Two of the nation’s top retailers of chicken jerky dog treats are voluntarily withdrawing several popular brands after New York state agriculture officials said they may be contaminated with unapproved antibiotics.
Nestle Purina PetCare Co. officials announced Wednesday that they’re withdrawing Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch brand dog treats until further notice. Officials at Milo’s Kitchen, which is owned by the Del Monte Corp. of San Francisco, announced they are voluntarily recalling the firm's Chicken Jerky and Chicken Grillers home-style dog treats from shelves nationwide.
The move came after the New York Department of Agriculture and Marketing told federal Food and Drug Administration veterinary officials this week that trace amounts of residual poultry antibiotics had been found in several lots of each of the brands of jerky treat products.
The agriculture agency found very low levels of four antibiotics that are not approved for use in poultry in the U.S. and one antibiotic that is approved for U.S. poultry use, but is limited to nearly undetectable levels in the finished product, said Joe Morrissey, a department spokesman. The antibiotics include sulfaclozine, tilmicosin, trimethoprim, enrofloxacin and sulfaquinoxaline, he said.
The antibiotics are approved in China, where most of the treats are made, and in other countries, according to company statements.
However, Keith Schopp, a spokesman for St. Louis-based Nestle Purina, said that the issue is not related to the ongoing FDA investigation of problems with Chinese-made jerky pet treats that may have sickened more than 2,200 pets and killed 360 dogs and one cat, according to consumer reports.
"There is no indication that the trace amounts of antibiotic residue is related to FDA's ongoing investigation," Schopp told NBC News.
"Due to regulatory inconsistencies among countries, the presence of antibiotic residue is technically considered an adulteration in the United States," Schopp added.
FDA officials said they were confident that the detection of antibiotics "do not raise health concerns," and that they are "highly unlikely" to be related to the reports of pet illness linked to jerky treats that date back to 2007, according to a statement published late Wednesday.
FDA has conducted extensive testing and said it could find no toxins or other contaminants responsible for causing alleged illnesses ranging from nausea and vomiting to kidney failure and death. Officials said that the New York agriculture agency used a new, particularly sensitive test to detect the antibiotics. Morrissey said food specialists there tested the jerky treats because of "growing consumer concerns."
FDA officials reminded pet owners that jerky treats are not a necessary part of any animal's diet.
Robin Pierre, a New York pet owner, blames Waggin' Train chicken jerky treats for the sudden death of Bella, her 2-year-old pug in 2011. Pierre, who launched a petition urging companies to recall the treats, said she was pleased at the new move, but sorry that the FDA didn't act sooner.
"How many lives could have been saved if, six years ago, when there was first doubt that the safety of our companions was compromised, the FDA and all manufacturers of imported chicken jerky had issued a precautionary recall until the toxin was found?" she said in a statement to NBC News. "How much pain and suffering could have been avoided if only they had met their moral obligation six years ago and did the job the taxpayers pay them to do?"
Kasel Associated Industries
Boots & Barkley 6-count, 5-inch American Beef Bully Sticks have been recalled because the products tested positive for salmonella.
A Denver company is recalling packages of its pet treats made from dried bull penises -- known as “bully sticks” -- after they tested positive for salmonella.
Kasel Associated Industries launched the voluntary recall after routine testing by the Colorado Department of Agriculture detected the contamination in packs of Boots & Barkley 6-count, 5-inch American Beef Bully Sticks, the company said.
The recalled pet treats were sold nationwide at Target retail stores from April through September.
The product comes in clear plastic bags containing six bully sticks marked with the bar code number 647263899189. Kasel is recalling all lot numbers after the following lot codes tested positive for salmonella: BESTBY20APR2014DEN, BESTBY01JUN2014DEN, BESTBY23JUN2014DEN, and BESTBY23SEP2014DEN.
The bully sticks are made in Denver, a company official told NBC News.
Salmonella can sicken animals that eat the products and can infect humans who handle the treats. However, no illnesses linked to the products have been reported in pets or humans, company officials said.
Pets with salmonella infections can be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever and vomiting. Some pets will experience decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected pets, even if they appear healthy, can transmit the bacteria to other animals and people.
In people, salmonella can cause fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramping. Most victims recover without treatment. Some, however, may become ill enough to require hospitalization.
Consumers are urged to return the Boots & Barkley products to the place of purchase for a full refund.
Bully sticks and so-called “pizzle sticks” are among popular pet products made from bull penises.
Courtesy Robin Pierre
Bella, a 2-year-old pug, died last fall after her owner, Robin Pierre, said she ate Waggin' Train chicken jerky treats.
