Header graphic for print

Food Safety News

Breaking news for everyone's consumption

FDA Update: 1,000+ Dog Deaths Potentially Linked to Chinese Jerky Treats

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is continuing to investigate thousands of complaints about pet illnesses it has received since 2007 — mainly in dogs but also in some cats — and which may be associated with the consumption of pet jerky treats from China.

So far, more than 1,000 canine deaths have been reported, FDA stated in its May 16 update on the situation. However, the agency has still not identified a specific cause.

According to the recent update, “As of May 1, 2014, FDA has received approximately 4,800 reports of pet illnesses which may be related to consumption of the jerky treats. (These include 1,800 complaints received since FDA’s last update in October 2013.) Most of the reports involve jerky products sourced from China.”

The update continues, “The majority of the complaints involve dogs, but cats also have been affected. The reports involve more than 5,600 dogs, 24 cats, three people and include more than 1,000 canine deaths. There does not appear to be a geographic pattern to the case reports.”

Of the illness reports, FDA stated that “about 60 percent are for gastrointestinal illness (with or without elevated liver enzymes) and about 30 percent relate to kidney or urinary signs. The remaining 10 percent of cases involve a variety of other signs, including convulsions, tremors, hives, and skin irritation.”

The jerky treats are “commonly chicken or duck or jerky-wrapped treats, mostly imported from China,” FDA stated, adding that, “Pet owners should be aware that manufacturers do not need to list the country of origin for each ingredient used in their products, so packages that do not state on the label that they are made in another country may still contain ingredients sourced from China or other countries that export to the U.S.”

FDA stated that 26 necropsies (animal autopsies) were performed on dogs, revealing that half of them died from something else probably unrelated to consumption of jerky treats and that the deaths of the other half may have been linked to the treats.

The Chinese jerky pet treats have been tested for various contaminants, FDA stated, and the human antiviral drug amantadine was found in some of the chicken-flavored products. Agency officials don’t believe amantadine has a connection with the pet illnesses since the side effects of that drug do not relate to other symptoms in the illness cases.

Other contaminants for which FDA has tested the jerky treats include: Salmonella, metals, furans, pesticides, antibiotics, mycotoxins, rodenticides, nephrotoxins (such as aristolochic acid, maleic acid, paraquat, ethylene glycol, diethylene glycol, toxic hydrocarbons, melamine, and related triazines) and other chemicals and poisonous compounds. Tests for toxic and heavy metals were negative, FDA stated.

While the agency has not announced the brand names of the jerky treats being tested, internal documents obtained by msnbc.com earlier this year indicate that they include the following: Waggin’ Train or Canyon Creek Ranch jerky treats or tenders, both produced by Nestle Purina PetCare Co., and Milo’s Kitchen Home-style Dog Treats, produced by the Del Monte Corp.

Anyone with a complaint relating to Chinese jerky pet treats, or any other other illness associated with pet foods, may report the case to the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator in their state, or electronically through the Safety Reporting Portal. More information regarding “How to Report a Pet Food Complaint” to FDA can be found here.

© Food Safety News
  • Anonymous

    The FDA is, just like most governmental agencies, no longer able to serve it’s intended purpose. Too much bureaucracy, too much red tape, too many fat and lazy politicians running the show, too little concern for those they are tasked to serve. Just a matter of time before this article is titled “1000+ Elderly Deaths linked to Chinese XXXXX” or “1000+ Infant Deaths linked to Chinese XXXXX” and then it will be time for a class action lawsuit against those responsible.

    • HydrogenBond

      Yes, a class action lawsuit against the GOP politicians who slash their funding and work in bad faith to the detriment of the people they claim to serve would be a great idea!

      • Anonymous

        Don’t turn this into a partisan thing. It’s not. It’s the inability for federal agencies to do what they are held to do. I don’t care what party lines they vote on and it is ignorant to have people constantly playing a blame game which is exactly why most of our government agencies cannot to their jobs!

        • HydrogenBond

          It is ignorant to expect people to be able to do their jobs when they have nowhere near the amount of funding or authority necessary to do them correctly.

          Do you think that no one in the FDA cares about animals or the well-being of Americans?

          That FDA employees took jobs there because it’s so glamorous and they love being blamed for everything, whether they have the power to prevent it or not?

    • HydrogenBond

      Don’t blame the FDA, they have enough funding to check maybe 1% of all imports. It’s not laziness, it’s a lack of resources. If people feed their pets cheap products then they will pay for it in other ways.

  • Barb3000

    One way to avoid this is don’t feed your pet bagged treats. They don’t need it, all they need is a bowl of the better cat or dog. I have never heard of dogs or cats dying from eating Purina. Check the bag or box for the country the pet food was manufactured in. If you can’t find it contact the company and ask some questions.

    • tallen2007

      OMG, are you serious? Purina is one of the worst foods you can feed a dog or cat! Look at the ingredients! Since when do carnivores (meat eaters) eat corn? Usually #1 and #3 in ingredient list. Feeding cheap GMO corn and it’s by-products to your pet may not cause it to drop dead right away but I guarantee you’ll be paying a lot of money to your vet for on-going “issues”. And food “made in the USA” usually contains ingredients from overseas. Google truthaboutpetfood.com.

  • Wanner