China Killed Your Dog. Are You Next?

Photo Credit: Daniel J. Groshong/Bloomberg NewsHas your dog exhibited unpleasant health effects — such as, oh, death — after eating jerky treats imported from China? If so, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration would really “like to hear from you or your veterinarian.”

That, in essence, is the white flag of surrender the FDA raised on its homepage this week, effectively conceding its inability to figure out what, precisely, in imported jerky treats has sickened 3,600 dogs and 10 cats since 2007. According to the agency, approximately 580 of those cats and dogs have died from causes that include kidney failure and gastrointestinal bleeding.

Yet, despite the fact that the agency has tested more than 1,200 jerky treats since 2011, visited Chinese pet food plants and engaged in collaborations across governments and academia, there’s no reason to believe that the agency’s regulators are any closer to understanding the outbreak than they were six years ago. So, left to their own devices, they’re asking for help from the public.

This should worry more than pet owners. According to U.S. government data collected by Food & Water Watch, a nongovernmental group concerned with food safety issues, U.S. imports of Chinese food products for human consumption have increased from 2.3 billion tons in 2003 to 4.1 billion tons in 2012. In effect, Americans would be well within their rights to wonder: If the agency can’t secure the jerky treats, what guarantee is there it can secure the 367.2 million gallons of Chinese apple juice Americans imported in 2012?

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