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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.

SOURCES:

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.