fom PetPardonNews | 2/21/12 | Ariel Wulff
Reports surfaced yesterday that in the past two weeks over 400 new cases of animals being poisoned after eating treats manufactured in China have been received by the FDA, strengthening demands from pet owners that a recall be placed into effect.
On Sunday, Senator Sherrod Brown held a news conference on the heels of a previous one the week before at the Ohio Humane Society in Hilliard Ohio about tainted chicken jerky treats from China.
It was Brown’s second public statement to the Food and Drug Administration regarding the treats that are reported to have been causing illness and death in pets across the country.
The conference on February 19 came in the wake of 400 new complaints to the FDA about pets becoming ill after eating the treats. Although the FDA has been trying to find the contaminant causing the illnesses, they have been unable to pinpoint the specific toxicant. As a result, manufacturers have not been required by law to remove the products from store shelves, keeping the potentially dangerous treats readily available to the public.
Related: FDA Warns Pets Being Poisoned By Treats: Manufacturers Refusing Recall
In December of 2008, when pets began falling ill in Australia, University of Sydney researchers made an epidemiological connection linking the illnesses to the consumption of chicken treats imported from China. Australian dog treat importer KraMar withdrew its Supa Naturals Chicken breast strips from the Australian market as a precaution, even though a specific toxicant wasn’t pinpointed in their product.
Supa Naturals Chicken breast strips are one of Australia’s highest selling dog snacks.
“A link has not been scientifically established. It is a mystery to us, but in the interests of animal welfare we have decided to take this decision,” said KraMar’s CEO Brian Fouche about the voluntary recall.
Vocal animal rights advocates are claiming they are looking towards American companies to put pet health above profits in the same way. The leading US importer of chicken jerky treats has stubbornly refused to recall. Cases of their products line the shelves at Giant Eagle, Wal Mart, Walgreens and other stores, and coupons for consumers continue to be found in newspapers and circulars.
Like now, the symptoms pets exhibited in Australia in 2008 were consistent with acquired Fanconi’s syndrome, an uncommon disease characterized by elevated levels of glucose in urine but not in blood. The glucose damages the kidney’s ability to reabsorb nutrients and electrolytes. The kidneys become chronically compromised, sometimes resulting in death.
One of the points that Senator Brown pressed in his first news conference on February 7 was that the FDA has not been issuing a public enough warning for consumers and needs to improve its notification system. The FDA has been posting warnings associated with the treats since 2007, but most consumers are not aware of the notices.
Typically FDA post warnings are posted on their website, which consumers do not tend to check unless a product has been brought to light in the mainstream media. Although Brown sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg on February 7 about these issues, he still has not received any official response. Senator Brown has again urged the FDA to step up their investigation.
The FDA has tested the treats for certain known contaminants with negative results. Laboratories are at a loss to test products arbitrarily; toxicologists need to have an idea of what contaminants to test for, otherwise, it is a proverbial stab in the dark.
Karyn Bischoff, Clinical Toxicologist/Assistant Professor at NY State Animal Health Diagnostic Center, Cornell, said:
The tricky part of this situation is that the clinical signs and kidney changes are not typical of common veterinary toxicoses. This could be something completely new, like melamine was a few years ago. Melamine was not even considered to be particularly toxic, so nobody really thought to look for it. I don’t know if we have a similar situation here, but this doesn’t look like anything I’ve ever seen before.
Cornell is not currently testing treats, but has indicated that they may be interested in doing so.
With the treats still available in stores and manufacturers unwilling to issue a precautionary recall, angry consumers have started a grassroots movement to spread the word, advocate for animals that are sick or have died and to put pressure on manufacturers to enact a voluntary recall.
The Facebook advocacy group Animal Parents Against Pet Treats Made in China has been posting complaints on manufacturer’s websites, Facebook pages, consumer affairs sites, pet blogs, and YouTube. They have posted copies of the FDA warning in stores and have even pulled treats off of shelves themselves, confronting store managers and asking them to stop stocking the dangerous products.
Scores of pet owners have joined the group sharing their grief, expressing their frustration and organizing information for others. If your pet has become ill with the following symptoms after having been fed jerky treats from China please report it to the FDA: Decreased appetite Decreased activity Vomiting Diarrhea Increased water consumption Increased urination
In the absence of a named contaminant, the pet food companies importing the treats from China have petitioned news sites and blogs to remove and desist references to their specific brands. A lengthy list of brands that are imported from China can still be found on the Animal Parents Against Pet Treats Made in China Facebook page.