Nearly 600 dogs have died since 2007 who consumed pet jerky treats made in China, according to the†Food and Drug Administration. Another 3,600 dogs have been reported ill. The pet treats were sold under a wide variety of brand names.
The FDA currently does not know the cause of this outbreak and is reaching out to veterinary health professionals, as well as the public, for answers to help solve the mystery. Since the FDA is unable to determine the cause, no recall has been put in place, meaning pet owners need to make more educated decisions about what pet treats are safe to use.
I recently spoke with pet nutrition expert Anthony Bennie about the outbreak. He provided some insight and helpful knowledge on feeding our pets healthy treats.
LS: How long do you think this has been going on?
AB: Itís been going on since it became evident that itís possible to sell really cheap versions of what people want here. Itís one thing to copy electronics, another to copy pet treats. When you take the theory of cheapest practices and apply that to what you put in your animals’ mouths, it is a recipe for disaster.
LS: What do you think caused the recent outbreak, with number of death and illnesses still on the rise?
AB: Irradiation (the process of exposing pet food and treats to radiation as a means of eliminating foodborne microbes and killing pests) and glycerin (a humectant preservative) in virtually all pet treats from China in pet treats from China. There have been issues with pet food ingredients and finished treats from China for quite some time, including the massive recalls in 2007 that were traced to melamine, a non-edible protein additive used in China to adulterate and cheapen the products.
LS: Have there been studies done on the dangers of using glycerin and irradation together?
AB: The use of both glycerin and irradiation in the same product is troubling to me. No proper studies have been done to determine the possible synergistic effects. For the health and safety of your pets, as a first step I strongly encourage pet guardians to buy pet treats and foods made and sourced in the USA; but even then, be a detailed label reader and avoid products with chemical preservatives or other ingredients that you canít pronounce and donít recognize as foods.
NEXT: The FDA’s statement on pet treats.