My wife and I have two Maltese dogs, Timothy (named after New Testament disciple) and Fiona (named after the lead character from the musical Brigadoon). Our daughter has the one and only puppy from Timothy and Fiona. His name is Sherlock as our daughter has always been a fan of Sherlock Holmes.
One of their favorite treats is chicken jerky and dried chicken strips made for dogs. They would literally dance around on their hind legs begging for their chicken treats. Occasionally, Fiona and Sherlock would have a spell of throwing up or a little runny stool, but we never associated it with the chicken treats until earlier this year when news came out that some of the brands were using chickens raised in China and that these chickens were given certain supplements to help them grow. A number of dogs here in the US were getting sick from those supplements and a number of dogs died from it.
The companies selling the chicken treats immediately pulled their products off the shelves and there was a huge recall on them. Once we stopped feeding the dogs the Chinese chicken, Fiona and Sherlock rarely exhibited the same symptoms. Eventually, several US companies began producing chicken treats from chickens raised here in the US and we have been using them without incidence.
Now, the USDA has given approval for chickens raised, slaughtered and processed in China to be sold here in the US for human consumption. At first they were only going to allow chickens raised and slaughtered in the US and Canada to be processed in China and then returned to the US for human consumption.
Just consider that in recent years there has been baby food made in China that was tainted and made babies sick. The chemical melamine was discovered in pet foods and eggs that came from China. More disconcerting yet is that earlier this year an avian influenza swept through numerous chicken farms in China. One report said that officials in Shanghai recovered more than 11,000 dead pigs floating in a river and that many of the dead pigs were recovered and taken to a processing plant.
I don’t think I’ve ever agreed with anything Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has said, but on this matter, I share his concern. Back in September, he wrote to Tom Vilsack, the Secretary of Agriculture saying:
“The Chinese food-safety system has had significant failures in the enforcement of its food-safety laws and regulations.”
“China has been a massive source of food poisoning here in America for years. China has a terrible record on health safety, and chickens are one of the things that need the most care and inspections,”
The USDA and FDA say that there is nothing to fear. A USDA statement said:
“Consumers should know that any processed poultry from China will be produced under equivalent food safety standards and conditions as U.S. poultry.”
However, China has few of the same safety and health regulations that the US does. They are allowed to use a number of growth hormones and other supplements banned from use here in America. There is also great concern that US inspectors are not able to inspect Chinese farms and processing facilities like they do here. Perhaps the scariest aspect of this is that there may be no labeling to indicate the chicken or chicken products sold here came from China.
Chinese chickens killed hundreds of dogs and sickened thousands more. Chinese chicken products for pets were pulled from the shelves. What once was harmful and fatal to our pets will now be sold to Americans for their dinner tables. I love chicken as much as the next guy and the ten pound bags of leg and thigh quarters sold at Wal-Mart is the cheapest meat around, and that makes a big difference in today’s economy, but need I be concerned in the future when I buy the next bag? Are you about to consume Chinese chickens that make your pet sick? It seems there may be no way of knowing. All I can say is bon appetite.