From China with Luck

With 70% of pet food vesesel imports to the US coming from China, “Made in the USA” is a mighty thin security blanket. Looking for “USA Made” on the label won’t protect your pet.  You need to ask the manufacturer where their ingredients come from.  If it’s China, there’s cause for concern.

Between 2011-2012 the NY Times and others reported massive food safety issues in China.

  • Pork adulterated with the long-ago banned but still widely-used drug clenbuterol;
  • Pork sold as beef after it was soaked in borax, a detergent additive;
  • Rice contaminated with cadmium, a heavy metal discharged by smelters;
  • Four brands of beef dog food recalled because it contained no beef;
  • Whole eggs that are not eggs but man-made concoctions of chemicals, gelatin and paraffin;
  • Repeated poisoning of humans due to excessive levels of the chemical nitrite in meat;
  • Arsenic-laced soy sauce;
  • Mushrooms and popcorn treated with fluorescent bleach;
  • Bean sprouts tainted with an animal antibiotic;
  • Melamine tainted milk powder (yes, it’s still happening);
  • Moldy bread being repackaged and resold;
  • Farmed seafood with illegal levels of antibiotics;
  • And of course, the recent FDA warning about chicken jerky dog treats from China causing illness and death.

In April 2011, one of China’s largest meat producers recalled thousands of tons of pork laced with clenbuterol.  Clenbuterol is an animal feed additive that causes heart palpitations in consumers of the meat.  If no longer sold for human consumption, one could wager that the pork ended up in pet food or animal feed… Even in the US we redirect contaminated human food to pet food and animal feed.

Rates of stomach cancer in China / Eastern Asia far exceed other regions of the world. Published March/April 2011.

The most recent case of nitrite poisoning occurred last year when a one-year old Beijing girl died after eating fried chicken.

While none of the four recalled brands of China’s beef dog food are sold in the US, the ingredients sold to those manufacturers could very well be the same ingredients sold to US manufacturers.  As an example:  most glucosamine (the substance that’s supposed to help with joint mobility) is made in China.[i]

In 2007 the US banned imports of chicken from China due to health safety concerns.  That ban – which applied only to human food – was lifted in October 2009 for purely economic and political reasons.[ii]

And as the graph at right shows, according to A Cancer Journal for Clinicians the rate of stomach cancer in Eastern Asia far exceeds the rest of the world.

When China’s human food supply is unfortunately laden with problems, we should not assume that the food made for dogs is somehow better.  Dogs as human companions occupy a tiny corner in Chinese culture. In the US, 39% of households have a dog.  In China, only 6.6% do.

Looking for USA Made on the label is important.  But it is equally if not more important to ask the manufacturer where their ingredients come from.  Many probably don’t want to tell us.

An estimated 85% of the pet food market is shared between just five players that operate over 60 well-known brands (see fig 1.)

Mars Petcare and Nestle Purina PetCare are nearly tied at over $14 billion each in annual worldwide revenues, and together they operate 87 manufacturing sites.

Still with all we know about the health concerns surrounding food from China, Waggin Train (maker of chicken jerky and other treats including the Canyon Creek Ranch brand) flourishes.  Acquired in Sept. 2010 by Nestle Purina, Waggin’ Train has been the dog treats’ fastest growing leading brand with annual growth rates of around 30% over the last three years.  It’s products are made in China.

Dogswell makes its jerky treats in China. So does IMS Pet Industries (aka IMS Trading Company). Located in NJ., they’re an importer of China’s dog treats including the Walmart brand that was pulled from the shelves for making dogs sick.  The president of IMS issued a November 2011 statement about how they protect their products by blasting them with radiation (that’s the subject for another post) but no amount of radiation will take out melamine, heavy metals, toxic levels of nitrites, bleach, arsenic or some other contaminant that’s not bacterial in nature.

Second to China’s 70% share of vessel imports is Thailand with 25%.

Footnotes & References & Useful Info.

[i] A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives, 7th Edition. Ruth Winter, M.S.

[ii]China is the third largest importer of food into the US.  In 2009 (before the lifting of the ban on chicken) their food and agricultural exports to the US totaled $4.9 billion (twice their 2003 figures).   About 75% of that 2009 figure consisted of various fish and shellfish, juices, canned and other fruits, vegetable and nut products.   In Oct. 2009 the ban was lifted because China had retaliated with a similar ban on US chicken.  Since we sell vastly more chicken to China than we buy from them, and since we were in tough economic times, Congress repealed the ban.  You can read more here:

Fig. 1 Data on the biggest pet food manufacturers can be found at Petfood Industry. An alphabetical list of brands and their manufacturers is below.

For valuable information on the ingredients included in popular dog treats like MilkBones, Beggin’ Strips, Pup-Peroni and others we suggest reading Where’s the Beef…  And for an eye-opening look at what’s in Milo’s Kitchen check out It Might Be in Milo’s Kitchen But It’s Probably Not In Yours.

