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Dangerous Products from China

October 29, 2013

My first blog was going to be about dogs and cold weather, however, I feel I must address the ongoing deaths and illness thousands of dogs have experienced with treats from China.  I have been sourcing and purchasing dog food and treats for six years for our retail storefront and our online store animalgracellc.com. During this time we’ve had one unbreakable rule – we refuse to carry any food or treats either made in China or with ingredients processed in China.  Previous to my involvement in the pet industry, I conducted purchasing duties for an organic food company where I became informed about the dangers of Chinese products.

I am continually surprised at the number of Americans with dogs who insist on purchasing edibles  such as chicken jerky treats from China since the media coverage about the thousands of pet deaths over the past ten years from Chinese products has been extensive.  The 2007 melamine poisoning incident may have been the worst single case but numerous issues with Chinese products have occurred since.  These incidents of intentional ingredient tampering have taken place in food products for humans as well like the 2008 melamine-contaminated baby formula which, according to the Chinese government, caused over 54,000 babies to be hospitalized.  Apparently the “profit by any means” attitude remains intact as evidenced by this year’s “fake meat” scandal where fox, mink and rat meat was sold as mutton after being treated with toxic chemicals to disguise the true source.  The list of tampering schemes is lengthy and has no signs of abating anytime soon.  If Chinese criminals are willing to subject their own people to such risks, why would anyone believe they will not continue altering pet products sold to Westerners?  The current dog treat crisis in the US has sickened at least 3,600 dogs and killed 600, so far!

It is true that there are some shady practices in the US food industry but nothing approaching the corruption in China.  Even companies with high quality standards can discover a problem resulting in a recall.  Beyond the scope of the problem, my concern is how they handle the recall and steps put in place to prevent recurrence.  Any sign that the business attempts to sidestep the issue would cause me to eliminate them from consideration permanently.  What is so troubling about the Chinese incidents is that they resulted from intentional, deliberate tampering and falsification to increase their profit margin at the expense of the user regardless of the consequences.  These are people without a heart and we must stay vigilant to keep them out of our lives and the lives of the dogs and cats for whom we are responsible.

Protecting your pets from “poisoning by China” is so easy – just do not buy products made in China.  There are ways for unscrupulous companies to skirt the country of origin issue so some inferior products will get by us but the least we can do is to check the packaging for statements that the item was made in China.  The information to look for is typically in the bottom corner in very small text. You can take it one step further by checking the product website and even contacting the manufacturer concerning ingredient sourcing since an item can be listed as being made in one country but comprised of products from several others.  Case in point, I was interested in stocking a product containing wild-caught salmon but decided not to purchase it when I learned that the salmon was processed in China thereby increasing the risk of tampering.  I also suggest not doing business with companies that make any products in China even if the product in question is not.  The public needs to send a message to corporations that they are willing to spend their dollars exclusively with conscientious companies.

It may cost a bit more to buy food and treats not made in China but it could be one of the best purchasing decisions you ever make.  I limit my purchases to products made in the USA, Canada and New Zealand.  There are hundreds of dog food and treat alternatives so limiting your choices to a few countries is not only easy but will result in a safer, healthier product.

Brands we recommend include:

Honest Kitchen (USA)

Clear Conscience (USA)

Ziwi Peak (New Zealand)

Orijen (Canada)

K9 Kravings (USA)

Snooks (USA)

Himalayan Dog Chews (made in the Himalayan villages as opposed to Chinese factories)

Currently on the FDA list of treat recalls due to Chinese ingredient contamination:

Nestle Purina’s: Waggin’ Train Jerky Treats or Tenders and Canyon Creek Ranch Jerky Treats or Tenders

Del Monte Corp’s: Milo’s Kitchen Home-Style Dog Treats and Chicken Griller Home-Style Dog Treats

Publix stores recalled their own brand of : Chicken Tenders Dog Chew Treats

IMS Pet Industries Inc.: Cadet Brand Chicken Jerky Treats sold in the US

Dogswell/Catswell: Duck or Chicken Jerky Teats with the “Best Before” date of  January 2015 (or any earlier date) [added October 28,2013]

Joey’s Jerky: Chicken Jerky, due to salmonella bacteria [added October 29, 2013]

Note: At Animal Grace we do have some ingredients originating in China which are components of the Herbsmith herbal blends but these are unprocessed and unavailable elsewhere.

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