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Chicken jerky treats continue to kill dogs, Walmart brand blamed while FDA investigates

A troubling news report released this week: The Food and Drug Administration is investigating another chicken jerky treat brand suspected of making dogs deathly ill.

The brand, Golden Rewards, is a private label brand of Walmart’s; It has only been out a year and already it is blamed for causing illness and death of dogs nationwide.

Three guesses where the treats are from and the first two guesses don’t count:

China.

Dogs have been given the diagnosis of acquired Fanconi’s syndrome, a rare kidney disease commonly associated with jerky treats and poultry meal imported from China.

The FDA calls it the “hallmark” disease among dogs thought sickened by jerky made in China.

In the report, the FDA said that the complaints about Golden Rewards treats involved 23 sick dogs including three deaths.

Walmart, unmoved by the report said in a statement:

“Exhaustive FDA tests have been performed with no conclusive connection linking specific brands or types of chicken jerky treats with claims of illness or injury. We require our pet food and treat suppliers to meet the highest of food safety standards and remain committed to providing our customers and their pets with safe and affordable foods.”

Meanwhile, Congresswomen Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced the Safe Chicken and Meat for Children Act of 2015  on Friday. DeLauro explains:

“I introduced this bipartisan legislation to prevent Chinese meat and chicken from being used in federal nutrition programs given China’s atrocious history of poorly-enforced food safety laws. It is a moral imperative to ensure the food we serve America’s children is safe…”

She points to the FDA report of thousands of pets in the United States that were made sick or died from eating pet treats containing contaminated chicken imported from China that was found to be laced with illegal antibiotics.

DeLauro points to an alarming Asia Inspection study that found that almost half of Chinese food-processing plants fail to meet internationally acceptable standards. In some cases, laboratory tests found abnormal levels of pesticides, antibiotics, heavy metals, bacteria or viruses that could put consumers at risk.

Last year, a hearing (broadcast live) before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Pet Treats and Processed Chicken from China: Concerns for American Consumers and Pets, raised important concerns about the safety of poultry from China and called on government to address the problem.

Chairman of the Committee, Senator Brown, said in his opening statement that he called for the hearing to

“…seek answers for American consumers, pet owners, farmers, and parents about the safety of pet treats and processed chicken and animal feed from the People’s Republic of  China…Many of us raise our animals almost like members of our families. That’s why it’s so troubling that we still do not know, seven years in, if you will, what’s causing the deaths and illnesses of thousands of dogs.”

Consumers should be aware that these problems are not restricted to just jerky pet treats – any pet food product containing poultry/chicken meal, or poultry/chicken by-products imported from China could conceivably be contaminated as well.

Importantly, because manufacturers are not required to list the country of origin of each ingredient used in their product, consumers assume when the label indicates a product is made in the US they are led to believe the ingredients originated in the US. Even more opaque, is the claim that a company’s ingredients were sourced in the US, when in fact, it could only mean that their supplier is located in the US – but where the supplier obtains their goods is not revealed.

What consumers need to know is that any poultry product or ingredient that claims to be manufactured in the United States could be dangerous, because while many of the products are, in fact, assembled in the USA, they could still include ingredients sourced in China.

To report a complaint about any pet food to the FDA, visit their pet food complaint page here.

If you want to submit a complaint to the FDA specifically about the jerky treat products or want to learn more about the issue, visit the FDA’s jerky pet treat information page.

SOURCE: FDA investigating if dog treats made Atlanta pet sick

Thanks to Susan Thixton of Truth About Pet Food for alerting me to this article.

Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and advisor to AAFCO. Help support her work by making a donation today.

Comments (72) Write a comment

  1. In addition to vomiting foam, seizure and diarrhea, my dog would sometimes pant like she was too hot, but with a contorted face, an expression like a forced smile. Also, her pupils would be dilated before and during the seizure (probably typical of any seizure… can help signal ahead of it by a minute… also usually licking lips oddly beforehand). Had run out of this jerky and seizures had stopped for a couple months. Just shopped at Walmart and got some to “reward” my little dachshund girl. Gave her some before a walk, and she had a seizure about 20 minutes later on the walk, just enough time to hit a dog’s fast digestive system. There I was cradling my doggie in the middle of field while she convulsed. I have a big bag of this Golden Rewards chicken jerky. Going to send samples for analysis. How can Walmart not know this is happening? It’s been several years now since people complained… still selling this lethal junk. Does none of the management have dogs? Or do they not shop at Walmart?

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    • For every complaint, consumers need to report it to their state feed official and the FDA/CVM. Unfortunately, most people don’t bother to do that – therefore nothing changes. Vets almost never report illnesses, when they do the FDA and states do listen and they do take action.