Nearly 1,000 dogs reportedly have been sickened by chicken jerky pet treats from China, according to a new tally of complaints from worried owners and veterinarians submitted to federal health officials.
The Food and Drug Administration has logged some 900 reports of illnesses and deaths since November, when it warned owners about continued problems with the products known variously as chicken jerky strips, treats and nuggets, a spokeswoman said.
Back then, the agency already had heard from 70 owners about problems ranging from vomiting and diarrhea to kidney failure and other serious ailments after animals reportedly consumed the treats.
Since then, complaints have mounted steadily, putting growing pressure on the FDA to solve the problem.
The agency sent inspectors earlier this year to Chinese plants that make the jerky treats, two Ohio lawmakers previously told msnbc.com. No results of those inspections are yet available, FDA spokeswoman Tamara Ward said Monday.
Despite repeated tests since 2007, FDA scientists have been unable to detect any toxin responsible for the animal illnesses, officials said. The agency has asked certain pet owners to send in samples of suspect treats along with their animals' veterinary records.
Three top brands of chicken jerky treats were among those most recently cited by pet owners and veterinarians in complaints of harm, FDA records obtained by msnbc.com showed. They included Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch brands produced by Nestle Purina PetCare Co., and Milo’s Kitchen Home-style Dog Treats, produced by the Del Monte Corp.
Import data compiled by the firm ImportGenius showed that Waggin' Train and Canyon Creek Ranch treats are produced and supplied by JOC Great Wall Corp. Ltd. of Nanjing, China.
Both manufacturers have insisted their chicken jerky treats are sound and that any illnesses are unrelated to the products.
But representatives from Milo’s Kitchen confirmed that the firm has paid at least one owner who complained about a sick dog $100 in exchange for a release of all liability.
The company examined treats submitted by the pet owner and reviewed veterinary records for the animal, according to Joanna DiNizio, a spokeswoman for the firm.
“Following the evaluation, the veterinarian consultant concluded the symptoms experienced by the pet were not related to consuming Milo’s Kitchen chicken jerky treats,” DiNizio said in an email statement.
A grieving pet owner says his 9-year-old dog was in perfect health until he fed her Waggin' Train chicken treats; the Pomeranian died 13 days later of kidney failure. He is now calling on the FDA to take another look at the product. WMAQ-TV's Michelle Relerford reports.
The dog owner has declined to be identified, but Milo’s representatives said they provided the $100 as a “goodwill gesture” and asked that the consumer sign a “standard release form.” Firm officials said such arrangements are conducted on a case-by-case basis and they declined to confirm how many similar agreements are in place.
A spokesman for Waggin' Train, Bill Salzman, said last month that the firm also negotiates agreements with complaining pet owners individually.
Such signed agreements do legally absolve firms of future claims, said Ron Simon, a Texas food safety lawyer.
“What the company is up to is to try to assuage consumer complaints without accepting liability,” said Simon.
However, he noted that in most states, pets, no matter how precious, are regarded as property with little change of recovering damages beyond the animal’s literal worth. Most lawyers probably wouldn’t accept such a case, he added.
“You don’t get mental anguish,” he added.
That’s outrageous to pet owners who believe their animals were harmed or killed by contaminated jerky treats.
Robin Pierre, 50, of Pine Bush, N.Y., contends that Waggin’ Train chicken jerky treats were responsible for the sudden death last fall of her previously healthy 2-year-old pug, Bella, who developed kidney failure.
"Right now the laws are protecting the rights of these manufacturers and we as victims/consumers have none," Pierre wrote in an email to msnbc.com.
Pierre is the founder of a petition to ban the jerky treats which now has logged more than 10,445 signatures.
FDA officials have said companies are free to recall the treats at any time but regulations do not allow for products to be removed based on complaints alone.
Pet owners can submit complaints to the FDA's safety reporting portal.
More chicken jerky treat news:
By msnbc.com staff
Diamond Pet Foods is expanding a voluntary recall to include puppy food over possible salmonella contamination, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The latest recall, announced Monday, covers Diamond Puppy Formula dry dog food manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods in Gaston, S.C. The puppy food was distributed in the following 12 states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
This is the third voluntary recall for the company this month. On April 6, the company recalled Diamond Naturals Lamb & Rice dry dog food made over possible salmonella contamination. On April 26, the company expanded the recall to its Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul Adult Light formula dry dog food.
So far, no dog illnesses have been reported, the FDA said.
Pets infected with salmonella can become lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever and vomiting, according to the FDA. Infected pets can also pass the illness on to other animals or humans. Pet owners also can contract the illness from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after handling the pet food.
For more information about the recall, see www.diamondpetrecall.com.
