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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today updated its ongoing investigation into pet illnesses and deaths in animals that ate jerky pet treats. This update includes the latest information about complaints of illnesses, test findings, and measures taken by the agency to identify the cause of the illnesses and deaths.
Reported cases have been on the decline in recent years. Since FDA’s last update in September 2014 and through the end of 2015, there have been 200 reports received. During the previous period (from the update in May 2014 to September 2014) 270 cases were reported to FDA.
Since the investigation began in 2007 through December 31, 2015, FDA has received approximately 5,200 complaints of illness associated with consumption of chicken, duck, or sweet potato jerky treats, most of which involve products imported from China. The reports involve more than 6,200 dogs, 26 cats, three people, and include more than 1,140 canine deaths. FDA continues to investigate the cause of these illnesses in conjunction with our partners in the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (Vet-LIRN), a network of animal health laboratories affiliated with FDA.
During the investigation, FDA detected antimicrobial and antiviral residues in an imported duck jerky product and added duck jerky products to the testing methodology in 2015. As a result of this testing, FDA revised its existing Import Alert in October 2015 to include certain poultry jerky-type pet treats.
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 if they notice symptoms in their pets, such as decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes with blood or mucus), increased water consumption and/or increased urination. The majority of complaints involve chicken jerky (treats, tenders, and strips), but others include duck, sweet potato, and treats where chicken or duck jerky is wrapped around dried fruits, sweet potatoes, yams, or rawhide.
If you believe your pet has become ill from consuming a jerky pet treat, please report it electronically through FDA’s Safety Reporting Portal or by phone to your local FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator. While FDA does not necessarily respond to every individual complaint submitted, each report is valuable and becomes part of the body of knowledge that helps to inform the investigation.