Close X

Politicos Calls for FDA to Speed Up Investigation of Chicken Jerky Treats from China

We've been writing in recent years about what seem to be the terrible, sometimes deadly, effects of some chicken jerky treats made in China. Our...

Maria Goodavage  |  Feb 8th 2012


We’ve been writing in recent years about what seem to be the terrible, sometimes deadly, effects of some chicken jerky treats made in China. Our most recent article brought a barrage of your horror stories.

Here’s what the FDA is saying about what to do if you decide to feed your dog these treats:

FDA is advising consumers who choose to feed their dogs chicken jerky products to watch their dogs closely for any or all of the following signs that may occur within hours to days of feeding the products: decreased appetite; decreased activity; vomiting; diarrhea, sometimes with blood; increased water consumption and/or increased urination. If the dog shows any of these signs, stop feeding the chicken jerky product. Owners should consult their veterinarian if signs are severe or persist for more than 24 hours. Blood tests may indicate kidney failure (increased urea nitrogen and creatinine). Urine tests may indicate Fanconi syndrome (increased glucose). Although most dogs appear to recover, some reports to the FDA have involved dogs that have died.

That’s serious stuff, and in my view, not worth any dog’s life for a few minutes (or seconds, in Jake’s case) of chewing pleasure.

But most consumers are completely unaware of the potential risks of feeding their dogs these jerky treats. For many, the first time they heard about the possible problems was by reading Dogster. That’s just not good enough. And even our readers can be confused. A cursory look at a bag of these treats might indicate they’re made in the USA, since they’re generally from American companies, but that might just be where they’re packaged, not made. Should we have to examine the fine print on every package to make sure our dogs don’t endure some of the potential effects, or is it time for the FDA to step it up a bit?

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown thinks it’s high time the FDA moves quickly to protect consumers. The Ohio senator is calling for the FDA to speed up its investigation and withdraw the treats from the market, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

“”I urge you to promptly pursue efforts to find the contaminant in these pet foods, alert customers of the dangers of these products, and make sure the products found harmful are pulled from the retail market,” he wrote in a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret H. Hamburg.

Cleveland Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich also sent a letter to Hamburg last week:

“The FDA must not wait to issue a voluntary recall until it is able to definitively identify a causal agent,” he wrote. “The FDA has clearly established an association between consumption of the chicken jerky and illness and death. It is simply not feasible to expect every dog owner to be aware of a modestly publicized warning from the FDA.”

He put it very well. The investigation into the possible problems with the jerky treats shouldn’t need to be complete for the FDA to have the treats at least temporarily pulled from the market until the results are more conclusive either way.

The treat companies say there’s nothing wrong with their products, and the FDA still doesn’t know why dogs are becoming ill, and suspects some of the problems could be caused by something other than consuming jerky. That’s probably true. The other day Jake had pretty bad diarrhea. If he’d had a jerky treat before that, I’d probably have pointed a finger at the treats. Associations can be damning, but in this case there seems to be enough circumstantial evidence to justify providing an extra layer of consumer safety.

These Ohio politicians are not taking this lightly. Your state’s representatives may be bolster their pleas with their own arguments about putting safety first. Here’s a list of contact information for U.S. senators, which you can sort by state. And here’s a page that provides contact info for your congressperson in the U.S. House of Representatives. You can reach out to FDA Commissioner Hamburg at margaret.hamburg@fda.hhs.gov.