If your dog or cat has gotten sick after eating jerky treats, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration needs to hear your story. While a formal recall has yet to be issued, the FDA is aware of thousands of pet illnesses and deaths tied to jerky treats made in China, and it's asking vets and pet owners to help find the cause.
On Tuesday, the FDA issued a warning -- not a recall -- about alerts it has received over several years concerning Chinese-made jerky treats in tenders or strips made of chicken, duck, sweet potatoes and/or dried fruit. Since 2007, 3,600 dogs and 10 cats in the U.S. have fallen ill after eating jerky. Of these pets, 580 died.
After six years of research, the FDA is still clueless as to what is causing this long outbreak.
"This is one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we've encountered," FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine Director Bernadette Dunham, DVM, Ph.D, said. "Our beloved four-legged companions deserve our best effort, and we are giving it."
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The CVM said it has conducted more than 1,200 tests and visited jerky pet-treat manufacturers in China but cannot determine the cause of illness. The biggest problem is that many of the treats were made in China, where manufacturers of pet foods and treats are “not required by U.S. law to state the country of origin for each ingredient in their products.”
As such, the FDA is asking pet owners and veterinarians for help to find the elusive cause. A fact sheet is available for vets to know the exact lab tests needed in order to help as well as how consumers can help report illnesses or deaths.
"Our fervent hope as animal lovers is that we will soon find the cause of—and put a stop to—these illnesses,” Dunham said.
The FDA said the treats in tenders or strips made of chicken, duck, sweet potatoes and/or dried fruit have caused illnesses within hours of consumption. The treats have caused symptoms including decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes with blood or mucus), increased water consumption, and/or increased urination. The fatal cases have come from kidney failure, gastrointestinal bleeding, and a rare kidney disorder.
The agency said pet owners should be cautious or completely stop feeding their dogs and cats jerky treats. The FDA also recommends seeing a veterinarian if a pet becomes sick after eating jerky treats and asks owners to save the remaining treats and packaging to help solve the mystery.
Short of a formal recall, the FDA said it removed some jerky treats from store shelves in New York in January after a lab found “evidence of up to six drugs in certain jerky pet treats made in China.” Almost a year ago, some companies issued recalls for their products, according to The Examiner, including:
Nestle Purina PetCare Co.:
Canyon Creek Ranch brand dog treats
Del Monte Corp.:
Milo’s Kitchen Chicken Jerky
Chicken Grillers home-style dog treats
Chicken Tenders Dog Chew Treats
IMS Pet Industries Inc.:
Cadet Brand Chicken Jerky Treats sold in the U.S.