Food Sentry, a global food monitoring service, said it may understand why the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to figure out why dogs are becoming ill from chicken jerky treats. While the FDA has posted more than 280 test results, that testing has all been conducted on the finished jerky treat products, rather than on any of the treats' ingredients.
"In the Beijing/Tianjin/Hebei/Shandong region alone there are more than 350,000 chicken farms that supply chicken product manufacturers in the region," said Food Sentry Chief Operating Officer and Analyst Scott Witt. "This is relevant because this highly industrialized area is significantly contaminated with dozens of industrial byproducts."
Witt, who helped develop a system for the FDA that predicts the likelihood of contamination of imported food, used the leather-making industry to illustrate his point. "One of the dirtiest industries in terms of contamination is the tanning industry," he said. "One of the many contaminants in the tanning process is chromium, which leaves a residue on the tanned product. Leather scrap is left over after the manufacturing process and, because it is relatively high in protein, it is often hydrolyzed and sold as a protein feed product." Witt identified hexavalent chromium as having the potential to build up in the chickens if they eat the contaminated feed. That toxin could then get passed on to the dogs, which, over time, may potentially get sick and die as a result.
The FDA needs to "get to the beginning of the product's life and look deeply," according to Witt.