For more than five years, chicken treats imported from China were linked to serious illness and deaths in dogs and cats across the U.S. and Canada. Illegal antibiotic drugs were found in the chicken treats however only a few brands have recalled or withdrawn the Chinese pet treats from market. Despite the clear risk, Chinese jerky treats remain on store shelves and now there are hints USDA is pushing the approval of Chinese chicken for human consumption.
Just before the news (finally) came that jerky dog treats imported from China were being recalled, the world learned of serious issues with Chinese chicken. We learned that large chain restaurants in China, selling Chinese chicken to Chinese citizens, contained high levels of antibiotics. Shortly after, authorities at New York Department of Agriculture put two and two together and tested jerky pet treats from China for the same drugs found at McDonald’s and KFC China. Low and behold, numerous brands of Chinese chicken dog and cat treats sold in the U.S. were found to contain illegal drug residues.
Finally concerned pet food consumers had their recall. Well, except from Waggin Train/Purina and Hartz, they decided not to recall and voluntarily withdraw the treats from store shelves. And except for stores that are still selling recalled or withdrawn Chinese jerky treats. (I’ve received several reports including pictures of retail stores still selling Waggin Train and Milo’s Kitchen chicken jerky treats. All information – store names and pictures – has been forwarded to FDA Office of Compliance.) And except for Canada; resellers of the Chinese imported jerky treats have not recalled in Canada.
We got our recall, well that is except for dozens and dozens of private label brands of Chinese jerky treats that are still selling everywhere.
As example, Walgreens. Walgreens sells their own – made in China – brand of jerky treats; the Pet Shoppe brand. These treats remain on store shelves.
As example, Dogswell, and Kingdom Pets. Both of these brands sells their own private label of jerky treats imported from China. Both of these brands and many others imported from China remain on store shelves. And there are countless more private label brands (probably all from the same few suppliers in China).
Kingdom Pets made the statement to NBCBayArea.com in August 2012 the company purchases chicken from the “same suppliers for KFC China and McDonalds China.” If high levels of antibiotics were found in KFC China and McDonalds China, wouldn’t the same high levels of antibiotics be found in Kingdom Pets jerky treats (since they purchase from the same suppliers)?
So, we got a recall (and a couple of product withdraws) but this basically only put a dent in the tremendous jerky treat problem. Countless private label jerky treat brands from China continue to sell, recalled or withdrawn products continue to sell, and for certain pets will continue to be sickened and killed from these treats.
And now there are rumors that the USDA is pushing to allow the importation of Chinese chicken for human consumption. I guess U.S. citizens will be the next Chinese chicken test subjects.
The USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) is announcing they wish to re-do the way imported meats are allowed into the U.S. Instead of tight restrictions and testing (as is required of meat sold for human consumption from the U.S.), FSIS is wanting to, basically, allow the importing country to tell us if their meat is safe (think China). FSIS is saying ‘You tell us – we’ll believe you’. Inspections will only take place once every three years.
From the Federal Register: “SUMMARY: The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is describing the new methodology it is employing to conduct ongoing equivalence verifications of the regulatory systems of countries that export meat, poultry, or processed egg products to the United States. FSIS uses a three-part approach that includes: (1) Document reviews, (2) on-site system audits, and (3) port-of-entry (POE) reinspections. FSIS conducts document reviews at least yearly. FSIS conducts on-site system audits at least once every three years.”
(1) Document reviews – you tell us it is safe.
(2) On-site system audits – only once every three years.
(3) Port-of-entry reinspections – nope…less than 3% of all imports into the U.S. get inspected.
The FSIS is seeking input on this decision, you can comment on this here.
But there is one more twist. Food and Water Watch (thank heavens for these folks!) issued a press release immediately following this news from FSIS. Thanks to the watch dogs at Food and Water Watch, we learn that the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has already been doing what this Federal Register notice is alerting us to – for four years!
Food and Water Watch states: “Today, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) published a Notice in the Federal Register that it has made a major change to the way it conducts inspections of countries that are eligible to export meat, poultry and egg products to the U.S. (Ongoing Equivalence Verifications of Foreign Regulatory Systems, Docket No. FSIS-2012-0049). The agency is also requesting public comments on this change. Food & Water Watch, a national consumer organization, says the announcement and accompanying public comment period regarding changes in the import inspection program are too little, too late, since the change took place four years ago, at the beginning of the first Obama Administration.”
“We’re not just importing China’s food—we’re importing China’s food safety problems along with it,” said Hauter. “It’s doubly important to fund our import food inspection programs adequately as more foods from abroad reach our shores.”
Treats that have been recalled or officially withdrawn remaining on store shelves is absolutely wrong. Countless non-recalled or withdrawn jerky treats – imported from the same China that has proven antibiotic residues are common – remaining on store shelves is wrong. And now, the thought that chicken from China might soon be allowed into the U.S. for human consumption…crazy just got crazier.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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