“If these products are dangerous we’re asking (the FDA) to ask these manufacturers for a voluntary recall,” that’s what U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio demanded in a news conference yesterday, adding the agency has received about 400 additional complaints in the last few weeks.
In the news conference, held at Ohio’s Humane Society, Sen. Brown continues to urge the FDA to speed up their investigation and has requested that responsible manufacturers issue a precautionary recall of the tainted treats without haste, “That’s why, I’m calling on the FDA to step up its investigation of the importation of pet food—especially from China, where the possibility of food contamination is high.”
Brown was accompanied by pet parent Holly McCutcheon, whose four year-old dog, Jack, became seriously ill and nearly died as a result of being fed Nestle-Purina brand Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch jerky treats imported from China. She wept as she spoke of Jack, a therapy dog that spends his time visiting schools and nursing homes, whom she came close to losing. Her other dog was fortunate to have survived, but many other dogs have not been as lucky.
Brown was also joined by Karen Minton, Ohio state director of the Humane Society of the United States, who conceded that although there had been some changes since the melamine pet food poisoning crisis of 2007 said, “regular recalls of contaminated or unsafe pet food and treats continue, leaving pet owners concerned about which products they can trust. We commend Senator Brown for continuing to push this important issue to protect pets.”
Last month Sen. Brown, along with other leaders, made a similar appeal to the FDA at a news conference the FDA. Brown also sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg, urging the FDA to promptly pursue efforts to find the contaminant in these pet treats and ensure that they are pulled from store shelves, but he has yet to receive any official response.
Despite warnings posted on and off since 2007 on the FDA website about the dangers associated with the treats, most consumers are unaware of the notifications. FDA notices are seldom read by typical consumers and as the notices are not required to be published, in retail establishments, veterinary offices, online outlets, manufacturer’s websites or on products themselves, a consumer is unlikely to ever know about the serious danger associated with the treats until there is a problem, which in many cases was too late.
Nestle-Purina, the makers of Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch jerky treats (also sold as tenders, strips and chews) have insisted, despite thousands of complaints, that there is nothing wrong with their product and until the FDA finds the contaminate they will do nothing to stop the problem. Nestle-Purina was, at one point, briefly entertained the idea of considering victim’s claims, but without warning, abruptly removed all offers from the table.
Until such time, manufacturers continue to sell the tainted treats with the excuse that until the FDA discovers what the contaminate is they are not going to pull it from the market, voluntarily or otherwise.
As a result, bereft and angry consumers have taken to the internet to broadcast their plight, posting complaints on the manufacturer’s websites and Facebook pages, consumer affairs sites, petsumer forums, pet blogs, YouTube and have banded together to form a grassroots advocacy group called Animal Parents Against Pet Treats Made in China. They have been joined by hundreds of victims and consumer pet food safety advocates to share their grief, express their anger and organize and implement political and social action.
It was the efforts of one such member of the group, Candace Thaxton, whose impassioned letters to her legislators prompted both Ohio Senator Brown and Ohio Representative Kucinich to take up her cause and fight to get the products off the market. Since then other leaders in the veterinary community and the humane societies have joined the politician’s plea.
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