Federal health officials have sent inspectors into Chinese plants that make chicken jerky pet treats to investigate potential links to illnesses and deaths in hundreds of dogs in the United States, two lawmakers say.
Staffers for Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, confirmed Wednesday that Food and Drug Administration officials were conducting the inspections.
“Based on our ongoing discussions with the FDA, we are expecting important new information soon,” Vic Edgerton, a spokesman for Kucinich said in an email to msnbc.com.
It’s not clear exactly how many inspectors are involved or which plants the officials will visit as they attempt to solve the mystery behind at least 600 reports of illnesses including abrupt kidney failure after dogs have been fed chicken jerky treats made in China.
FDA officials declined to comment on the inspections.
Last month, msnbc.com reported that FDA records showed that a log of owner and veterinarian complaints of harm referenced at least three popular brands of jerky treats: Waggin’ Train, Canyon Creek Ranch and Milo’s Kitchen Home-style Dog Treats.
Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch products are produced by Nestle Purina PetCare Co. Import data compiled by the firm ImportGenius showed that those treats are produced and supplied by JOC Great Wall Corp. Ltd. of Nanjing, China.
The move comes as the FDA faces growing pressure from consumers and lawmakers to address rising numbers of illnesses blamed on the treats.
Robin Pierre, a co-founder of “Animal Parents Against Pet Treats Made in China," has collected more than 7,000 signatures urging on a petition urging the FDA to take action and more than 2,600 on a petition taking Nestle Purina to task, she said.
Pierre, 49, of Pine Bush, N.Y., believes Waggin’ Train chicken jerky treats were responsible for the sudden death last fall of her previously health 2-year-old pug, Bella, who developed kidney failure.
"While I am happy that the FDA is in China investigating now, it never should have taken this long. Too many of our innocent and voiceless companions suffered horrific deaths and many will forever be dealing with the repercussions of falling victim to corporate greed. No animal should have ever had to die because of a 'treat'", she said.
In February, Brown and Kucinich sent letters to the FDA asking the agency to step up testing and inspections of the China-made products. After a meeting with Kucinich, the FDA stepped up its investigation, spokesman said, and traveled to manufacturing facilities in China.
The FDA has issued three warnings about the treats since 2007. Agency scientists have been testing the products since then as well, analyzing the jerky treats for evidence of dangerous toxins, including heavy metals, melamine, melamine analogs and diethylene glycol, chemicals used in plastics and resins.
So far, they’ve found nothing that would lead to the kind of illnesses reported in the animals.
Keith Schopp, a spokesman for Nestle-Purina, did not immediately return calls asking about the inspections. Previously, Schopp had said the company’s treats are safe if fed as directed and that the illnesses may be a result of other causes.
Waggin' Train Wholesome Chicken Jerky Tenders were among 13 Nestle Purina brand treats listed among 22 complaints being investigated by the Food and Drug Administration. The treats, made in China, have been tied to reports of illnesses and deaths in dogs.
Stumped by mysterious illnesses in at least 600 dogs in the U.S., federal health officials have turned to consumers for help investigating problems possibly tied to chicken jerky pet treats made in China.
A log of complaints collected from pet owners and veterinarians contains references to at least three popular brands of jerky treats that may be associated with kidney failure and other serious ailments, according to internal Food and Drug Administration documents obtained by msnbc.com.
Of 22 “Priority 1” cases listed by the FDA late last year, 13 cited Waggin’ Train or Canyon Creek Ranch jerky treats or tenders, both produced by Nestle Purina PetCare Co., the records show.
Another three listed Milo’s Kitchen Home-style Dog Treats, produced by the Del Monte Corp. The rest listed single brands or no brand.
Priority 1 cases are those in which the animal is aged 11 or younger and medical records that document illness are available, an FDA spokeswoman said. In many cases, samples of the suspect treats also are collected.
The report, obtained through a public records request, is the first agency indication of any brands linked to illnesses that have climbed since the FDA warned pet owners about jerky treats in November. That was the FDA's third caution about the pet products since 2007.
Nestle Purina and Del Monte officials said their treats are safe and FDA regulators said repeated tests have shown no absolute tie to any brand or manufacturer.
“No specific products have been recalled because a definitive cause has not been determined,” FDA officials said in a statement.
The internal report, overseen by the FDA’s Coordinated Outbreak and Response Evaluation, or CORE, group, is one of several ongoing assignments in which FDA regulators are seeking jerky treat samples and medical records of dogs that may have developed kidney failure, liver disease or Fanconi syndrome, which can lead to serious illness and death.
The recent complaints were filed from October through December by people in cities from California to New York, but the agency will continue to accept them.
