare Co., Waggin’ Train LLC, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and DOES 1-10, Defendants). In the April complaint (US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division), the Orland Park, IL resident claims his 9-year-old Pomeranian, “Cleo,” died in March after eating Waggin’ Train® Yam Good® dog treats produced by Nestlé Purina Pet Care Co. “Waggin’ Train has spent millions of dollars in promoting trust and confidence among consumers in its pet food products,” Adkins said in the complaint. “The product was not wholesome, was not nutritious and was unhealthy... The dog treats were unsafe, were defective, were dangerous, were culpably misrepresented as safe and healthy, and did not conform to applicable implied and express warranties”
According to Adkins, he fed his nine-year-old female Pomeranian Cleopatra one treat per day, chopped into two or three pieces, on March 13, 14 and 15. “Mr. Adkins made no other changes in her diet,” alleges the complaint. The suit also claims that Adkins did not give any of the treats to his nine-year-old male Pomeranian, Pharaoh. On March 26, Cleopatra died of kidney failure, says Adkins. Pharaoh never got sick. As of April 16, states the suit, the Waggin' Train® website does include warnings about its products. Adkins asks for compensatory and punitive damages, and also for an injunction against the sale of the products.
Import data showed that Waggin' Train® and Canyon Creek Ranch® treats (the two brands identified most frequently in consumer complaints) are produced and supplied by JOC Great Wall Corp. Ltd. of Nanjing, China. Notable is that on July 5, 2012, the FDA denied an msnbc.com public records request for results of its inspections of Chinese plants that make the jerky treats blamed for illnesses and deaths of US pets. FDA officials contend that release would violate rules protecting trade secrets and confidential commercial information and that it could also interfere with enforcement proceedings.
Oscar: "Am I in trouble?"
23 May 2012; Update:FDA Logs 900 Reports of Ilnesses and Deaths Related to Chicken Jerky Strips, Treats and Nuggets.
(See: 02 May 2012 Update, below). Subsequent to congressional & consumer pressure, the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) sent inspectors to 4 Chinese plants along the supply chain of brands most identified with reports of adverse reactions, illness or death (see immediately below) related to consumption of chicken jerky products; results of those reviews are not yet available. FDA has asked certain pet owners to send in samples of suspect treats along with their animals' veterinary records. FDA officials state that companies are free to recall the treats at any time but regulations do not allow for products to be removed based on consumer “complaints” alone. Online reports describe liability release/confidentiality agreements between consumers, and parent companies Nestlé & Del Monte, (manufacturers of the treats most commonly cited in FDA records; see: 02 May 2012 Update immediately below).
Scientists with the FDA Forensic Chemistry Center (FCC) working in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Food Network of toxicology labs and scientists in the US performed nutritional analyses, conducted 72 DNA tests, 23 microbiological screens, & had earlier tested for melamine, salmonella, as well as mycotoxins (toxic mold substances that grow on plant materials- not on animals: a common issue with grain-based pet foods); also compounds that are ordinarily linked to acute kidney disease such as vitamin D, ethylene glycol (antifreeze), and some of its derivatives: diethylene glycol (DEG) and ethylene glycol (EG). Two samples were tested for the presence of pesticides. No definitive conclusions have yet been stated.
Glycols are solvents: among which is glycerin (sweet tasting/low toxicity), and many pet food formulations include glycols, such as glycerin, and less costly propylene glycol (see: ingredients listing for Beneful® on this site) and sorbitol. But many glycols are toxic industrial chemicals. Chinese manufacturers have been known to substitute DEG and EG for more expensive glycerin (economically motivated adulteration) which resulted in 200 human deaths in Panama and Haiti in 2006-7. FDA currently only tests for fluid formulas: critics note that adulterated glycerin in a product it is unlikely to be discovered.
Food Safety Advocates criticize that heavy metals testing was not part of the FDA-FCC methodology until recently. Aside from neprhotoxic (toxic to kidneys) chemicals such as DEG and EG, heavy metal poisoning remains the leading cause of acute renal (kidney) failure. Despite that renal failure has been the leading identifier associated with chicken jerky treats issues since 2007, it is only in spring 2012 that the FDA began testing for presence of heavy metals. FDA’s challenges include a lack of resources, outdated regulatory systems, inadequate information technology and legal and logistical challenges associated with oversight of foreign facilities.
Audley: a winsome smile...
