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2013-01-31

Problematic dog treats disappear from retailers

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Until further notice, two giants of the pet food industry recently voluntarily withdrew several popular - and beleaguered - pet treats from the market.
On Jan. 9, Nestlé Purina PetCare Company and its subsidiary Waggin' Train, LLC announced that retail shelves will not longer be stocked with Waggin' Train and Canyon Creek Ranch brand dog treats. The affected products were distributed nationally, including to Wal-Mart stores.
The next day, Milo's Kitchen®, a subsidiary of Del Monte Corp., revealed that it has also voluntarily recalled its Chicken Jerky and Chicken Grillers home-style dog treats from retailers across the United States. Milo's Kitchen products are also carried by Wal-Mart. No other Milo's Kitchen products are affected.
Waggin' Train took the action after learning that the investigators with the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets (NYSDAM) found trace amounts of antibiotic residue in samples of Waggin' Train and Canyon Creek Ranch chicken jerky products. The antibiotic residue was discovered on Jan. 7.
Although administered to poultry in China and other major countries, the antibiotics are not approved for use in the United States. The presence of antibiotic residue in chicken products is considered "an adulteration" in the United States. The antibiotics include sulfaclozine, tilmicosin, trimethoprim, enrofloxacin, and sulfaquinoxaline, according to a report on NBC News.
Some of the antibiotics are sulfa drugs, noted Susan Thixton on her website http://truthaboutpetfood2.com. According to the Vetmed.tamu.edu sulfonamides veterinary information sheet, "Dogs are considered to be unable to acetylate (process or metabolize) sulfonamides to any significant degree." In layman's terms, sulfa drugs do not readily break down in the dog's body, which causes a toxic buildup that contributes to renal damage.
New York State authorities initially requested that Nestlé Purina remove Waggin' Train and Canyon Creek Ranch chicken jerky treats from retail locations in the State of New York, which the company did. At that point, the company prudently conducted a voluntary withdrawal of the products across the nation.
"All of us at Waggin' Train care deeply about pets and their owners, and the quality of our products is of the utmost importance," said Nina Leigh Krueger, president, Waggin' Train LLC. "In the final analysis, our company and our loyal consumers must have total confidence in the products we sell and feed our pets. Once we understand and determine how to comply with the technicalities of different regulatory frameworks, we will work with all appropriate parties to define the best way to supply the market."
Nestlé Purina contacted the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding NYSDAM's findings. There is no indication that the trace amounts of antibiotic residue are linked to the FDA's ongoing investigation of chicken jerky products that have purportedly caused deaths and illnesses in scores of dogs.
No other Purina treats or pet food products are affected by this withdrawal. In addition, Canyon Creek Ranch dog and cat foods, which are manufactured in the United States, are not included in this withdrawal.
Company officials insist that Waggin' Train and Canyon Creek Ranch products do not pose a safety risk to pets when fed as directed.
For product refunds or more information, contact the Waggin' Train Office of Consumer Affairs at 1-800-982-0704 or visit www.waggintrainbrand.com.
In a similar action, investigators with New York State's Department of Agriculture informed the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Milo's Kitchen company that trace amounts of residual antibiotics had also been found in several lots of the company's chicken jerky treats.
After consulting with personnel from New York Department of Agriculture and the FDA, company administrators decided to voluntarily recall Milo's Kitchen Chicken Jerky and Chicken Grillers, which are both sourced from the same chicken suppliers in China.
The use of antibiotics to keep chickens healthy and disease-free while being raised is standard practice in poultry production for both human and pet food. However, the antibiotics found in the products were unapproved and should not have been present in the final food product, according to a company press release.
Although Milo's Kitchen scientists test for a wide range of substances commonly used to ensure the health of chickens, they failed to test for all of the specific antibiotics found by the New York Department of Agriculture.
"Pet safety and consumer confidence in our products are our top priorities," said Rob Leibowitz, general manager, Pet Products division. "While there is no known health risk, the presence of even trace amounts of these antibiotics does not meet our high quality standards. Therefore, today we decided to recall both products and asked retailers to remove the products from their shelves.
He continued, "Consumers who discard the treats will receive a full refund. We are committed to Milo's Kitchen and stand by our guarantee of complete consumer satisfaction."
Consumers with questions about Milo's Kitchen products are advised to call 1-877-228-6493.
In August, executives with Safeway grocery chain announced their stores would no longer carry Milo's Kitchen dog treats after the product had been anecdotally to dog deaths and illnesses.