Dog owners in eight states who believe contaminated chicken jerky treats from China sickened or killed their pets have filed a class-action lawsuit against Nestle Purina, the maker of two popular brands of the canine snacks, and several mega-stores that sell them. The suit was filed just as Food and Drug Administration officials refused to release results of inspections of Chinese plants that make the jerky treats blamed for at least 1,000 illnesses and deaths in U.S. pets.
Six pet owners in states around the county are suing, not only the treat maker, but also Wal-Mart, Target and Costco, three big retailers that sell the products. The Plaintiffs seek to join with a lawsuit filed in federal court last month by a Connecticut family whose two Boston terriers died after eating chicken jerky treats.
Three top brands of chicken jerky treats were among those most recently cited by pet owners and veterinarians in complaints of harm. The brands included Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch, brands produced by Nestle Purina, and Milo’s Kitchen Home-style Dog Treats, produced by the Del Monte Corp. Import data compiled by the firm ImportGenius showed that Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch treats are produced and supplied by JOC Great Wall Corp. Ltd. of Nanjing, China.
The expanded lawsuit seeks to represent nearly all pet owners in the U.S. who bought any dog treat product made or sold by Nestle Purina containing chicken imported from China in the past four years. The dog owners are frustrated that the makers and distributors of the treats have failed to recall the products voluntarily, despite three federal warnings since 2007 about possible safety issues and nearly 1,000 reports to the FDA of dogs sickened or killed by the products. They also say the companies have violated implied warranties of safety and healthfulness of their products and commerce rules governing sale of sound merchandise.
Thousands of dog owners are calling for the recall of the chicken jerky treats and for more vigorous FDA efforts to identify the source of the problem. Many pet owners say they’re reminded of the 2007 scare in which melamine-tainted pet food from China sickened and killed thousands of dogs in the U.S., leading to mass recalls and criminal indictments of Chinese and American pet food executives. It should be noted that the problem in 2007 wasn’t detected immediately either.
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