Deadly treats from China – make your own

I was contacted yesterday by my friend who’s mother fed vitalife treats regularly to her dog and was dead, very quickly, after becoming ill last week. My friend’s dad lost his two year old bulldog last year, again within a couple of days of falling ill, vitalife was a regular treat staple.

Woofstock, an annual outdoor dog event allows this company to have a stall every year, they need to address this, my friend Teresa has already written to them. I first bought these at Woofstock, as they were labelled made in the USA.

I’m beginning to wonder if they aren’t part of the reason for Teegy’s pancreatitis.  3 years ago when I had found out about the deaths of dogs related to treats made in China, I contacted the company by email.  They advised they sourced the duck in Thailand but was lab tested in Canada and the US.  They got tossed in the bin and I also advised my friends who had been feeding them.

Please, if you really wish to feed your dog dried chicken or turkey treats, buy a dehydrator and make your own, or source locally from someone you trust.  It’s even better to provide treats to your dog in the form of fresh cooked turkey or chicken you roasted for them yourself.  If you can afford to buy organic free range without the genetically modified feed given to many factory farmed chickens, I would recommend it.

I don’t own a car or have the expense of kids, so I feel fortunate enough that I can and do buy organic and have the good luck to have Heronview Raw and Natural,  RawPaw and Nothing Added who all make their own dehydrated treats.

Please share this information with your dog owner friends and start questioning the processing methods and ingredients used in the food and treats on the market for all our pet friends.

A few hours of your time researching on the internet can save the life and improve the health of your animals, as well as save your pocketbook.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/normerica-repackaged-re-dated-stale-dog-treats-say-ex-employees-1.2670465

GO PUBLIC

Normerica repackaged, re-dated stale dog treats, say ex-employees

‘It was disgusting … the warehouse wasn’t clean enough to have open food,’ ex-employee says

By Kathy Tomlinson, CBC News Posted: Jun 11, 2014 5:01 AM ET Last Updated: Jun 11, 2014 7:30 AM ET

Duck, sweet potato and chicken jerky treats imported by Normerica, Inc. and sold by Loblaw, Costco and other retailers are among brands suspected of making dogs ill.

Duck, sweet potato and chicken jerky treats imported by Normerica, Inc. and sold by Loblaw, Costco and other retailers are among brands suspected of making dogs ill. (CBC)

Deadly doggie treats? 2:52

Dog treats in question 2:04

Related Stories

Two former Normerica Inc. warehouse workers claim the Ontario-based pet product company had employees routinely switch pet treats between different brand name packages and re-date them after they were imported from China and Thailand.

They claim mouldy and stale pet treats were sent out to stores for sale.

Duck, sweet potato and chicken jerky treats imported by the company and sold by Loblaw, Costco and other retailers are among brands suspected of making dogs ill.

Dog treats warehouse

The former Normerica employee said warehouse staff used heat guns to remove old product labels, before repackaging old dog treats under a new label. (CBC)

The accusations from former employees came after CBC’s Go Public revealed Costco is continuing to sell pet jerky treats from China, despite being warned by a pet owner whose veterinarian believes treats purchased there killed her puppy. The treats are imported into Canada by Normerica Inc.

The company has since had the Duck Tenders the dog consumed tested by the lab it uses.

“The results of the testing confirmed the absolute presence of poultry as a single ingredient, that being duck,” said Mortec’s report. “We concluded no untoward unwanted suspect substances were present in the finished product.”

Numerous tests by the FDA on jerky treats also found no substance that would cause the illnesses, but it is still investigating.

 

The two former employees who said they worked in an Etobicoke warehouse for Normerica contacted Go Public to report concerns they had over how the products were stored and handled.

One sent pictures to back up their claims. They said they did not take the pictures to make them public, but decided to do so after reading Go Public’s piece on the potential link between the treats and dog deaths.

Treats ‘sitting there for years’

Both former employees spoke on the condition they would not be named. Go Public also agreed not to disclose the

Dog treats warehouse

According to warehouse employees, these packages were cut open so the product could be put in new packages under different brand labels. (CBC)

duration of their employment. Both worked for Normerica in recent years.

One said a large part of their job was removing old product from packages that were stale or overstocked, then repackaging or relabelling it in different brand name bags — with a new date stamp.

“Some [of the jerky treats] had been sitting there for years. Dated back to 2008. We would use X-Actoknives to open the packages and then repackage them under new [product] labels and change the date on the new package [to 2011 for example],” said the former employee.

“It was disgusting … the warehouse wasn’t clean enough to have open food.”

Company denial

Normerica president Colin Gleason denied packaging dates are changed, but didn’t explain the photos of products being repackaged.

Jerky treats 3 - NOTE DO NOT SHOW THE BAGS ON TOP OF THIS

Two former Normerica Inc. employees say they repackaged and re-dated stale dog treats while working in an Ontario warehouse. (CBC)

“We do not repackage stale product and sell it with a new date code,” said Gleason in a statement. “Our company policy on any product that is approaching the date code is to donate it locally to animal shelters.”

“Some [treats] that were not packaged properly got mouldy,” said the other former employee.

As a result of these allegations, Loblaw said it is removing all products from Normerica off its shelves.

“Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. We are taking it very seriously,” said a statement from Kevin Groh, vice-president, corporate affairs and communication.

“We have been in contact with the vendor and are in the process of removing the implicated products from our store shelves as a precaution until our investigation is complete.”

Costco said none of the products imported by Normerica and sold at Costco are stored at the Ontario warehouse in question.

“We receive the treats directly from Asia to the Port of Vancouver where it is sent to our distribution centres,” said Costco spokesman Ron Damiani.

“Random testing is also conducted on each container of product before it ships.”

Customers shocked by mould

Two customers also contacted Go Public to say they bought treats packaged under the Vitalife brand and were shocked when they opened the bags and found mouldy product.

Dog treats 1

This bag of mouldy Vitalife Chicken Fingers was returned to the Costco in Nepean, Ont., by dog owner Andrea Challis. (CBC)

Andrea Challis said she bought Vitalife’s chicken fingers in February at Costco in Nepean, Ont. Unlike its duck and sweet potato treats, that Normerica product is made in Canada.

“I bought the treats for my three-year-old mini golden doodle Avery, thinking they were a good alternative to the treats made in China,” said Challis.

“When I opened the bag, there was mould everywhere. The best-before date was November 2015. I wrote to Vitalife and never received a response. I returned the treats to Costco, filled out a report and was told that someone would follow up,” said Challis.

“Costco’s response was nonchalant … like they’d heard it before. I never heard back.”

Refunded after purchase

Cathi Iacuitto of Vancouver said her Havanese shih tzu Cooper has been chronically ill, with digestive problems, since eating Vitalife treats she purchased at Superstore and Costco.

She said she returned a bag of chicken jerky because it was mouldy.

“Under close examination of the treats using a magnifying glass there was a mould growing similar to a light Fusarium, which could be toxic,” said Iacuitto, who inspects grain shipments for the federal government.

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“I explained to Vitalife that their product made my dog sick and they should have to pay the vet bills. They took no responsibility and instead sent me a refund for the product I returned to them,” saidIacuitto.

“Right now is the third time he has gone in [to the vet]. This bill so far is quoted at $711 and after the lab results may cost me more.”

The former Normerica employees said the repackaging and re-dating of Vitalife and other products was done after shipments from overseas arrived in large containers. The treats had been irradiated and packaged already, in Asia, under various brand names.

They said some of the shipping containers arrived with bugs in them. They also said the warehouse was not air-

Dog treats 5

Cooper’s owner said she’s taken him to the vet several times, suffering from digestive problems. She fed him Vitalife chicken, duck and sweet potato treats. (CBC)

conditioned or properly ventilated, so some of the products sat for months in overheated conditions.

“We have no record of “bugs” showing up in containers coming to that facility,” said Gleason, the Normerica president.

“We do, however, have a policy in place … that should a container show up with “bugs” it would immediately be placed in quarantine and the pest control company would take the appropriate actions to deal with the issue. We have used the services of Abell Pest Control for the last five years.”

‘Nothing got thrown out’

“A bunch of times we would get product and there were bugs in the containers,” the former employee said. “Nothing got thrown out.”

They said all the repackaging happened long after samples were sent to a Canadian lab for testing. Most of the products

Mouldy jerky

Vancouver pet owner Cathi Iacuitto said she worries her dog may have gotten sick from eating these mouldy Vitalife chicken jerky treats. (CBC)

​were never tested, they said, and were then interchanged in packages under the Vitalife, Canyon Creek and President’s Choice labels.

“There were multiple brands in each [shipping] container,” the first source said.

“They would unpack and repackage the stuff in different brand name packages,” said the other source. “I would repackage and then down the line they would be re-dated.”

They said workers often didn’t wear gloves and did the repackaging on cardboard surfaces that weren’t clean. One of the ex-employees estimated they would repackage and re-date approximately 1,800 individual packages of dog treats every two weeks.

“If we needed to ship out an order of Vitalife treats and we didn’t have enough, we would open up the President’s Choice bags and put them in Vitalife bags.”

“You could really notice the treats when they got old because they would crumble in your hands [when the package was opened for transfer to another package].”

Both sources said they believe customers are charged more for treats packaged under the Vitalife label, but they said all were the same product.

Jerky treats 4

One of the two former employees submitted pictures to CBC’s Go Public to back up their claims of concern about how imported pet treats were handled at the warehouse. (CBC)

Gleason said the practices at the warehouse are subject to outside scrutiny.

“Our manufacturing facilities are certified with the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). As such they are audited annually and certified to the same calibre as any human food manufacturing facility. Additionally, we are subject to random audits by our retail customers as well as inspections by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.”

However, the first former employee also said that when Normerica was expecting clients or other visitors to the warehouse, they were told to pretend they were doing other jobs

“They would come in, and we would be told to make it look like we were doing inventory.”

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Deadly treats from China – make your own

  1. Sandra, what are your thoughts on starting a petition with me for Woofstock to try an stop them from allowing Vita Life to participate? Let me know. Any other ideas that you may have to help spread the word about these “death treats” would be appreciated as I will gladly do whatever I can!

    • All for it Teresa, that’s exactly what crossed my mind yesterday when I saw your message to Woofstock. They should not be allowing them I don’t care howuch money they make at their booth for it.

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