Contaminated Pig Ears Treats Are Still Out There: Despite FDA Warning, Treats Sold on Amazon Recalled Today

TDBBS announced they are recalling their pig ear pet treats sold through Amazon.com after routine surveillance by the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development found their product tested positive for Salmonella. The product was shipped to customers between April 22, 2019, and August 13, 2019, and sold through Amazon.

TDBBS, LLC USA Thick Pig Ear 8 Pack TDBBS, LLC USA Thick Pig Ear 20 Pack
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UM, WHY IS THIS STILL HAPPENING?

As I stared in disbelief at the announcement published on the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Recalls, Market Withdrawals, & Safety Alerts page  today, I had to ask myself: Why are these pig treats – which the FDA has said in no uncertain terms should be removed from the marketplace – are still on the market?

WAIT, SO NEARLY TWO MONTHS AFTER THE WARNING THEY ARE STILL FOR SALE?

On July 31, 2019, the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) jointly advised Americans to stop feeding pig ears to their dogs, to throw out all pig ear treats, to disinfect their homes and for retailers to yank every brand off store shelves and out of bulk bins until the source of the contaminated pig ear treats could be identified.

But almost two months after the announcement and while the investigation into a multistate outbreak of human illness connected to contaminated pig ear dog treats is still underway you can go to Amazon.com and Chewy.com right now and load up on pig ear treats for dogs – by the case if you like.

ARE AMERICANS STILL AT RISK? YUP.

And the recalls for contaminated pig ears still keep coming. And presumably, so are the risk to consumers, the risk to their children and their pets for exposure to contaminated pig ears that have been responsible for the multidrug-resistant Salmonella infections affecting people in 35 states — a risk which is not only still possible, but very likely to continue.

HOW FAR BACK CAN WE GO IN ASSIGNING BLAME?

The first thing I ask myself is, who is to blame for this continuing debacle?

My immediate afterthought is, how far back can I go? Because – really – today’s problems are not new, they are the same ones that have plagued the system of commerce since the beginning of the Industrialized Revolution.

But, I promise not to go back that far.

Today, we are dealing with a humble little treat for dogs, the dehydrated raw pig ear. Something that none of us would have imagined could wreak such havoc and destruction on peoples lives and on the pet treat market. But how, we wonder, did all of this happen?

WHO’S AT FAULT FOR THE OUTBREAK?

Do I start with the worldwide export of contaminated animal byproducts into the US, or the US pork producers who also produce and sell contaminated pig ears? 

Do we blame the US Customs and Border Patrol who – with their limited resources – for not catching the contaminated product before it passes customs?

Do we fault the American co-packer who, either by fault of ignorance, indifference or greed, repackages the contaminated treats and offloads them onto an unsuspecting public, without consideration of the consequences of their actions?

Do we blame the retailers who, out of greed, continue to sell the contaminated treats?

Do we blame state and county regulators and health officials, who with lack of resources do not have the workforce to search retail and online establishment for the offending products?

NOT TO SOUND PARANOID, BUT WHO CAN WE TRUST?

What kind of trust can we have in a system so fragile it is easily broken by a lack of resources? So tenuous as to allow the greed and ignorance of importers, manufacturers and retailers to pawn their contaminated product onto a vulnerable public without consequences?

CAN WE COUNT ON AMAZON AND CHEWY?

In particular, I wonder why two of the largest and most influential retailers in the US, Amazon and Chewy, are incapable – with their vast resources – of protecting their customers from unsafe products. Products that, according to the US government, should not be sold. But they are still being sold – and in vast numbers by various brands without caution or care.

IS THERE A BRIGHTSIDE?

The one bright spot in this tragedy is the investigation into the multistate outbreak of salmonellosis tied to pig ears would not have been possible without the cooperation of the FDA and the CDC. I applaud their efforts because they have been tremendous, with their communications, with their outreach and education.

So, maybe – just maybe – the next time you think of bashing the FDA – think again. Because, although every government system is not without its flaws, right now the FDA and your local state regulators are the only protection you have between what you buy for yourself, your family and your pets comes from their power to uphold the laws of the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act. 

A SNAPSHOT IN TIME OF THE OUTBREAK

Snapshots By the Numbers (as of 8/30/19)
Outbreak Investigation Summary

  • The FDA has traced back some of the pig ear treats associated with cases of illness to sources in Argentina and Brazil. Three firms have recalled their products. Samples of these treats have tested positive for Salmonella, and further testing is ongoing to identify the specific Salmonella fingerprint.
  • The FDA is working with affected firms to remove pig ear pet treats from the marketplace and identify places where they may have been distributed.
  • Testing has identified several Salmonella types in pig ear pet treats, including Salmonella enterica serotypes I 4,[5],12:i:-, Infantis, London, and Newport.
  • On July 3, Pet Supplies Plus notified the public about a recall of all bulk pig ear products supplied to all its retail locations by several different vendors, including Lennox Intl Inc.
  • On July 26, Lennox Intl Inc. issued a public notification about a recall of its products. On July 30, the firm expanded that recall and issued an additional public notification.
  • On August 16, 2019, Dog Goods USA LLC announced a recall of non-irradiated bulk and packaged Chef Toby Pig Ears. 
  • On August 22, the FDA updated Import Alert 72-03 to include three firms that presented pig ears for import that then tested positive for Salmonella: Custom Pet S.A.S (Colombia), Suarko SRL (Argentina), and Anabe Industria e Comercio de Proteinas (Brazil).
  • On August 27, Brutus & Barnaby recalled all variations of their Pig Ear Natural Treats for Dogs.

Advice for Consumers

  • The FDA and CDC recommend that people avoid purchasing or feeding any pig ear pet treats at this time. This recommendation may change as more information becomes available.
  • If you have pig ear treats, throw them away in a secure container where animals, including wildlife, cannot access it. Wash your hands thoroughly and disinfect any surfaces that have come into contact with potentially contaminated products.
  • In general, if you choose to feed treats like pig ears, practice good hygiene by: monitoring your pet while they have the treat, picking up the treat when they are done with it, keeping treats away from small children, cleaning the areas the treat contacted, washing hands, and not allowing your pet to lick you, your family members, or surfaces in your home.
  • Salmonella can affect both human and animal health. People with symptoms of Salmonella infection should consult their healthcare providers. Consult a veterinarian if your pet has symptoms of Salmonella infection.
Outbreak Investigation

  • CDC reports 143 people infected with the outbreak serotypes of Salmonella
  • Illnesses have been reported from 35 states: AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, HI, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, ME, MI, MN, MO, NC, ND, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OR, PA, SC, TX, UT, WA, WI, VA, and MD.
  • Cases date from 2015 to the present.
  • There have been 26 people hospitalized.
  • No deaths have been reported.

Source: FDA

READ MORE ABOUT IT

The following links provide more information on the FDA’s ongoing investigation of Salmonella contaminated pig ears and their link to human illness:

 

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