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Yesterday I received information (copied below) on quite possibly ANOTHER harmful product manufactured in China. When I tried to verify the information I found no solid news stories on the subject. That would normally keep me from posting something in this public venue, but as we’ve all seen over the past seven months of pet-related recalls, there have been several times when vital recall information has been withheld from the public (Wal-Mart pulls chicken jerky dog treats produced in China) which has ultimately resulted in the sickness and/or death of beloved pets. If there is ANY chance that Smokehouse Chicken Breast Tenders Treats ARE causing health issues for our pets, then the information needs to get out ASAP. We can’t wait for big business and governments to take their own sweet time testing products first if there is ANY evidence out there that problems might exist.

As I said, I have not found any conclusive information as to the validity of this bulletin, other than seeing the same information posted around the internet on various animal-related sites. Ultimately it’s up to each pet owner to decide what is valid and what is not, faced with as much information as possible. Truth be told, if I was faced with the same situation as Bella’s owner, where my pet suddenly became ill after ingesting a product from a country with as many health/safety issues as we have been seeing from China, I would be doing the same thing and trying as hard as I could to plaster the information in as many venues as possible.

There IS always a chance this story is not true, but honestly I can’t imagine why anyone (other than someone with an ax to grind with Smokehouse) would go to such lengths. If the story proves to be false, I would much rather have erred on the side of any pet’s safety than to withold information just because the mainstream media and/or our government or big business has not relayed the facts to us. Hopefully we will soon hear from some legitimate agency, or from the company that owns Smokehouse Chicken Breast Tenders Treats, as to the validity of the claims against the product. In the meantime, buyer beware–again! (***Added 9/13/07 at 1PM PST: Blog reader, Buck, posted a comment below which includes an AVMA press release [release was updated by AVMA on 9/14/07] which would lead one to believe the Smokehouse issue is valid–thanks, Buck!***)

Here is the body of the bulletin I received yesterday, minus the city in New York of the PetSmart location mentioned:

PLEASE READ AND SHARE THIS WITH ANYONE WHO HAS DOGS, ESPECIALLY SMALL DOGS

New York:

Bella, 3 years old, 4 pounds

Product – Smoke House Chicken Breast Tenders Treats

Bella became suddenly ill ,and now hospitalized with her life threatened due to Smoke House Chicken Tenders. I recently purchased at Pet Smart.

It doesn’t matter where you purchase them, just don’t purchase them.

This was the first time I bought the Smoke House treats. Having read the label, it was listed as all natural, no additives, dyes etc. The treats were purchased on or about August 17. She loved them and I was happy because she typically only likes one treat. By August 23 she vomited bile, and again on August 24. Her personality began to change becoming lethargic, wanting to stay in her bed, loss of appetite. excessive drinking, urinating frequently in excessive amounts. urine became orange like in color. By August 28 she was severely dehydrated and lost one of her three pounds.

Sugar was found in her urine which would typically indicate diabetes. Bella was put on IV and given an antibiotic to take while tests were being done over Labor Day weekend.

Test results showed “irregularity in the lower part of her kidney. Possibly a hole in the kidney because of the malfunction.

By today Sept 7, she was no better and very low on energy and interest in being around anyone. I brought the package of Smoke House Chicken Tenders with me to the vet because it was the only thing that was different in her diet.

My wonderful vet, a graduate of Cornell University searched the Cornell Veterinarian site where veterinarians report unusual cases which are tracked. The search was done by symptoms. A second search by chicken treats.

There were numerous cases on the Cornell University Veterinarian web site, all with the same symptoms, test results and yes, related to chicken tender treats made in China. Never did it cross my mind that this product was made in China. When Dr. didn’t find complete listing of ingredients on the package he called the number listed on the back of the package identifying himself and asked for ingredients to help understand what was happening to my pet. The only thing the person on the phone with a strong Chinese accent was “all natural, all natural”. Sure enough looking at the small print on the bottom back of the package is “product of China”, the same source of other products that have been killing our pets. I sat beside my vet and read along with him.

