Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Chicken Jerky Treats Affect More Pets, But Still No Recall

From the AVMA Animal Health SmartBrief

Pets: New FDA findings show that numbers of pets affected by chicken jerky treats has increased, but still there's no recall

Pet food recalls affecting all species have become all-too-common in recent years, and they've occurred for various reasons.

This has been a cause for much controversy and concern for those who share life with pets, and some have even taken matters into their own hands. The movement to either create home-cooked diets or seek commercially available small batch holistic or raw diets has been vigorous, needless to say.

In the latter case, they're not immune to recalls either, so pet owners have a tendency to feel betrayed and even confused.

One product that has come under scrutiny in recent months has been another pet consumable: Chicken jerky treats.

When one sees the package and reads the name, it's easy to feel good about giving them to a pet. Wholesome, simple strips of meat that can be offered as a yummy treat.

Good boy!

In recent months, there's been reports of pets becoming gravely ill — even dying — and the common thread are those healthy, simple chicken jerky treats.

Not so good of a feeling. The big problem is that the majority of these treats are imported from China.

In March, the The Food and Drug Administration had cautioned pet owners about feeding chicken jerky, and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association had voiced some concern about feeding the treats imported from China to dogs after pet owners and veterinarians reported illnesses likened to Fanconi syndrome and even death after eating them.

Fanconi syndrome causes kidney dysfunction, and results in different complications, which should be taken seriously.

After five years of testing, the FDA is still having a hard time honing in on what is killing dogs when it comes to these treats.

The agency's standard protocol is to test for bacterial contamination, mold and chemicals like those used in antifreeze, resins and plastics. Heavy metals are on their list of things to test for, as well as melamine and melamine analogs that were detected in pet foods that caused illness and death in thousands of animals in 2007 (the catalyst for the largest pet food recall in history).

The laboratory results of nearly 300 jerky treat samples collected and tested in the U.S. between April 2007 and June 2012 was included in a new report released this week.

Tamara Ward, an FDA spokeswoman recently said that FDA figures show that the number of complaints of animal illnesses and deaths blamed on the treats has risen to more than 1,800.

Despite some findings of adverse effects in the treats, none of the reports that were released indicated that regulatory action needed to be taken — like a recall.

“This does not represent ALL testing that has and is being conducted by FDA,” Ward said in an email. “Additional testing is currently being conducted through other avenues.”

The Chinese facilities that make the treats were inspected in February of this year.

Curiously, these reports were released after NBC reported on July 13 that the agency refused to make the documents public.

Click here
to read the new findings.

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