Another major pet food company has pulled dog treats that use Chinese chicken from shelves after finding residue of illegal antibiotics. Hartz Mountain, which manufactures Hartz Chicken Chews and Hartz Oinkies Pig Skin Twists wrapped with Chicken, has pulled both products off the market, saying they contain trace amounts of an antibiotic not approved for use in the U.S.
Earlier this month, Del Monte and Nestle Purina voluntarily pulled chicken jerky pet treats made in China off the market after the New York State Department of Agriculture found possible contamination by an antibiotic illegal in the U.S. in Del Monte's Milo's Kitchen products and in Nestle Purina's Waggin' Train and Canyon Creek Ranch treats.
Since 2007, the Food and Drug Administration has fielded over 3,000 complaints of pet illnesses and death that owners say trace back to chicken jerky treats made in China. The FDA has issued three different warnings to pet owners in the past five years about possible risks associated with the treats.
To date, the FDA has not issued any recall and the agency's testing of pet treat samples for toxins and heavy metals have never found an explanation for the alleged illnesses.
In a statement posted on both the Hartz and FDA websites, Hartz said that the company's testing had found "trace amounts of unapproved antibiotic residue" in the treats. "Even though two-thirds of the treats we tested did not contain antibiotic residues," said the statement, "we would rather be overly cautious by voluntarily withdrawing these products from the market."
"Upon learning about the nationwide voluntary withdrawal of several other brands of chicken jerky products through media reports, Hartz acted immediately to begin additional testing to determine if the same unapproved antibiotic residues were present in our products," said Sean McNear , senior director of regulatory affairs and quality assurance at Hartz Mountain.
Hartz also said the residues are "highly unlikely" to be connected to the FDA's ongoing investigation of chicken jerky products and that there have been no known illnesses traced to its chicken products: "The trace amounts of antibiotic residue do not pose a health or pet safety risk."