Following are primary repeated findings;

-severe damage to the kidney often resulting in complete renal failure and death -numerous reports in the past four to five weeks, a larger number on the East Coast

– chicken and beef treats promoted as all natural -it does not matter what the label is, if it is a product of China -if caught early enough, hospitalized on IV hydrating and flushing the kidney over days with nutrients may help the kidney heal itself and the pet could then live with the damaged kidney -if not caught early complete renal failure is expected -most cases reported are related to small dogs -initial symptoms indicate diabetes -mold is often found when flushing the kidney (found in Bella)

I have been in touch with Pet Smart requesting them to help get the ingredients. Time is lost analyzing the food. Today a vet at Cornell purchased a bag after reading the report my Vet posted on Bella. He then contacted my vet to say the bag he bought had mold in it despite an expiration date one year from now. I was asked to look closely at whatever was left in my bag, but saw none.

After Bella was admitted to the vet I went directly to Pet Smart in ****** NY, told the Manager what happened and asked her to assist getting the ingredients identified. I was met with a hostile attitude. She was only interested in getting my name because she felt I was going to file a complaint. The person at PS headquarters responsible for knowing food ingredients at Pet Smart headquarters is trying to help.

The information available to vets on the Cornell web site is not public information. No one seems to be aware of this. Dogs are misdiagnosed

PLEASE SEND THIS ON TO YOUR PET LOVING FRIENDS AND SAVE A PET AND LOTS OF HEARTACHE.

PLEASE POST THIS INFORMATION ON ANY WEB SITE YOU CAN CONCERNING PETS.

Looks like Sen. Durbin is continuing to stand up for pets and their parents by pushing forward with his pursuit of the truth in all this pet food contamination mess. He, along with Sen. Cantwell, sent a letter today (will copy it below…note to Sen. Durbin’s office, “You might want to proofread the letter before sending next time. United States Senator was spelled Untied States Senator.”…then again, I suppose we are ALL feeling a bit ‘untied’ lately. 😉) to Commissioner Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D. (FDA) requesting action by the FDA on many fronts, most interestingly in regard to this alarming (yet not very surprising) discovery of a second importer of rice protein, which is more than likely melamine-tainted:

We have learned that in addition to Wilbur-Ellis, a second United States company imported a shipment of rice protein from China that is also likely to be contaminated with melamine. We request the FDA identify this second importer as well as those manufacturers to which it may have sold the contaminated product. Again, we request the FDA closely track this shipment and immediately press the affected companies to recall any food containing the imported rice protein.

Part of a Reuters Alert story “US Senators raise new concerns in pet food scare” reports:

An aide to Durbin said the senators found out about the second importer from industry sources.

If confirmed, that could further expand a pet food recall that so far includes more than 100 brands. FDA officials have confirmed 16 deaths of cats and dogs from kidney failure and have received more than 15,000 reports of illnesses.

The senators’ letter came ahead of a congressional hearing on Tuesday to examine the pet food scare as well as the larger issue of human food safety before a U.S. House of Representatives committee.

FDA spokeswoman Cathy McDermott said so far the agency is only aware of one rice protein importer, Wilbur-Ellis Co., but the investigation is ongoing.

Is anyone else as tired of the same old line of crap from the FDA? The, “Um, uh, the investigation is ongoing…we have our fingers up our patootie and can’t handle our jobs…what’s a little poison amongst friends?” line of malarkey they keep regurgitating. ARGH!!! I feel like a broken record bitching and moaning about the fact that the FDA should be able to track ANY DARN THING at ANY MOMENT. There is no reason,with technology such as it is, that someone can’t get on the phone or online and track things down. Heck, the blogging community has done a better job tracking down information than some of the media AND government agencies. Okay, gotta keep the blood pressure down…breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out. The good news is that there is another hearing tomorrow, so hopefully some folks responsible for protecting our food supplies (both human and pet) will get their collective fannies nailed to the wall by Senator Durbin and others.

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On the quarantined hog farm (melamine) situation, here’s the latest update (4/22/07) from the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Click here for their initial 4/19/07 news release.

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DURBIN, CANTWELL ASK FDA TO STRENGTHEN INSPECTIONS AND DISCLOSE COMPANIES THAT PURCHASED CONTAMINATED RICE PROTEIN FROM CHINA

Monday, April 23, 2007

[WASHINGTON, DC] — U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) today sent a letter to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, Andrew von Eschenbach asking him to identify the companies that were recipients of the contaminated rice protein shipments from China and to request that the FDA identify and inspect all suspect pet food ingredients imported by the U.S. from China and other countries.