“We still invite owners and veterinarians to submit complaints and samples,” said Siobhan DeLancey, an FDA spokeswoman. “The more information we have, the more likely we can find a link.”
The move comes as the FDA is under growing pressure from consumers and lawmakers to address rising numbers of illnesses blamed on the China-made treats. Before the warning was issued in November, the agency had logged 70 reports of illnesses tied to the treats last year. Since then, more than 530 additional complaints of illnesses and some deaths have been filed, officials said.
Courtesy Robin Pierre
Bella, a 2-year-old pug, died last fall after her owner, Robin Pierre, said she ate Waggin' Train chicken jerky treats.
Consumers who say their dogs were sickened or killed have launched at least three petitions demanding recalls of jerky pet treats made in China, including one begun in December that has more than 3,400 signatures from the U.S. and around the world.
“At the slightest doubt, these products should have been recalled, especially knowing there was a link or at the very least a caution/warning label put on the packaging warning the consumers,” said Robin Pierre, a co-founder of “Animal Parents Against Pet Treats Made in China.”
Pierre, 49, of Pine Bush, N.Y., believes Waggin’ Train chicken jerky treats were responsible for the sudden death last fall of her previously healthy 2-year-old pug, Bella, who developed kidney failure.
“The last week of her life was nothing but misery and pain, separated from her family, she died all alone, in a cage, despite the fact that she had a family who loved her,” Pierre wrote in an email to msnbc.com. “She meant the world to me and my family.”
Courtesy Susan Rhodes
Ginger, a 14-year-old family dog, sparked one of three petitions after she developed kidney failure possibly tied to chicken jerky pet treats. Her owner, Susan Rhodes, 51, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., wants the treats pulled from the market.
More than 375 people have signed a petition launched last week by Susan Rhodes, 51, of Port St. Lucie, Fla. She believes her 14-year-old dog, Ginger, may have developed life-threatening kidney failure after eating chicken jerky treats. She was stunned to hear that consumer complaints alone can’t force the FDA -- or a company -- to recall potentially tainted products.
“That is just unreal. I am not happy with that,” Rhodes said.
For their part, FDA officials said the companies are free to enact a voluntary recall at any time.
Lawmakers call for action
Lawmakers, however, are demanding stronger FDA action. Ohio Democrats Sen. Sherrod Brown and Rep. Dennis Kucinich in February called on the FDA to step up investigation of tainted pet treats.
In a response sent late last week, an FDA official told Brown the agency “continues to actively investigate” the reports and to pursue testing for chemical and microbiological contaminants.
On Monday, Brown called the agency’s response “inadequate” and urged prompt release of results of 153 pending tests on the Chinese-made treats.
“I will continue to press the FDA on this issue because Ohio consumers shouldn’t have to worry about the safety of their pet’s food,” he said in a statement.
Since 2007, FDA scientists have analyzed jerky treats for evidence of dangerous toxins, including heavy metals, melamine, melamine analogs and diethylene glycol, chemicals used in plastics and resins.
So far, they’ve found nothing convincing, a point emphasized by Keith Schopp, director of communications for Nestle Purina. He noted that FDA officials also suggest that illnesses may be a result of causes other than eating jerky treats.
“Our chicken jerky treats are safe to feed as directed,” said Schopp. “The safety of our products -- and the pets who consume them -- are our top priorities.”
The company has a comprehensive food safety program in place, he said, including at manufacturing plants in China.
Pierre, who lost her dog, has little faith in pet food manufacturers -- or in the FDA.
“Actions speak louder than words and there has been no action from them up until now,” Pierre said. “Waggin’ Train has hid behind the technicality that the FDA cannot find the link and the FDA has let them.”
Consumers can report illnesses to the FDA's pet food complaint site.
Government health officials have received more than 500 reports since November of illnesses in dogs who ate chicken jerky pet treats.
Amid reports of more than 500 dogs sickened by chicken jerky pet treats imported from China, government health officials are ramping up port inspections for dangerous toxins.
Food and Drug Administration officials have begun collecting and testing chicken jerky treats upon import, analyzing samples for evidence of melamine and melamine analogs and diethylene glycol, chemicals used in plastics and resins, a spokeswoman said.
Melamine-tainted imported pet food sickened and killed thousands of dogs and cats in the U.S. in 2007, leading to massive recalls and criminal indictments of Chinese and American pet food executives.
So far, FDA officials have found no evidence of harmful levels of melamine or other substances in the chicken jerky treats, said spokeswoman Tamara Ward. But the agency has increased its surveillance of the products, even as repeated chemical and microbial tests have failed to reveal a source for illnesses that continue to mount.