      Also, if a vet does not confirm it is a foodborne illness, then it is just a suspicion and there is no proof there is a connection between a food and their pet’s illness. Vets have the burden of showing cause and effect.

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  2. Finally identified the cause of my dog’s seizures: Golden Rewards chicken jerky. She vomited thick foam, and had seizures for years, sometimes accompanied by diarrhea. Thought it was genetic… Thinking of picketing in front of Walmart… disgusted. Hope there is no permanent damage…

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  3. These are all 3 of my dogs favorite treats. I usually check to see if they are made out of the US and I am pretty sure that these aren’t. ??? I will never buy them again and I was just about to go to Walmart to go shopping. My dogs have always been fine but now I am scared to death. Thank you for this information!

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    • You are most welcome! Just check the back of all packages and that is where you will find it is “Made in China.” Manufacturers are required by law to put on labels the country of origin.

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  4. Right now my dog is trying to recover from a diagnosis of pancreatitis.his favorite snack was Golden Rewards chicken wrapped biscuits. He loved them but I truly believe it has caused this sickness n he is still trying to recover.

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    • If your vet believes pancreatitis caused by food poisoning she or he should report the incident to the officials. Likewise, you may wish to have the treats tested for toxins – particularly for illegal antibiotics.

      If you believe your pet has become ill from consuming a pet food, please provide the FDA with valuable information by reporting it electronically through their Safety Reporting Portal or call your local FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator.

      If you and your veterinarian think a pet food or treat is the source of a problem – save it – because your state agricultural or veterinary diagnostic lab may want to do testing. If you need more help, find out how to report a pet food complaint to the FDA.

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  5. Surely our countries can produce dog food/treats which won’t cause health issues for our pets. I don’t buy anything from China

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  6. What are the symptoms? My German Shepard just had a seizure. She has been eating Golden rewards chicken jerky and sweet potato wrapped with chicken.

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  7. Thanks for sharing ive been buying them for my chi for sometime not no more tho why arnt they taken off the shelves yet thanks for sharing.

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  8. If you are on Facebook, please find my page and share (Becky Clodfelter Hunter)

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  9. My Yorkie, Zoe, passed away from theses treats a few days ago. It was horrible to watch. Nothing the dr’s couldn’t do for her. My other dog, and Aussie got sick as well. I had a 3rd dog that didn’t eat the treats, and is fine. My heart isn’t breaking so bad. Still have the bag. Have submitted a report with FDA. Filled out a report w/ Local Walmart. I am so heart broken. I need to find out where to get them tested. Tried to called Golden Rewards, but they are not open until Monday. My sweet baby could still be alive if they would have stopped selling them them. I can’t sleep at night and I wake up crying uncontrollably. Something I don’t want anyone else to go thru. I will do whatever I can to get these removed.
    My email is tal.hunter@hotmail.com if anyone knows where to submit a sample- or if anyone else who has lost a dog to these treats.

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    • I’m glad to hear you and your vet has reported this to the FDA. Have you asked your state ag dept. to test the treat? If they don’t have the resources they might send it to another state that does. If they are unable to do that, I suggest having it tested yourself. However, it must come from your vet. He or she needs to speak to a toxicologist at a University to determine which would be the most appropriate tests. I recommend your vet consult with either Cornell University or Michigan State University. I recommend your veterinarian consult with a veterinary toxicologist if they suspect a foodborne illness to have the food tested for toxins. Two good resources are the Toxicology Department at Cornell University, Department of Veterinary Medicine (https://ahdc.vet.cornell.edu/test/list.aspx?Species=&Test_Name=&TstTyp=&WebDisc=TOXI) and the Michigan State University, Toxicology Department at the Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health (http://www.animalhealth.msu.edu/Sections/Toxicology/).

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    • So sorry for your loss. I can not believe these are still being sold. My dog had them just one day and got so sick, we didn’t think she would make it. Threw them in trash and she did pull through. I am so mad at the company and at Walmart for putting these on their shelves. I will never buy my baby treats made outside the US ever again and will only buy from pet stores. I hope this company gets shut down!!

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    • Lost my service baby he went everywhere with me he was 9 years old and passed away do to these

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  10. Why are these still being sold?! Got them for our Chiweenie yesterday, just yesterday and today she started throwing up, diarrhea and just wants to lay there. Bring her outside and she just lays under a bush. I swear if anything happens to her it will be my life long goal to bring this company down!