Recent reports indicate that in addition to the contaminated wheat gluten found during the first wave of pet food recalls, contaminated shipments of rice protein and corn gluten have been used for pet food and could have entered the human food supply. On April 2nd, a Chinese company, Binzhou-Futian, sold rice protein to Wilbur-Ellis and a second unknown importer. Wilbur-Ellis has said that the shipment was distributed to five pet food manufacturers. Three of those manufacturers have revealed themselves and recalled food, the other two have not.

Given the strong possibility that these two pet food manufacturers also received contaminated rice protein and that they have failed to implement voluntary recalls, Durbin and Cantwell today asked FDA to release the names of these manufacturers and require them to trace and recall any pet food made with the potentially contaminated rice protein. The Senators have also asked that the name of the second importer be released.

Last week, Senator Durbin and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) met with U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, Andrew von Eschenbach in Durbin’s Capitol office to discuss the latest recall of pet food, this time caused by contaminated rice protein imported from China. In the meeting, Durbin and DeLauro learned that the Chinese Government has blocked requests from the FDA to send personnel to China to inspect the facilities suspected of producing the contaminated products. The FDA first contacted the Chinese Government on April 4, 2007, but have not been granted permission to send food inspectors into the country. In response, Durbin and DeLauro sent a letter to the Chinese Ambassador to the United States, Zhou Wenzong, urging the Chinese Government to issue visas to U.S. food inspectors as quickly as possible.

Two weeks ago, Durbin and Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), the Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing the FDA’s response to the pet food recall. The hearing examined the timeline of the investigation, the source of the contamination, and the agency’s regulatory and inspection responsibilities. In the hearing, the Senators also questioned outside experts about the current state of the pet food industry, as well as regulatory or resource shortfalls that led to the widespread recall of tainted pet food.

Text of the letter appears below:

 


April 23, 2007Commissioner Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D.
Parklawn Bldg.
Mail Code: HF-1
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, MD 20856Dear Commissioner:We are writing today in light of the recent expansion in the pet food recall. Over the past week, shipments of imported rice protein and corn gluten have been discovered to be contaminated with melamine. In addition, we have learned that the human food supply may be at risk from tainted pet food sold to a hog feeding operation in California.Once again, our food supply has been put at risk by contaminated ingredients that originated overseas and were never inspected by the FDA. In addition to identifying those companies who were recipients of the contaminated rice protein and have yet to do the right thing by identifying themselves, we request that the FDA begin comprehensive testing and sampling of both rice protein and corn gluten, similar to the testing and sampling performed on wheat gluten. The FDA must assure Congress and the American people that the shipments of rice protein known to be contaminated with melamine imported by Wilbur Ellis and the second unknown importer are the only shipments of contaminated rice protein to reach the United States and that no contaminated corn gluten has reached the United States. Should any additional contaminated rice protein or corn gluten be found, the FDA should take immediate action to identify those companies receiving the contaminated products and press for removal of any contaminated food from the market. Additionally, we request that the FDA conduct comprehensive testing on all pet food about which it has received complaints regarding symptoms of kidney failure in dogs or cats. The FDA’s strategy thus far of waiting for companies to self-report contamination and make the individual decision to remove contaminated food in their own time frame has served to increase the number of animals sick and dying and magnify this sad situation.Repeatedly, American pet owners have been told that products not on the recall list are safe for their pets, only to discover that the recall has expanded and that their pets may still be vulnerable. In order to prevent further contaminated food from reaching our shelves, we are requesting the following of the Food and Drug Administration:1. Wilbur-Ellis Co., the San Francisco-based company that imported the shipment of contaminated rice protein has said that the shipment was distributed to five pet food manufacturers. Three of those manufacturers have revealed themselves and recalled food, the other two have not. Given the strong possibility that these two pet food manufacturers also received contaminated rice protein and that they have failed to implement voluntary recalls, we believe the FDA should release the names of these manufacturers and require them to trace and recall any pet food made with the potentially contaminated rice protein. If FDA is unable to reveal this information, we ask for a detailed legal explanation.2. We have learned that in addition to Wilbur-Ellis, a second United States company imported a shipment of rice protein from China that is also likely to be contaminated with melamine. We request the FDA identify this second importer as well as those manufacturers to which it may have sold the contaminated product. Again, we request the FDA closely track this shipment and immediately press the affected companies to recall any food containing the imported rice protein.3. The FDA has engaged in significant testing and sampling of wheat gluten. Given we now know contaminated shipments of both rice protein concentrate and corn gluten have also been exported from China, we ask the FDA to begin comprehensive testing and sampling of rice protein concentrate and corn gluten immediately.4. We have seen this recall expand dramatically, both in terms of the number of brands and different products recalled, and in the number of ingredients contaminated. In light of the strong possibility that these protein sources were purposefully contaminated for economic purposes, we are concerned about the safety of other imported pet food ingredients and the possibility of them being contaminated. Accordingly, we ask the FDA to proactively respond by:

¡ Identifying and inspecting all suspect pet food ingredients imported by the U.S. from China and other countries;

¡ Studying the feasibility of testing protein-based pet food ingredients imported from China and other countries for melamine;

¡ Taking steps to work with the Chinese Government and other foreign governments to inspect their facilities and provide technical assistance to improve their food safety standards.

Approximately 63% of Americans own a cat or a dog. The FDA owes the American public their best effort to prevent contaminated food from getting to store shelves and to remove contaminated food that is already on shelves before more pets die. We look forward to the Food and Drug Administration’s prompt and complete response to this letter.

Sincerely,
Richard J. Durbin
Untied States Senator

Maria E. Cantwell
Untied States Senator

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POSTS for 3/17-8/22:

  • 3/18/07: Science Diet has added some of their foods to the voluntary recall list. Pets HAVE died and others are suffering severe health problems, so PLEASE check this new list AND the ones I listed above. Thank you! Science Diet Recall (On 3/30/07 Science Diet recalled feline m/d)
  • 3/18/07 10:15PM PST: The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is even posting information which shows just how far-reaching this has become. They even have a web page with information on how to register adverse reactions/consumer complaints. I appreciate that so many of you are reading as much as you can about this and staying on top of the situation. What wonderful owners your pets have! 🙂 And PLEASE continue to spread the information to AS MANY folks as you can, and have THEM stay on top of it as well. I’ll definitely continue to add information as I find out about it.
  • 3/19/07 11:10 AM PST: Looks like Menu Foods has another press release, which interestingly enough says it’s not for US newswire services, whatever THAT really means. It’s in PDF format and can be accessed from their main recall page.
  • 3/20/07 11:20 AM PST: It is disconcerting to hear that in February, Menu Foods apparently was notified of the problems with pets eating certain Menu Foods produced food, did their own testing in which approximately 17% of the tested pets died, yet it wasn’t until March 16th that the recall was announced?!?! I am obviously no expert on how these things work, but it sure seems to me that the motto of “better safe than sorry” should have been in place LONG BEFORE March 16th! Menu Foods recall notice states:

“We take these complaints very seriously and, while we are still looking for a specific cause, we are acting to err on the side of caution” said Paul K. Henderson, President and CEO, Menu Foods. “We will do whatever is necessary to ensure that our products maintain the very highest quality standards.”

Seems to me that “acting to err on the side of caution” would have meant alerting consumers about the problems MUCH sooner than they did. According to news reports, Menu Foods was alerted by pet owners about deaths and renal failure on February 20th, Menu Foods began their own tests February 27th where between 15%-20% of the pets they tested died, yet the recall was not announced until March 16th, THREE WEEKS AFTER they were first alerted of the deaths and health issues?!?!

I certainly hope to hear SOME type of logical explanation SOON from Menu Foods, but until then all I can assume is that $$$$ (especially since in their initial press release on 3/16/07 they repeatedly mention how much the recall could cost their company) and probable financial loss is what had Menu Foods dragging their feet, while their consumers were unknowingly feeding their beloved pets food which could possibly kill them, if not leave them with painful health issues and enormous veterinary bills which many owners cannot truly afford. I worked in the veterinary field for nearly 7 years and know the high cost of health care for pets, along with having had expensive medical situations with my own pets. But that is what pet owners do, they care for their pets as if they were members of their family, which they are (just four-legged instead of two-legged), and will put themselves into debt just to make sure their pets get the best care possible. Unfortunately there will be pets whose health care costs related to the issues from the tainted food will be too high for some owners to absorb, and they will then have to make the heartbreaking choice to have their beloved pet euthanized.

Come on Menu Foods, let’s get cracking on finding some solutions here. I think everyone understands that “accidents” and “mistakes” do happen in life, which might possibly explain how the food became tainted in the first place, but the part I’m having the hardest time understanding right now is why the recall took so long to be announced to consumers. What do you have to say Menu Foods? You have countless pet owners looking to you for answers.

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Sniffin’ out the info

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