Washington, D.C. — This week, Food & Water Watch, along with pet food safety advocates Mollie Morrissette and Susan Thixton, delivered a letter to Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg to demand that the FDA take stronger actions to prevent further pet illnesses and to inform consumers of the safety issues related to these products. In addition, Food & Water Watch will drop off a petition signed by nearly 18,000 consumers to the FDA on Friday, Aug. 31.
“Since 2007, thousands of American dogs have fallen ill or died after eating jerky treats made in China,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “The FDA has shirked its responsibility to keep U.S. citizens and their pets safe, and it must 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.
Last week, the FDA admitted that in April, Chinese government officials prevented the agency from inspecting the poultry slaughter facilities in China that produce the dog treats in question, as well as from collecting samples of the suspect treats to do its own analysis. This interference should have moved the FDA to take more substantive measures to deal with the issue, not fewer, the letter states.
Although full implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has been delayed by the White House Office of Management and Budget, Section 306 gives the FDA authority 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.
In addition to asking Commissioner Hamburg to invoke its authority under Sections 306 and 211 of the FSMA, the letter encourages the FDA to do more to inform veterinarians of the safety issues associated with jerky treats imported from China.