Wal-Mart: Tests Show Traces of Melamine in Dog Treats

August 23, 2007

Tests of two Chinese brands of dog treats sold at Wal-Mart stores found traces of melamine, a chemical agent that led to another massive pet food recall in March, a spokeswoman said Aug. 21.

Wal-Mart quietly stopped selling Chicken Jerky Strips from Import-Pingyang Pet Product Co. and Chicken Jerky from Shanghai Bestro Trading in July, after customers said the products sickened their pets.

Company spokeswoman Deisha Galberth said 17 sets of tests done on the products found melamine, a contaminant that’s a byproduct of several pesticides.

“There were very small amounts of melamine found,” Galberth told The Associated Press. “The amounts were so small the laboratory recommended more testing.”

More than 150 brands of pet food were recalled earlier this year after U.S. inspectors said wheat gluten from China that was used to make the food was tainted with melamine. An unknown number of dogs and cats died.

Since then, other Chinese products including tires, toothpaste, seafood, juice, and toys decorated with lead paint have been recalled or have come under scrutiny.

Galberth said she couldn’t say if the amount of melamine found in its dog treats would be enough to sicken or kill a dog that ate the suspect products. A suburban Philadelphia newspaper, the Delaware County Daily Times, reported last week that a woman claimed her 2-year-old Chihuahua died after eating Bestro Chicken Jerky Strips. The newspaper reported that an autopsy found the dog died of an infection caused by toxic bacteria.

Galberth said the world’s largest retailer would expand its testing of the jerky strips to see if tests detected melamine. A statement Tuesday by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said customers should be especially wary of jerky from Shanghai Bestro Trading with the UPC number 0087784900006 and item number 839751.

The Bentonville-based company has urged customers who bought one of the products to return it to the nearest store for a refund.

The Food and Drug Administration did not list the two products on its recall Web site Tuesday. As recently as 2005, the FDA blocked some pet treat imports from Pingyang Pet Product Co. because of contamination with salmonella.

Galberth said she was not aware of the FDA’s previous concerns with Pingyang but said the company was working with the FDA and manufacturers. She said she did not immediately know where the Chinese companies were based.

Wal-Mart pulled the products from shelves July 26 and placed a computerized block on all cash registers to prevent workers from selling the products. Galberth said she did not know how many stores sold the treats.

“Generally, we won’t do a pull-and-hold unless most stores are impacted,” she said. “There’s a high likelihood many of our stores would have been impacted by this one.”

On the Net: Wal-Mart Stores Inc.: www.walmartfacts.com

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