02 May 2012; Update: FDA Logs 537 Reports of Illnesses in Dogs Related to Chicken Jerky Treats; Waggin' Train®, Cayon Creek Ranch®, and Milo's Kitchen® Brands Identified.
FDA confirms 353 reports logged in 2011 and 184 submitted so far in 2012. FDA documents identify 3 brands in their complaints: Waggin' Train® and Canyon Creek Ranch® jerky treats or tenders, both produced by Nestlé Purina PetCare Co; and Milo’s Kitchen® Home-style Dog Treats, produced by the Del Monte Corp. The FDA report was obtained by news media through a public records request (Freedom of Information request). The FDA does not issue recalls for pet food products unless a contaminant is identified: instead, it’s up to the manufacturers to issue a voluntary recall; so far,
Consumers, verterinarians and Congressional/senatorial lawmakers have been critical, requesting FDA to devote more urgency to the issue, and pressing for prompt release of results of 153 pending tests on imported treats. FDA has since posted a question/answer page for consumers. Identified brands include: Waggin Train®, Canyon Creek Ranch®, Dogswell®, Booda Bones® – Aspen Pet, Milo’s Kitchen®, American Kennel Club™, Hartz, Dingos®, Beefeaters®, Cadet, Sargents, Ever Pet ($$ General), Home Pet 360, Walgreen’s Simple, & Kingdom Pets®.
Aussie: the luxury of freedom...
Related News: Settlement in Class Action Lawsuit Establishes $6.5M Recovery Fund.
30 May 2014 Update: Nestlé Purina PetCare Co. and Waggin' Train LLC signed an agreement establishing a $6.5 million fund to compensate dog owners who claimed their animals were injured or killed by those company’s China-made chicken (and other) jerky treats. The cases being settled, all class-action complaints, are Adkins v. Nestle Purina PetCare Company,(Does 1-10, Waggin' Train LLC, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Nestle Purina Petcare Company),Gandara v. Nestle Purina PetCare Company, and Matin v. Nestle Purina PetCare Company. (See above: 13 July 2012; Update). Plaintiffs were from several states, and the cases had been consolidated and transferred to the Northern District Court in Illinois in September of 2012.
The Adkins case represented a seven-count class action with claims breach of warranty, unjust enrichment, negligence, product liability and failure to warn. Among the claims was that subsequent to repeated FDA cautions, Nestlé Purina and Wal-mart knew that the dog treats posed a substantial health-risk to pets yet still manufactured and sold them: “Waggin’ Train has spent millions of dollars in promoting trust and confidence among consumers in its pet food products,” the complaint read, (however) “the product was not wholesome, was not nutritious and was unhealthy, and did not conform to applicable implied and express warranties .”
The agreement is subject to a final fairness hearing and approval by the court. It stipulates that the class certification (the legal standard of common complaint/similar defense that makes it impractical for plaintiffs to sue individually) is limited to administration of the agreement itself. A threshold for “opt out(s)” of the plaintiffs that would vacate the order was specified, as well as detailed general release of liability agreement and Covenant Not to Sue terminology. The release enfolds definition as Dismissal With Prejudice (in civil law, the concept of res judicata: the matter having been adjucated by the court, is ended permanently).
In addition to the fund, the agreement would also require Nestlé Purina Pet Care Co. to undertake “enhanced quality assurance measures” (quality assurance/quality control, or: “QA/QC”) regarding pet treats made in China and to modify language on its packaging as to country of origin (“Made in China” to appear clearly). Among those changes would be a procedure for using and monitoring a “single source supplier” for the “chicken” and a procedure ensuring the capacity to trace back all ingredients used in the manufacture of jerky treats. The QA/QC would be required for a period of two years following the date of preliminary approval of the agreement by the District Court. All of Purina’s Waggin’ Train® and Canyon Creek Ranch® brands are subject to the terms.
Consumers nationwide will be notified of the settlement, the date of the final hearing, and instructions for filing a claim for reimbursement via a defined “Notice Plan.” The settlement would be open to any consumer whose dog may have used or eaten the treat products and suffered harm before a recall in January 2013. “Settlement Class Members” would request reimbursement of specifically documented expenses (economic damages) including health screenings (veterinary bills and costs) for injury, necropsy (canine autopsy), cremation or burial, and food purchase claims: all of which must be directly relatable to “consumption of a (Purina or Waggin’ Train) Dog Treat Product.” Undocumented claims for a deceased animal would be reviewed by the Claims Administrator. The agreement limits the settlement fund to $100,000 dedicated for “Health Screening Claims,” and $700,000 for “Consumer Food Purchase Claims.”
