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Voluntary Recalls of Pet Food From China Are Not Enough to Protect Nation’s Pets

Statement by Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch

Washington, D.C.—“Yesterday, Nestle Purina Petcare Company announced it will recall their Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch dog treat brands and Delmonte announced it will recall its Milo’s Chicken Jerky Treats and Chicken Grillers because of residues of an undisclosed antibiotic. This is a long overdue step to protect pets from unsafe imports. The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets should be commended for conducting the testing that resulted in these national recalls. But the Food and Drug Administration still must take action to prevent further pet illnesses and to inform consumers of the safety issues related to these products. Since 2007, thousands of American dogs have fallen ill or died after eating jerky treats made in China and it is time for the FDA to step up and block these potentially deadly treats from harming more animals.

“The FDA has received nearly 2,000 consumer complaints dating back to 2007 but reports that it is no closer to identifying the source of the adulteration. The agency has posted cautionary advisories on its website regarding these products, but few consumers and veterinarians are aware of those advisories.

“In September, the agency announced that it was contracting with NASA to determine whether the irradiation treatment that is being applied to these imported pet treats was contributing to the adulteration of those products. We are anxiously awaiting the results of that analysis.

“Reports posted yesterday on the FDA’s website reveal that FDA inspections of a Chinese pet food manufacturer and its Malaysian ingredients supplier found that the companies falsified records. In all of the inspection reports of Chinese pet food manufacturers posted to date by the FDA, the agency has admitted that Chinese government officials prevented the agency from collecting samples in the pet food manufacturing facilities that produce the dog treats in question, impeding the inspection process.

“The FDA has the authority under Sections 306 and 211 of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act to stop the importation of pet treats from China immediately since the agency was prevented from completing its inspection of the poultry facilities that produce the chicken jerky treats that have been the subject of the investigation. Additionally, Section 211 of the FSMA gives the FDA authority to require retailers that sell the imported treats to post cautionary advisories to alert consumers to safety issues associated with the treats.

“Finally, the Obama Administration needs to release the proposed rule on preventive controls for animal feed that covers pet food and the proposed rule that will hold importers accountable for the safety of the products they bring into the United States that are part of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. Those proposed rules have been held up by the White House Office of Management and Budget for over a year.”

Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.

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