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Cause of Death Remains a Mystery in China Pet Food Scare

By AFP News    June 24, 2014 / (7) comments

WASHINGTON, (AFP) - US authorities have yet to determine what exactly caused the deaths of more than 1,000 dogs that consumed jerky pet treats made in China, a Congressional panel heard Tuesday.


Major pet supply retailers Petco and Petsmart have said they will phase out all China-made pet food in their stores over the coming months, amid growing consumer jitters about the safety of their ingredients.


Tracey Forfa of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told the Congressional-Executive Commission on China that more than 5,600 dogs in the United States are known to have fallen ill since 2007 due to jerky products imported from China.


"Unfortunately, to date, the FDA has not been able to identify a specific cause for the reported illnesses or deaths despite an intensive scientific investigation," said Forfa, deputy director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine.


Sixty percent of the sick dogs -- of all sizes, ages and breeds -- suffered gastrointestinal illness, while 30 percent exhibited kidney or urinary issues, including a rare kidney disease called Fanconi syndrome, she said.


"Without knowing what is causing the illnesses, and thus no means of screening products to ensure that they are safe, firms and authorities have limited options," added University of Minnesota professor Shaun Kennedy, an expert in food systems.


Worries about the quality of China-made pet food date back to 2007, when melamine, a chemical compound typically used for making plastics, was detected in some brands, prompting a sweeping recall.


Patty Lovera of Food and Water Watch, a non-profit advocacy group, said melamine is intentionally added to various food products in China to enhance their nitrogen content and thus pass protein tests.


Tuesday's congressional hearing was held amid wider questions over labelling food imports from China for human consumption.


Last year the Department of Agriculture gave a green light for China to export processed, cooked chicken to the United States, so long as the raw poultry originates from US slaughter houses.


"While no such chicken has entered our shores yet, it's possible that very soon this processed chicken could end up on our dinner tables and school lunchrooms," said Senator Sherrod Brown, one of the committee's co-chairmen.


"Americans want and require better answers, clearer labels and the peace of mind that the foods we import from China are safe," he said, urging Beijing to make "significant improvements" in its food safety system.

Comments  7

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  • molded jerky
    07/17/2014 02:37pm

    well my experience with people jerky which I used to eat alot, for one thing if it is not stored correctly or gets too old it will mold. I had some to go bad on me several times. sometimes the mold is not that notiicable depending on the kind of meat it is made of. I do not chance feeding mine jerky anymore. I stick to a regular diet if they get anything extra maybe veggies.

  • Products made in China
    07/30/2014 08:08pm

    N. America should NOT be accepting any food products from China - period. We have rich agriculture system and availability here. It's all a matter of people being educated and demand this. Chicken from China but raised here - why? Once a company is situated overseas to China, it is very difficult to bring it back financially. A communist country who already hacked/invaded both USA & Canada's gov't computer systems shows motive. The discount stores - Walmart, Big Lots etc. ALL sell Chinese/Asian based products for pets and people. Even the mushrooms, canned bean sprouts, Big Giant vegetables - China. Pretty Scary and angry w/ our gov't for allowing it.

  • 08/02/2014 03:39pm

    Very well stated. We should buy "Made in USA" whenever possible, especially anything to be eaten by our companions or ourselves.

  • 09/17/2014 05:26am

    We need to be employing Americans. Grow chickens here, ship them to China for processing? Ridiculous! China poisons their own people, why should they care about our pets!? Money, money, money sad but true

  • 09/15/2015 02:00am

    China = poison!
    China is a communist country and NO friend to the USA!
    I purchase almost nothing made in China.
    The first thing I do is look where it is made, if it says china it gets shelved unless I MUST have it.

  • Made In China
    12/13/2014 05:10am

    Anyplace that sells any crap from China should be boycotted. I'm so sick of hearing the awful things they do and how they are so willing to harm us and what we love. Now the companies have found a loophole of telling you where it's made, "Distributed" in America. You really have to do your homework with these companies. It might be "made in USA", but where was it originally from? Our Government has more than shown all of us, they don't care. I do.

  • 09/15/2015 02:04am

    This comment has been flagged as inappropriate.