Newly posted results of more than five years of testing chicken jerky pet treats made in China appear to confirm assertions from government officials that they don’t know what’s making America’s dogs sick, even as complaints about the products have nearly doubled.
Federal Food and Drug Administration officials unexpectedly posted summaries this week of lab results of nearly 300 jerky treat samples collected and tested in the U.S. between April 2007 and June 2012.
The documents indicate that FDA scientists at labs nationwide tested for bacterial contamination, for mold and for chemicals used in antifreeze, resins and plastics that can harm pets. They tested for heavy metals and for the melamine and melamine analogs detected in pet food that sickened thousands of animals in 2007.
At the same time, new FDA figures indicate that the number of complaints of animal illnesses and deaths blamed on the treats has risen to more than 1,800, according to Tamara Ward, an agency spokeswoman.
The lab results show a mere handful of adverse findings related to the popular Chinese-made treats. None of the reports rose to the level of needing regulatory action, such as a recall, the documents indicate.
“This does not represent ALL testing that has and is being conducted by FDA,” Ward said in an email. “Additional testing is currently being conducted through other avenues.”
The FDA released the data a day after NBCNews.com reported that the agency had refused to release results of February inspections of the Chinese plants that make the treats. The agency said releasing the information would violate rules protecting trade secrets and confidential commercial information and that it would interfere with enforcement proceedings.
That data remains confidential.
Pet advocates critical of the FDA said that while they welcome the release of the domestic data, the results indicate that the agency is not looking hard enough for the source of the illnesses, including hundreds of reports of vomiting, diarrhea and kidney failure.
“When I scanned down through the list of testing, they all seemed to be centered around the same handful of tests,” said Susan Thixton, who writes the blog TruthaboutPetFood.com. She believes the FDA needs to broaden its view to include other potential toxins.
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