petco purges chinese treats

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petco purges chinese treats
Posted by Dr. Ernie Ward on Jan 09 2015

Good job, Petco.

Petco is the first national pet retailer to remove all Chinese-made dog and cat treats from its stores. The move comes after increased public scrutiny and concerns the treats may be related to thousands of sickened pets and potentially 1,000 dog deaths. After Petco’s statement was released, competitor PetSmart responded by stating they would remove all pet treats made in China by March. This is a big step forward on a journey that dates back to 2007.

The FDA revealed in June 2014 that it had received more than 4,800 complaints since 2007 concerning over 5,600 dogs. The FDA reported approximately 1,000 dog deaths have been blamed on the consumption of primarily chicken, duck or sweet potato jerky products imported from China. The FDA investigated these claims, visiting several manufacturing facilities in China, and concluded a specific cause of illness or death could not be found. Still, veterinarians and pet owners have a right to be worried.

The world of pet food and treat manufacturing is often convoluted and confusing. Ingredients may be sourced from multiple countries, processed in numerous plants and repackaged in a byzantine course that circumnavigates the globe before ending up in your pet’s bowl. Further complicating matters, countries in the pet food manufacturing chain may have vastly different standards for pet foods and treats than the U.S. The FDA and USDA do an excellent job of keeping our pets and families as safe as possible. I’m more worried about what happens outside the U.S.

Removing any product from Petco’s 1,200 stores and 1,400 PetSmart locations is a huge deal in the business world. My hope is that this bold move by Petco and PetSmart will force foreign pet food and treat companies to more rigorously evaluate and improve their manufacturing standards and food safety programs. Corporations respond to money, and these two retailers just lost China huge wads of cash. If that doesn’t get their attention, I don’t know what will.

Outspoken pet owners and veterinarians should be thanked for this development. For the past six or seven years, many of us have loudly and publicly encouraged pet owners to read pet food labels and avoid products manufactured in countries with poor pet food safety standards. Petco and PetSmart have seen the sales of these goods decline and are now finishing the battle. I’m also appreciative of the work the FDA continues to do to keep our citizens as safe as possible. Food and drug safety issues are incredibly complex and many times unpredictable. The great news is there’s no safer food and drug supply in the world than the U.S.

My advice remains unchanged: read pet food and treat labels and buy American-made pet products whenever possible. You may pay a few extra dimes for a bowl of dog chow or cookie, but our economy and the safety of our pets is worth it.

Good job, America.