April 16, 2014

FDA Updates Investigation into Animal Illnesses Linked to Jerky Treats

The FDA on Thursday issued a report on their investigation into animal illnesses linked to jerky pet treats. The government has been aware of the problem since 2007. Most of the illnesses are linked to chicken jerky treats, tender, and strips, but other complaints have been received about duck and sweet potato treats, and products where chicken or duck jerky is wrapped around dried fruits, sweet potatoes, or yams.

There have been about 2,200 reports of pet illnesses that may be related to jerky treats. Most of the complaints are about dogs, but cats have also been affected. In the last year and a half, consumers have reported 360 dog deaths and one cat death. There is no geographic pattern to the reports, and cases have been reported from all 50 states and 6 Canadian provinces. No products have been recalled.

No definitive cause for these illnesses and deaths has been determined. The investigation has included toxicologists, epidemiologists, veterinary researchers, forensic chemists, microbiologists, field investigators, and senior agency officials. In the past 10 years, there has been a huge increase in pet foods imported from China. Since most Chinese people eat dark meat, there is a large amount of light meat available for export. From 2003 to 2011, the volume of pet food exports from China to the U.S. has grown 85-fold.

Most of the sick dogs had gastrointestinal illnesses, including vomiting and diarrhea, sometimes with blood and/or mucus, that indicate gastrointestinal bleeding or pancreatitis. Other common symptoms include kidney problems, including frequent urination, increased urine output, increased thirst, and Fanconi’s syndrome.

These products have been extensively tested by the FDA. Labs have tested for Salmonella, metals, furans, pesticides, antibiotics, mycotoxins, rodenticides, liver toxins such as ethylene and diethylene glycol, melamine, and maleic acid, and toxic metals. None of the testing results have revealed a link between any causative agent and the illnesses and deaths. The FDA is expanding its testing to include irradiation byproducts and is consulting with NASA to discuss this option.

Five plants in China were inspected by the FDA in March and April 2012. At that time, the Chinese government refused to let the FDA test samples unless the tests were conducted in Chinese-run labs.

At this time, the FDA reminds pet owners that jerky pet treats are not necessary for a balanced diet so avoiding them is just fine. If you do feed your pet jerky products, watch for the signs of illness. Consult your veterinarian immediately if your pet becomes ill. And if you have a problem, you can report the illness to the government through the Safety Reporting Portal. And the government will update its findings on its Q&A page.

Comments

  1. So, the Chinese government refused to let the FDA test samples unless the tests were conducted in Chinese-run labs. And we still allow these treats to be sold in our stores?? What is wrong with this picture?? Take these products off our store shelves. I have an urn, holding the ashes of my beautiful, loyal, loving dog who died from eating jerky treats. THAT IS ALL THE PROOF I NEED! Don’t allow another innocent pet to die. Recall these products!!

  2. I have not taken my rat terrier to a vet yet, but he is hurting. I was unaware of the dog treat problem until this weekend. He has been eating a treat every day and therefore can probably link the problem to this poison. Come on FDA, put a ban on these products and get the rest out of the hands of consumers. Our pets are very important to us, and they trust us to take as good a care of them as they do us.

    • Mary, Please go to the Facebook Page “Animal Parents Against Treats Made In China” They have ALL the information you will need. And the link to report your case to the FDA. I hope your little one will be okay!! Like you, I had no idea ONE YEAR ago when the same thing happened to our Dog. It angers me to see another pet falling ill after fighting to get this product off our store shelves over the past year. This is not right!!! I have flyers in a box on my front lawn. Over 400 have been taken. If the FDA won’t do more then I must!! In memory of my loving dog Dottie.

  3. That’s it. That’s all I need. The balance of a full bag is in the trash. He’s getting boiled chicken. That’s it. He loves it…and it’s good for him.

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