FDA now has received 537 reports of illnesses in dogs, including 467 reports since it issued a renewed warning about chicken jerky treats from China in November. That number includes 353 reports logged in 2011 and 184 submitted so far this year, Ward said.
Pet owners and veterinarians are reporting that animals have been stricken with a range of symptoms within hours or days of eating chicken jerky treats, including serious problems such as kidney failure and Fanconi syndrome, a condition marked by low blood sugar.
The illnesses appear tied to imported Chinese chicken jerky products, also sold as chicken tenders, chicken strips or chicken treats.
FDA scientists have worked for months to detect a source of illnesses, Ward said. Samples have been tested for drugs, poisons and mycotoxins, as well as for heavy metals and certain chemicals.
Still, the source of the problem remains a mystery and no specific brands or products have been named or recalled in connection with the illnesses, FDA officials said.
The November warning was the agency’s third alert about chicken jerky treats in four years. Previous cautions were issued in 2007 and 2008. In 2007, 156 reports of dog illnesses tied to chicken jerky were logged, but the number fell sharply, to just 41 in 2008, according to FDA reports.
Consumers can report suspicious illnesses to the FDA’s Pet Food Complaint site.
Imported chicken jerky treats from China are being blamed for at least 353 reports of illnesses in dogs, federal Food and Drug Administration officials say.
Reports of illnesses in dogs given chicken jerky treats have spiked dramatically following a new government warning about pet snacks made in China.
The federal Food and Drug Administration has logged at least 353 reports this year of illnesses tied to imported chicken jerky products, also sold as chicken tenders, chicken strips or chicken treats, a spokeswoman said.
That’s up from 70 reports of illnesses -- and some deaths -- received in 2011 before the Center for Veterinary Medicine issued an updated warning on Nov. 18.
Dog owners and veterinarians are reporting that animals have been stricken with a range of symptoms within hours or days of eating chicken jerky, including serious problems such as kidney failure and Fanconi syndrome, a condition marked by low blood sugar.
Though the illnesses appear tied to chicken jerky products manufactured in China, the source of the problem remains a mystery, said Siobhan DeLancey, an FDA spokeswoman.
Despite extensive chemical and microbiological testing, the agency has not identified problems with a specific contaminant -- or a specific brand or type of treat.
“[We are] still digging through the reports to see if we can discern a common thread that’s more specific than just chicken jerky,” DeLancey said.
The latest warning was the agency’s third alert about chicken jerky treats, with previous cautions issued in 2007 and 2008. In 2007, 156 reports of dog illnesses tied to chicken jerky were logged, but the number fell sharply, to just 41 in 2008, according to FDA records.
Because the agency has not identified any particular products as the culprit, no recalls have been issued.
In the meantime, FDA officials are warning pet owners to avoid chicken jerky treats imported from China. They’re also urging owners to seek medical care if dogs develop symptoms including decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, increased water consumption and increased urination. Stop feeding the treats to the animal and seek veterinary care, especially if symptoms are severe, or persist for more than a day, officials say.
Consumers can report suspicious illnesses to the FDA’s Pet Food Complaint site.
Chicken jerky treats linked to mystery illnesses, deaths in dogs
It's not clear why chicken jerky products seem to be causing illnesses and even deaths in dogs, federal Food and Drug Administration officials say.
Chicken jerky treats may be to blame for dozens of new reports of mysterious illnesses and some deaths in dogs, prompting a renewed warning for pet owners by the Food and Drug Administration.
At least 70 dogs have been sickened so far this year after reportedly eating chicken jerky products imported from China, FDA officials said. That’s up from 54 reports of illness in 2010. Some of the dogs have died, according to the anecdotal reports from pet owners and veterinarians.
FDA officials say they have not been able to find a cause for the illnesses. Extensive chemical and microbiological testing has failed to turn up a specific contaminant and officials did not identify a specific brand of treats. They note that the reports of illness have not conclusively been tied to chicken jerky products, also sold as chicken tenders, chicken strips or chicken treats.
The new warning follows previous FDA cautions about chicken jerky treats in 2007 and 2008. But after a high of 156 reports of illness in 2007, the number of complaints dropped. Now, it's rising again.
Dog owners and vets are reporting that animals may be stricken with a range of illnesses within days or hours of eating chicken jerky, including kidney failure and Fanconi syndrome, a condition characterized by low glucose.
Symptoms may include decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea, increased water consumption and increased urination. If dogs show any of these signs, stop feeding the animal the chicken jerky products, FDA officials said. If signs are severe or persist for more than 24 hours, seek veterinary help.
Most dogs have recovered, officials said.
Illnesses can be reported to the FDA’s Pet Food Complaint site.
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