Nearly a week after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released an updated report about its ongoing investigation of “Made in China” chicken, duck, and sweet potato jerky treats for cats and dogs, two national pet supply retailers have responded by agreeing to pull those treats from their store shelves.
Since reports of mysterious illnesses and pet deaths linked to these jerky treat started surfacing back in 2007, Petco has tried to cut down on the number of China-produced food products, says Petco CEO Jim Myers.
“We’ve been following the FDA warnings and related customer concerns closely, and we’ve been actively reducing our China-made assortment and expanding our American-made offerings for several years now,” Myers tells the Los Angeles Times.
According to Lisa Stark, a Petco spokesperson, only five years ago, 90 percent of available cat and dog treats were made in China; today, that number has fallen to 50 percent, and will continue to fall until all of these treats have been phased out.
“We know some pet parents are wary of dog and cat treats made in China, especially chicken jerky products, and we’ve heard their concerns,” Myers says.
Petco promises to pull “Made in China” treats from its store shelves and website by the end of 2014.
PetSmart vows it will do the same by March 2015.
“PetSmart will no longer sell dog and cat treats manufactured in China,” says PetSmart spokesperson Erin Gray in a statement. “This is something we’ve been working toward for some time, and feel it’s the right thing to do for pets and our customers.”
In the meantime, as the jerky treat investigation continues, the FDA advises pet owners to use extreme caution when it comes to feeding jerky treats to their cats or dogs — or to avoid these possibly-tainted treats altogether. As of May 1, the FDA has collected more than 4,800 complaints involving pet illnesses or deaths possibly linked to jerky treats, and more reports from concerned pet owners continue to pour in every day.
To learn more about the FDA’s efforts to get to the bottom of the jerky treat illnesses, visit their CVM Updates page. If you believe your cat or your dog has become sick as a result of a tainted treat, the FDA is asking that you and your veterinarian file a report.