It continues to amaze me with what speed news sometimes travel on the Internet. Within a couple hours of receiving an e-mail from the FDA earlier today I had immediately some inquiries from concerned prospects and customers. The FDA e-mail contained the following “Preliminary Animal Health Notification” issued on 12/19/08:
“FDA Continues To Receive Complaints about Chicken Jerky Products for Dogs and Cautions Consumers
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to caution consumers of a potential association between the development of illness in dogs and the consumption of chicken jerky products also described as chicken tenders, strips or treats. FDA continues to receive complaints of dogs experiencing illness that their owners or veterinarians associate with consumption of chicken jerky products. The chicken jerky products are imported to the U.S. from China. FDA issued a cautionary warning to consumers in September 2007.
Australian news organizations report the University of Sydney is also investigating an association between illness in dogs and the consumption of chicken jerky in Australia. At least one firm in Australia has recalled their chicken jerky product and the recall notification stated the chicken jerky product was manufactured in China.
FDA believes the continued trend of consumer complaints coupled with the information obtained from Australia warrants an additional reminder and animal health notification.
Chicken jerky products should not be substituted for a balanced diet and are intended to beused occasionally and in small quantities. Owners of small dogs must be especially careful to limit the amount of these products.
FDA, in addition to several veterinary diagnostic laboratories in the U.S, is working to determine why these products are associated with illness in dogs. To date, scientists have not been able to determine a definitive cause for the reported illnesses. FDA has conducted extensive chemical and microbial testing but has not identified any contaminant.
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 which may occur within hours to days of feeding the product: decreased appetite, although some may continue to consume the treats to the exclusion of other foods; decreased activity; vomiting; diarrhea, sometimes with blood; and increased water consumption and/or increased urination. If the dog shows any of these signs, stop feeding the chicken jerky product. Owners should consult their veterinarian if signs are severe or persist for more than 24 hours. Blood tests may indicate kidney failure (increased urea nitrogen and creatinine). Urine tests may indicate Fanconi syndrome (increased glucose). Although most dogs appear to recover, some reports to the FDA have involved dogs that have died.
The FDA continues to actively investigate the problem. Many of the illnesses reported may be the result of causes other than eating chicken jerky. Veterinarians and consumers alike should report cases of animal illness associated with pet foods to the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator http://www.fda.gov/opacom/backgrounders/complain.html in their state.”
To me, besides being a general concern for all my pet owning friends out there, this at first worried me since we carry the DogsWell product line in our store. Some of their chicken jerky products are being manufactured in China as clearly stated on the bags. While this is in general a concern, especially because of the seemingly never ending flow of bad news coming in about contaminated Chinese food ingredients, both for pets and humans as well, I am not the kind of guy who for no reason condemns everything coming from China just because it’s “in” to do so. I have adjusted to the fact that we live in a global environment and parts for everything being made in this world are coming from everywhere in this world. This is nothing exclusive to the United States, it works both ways, the Chinese are buying many products coming from the States. Whether they experience similar problems as we do with their imports, we don’t know.
Coming back to the original subject: When I visited the DogsWell website to send an inquiry to the company, I found there readily waiting a letter from the company’s CEO immediately responding to and addressing the issue within 24 hours on 12/20/08:
“Dear Valued Customers,
We would like to assure you that all of our products are safe, natural, and healthy and we have never been involved with any FDA issues or warnings.
The DOGSWELL manufacturing facilities in the United States and abroad meet the highest and most strict sanitary conditions. All of our plants have HACCP programs, have received high scores by independent Third Party auditors, have strict raw ingredient standards and continuously check our products during processing and when they are finished to ensure they meet our high quality standards. We regularly visit our manufacturing facilities to ensure the quality and safety of our products.
Along with knowing our supply chain very well, we conduct regular tests in APPA and FDA-approved U.S. facilities to assure you that we are only providing your pets with the very best ingredients. We certify that our products are safe and clean and ensure that our products meet our high quality standards. Feel free to contact me with any comments or concerns you may have.
Sincerely, Marco Giannini, President and CEO, DOGSWELL “
To me, for the time being this is a satisfactory response. Even more so since according to the FDA there have been no recalls issued in the States and only one overseas in Australia. The Australian recall was a voluntary one taken by KraMar Pet Company, a well established family owned pet supply manufacturer. The voluntary recall was issued by the company as a precautionary measure and concerns their KraMar Supa Natural Chicken Breast Strips made in China. The KraMar Pet Company had tested every shipment for E-Coli, Salmonella and Melamine. More recently at the request of some veterinary surgeons tests were done for other potential Toxins. The manufacturing facility in China has been approved by the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS). All tests to date have been clear.
In addition, the FDA states: “FDA, in addition to several veterinary diagnostic laboratories in the U.S, is working to determine why these products are associated with illness in dogs. To date, scientists have not been able to determine a definitive cause for the reported illnesses. FDA has conducted extensive chemical and microbial testing but has not identified any contaminant.”
Therefore I do not see any reason to take any further action. With highest confidence we will continue to recommend DogsWell products to our customers.