The ongoing recall of pet food

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By Tracie Korol

In case you missed it, this week the FDA issued an alert concerning Chinese-made jerky treats in tenders or strips made of chicken, duck, sweet potatoes and/or dried fruit. Since 2007, 3,600 dogs and 10 cats in the U.S. have fallen ill after eating jerky. Of these pets, 580 died.

It’s not an official recall because the FDA remains clueless, after six years, as to the source of the contaminant save that they’re pretty sure it’s of Chinese origin. So now, the FDA is asking pet owners and veterinarians for help in finding the elusive cause. A fact sheet is available for vets to know the exact lab tests needed in order to help as well as how consumers can help report illnesses or deaths.

According to FDA sources, once the offending jerky is consumed it causes illness within hours. The treats have caused symptoms like decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes with blood or mucus), increased water consumption, and/or increased urination. The fatal cases have come from kidney failure, gastrointestinal bleeding, and a rare kidney disorder.

While a formal recall has not been issued, the FDA said it removed some jerky treats from store shelves in New York in January after a lab found “evidence of up to six drugs in certain jerky pet treats made in China.” Almost a year ago, some companies voluntarily issued recalls for their products, including:

• Nestle Purina PetCare Co.:

Waggin’ Train

Canyon Creek Ranch brand dog treats

• Del Monte Corp.:

Milo’s Kitchen Chicken Jerky

Chicken Grillers home-style dog treats

• Publix Stores:

Chicken Tenders Dog Chew Treats

• IMS Pet Industries Inc.:

Cadet Brand Chicken Jerky Treats sold in the U.S.

I’ve never been a fan of processed treats for my pets because they’re crazy expensive plus they’re not made of anything resembling food.  What pet owners need to realize is that our Best Friends don’t need treats to begin with. WE think WE need treats because we like to snack, they’re fun, forbidden foods and as Americans, it’s our right to eat incessantly throughout the day. Our dogs, however, do not. Sure, they’re happy to eat anything we give them, not because we’re we are providing them life-sustaining nutrients, but because they see it makes us happy.  And that’s what they live for — to make us happy.

Here’s an exercise: gather up all the gaily-colored packets of dog goodies you have in house.  Put them in a pile and then add up how much money you spent in total.  Compare the number of “baco things” per packet to the amount you paid.  This might involve some rudimentary algebra.  Chances are each rubbery wad costs about 70 cents each.  Then, flip the bags over and read what they’re made of.

You might see something like: sodium nitrite and BHA, ground wheat, corn gluten meal, yellow corn, water, sugar, glycerin, soybean meal, hydrogenated starch hydrolysis, phosphoric acid, sorbic acid, and artificial smoke flavors. Plus a few mysterious ingredients that could, quite possibly, originated in China. Then, look down to the very bottom of all the type on the back of the packet. Chances are you’ll see the words “Distributed by…” That doesn’t mean made by. Nowhere on that packet are you going to see made by.  If you don’t know who’s making it, or where it came from, why give it to your dog?   Consider, too, that each of these “treats” has calories, not that you’ll see that on the packet, either. Is your Best Friend a bit chubby? Guess why.

Once you’re done with that exploration, gather up all the packets and throw them away. Then, cook your dog a sweet potato. Cut it in strips, sprinkle it w/a bit of garlic powder, let the strips dehydrate in a slow oven until you have … jerky.  Clean, chemical free, good for your pet and made with love for the pet that loves you.