In announcing the settlement, both defendants “specifically deny any wrongdoing or fault.” According to a prepared statement, “Neither Waggin’ Train, Nestlé Purina nor any of the consumers concede that their claims or their defenses were not valid… all parties entered into the agreement only to bring the litigation to a prompt and certain resolution.” As such, the merits of the case were not decided upon. Food safety advocates and market analysts noted that the agreement came only two weeks after federal Food and Drug Administration officials issued a new update describing receipt of reports involving more than 5,600 dogs falling ill after consuming jerky treats containing chicken, duck, or sweet potato imported from China; including 24 cats, three people, and include more than 1,000 canine deaths. A week later, the pet supply chains PetSmart and Petco had announced they would no longer sell jerky treats made in China. CLICK HERE TO READ THE SETTLEMENT.
Kutta: Who's just arrived?
27 September 2013; Update: Motion to Dismiss Class Action Lawsuit Rejected.
U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman (Chicago: Northern District of Illinois) disallowed a motion by Nestlé Purina PetCare Co. (St. Louis, MO) to dismiss the Adkins class action lawsuit by dog guardians claiming their dogs became ill or died from consuming Chinese-made Waggin’ Train® Chicken Jerky Treats. In refusing to dismiss the case, the judge ruled that the plaintiffs provided sufficient facts to satisfy the threshold necessary for making a plausible claim that the treats were defective.
Judge Gettleman wrote that Nestlé Purina could not defend itself by claiming plaintiffs did not rely on alleged misstatements about the treats' safety, since plaintiffs alleged that they relied on statements printed on the jerky treats' packaging extolling the treats health benefits. He stripped some claims since they were preempted by product liability statutes of the plaintiff’s home states of CT, LA, NJ, OH, TN, and WA: (19 of the 21 plaintiffs resided in and fed the their pets the treats in their home states other than Illinois. Gettleman also dismissed most allegations against the stores that sold Waggin’ Train® Yam Goods®, ruling that there was insufficient evidence of the defendant’s knowledge of the danger of the treats when they sold them (that they appropriately relied on information about the safety of the treats provided to them by defendant manufacturers).
 Adkins, et al. v. Nestle Purina PetCare Company, et al., Case No. 1:12-cv-02871 (N.D. Ill.) (consolidated with Mawaka v. Nestle Purina PetCare Company, et al., Case No. 12-cv-880 (D. Conn.); Ely v. Nestle Purina PetCare Company, et al., Case No. 12-cv-4785 (N.D. Cal.); and Johnson v. Nestle Purina PetCare Company, et al., Case No. 12-cv-4774 (N.D. Cal.)); Matin v. Nestle Purina PetCare Company, et al., Case No. 1:13-cv-01512 (N.D. Ill.); and Gandara v. Nestle Purina PetCare Company, et al., Case No. 1:13-cv-04159 (N.D. Ill.).
Corky & Libby: thundering onto Jennings Beach
Dog smelled meat cooking at the human hearth and went to the cave to investigate, where he found only the Woman awake. He asked her what smelled so good, and she threw him a roasted bone.
When he asked for another,
The Woman said, “Wild Thing out of the Wild Woods, help my Man to hunt through the day
and guard this Cave at night,
and I will give you as many bones as you need...”
Wild dog crawled in the Cave and laid his head on the Woman's lap, and said, “O my Friend and Wife of my Friend, I will help your Man to hunt through the day, and at night I will guard your Cave”...
When the Man waked up he said,
“What is Wild Dog doing her?” And the Woman said, “His name is not Wild Dog anymore,
but the First Friend, because he will be our friend for always and always and always.
You can brighten the long, lonely day of a needy dog:consider volunteering at a shelter. Your used but servicable linens, towels, bathmats, or cushions can provide comfort while he waits. Need help affording veterinary care? click HERE • Find low-cost spay neuter services: click HERE
Food & Safety Recalls/FDA Advisories for Dog Foods: click HERE
To think about: American taxpayers spend more than $1 billion annually to fund municipal animal shelters.
In those facilities, 14,000 animals are killed each day, often brutally: even in archaic gas chambers...
many within merely hours of their arrival: why are they called shelters?