In the Wake of the Chinese Pet Jerky Investigation, Pet Nutrition Expert Encourages Pet Owners to Make More Educated Decisions to Keeps Pets Safe

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Anthony Bennie of Clear Conscience Pet Urges Pet Owners to Read Labels and Choose USA Made Natural Pet Food and Treats

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The use of both glycerin and irradiation in the same product is troubling to me. No proper studies have been done to determine the possible synergistic effects.

Pet owners across the country are worried over the recent news about jerky pet treats made and sourced in China causing over 3,600 dogs and cats to become ill, of which 580 have died(1). The FDA currently does not know the cause of this outbreak and is reaching out to veterinary health professionals, as well as the public, for answers to help in the investigation. Since the FDA is unable to determine the cause, no recall has been put in place, meaning pet owners need to make more educated decisions about what pet treats are safe to use.

The amount of pet treats made in China and exported to the U.S. has grown exponentially, growing more than five-fold from 15 million pounds in 2005 to over 85 million pounds in 2011(2). Food safety experts have expressed concerns since China employs far less stringent regulations than here in the U.S. One major step in assuring the safety of treats is to look for products clearly labeled as “Made in the USA.” This provides consumers with the added security of USDA and FDA inspection and regulation, which helps to ensure that such products meet the U.S.’s standards for wholesome and safe pet treats and food.

Currently, however, there is a loophole in these regulations that exempts pet food and treat manufacturers from listing the country of origin for ingredients in pet food or treats; if the final preparation is done in the USA, the treat can be labeled as USA made regardless of the origin of specific ingredients(3). This makes choices in pet treats and foods even more confusing for pet lovers.    

“There have been issues with pet food ingredients and finished treats from China for quite some time, including the massive recalls in 2007 that were traced to melamine, a non-edible protein additive used in China to adulterate and cheapen the products,” explains Anthony Bennie, Pet Nutrition Expert.

Bennie has over 20 years of experience in the natural pet food industry and is the owner and founder of Clear Conscience Pet, a multi-award winning pet nutrition company. He believes that irradiation, the process of exposing pet food and treats to radiation as a means of eliminating foodborne microbes and killing pests, may be playing a role in the illnesses and deaths reported by users of Chinese pet jerky. He also cites the use of glycerin, a humectant preservative in virtually all pet treats from China, as a possible factor in these highly publicized, but to date unexplained, pet deaths and sicknesses.

“The use of both glycerin and irradiation in the same product is troubling to me. No proper studies have been done to determine the possible synergistic effects," explains Bennie. "For the health and safety of your pets, as a first step I strongly encourage pet guardians to buy pet treats and foods made and sourced in the USA; but even then, be a detailed label reader and avoid products with chemical preservatives or other ingredients that you can’t pronounce and don’t recognize as foods."

Most of the treats in question are made with chicken, duck, sweet potatoes and dried fruit. According to FDA reports, the jerky-style treats from China have caused affected pets to become sick within hours after consumption. The pets can have decreased appetites, become lethargic, and suffer from repeating cycles of vomiting and diarrhea. Other symptoms are similar to those seen in early stage kidney failure, including excessive water consumption and increased urination. Total kidney failure has been reported as one cause of the tragic deaths associated with the “mystery illnesses.”

“Our pets are an extension of the family, so news like this is very worrisome for any pet guardian. It can be overwhelming for pet lovers seeking healthy and safe treats and food, since labels can be overwhelming and hard to navigate,” adds Bennie. “But it would be an overreaction to allow these fears to stop you from offering your pet any treats or between meal snacks.”

Despite the FDA’s recent statement that treats are not a necessary part of a fully balanced diet,’ pets can be affected by cutting out all nutrition between meals. According to Bennie, healthy snacks can play a vital role in helping pets maintain energy levels throughout the day between meals and are also important for emotional bonding and training purposes.

Fortunately, there are companies out there making quality jerkies and other treats with healthy ingredients, made right here in the USA, that pets can consume without having to worry. Independent specialty pet food retailers can be a huge help in recommending pet food and treat brands that have earned a reputation for high quality and wholesome ingredients. Stick with low carb natural snacks that are high in lean meat protein and you’ll be making the best choice for your best friend.

The Sliders® line of tender meat treats by Clear Conscience Pet® is an example of a healthy pet treat that is 100% USA made and sourced, and features all-natural and wholesome ingredients like USDA inspected chicken and beef along with natural cheddar cheese, organic flaxseed, and air dried vegetables. Sliders® contain no grain, gluten, glycerin, artificial preservatives or flavoring, and no GMO ingredients. Sliders® and other nutritious brands of USA made pet snacks can be found in specialty pet retail stores, natural food grocers, and at reputable online pet food and supply retailers.

For more information about the illnesses, visit the FDA’s website, and to learn more about Bennie and Clear Conscience Pet, please visit To coordinate an interview with Bennie and learn more about what he believes is causing the Chinese pet jerky illness outbreak, or for samples of Sliders® treats, please contact Lauren Verini at lauren(at)adinfinitumny(dot)com or (212) 693-2150 x311.

About Clear Conscience Pet®, LLC
Clear Conscience Pet® is a multiple award winning pet nutrition company founded with the mission of using ingredients from sustainable family farms to make exceptionally healthy treats, chews, and the SuperGravy® line of pet food toppers. The company’s current products ( include Sliders® brand tender meat treats, the patent pending OSV™ treat and chew line, SuperGravy®, the first Holistic Instant Dry Gravy Mix and Nutrient Enhancer for pets, and Cruncherz™ 100% Organic Gluten & Grain-Free Bakery Treats. The company is based in Wilton, Connecticut and is family-owned by Founders Anthony Bennie and Amanda Malone Bennie. They currently market their pet food products to pet supply retailers, veterinarians, health food stores, and other pet specialty outlets.

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About Anthony Bennie, Founder and President of Clear Conscience Pet
Anthony has devoted over 20 years to the natural pet nutrition industry. He started Clear Conscience Pet in 2010 with his wife, Amanda Malone Bennie, a natural pet retailing pioneer and expert in her own right. The company’s mission is to create innovative, healthy, and sustainably sourced nutrition for dogs and cats. CCP has developed groundbreaking products in several categories including treats, chews, and pet food gravy toppers.

Anthony has been published extensively in national and regional consumer and trade print media with articles on all aspects of pet nutrition and the pet care industry. He has been a guest lecturer on the topic of pet nutrition at several veterinary colleges including Cornell University, The University of Florida, and The University of North Carolina. As a respected industry thought leader, he is regularly and extensively quoted in pet industry trade publications and has also been interviewed frequently both on television and radio about topics of current interest including “Natural Pet Food Myths and Facts,” “The Truth About Chinese Chicken Jerky,” The Top 10 Secrets that the Pet Food Industry DOESN’T Want You to Know,” and the “Confessions of a Dog Food Salesman.”

An article written by Anthony, “The Top 10 Secrets of Pet Food Companies”, is featured in the current issue of Animal Wellness on stands now. Read the story here:

(1) ABC News, October 23, 2013,

(2), September 14, 2012,

(3), October 22, 2013,

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Lauren Verini
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