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Senator Brown blasts head of the FDA over tainted pet treats

At a Senate Appropriations hearing Thursday, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) rattled the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s cage, over China and toxic pet treats.

At the hearing, Brown urged Dr. Margaret Hamburg, head of the FDA, to be more aggressive on pet treat safety, and to continue all efforts to find the root cause of the contaminant.

Sen. Brown also suggested to Ms. Hamburg that the CEOs of corporations bear the ultimate liability for importing deadly products and be held “personally responsible” for their crimes and be “put in jail”.

Ms. Hamburg reminded Brown that the FDA does not have the tools, the resources or the authority to hold importers of deadly food related products accountable. In an understatement of tragic proportions Ms. Hamburg concluded, “it’s still a real problem”.

Brown replied that during the time that she has been in office he has been watching her and following her career to which he added, “I’m not convinced you’ve been aggressive enough.”

In a press release statement, Brown said:

While I am encouraged that the FDA has begun inspections at the Chinese plants that manufacture chicken jerky dog treats, I remain concerned about the numerous pet owners that could still be buying these treats, unaware of the possible contamination, and feeding the treats to their beloved dogs. The FDA must be as aggressive as possible to find the source of this contamination, which has already led to illness and death among an untold number of pets in Ohio and across our country.

Five weeks ago Senator Brown demanded action on the FDA’s inadequate response to his initial inquiry into the tainted treats, the FDA relented and told him they “had boots on the ground” in China inspecting four facilities “along the supply chain” that supply US  manufactures with the dehydrated poultry product.

The FDA did not make clear whether those “boots” were sent to China specifically for the assignment or whether the boots belonged to the existing skeleton crew of FDA inspectors already on assigned at the post in China.

However, such a grand gesture seems extremely unlikely considering the priorities and limited resources of the FDA which are already stretched to the breaking point both here in the US as well as overseas.

Pet parents continue to wait, with increasing frustration, for updates from the FDA; the details of the inspection of facilities in China,  and for an update of the 130 tests still pending of the chicken jerky treats.


Webcast of Senate Appropriations meeting with Sen. Brown and Dr. Margaret Hamburg  (To view Senator Brown’s comments in the webcast to Ms. Hamburg begin at 46.26; his comments regarding pet food and treats begins at 50.20 and ends at 57.00)
At Senate Hearing, Sen. Brown Presses FDA Chief  Over Tainted Chicken Jerky Pet Treats
U.S. Senator Brown’s Press Releases

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Mollie Morrissette

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

Comments (9) Write a comment

  1. Pingback: Vets advise avoiding toxic treats while Purina tells vets it’s all lies « Poisoned Pets

  2. why can`t we make our own dog treats? I would rather pay more and keep my doggie alive and healthy.


    • Since this tragedy, that is what most people are doing now – making their own. It’s not rocket science. There are a million and one recipes on the net for making your own jerky treats. All you need is an oven or a good dehydrator — oh — and some chicken of course. How hard is that?


  3. Pingback: State of denial: pet food industry veterinarian downplays toxic treats role in poisoning dogs « Poisoned Pets

  4. Pingback: Canadian vets report of life-threatening dog illness linked to imported treats from US and China « Poisoned Pets

  5. My sweet pomeranian, Roxie, almost died last week. We didn’t know why – our vet could not determine a cause – but I now wonder if it is the Waggin Tails chicken jerky treats we have been feeding her pretty much her whole life (she is almost 6 years old). We have 2 other dogs who also eat them, rather vigorously I might add, but no more. If I had ever had any inkling they were not safe, they would never have been allowed in my house. Thank you for the information and keep fighting the good fight.


  6. Thank you Mollie and Senator Brown!! Yes, follow the money trail both here and abroad. These dried chicken treats have become a big ticket item. So there is resistance to removing it from the shelves. I gave my dogs milk bone treats for years and no problem. Just one dried chicken veggie treat in June of 2011 and I almost lost my dog. I did not wait the FDA recommended 24 hours, instead she had a water infusion at the vets in about 14 hours the next morning. I am now waiting for the results of the FDA testing of the treats. They picked them up on March 1, as well as her vet records. The sorrow and pain of lost pets needs to be addressed. I hope something will be found in the testing. The companies may just continue to switch treat formulas and names, and company owners, and keep the problem going. I brought FDA warning printouts to Pet Smart, and I was told they would send it to corporate head quarters. They kept selling the stuff. Yes, the companies and Ceo’s need to be held responsible.


  7. I thought Senator Brown did an excellent job of defining who is ultimately responsible – the CEO’s of the companies importing these items from China. He was also appropriately firm with Dr. Hamburg about not being aggressive enough in these types of cases. This burden should not lie solely with the FDA, who are overwhelmed by the increase in the volume of imports from China. Until the CEO’s take full responsibility and quit hiding behind the overloaded FDA, consumers will be the ones that suffer, including humans and pets. Thanks again to Senator Brown who was not afraid to take this to task.


    • Wasn’t he great? He doesn’t pull any punches. I particularly liked his suggestion that CEOs be held ultimately responsible (what a concept, huh?) and thrown in jail if they sell deadly products! Go Brown!



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