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    • My dog passed away from these a few days ago. I am beyond heartbroken. She was 4years old- 8 lbs

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      • Rebecca, I am so sorry that your dog died. When you can I emplore you to report this to the FDA. Your vet is the best to one to establish the cause of your pet’s illness and to determine if it is food poisoning. Once he or she has you and your vet must report this adverse event to the manufacturer, the FDA, and your State’s Department of Agriculture.

        It is critical that the FDA and your State receive your information to add to data they collect on problems associated with a pet food, to determine the frequency and severity of such events with a particular pet food or treat. Additionally, based on certain criteria, the FDA and the State will investigate the company that made the food and ask you for samples for testing.

        Find out how you and your vet can reporting a problem with a pet food to the FDA by visiting the FDA’s website here: http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/ReportaProblem/ucm182403.htm for information on how and where to report a problem you have had with a pet food or treat.

        Contact your State Department of Agriculture to report a problem with a pet food. To find your state feed control official, visit http://www.aafco.org/Regulatory/State-Information for information and resources on your State’s department of agriculture, contact information and a link to the State’s official website.

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  11. I gave these to my chihuahua thinking it was a “healthy” alternative to rawhide. She has been sick. The same night she woke us up screaming out in horrible pain and now she’s bleeding from her rectum. She’s been to the vet and had all kinds of tests done and they can’t figure out the problem but they told me to go online to see if these have been recalled. I pray she gets better!!!

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  12. Are the small biscuit wrapped with chicken peanut butter flavored bad for dogs. The ones made in China

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  13. I just googled this because this exact brand made my dog sick last night. VERY SICK. Friggin Wal-Mart knows about it and doesn’t care because it makes them money. This is what’s wrong with people. greedy bastards.

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  14. Obviously I know to avoid these but how do you know if another treat or good that says manufactured in America also contains meet from China. I don’t know what brands to trust.

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  15. Does any one know of pending law suits against Walmart and/or Golden Rewards ? I am very interested in joining such a suit. The death my poor Schatzi endured should not happen to any pet. Let try to make the pet food industry accountable for their actions.

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  16. Mother fuckers! Why are they allowed to still sell this shit!?! I want to be apart of a class action lawsuit. Take this shit off your selves!

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  17. What what ?? I’m now worried I been giving theses treats to my 4 month Maltese because I saw them at Wal-Mart. She acting fine but now I’m worried..

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    • I’m sorry to say that my dear Bella succumbed to the kidney failure and pancreatitis! We had to put her down about a month ago! My vet was very concerned about the treats we had been giving her and could have very well contributed to her death! Yes…she was 15 years old but she had always been extremely healthy! I miss her every day! My advise to you is to STOP feeding her these treats or anything that is not made in the US! He also told us not to feed her pig ears which can be dangerous! Do your research on the food/treats you give your pets! Nothing from China or Mexico! The golden rewards treats were made in US but made from chicken from China! Good luck to you and hope your pet doesn’t have any problems!

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    • My Chihuahua Bischons have been eating Golden Rewards for years and they are fine. Everything in moderation!! I get tired of never being able to find them!!

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      • We gave my Yorkie these in moderation. We are picking him up at the Vets today after 4 days intensive care, he is in kidney failure and now red blood cell count is bad. So, we are bringing him home for a little while and praying for a miracle, he will get his iv’s at home.
        Please don’t endorse these treats, they are the only ones he has ever eaten and he would only get 2 a couple times a week.

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  18. I have feed my maltese and yorkie poo these treats for along time when there was the first recall I tossed what I had and quit feeding them this jerky. However about two weeks ago or so I noticed them back on the shelf so i assumed they were now ok. Boy was I wrong. I feed my dogs one treat from this new back and within hours they were vomiting and and diarrhea and were very sick. I was watching them very closely it took 4 days before the stopped vomiting. I have filed a complaint with the FDA and Golden Rewards/ Shandong Food in CHINA!!! please people if you love your dogs don’t feed this to them!! I buy chicken and other meats to feed to them as a treat no more processed animal food!!!

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    • Cindy, I am so sorry to hear this. No, nothing has changed since nothing in China has changed. The FDA claims they cannot find any contaminates, and I can assure you they are not testing every brand on the market. Meanwhile all they do is warn consumers…sigh I am so glad you made a complaint as this alerts the FDA to problems with problematic brand which helps them decide where to focus their testing. Homemade human-edible treats and food are always the safest – and the healthiest – option.

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    • After 4 days my dog is still sick from the treats..I just gave her a small piece…Don’t know why it’s still on the shelf.

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  19. I’ve been feeding these to my dog for the past 6 months! She loved them! Right now she is hospitalized on IV’s and in renal failure with severe pancreatitis! I am just absolutely sick to my stomach! I feel like I have killed my beloved friend of 14 years.

