FDA issues update on jerky pet treat investigation

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said today that it “continues to believe that there is an association” between some reports of illness associated with pet jerky treats and consumption of the treats.


Photo: Courtesy of Phil Maish

“The agency continues to caution pet owners that jerky pet treats are not required for a balanced diet, and encourage them to consult with their veterinarians, both prior to feeding treats and if they notice symptoms in their pets,” the FDA said.

The warning came in the FDA’s twice-yearly update on its ongoing investigation into pet illnesses and deaths in animals that ate jerky treats.

As of Sept. 30, 2014, the FDA had received approximately 5,000 complaints of illness associated with consumption of chicken, duck, or sweet potato jerky treats, most of which involved products imported from China, according to the update. The reports involve more than 5,800 dogs, 25 cats, and three people, and include more than 1,000 canine deaths, the FDA said.

About 270 complaints were reported since the FDA’s last update in May 2014 – a significant decrease from 1,800 reports in the previous period (October 2013 to May 2014). Because of the reduction, the FDA said it is tentatively planning to shift from twice-yearly routine reporting to annual reporting, but will post non-routine updates if needed. The planned change in reporting does not mean the agency is reducing its effort to investigate the cause of the illnesses, the FDA said.

The FDA has said previously that it needs help from veterinarians as it proceeds with its investigation. Specifically, the agency has asked that veterinarians help in these three ways:

For additional information about the jerky treat investigation, including recommendations for both veterinarians and animal owners, see our Safety Alert on Jerky Treats for Pets page.

To stay up-to-date on pet food recalls, you can follow our AVMARecallWatch Twitter feed and/or keep an eye on our Animal Food Recalls and Alerts page. AVMA members also can use our copy-and-paste website widget code to embed our recalls information on your own website.

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