After years of concern over the safety of jerky treats made in China, including thousands of reports of sick dogs, Petco and Petsmart plan to stop selling treats made in China, phasing them out over the next few months.*
Here's how it went down: The FDA has been investigating the safety of jerky treats made in China for years. On Friday, according to the L.A. Times, came an alarming update. The agency has received more than 4,800 reports of illnesses with consistent symptoms in pets that had eaten the treats, involving 5,600 dogs, 24 cats and three humans. More than a thousand of those dogs died.
Now, that doesn't mean those illnesses were definitively due to the treats. The FDA has received 1,800 reports since the last publicity push, back in October; as Modern Farmer points out, that's the kind of situation where you're likely to see false positives. The FDA did necropsies on 26 dogs and essentially ruled out the jerky as culprit in 13 cases.
And even in the cases the FDA suspects are related to the jerky, thorough testing still hasn't nailed down a specific cause. The agency has teamed up with the CDC, comparing various dogs' diets, in the hopes of finding an answer. In the meantime, NBC News tracked down one popular manufacturer, and the company's CEO demonstrated his faith in their product by eating one himself.
But he said his sales have already dropped with safety worries mounting in the U.S., and in the wake of Friday's report, Petco promised to clear its shelves of any remaining China-made treats by the end of the year, and Petsmart immediately followed suit. Petco's CEO explained:
"As a leader in the industry and the trusted partner for our pet parents, we're eager to make this transition and to expand our assortment of safe and healthy treats," Myers said. "Very simply, we feel this decision is in the best interest of the pets we all love and, ultimately, for our business."
Of course, it's also worth noting that, despite those persuasive puppy eyes, treats aren't a dietary requirement. When in doubt, skip.
*The original wording in this story was unclear — Petco and Petsmart aren't pulling the products immediately, but phasing them out over the next few months. It's a commitment to stop selling any treats made in China, not a recall of specifically tainted products. (I still maybe wouldn't feed my dog any sketchy jerky, though?) The headline has been tweaked accordingly.
Photo via AP Images.