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Dangers of Chinese-made Jerky Treats

FDA: 360 dogs, 1 cat reportedly dead from jerky treats

People who have been monitoring the news about Chinese-made jerky treats being blamed for pet illnesses finally have some figures to analyze.

According to a news release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), at least 360 dogs and one cat have died over the past 18 months, reportedly as a result of illnesses associated with the chicken jerky treats.

Overall, the FDA said it has received about 2,200 jerky-related complaints in all 50 states and six Canadian provinces during the last 18 months. Although the ongoing investigation has featured collaboration by experts worldwide since 2007, there still has been no discovery of the cause of the reported illness.

To date, the FDA and other laboratories have analyzed the jerky treats for a wide variety of potentially harmful ingredients, including contaminants, chemicals, poisonous compounds, and toxic metals. According to the agency, its analysis of possibly dangerous foods has turned up none of those substances.

The FDA also said it conducted a nutritional analysis of the treats in 2011 to confirm the presence of the ingredients listed on labels, which revealed no links between a causative agent and the illness claims.

The next step, according to the agency, involves working with NASA to test for irradiation byproducts. Irradiation is a practice commonly used to sterilize pet foods, but its effects on animal health are not well-documented. The FDA is seeking to leverage the knowledge of NASA experts who study irradiated food's health effects.

The FDA encourages pet owners and veterinarians to watch out for the following signs and symptoms, which reportedly often appear within hours to days of consuming certain jerky treats:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Decreased activity
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea, sometimes with blood
  • Increased water consumption and/or increased urination

The FDA encourages veterinarians to report suspected food-related illnesses on its Safety Reporting Portal.

Article produced by the American Animal Hospital Association

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