A friend of ours in cat rescue just sent us the following link to an NBC News story (posted 17 hours ago) warning about fatalities associated with a Chinese-made pet treat: “Pet jerky treat death toll: 360 dogs, 1 cat, FDA says.” Our friend remarked that stories have been circulating for years about the risks associated with Chinese-made treats for pets. But this was the first time she had ever read about the FDA making a special effort to get the word out about the severity of the threat and warning that ingesting such treats could kill an animal.
The NBC report indicates that the FDA sent investigators to five companies in China that make pet treats, but Chinese officials would not allow product samples to be tested in US laboratories. The story is a little hard to follow but it suggests that test results were released for four of the firms involved, but the fifth, which has not been identified, has had their products seized by Chinese authorities and their license to export was suspended. The story, as it appears on the NBC website, also indicates that the FDA has refused to reveal the name of the fifth Chinese firm and would only do so under ‘public records request.’ I believe that means that someone – news organization or other advocacy group – will have to sue to learn the name of the manufacturer whose processes were somehow found subpar.
Anyone who has a pet and looks at the ‘made in…’ origin of treats in pet food stores is fully aware that something on the order of 99% of the products come from China. Personally, I have long thought the overwhelming display of Chinese-made treats was an inevitable side effect of lower manufacturing prices in China. Still, not knowing what the production standards might be, my personal tendency has long been to seek the “made in the USA” label. I do that for a lot of reasons, not the least of which are that the production standards in the USA are a matter of public record and I also think that we ought to support USA companies. In fact, when I hear that a pet product is made in Massachusetts (like Polka Dog Treats Wonder Nuggets), I go out of my way to buy it.
If you take a moment to think about it, there are some big issues at play in this pet food crisis. One of the most important is this–when a household pet becomes sick from ingesting a product manufactured in our country, it is beyond imagining that the name of the manufacturer would not be released–or that the FDA would issue a simple warning would be issued, instead of a recall. So, the next time you hear someone in the political arena talk about the interference from government, or how we have too much government and have to get rid of it, remind yourself that the food our pets eat (and the food we we eat) is safe because of that interference.