In Your Corner: FDA Warnings On Pet Treats

By Ryan Elijah

January 20, 2012 Updated Jan 20, 2012 at 11:23 AM EDT

Cody is a 16-year old Jack Russell, her proud owners didn't want to forget her on Christmas so they bought some Chicken Jerky treats from an area store. After two treats Cody became very ill just twenty minutes later, but recovered by that night. The owners quickly found out the treats made in China have been under a cloud of controversy since 2007, Dr. Dan Rodgers told us over 350 cases were reported in 2011 and the exact cause is still a mystery.

"They feel there's a definite correlation between eating the chicken jerky treats made in China and the illnesses. The FDA is working with several different animal health diagnostic labs, trying to find some toxins, but they haven't yet, but the threat is real", said Dr. Rodgers.

Real indeed for too many dog owners, we found numerous online complaints, including a death this past week. Older and smaller dogs are the most susceptible and portion control is important. Dr. Rodgers says the FDA hasn't found any evidence that points to a certain brand or product and his office hasn't seen any specific cases, he cautions pet owners to stick with reputable names and avoid the China products.

"I would avoid any treat that's made in China and stick with items that have been manufactured in the United States" said Rodgers.

Despite a recent FDA warning on Chicken Jerky from China, Cody's owner didn't know of the warning and we found almost all major retailers in the area selling the products. This one claims to be an American company; but read further and it's made in China.

The FDA is still investigating the origin of the problem, but without a contaminant there's no recall. Most consumers would be surprised to know the Food and Drug Administration doesn't have authority to force a company to recall a food product. Congress has provided them increased authority recently over Infant Formula, Medical Devices and Human Tissue and Tobacco products. Typically, a "voluntary" recall occurs involving food, drugs and cosmetics.

The FDA's website was recently upgraded to to help consumers easily search for product recalls. The story should be a reminder to consumers, that just because a product is readily available on store shelves, it might not be completely safe.

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