Jerky Treats Recall Leaves Nearly 600 Pets Dead

May 2014 Update:  FDA: Pets and People Sick From Eating Jerky Treats

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued alerts to pet owners about reports it has received concerning jerky pet treat-related illnesses involving 3,600 dogs and 10 cats of which 580 have died in the U.S. since 2007 . 

Most of the jerky treats implicated have been made in China. Manufacturers of pet foods are not required by U.S. law to state the country of origin for each ingredient in their products.

A number of jerky treats were recalled in January 2013 after a New York State lab reported finding evidence of up to six drugs in certain jerky pet treats made in China. While the levels of these drugs were very low and it's unlikely that they caused the illnesses, the FDA noted a decrease in reports of jerky-suspected illnesses after the products were removed from the market. The FDA believes that the number of reports may have declined simply because fewer jerky treats were available.

To date, FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) has conducted more than 1,200 tests, visited jerky pet treat manufacturers in China and collaborated with colleagues in academia, industry, state labs and foreign governments. Yet the exact cause of the illnesses remains elusive.

To gather even more information, the FDA is reaching out to licensed veterinarians and pet owners across the United States. "This is one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we've encountered," says CVM Director Bernadette Dunham, DVM, Ph.D. "Our beloved four-legged companions deserve our best effort, and we are giving it."

In a letter addressing U.S. licensed veterinarians, the FDA lists what information is needed for labs testing treats and investigating illness and death associated with the treats. In some cases, veterinarians will be asked to provide blood, urine and tissue samples from their patients for further analysis. FDA will request written permission from pet owners and will cover the costs, including shipping, of any tests it requests.

Jerky Treat Illness Symptoms

Within hours of eating treats sold as jerky tenders or strips made of chicken, duck, sweet potatoes and/or dried fruit, some pets have exhibited decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes with blood or mucus), increased water consumption, and/or increased urination.

Severe cases have involved kidney failure, gastrointestinal bleeding, and a rare kidney disorder. About 60 percent of cases involved gastrointestinal illness, and about 30 percent involved kidney and urinary systems.

The remaining cases reported various symptoms, such as collapse, convulsions or skin issues.


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