Nestle Purina PetCare Co. and Waggin’ Train LLC have agreed to compensate pet owners whose companion animals may have been sickened or died after eating chicken and other jerky treats made in China. The settlement agreement, announced May 30, would establish a $6.5-million fund to help pay damage claims and require Nestle Purina to adopt “enhanced quality assurance measures” and change packaging language. If approved in court, the deal would help to settle claims related to Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch dog treats made in China. There is no admission of fault included in the 158-page settlement agreement, filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. “Neither Waggin’ Train, Nestle Purina nor any of the consumers concede that their claims or their defenses were not valid,” lawyers for the parties said in a statement. “All parties entered into the agreement only to bring the litigation to a prompt and certain resolution.” The Food and Drug Administration recently updated its investigation into problems associated with imported pet jerky treats, mainly ones from China including chicken, sweet potato and duck products. Since 2007, such treats have been associated with more than 1,000 dog (and some cat) deaths, and the agency has received about 4,800 complaints from pet owners and others about illnesses, including in three people. Reported symptoms include lethargy, gastrointestinal problems and kidney failure, among others. FDA continues to test the pet jerky products for various contaminants but has not been able to identify any specific cause of the illnesses. The agency is also coordinating with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on a case-control study to further investigate the problem. After FDA’s most recent investigation update came out May 16, two large national pet retailers (Petco and PetSmart) announced plans to phase out China-sourced pet treats.