FDA Update on Jerky Treats – Hold On There!

by Mary Haight on September 16, 2012

jerky treatsWhile some headlines are reporting news on numbers of pet deaths from the FDA due to jerky treats, I want to stress that no confirmation that the 360 dogs and 1 cat reported dead, died due to an identifiable ingredient in the treats. While I believe that these treats from China are responsible for deaths in pets, which can be seen most recently in a post to pet food companies and again in one about conditions in China , we need to know the science – what agent caused death? Confirmation can’t happen until they find the agent/ingredient common to all cases that caused death. [Note: Although the main concern, this investigation is not limited to chicken jerky treats alone. Dried sweet potato, duck, and ” treats where chicken or duck jerky is wrapped around dried fruits, sweet potatoes, or yams” are included.]

The FDA press release clearly states this is going to be a long-term international investigation. At least we now know how many reports of deaths have been forwarded to the FDA over the last 18 months (361) and how many reports in total have been filed (2,200) from 50 States and 6 Canadian Provinces. We also were given interesting information about the increased importation of pet food ingredients from China. From 2003 to 2011, pet food imports from China increased 85%. In 2011, 86 million pounds of pet food were imported from China.

The FDA gives the background and the progression of the investigation, and has tested for heavy metals and a very long list of items you can read in the release. Having found nothing so far, the FDA said “The FDA is now expanding its testing to include irradiation byproducts and is consulting with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) experts to discuss this possibility further.”

Increased complaints in 2011 caused the FDA to visit China in March and April 2012 and inspect 5 plants most associated with reported illnesses. The FDA found one firm to have falsified receiving documents for glycerin. The Chinese authority seized their products and product export from that plant has been suspended until appropriate changes have been made.

I hope that you have been able to steer clear of this problem – it’s scary and frustrating! As a reminder, these three products are the main culprits: Nestle’s Waggin Train, Milo’s Kitchen, Canyon Ranch. But don’t forget the dried sweet potatoes, yams, and duck and these items wrapped around fruit are also included in the “don’t buy to be safe” category.

Additional Reading:

Pet Jerky Treats Update (Examiner)

Seattle Dog Spot New FDA Report

NBC Pet Jerky Treat Death Toll

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