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  20. I have been giving my little dog these for. Couple weeks. Tonight was the first night I gave her an entire treat. I was concerned because it looked big but it was within the limit of the serving suggestion. NOW I read these. And I’m worried sick. Is there anything I could do now. Or just wait to see if she gets sick.

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  21. My dogs have been eating these treats for a long time now with no problem. Why don’t they just make chicken treats here at a reasonable price. Its ridiculous!!

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  22. Our dog had eaten 2 full bags of the chicken treats in a two month time, with daily treats of the same product. 2 weeks after stealing and eating the 2nd bag, she had a swollen lymph node on her neck the size of a golf ball. Turned out to be cancer. So now we are in the detox mode and organic dog food and home made organic treats. It is sad the FDA is so pathetic, just as they are for human live.

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  23. My dog is suddenly extremely sick doesn’t want to get out of his bed he’s panting despite that it’s cold he won’t eat cheese when I hand it straight to him etc. and six days ago I started feeding him tons extremely sick doesn’t want to get out of his bed he’s panting despite that it’s cold he won’t eat cheese when I hand it straight to him etc. and six days ago I started feeding him these golden rewards chicken jerky treats from Walmart. I’ve given him a bunch of them. I’m taking him to the vet in two hours. Does anyone who has been through this know what I can tell the vet to possibly help them keep him alive?

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    • Sorry, I didn’t see the entire comment – I see you are taking him to the vet. Whew! Ask your vet to look into testing for sulfonamide hypersensitivity syndrome or acquired Fanconi’s syndrome.

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      • His appointment is in 45min. Thanks for the tip! He perked up a tiny bit, ate a couple raviolis and even wagged his tail. But he’s still crazy lethargic for a dog who normally wants to play tug of war with giant tree trunks all day.

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        • I’ve written a gazillion posts on these treats – like I said, have your vet consider Fanconi-like syndrome and an allergy to sulfonamides (those are the class of antibiotics usually found in the treats from China).

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      • I see my first posted some weird thing from when I edited it to remove the word “tons.” I had to reschedule his appointment for this evening so I’m getting ready to take him in now.

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  24. my dog got sick from these treats , swollen eyes, the whites of her eyes were purple she was crosseyed coulldnt walk properly , limped , vomitted, her fur looked like bubbles all over her , she has a raised pancreas and gastritis, she is on prednisone, benadryl and amoxycillin and had 3 shots one , prednisone , one benadryl and one cerenia injectable and vet said it was from the treats i was giveing her and the only ones she was getting was golden rewards chicken jerky and the peanutbutter biscuits wrapped in chicken this all just happened starting on november 11, 2015

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  25. Help my Lucy died yesterday as a result of this. Severe liver failure, she was 16 months old. Taking her on ice to MSU tomorrow morning need help pursuing this. PLEASE HELP???Any input helpful.

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    • SO sorry for the mistake I have been so scatter brained since this has occured. I ment Lucy died of severe kidney failure NOT liver failure. Please help me with any assistance programs out there. We are fighting this till the end. Until no other of our babies die due to the neglence of others only out to profit for themselves.

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  26. Why has it taken so long to pull the item off walmart u are killing are pets slowly by keeping them on the shelf , pull the item really wait are u waiting for

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    • Donna, you’re preachin’ to the choir here! Walmart and other irresponsible retailers have a moral obligation to do so, but unfortunately, pets don’t have the same liability as humans do, so all bets are off and profit is still the no. 1 priority – not safety.

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  27. I make sure that a few years ago after finding out about China, and their contaminated chicken doing harm to our pets. I make sure I read the labels on the back of our furry babies dog treats making sure that the product is not from China, in any way. My family, and I love our pets…..they are family to all of us.

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  28. It’s appalling that the pet food industry is still not regulated properly, and pets are still getting ill or die of this. Pets are part of someone’s family and definitely deserve the best as well. The country of origin of each ingredient has to be listed clearly on on a pet food product. I wonder if the politicians responsible for this would order their food from a Chinese online store?

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  29. I hope everyone clicks to the link you provided: “poultry/chicken meal/or poultry/chicken by-products from China”. It’s a real eye opener. The Chinese company Alibaba offers = Chicken Meal at $400 for 23 tons. Meat and Bone Meal – $400 for 20 tons, ($20 per ton). Soy Meal – $500 for 20 tons, and Corn Gluten – $100 for 20 metric tons. All with photos. So, for $1,000 you can make 60 tons of pet food.

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  30. I have gotten to the point that I do not trust any of the treats available-make your own,you know what is in them

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