Brand (listed alphabetically) Manufacturer
9Lives Del Monte
Advance Mars
Alpo Nestle Purina
Beggin’ Strips Nestle Purina
Beneful Nestle Purina
Busy Bones Nestle Purina
Canyon Creek Ranch Nestle Purina
Cat Chow Nestle Purina
Catsan Mars
Cesar Mars
Chappi Mars
Chef Michael’s Nestle Purina
Daily Essentials Del Monte
Deli-Cat Nestle Purina
Dentabone Mars
Dentastix Mars
Dog Chow Nestle Purina
Eukanuba Proctor & Gamble
Exelpet Mars
Fancy Feast Nestle Purina
Farmstand Select Del Monte
Felix Nestle Purina
Fit & Trim Nestle Purina
Friskies Nestle Purina
Frosty Paws Nestle Purina
Gourmet Nestle Purina
Greenies Mars
Hill’s Prescription Diet Colgate-Palmolive
Hill’s Science Diet Colgate-Palmolive
Hill’s Science Plan Colgate-Palmolive
Iams Proctor & Gamble
Jumbone Mars
KateKat Mars
Kibble’s n’ Bits Del Monte
Kit & Kaboodle Nestle Purina
Meow Mix Del Monte
Mighty Dog Nestle Purina
Milk-Bones Del Monte
Milo’s Kitchen Del Monte
Moist & Meaty Nestle Purina
Natural Choice Mars
Nature’s Recipe (Cat & Dog) Del Monte
Nutro Mars
One Nestle Purina
Pedigree Mars
Pro Plan Nestle Purina
Pup-Peroni Del Monte
Puppy Chow Nestle Purina
Purina One Nestle Purina
Purina Veterinary Diets Nestle Purina
Royal Canin Mars
Sheba Mars
Snausages Del Monte
TBonz Nestle Purina
Temptations Mars
The Goodlife Recipe Mars
Ultra Mars
Waggin’ Train Nestle Purina
Whiskas Mars
Whisker Likkin’s Nestle Purina
Wholesome Goodness Del Monte
Wholesome Medley Del Monte

About Amy Renz

Amy is the CEO and Pack Leader of Goodness Gracious, LLC ( and we save lives. We make healthy 100% human-grade, USDA certified, USA sourced dog and cat treats, and give 51% of our profits to local animal shelters, rescues and spay/neuter programs in communities where our treats are sold. Our products include single-ingredient jerky and gluten free biscuits that pets love, and parents love to give. Amy is a Marathoner, a slalom skier, but first a parent to her pack of three beautiful canines. Find us on Facebook at Twitter @Goodnssgracious
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8 Responses to From China with Luck

  1. Informative post. I check ingredients for the health of my dog, but had never thought about where they came from and what they meant.

  2. Pingback: Glycerin. A diesel by any other name wouldn’t taste as sweet. | Dirty Popcorn

  3. WOW! Great post! I am going to keep up with your work. Good job!

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  5. Pingback: Top 10 Things To Look For In Dog Food | Dirty Popcorn

  6. Pingback: Chinese Food: Here’s what’s in the chicken jerky that’s poisoning our pets | Dirty Popcorn

  7. deb says:

    how about science diet? I feed my wolfie lamb and rice for large breed. is that safe?

    • Deb.. regarding your Science Diet for Large Breeds, this is my analysis, based on a few sources:
      Lamb Meal, 5 Stars Excellent protein source, concentrated-more protein for the money. Less likely to cause allergies, easy to digest.
      Brewers Rice, 1 Star Waste product from breweries, cheap, non-nutritive filler can be harsh on intestines and lead to diabetes.
      Whole Grain Wheat, 2 Star Contains all the nutrients of wheat but indicates the use of feed-grade (old, moldy), not human-grade (healthier, fresher). Wheat can cause allergies anyway.
      Whole Grain Sorghum, 5 Star, Cousin to millet, very nutritive grain, alkalizing to the body, easy to digest.
      Cracked Pearled Barley, 5 Star A nutritive grain
      Corn Gluten Meal, 1 Star, Waste product, cheap, non-nutritive filler but used as protein source — can cause allergies and sugar problems.
      Brown Rice, 2 Star Cheap filler, does not have to be whole ground when used in dry foods
      Animal Fat 1 Star Non-descriptive source indicates 4-D (from Dead, Diseased, Dying and Disabled animals.. difficult to digest, potentially carcinogenic.
      Chicken Liver Flavor, 3 Stars Common food enhancer
      Soybean Oil, 2 Star Source of fat for energy, healthy coat but is probably from GMO plants.. NOT so good!
      Dried Beet Pulp, 1 Star Waste product. Cheap filler/fiber-causes sugar rush/addiction to food, hyperactivity and allergies.
      Lactic Acid, Potassium Chloride,
      Flaxseed, 5 Star Whole seeds provide best omega-3 fatty acids and nutritive fiber.
      L-Lysine, 2 Star Source of Lysine (essential amino acid found in meat), needed to use for food enrichment for grain-based foods.
      Iodized Salt, 1 Star Used to cover rancid meats and fats, get cats to drink more – causes kidney dysfunction, hypertension.
      VITAMINS Vitamin E Supplement, Choline Chloride, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Taurine (Standard source. Some benefit to dogs).
      MINERALS Ferrous Sulfate (Cheap with Low Bio-availability compared to Proteinates for example), Zinc Oxide (Cheap with Low Bio-availability compared to Proteinates for example), Copper Sulfate Cheap with Low Bio-availability compared to Proteinates for example, Manganous Oxide (Cheap with Low Bio-availability compared to Proteinates for example) Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite (Standard source of selenium, powerful anti-oxidant protects the body from free radicals and heavy metals, supports immune response) L-Carnitine (Supplements poor meat source diets, a B-vitamin factor naturally found in meat, important in regulating fat metabolism), preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid, Phosphoric acid, Beta-Carotene, Rosemary Extract

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