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Chinese-made dog and cat treats are on the way out of two of the nation's largest sellers of pet supplies.
PetSmart reported late Tuesday that the Phoenix-based chain will no longer stock Chinese dog and cat treats as of March 2015. The announcement came hours after Petco stated that it would stop selling such items by the end of 2014 because of concerns over the safety of jerky treats that have drawn the scrutiny of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
PetSmart and Petco each operate more than 1,300 stores nationwide and together enjoy an approximately 30 percent share of the U.S. pet supplies market.
A possible connection between jerky—much of it made in China—and thousands of reported pet illnesses or deaths has occupied FDA investigators for the past seven years. The agency announced last week that 1,800 additional complaints had been counted since October 2013 but that its experts remained stumped in their search for a possible link to jerky treats.
PetSmart did not provide a specific reason for pulling Chinese treats off shelves.
"This is something we've been working toward for some time and feel it's the right thing to do for pets and our customers," a spokesperson stated.
Petco, headquartered in San Diego, stated that its move was "in the best interest of the pets we all love and, ultimately, for our business."
Complaints about pets being sickened by jerky treats began about the same time as the massive 2007 pet food recall, which had its roots in melamine-contaminated wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate imported from China.
Producers of U.S.-sourced and U.S.-made pet treats should benefit from Petco and PetSmart's rejection of Chinese-made treats, said market analyst George Puro of Puro Research Group in White Plains, N.Y. However, U.S. treat manufacturers who contract with Chinese suppliers may have a tougher time if they move production back home.
"It's going to be an issue for any big manufacturer that's having their treats made over there because they're going to have to deal with different costs," Puro said.
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