FDA warns consumers to take caution when feeding pets chicken jerky products imported from China
Laboratory tests on chicken jerky products imported from China by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are ongoing as complaints of dog illnesses associated with the product continue to rise. The FDA issued a cautionary warning in regard to chicken jerky products Nov. 18, 2011. Since then, the FDA has continued to receive numerous complaints.
The FDA first issued a cautionary warning about the products in September 2007 and a Preliminary Animal Health Notification in December 2008. Complaints dropped off during the latter part of 2009 and most of 2010, the FDA says, but in 2011 they began to rise again, prompting a release detailing the FDA’s warnings. By the end of May 2012 the number of reported cases linked to chicken jerkey treats had surpassed 900. On July 18, the FDA updated its warning, giving more details of its testing processes, signs associated with consumption of the treats and results of its analyses.
According to the FDA, clinical signs that may be associated with the dried chicken jerky products--also sold as tenders, strips and treats--include decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes with blood), increased water consumption and increased urination. Signs may manifest within hours to days of ingestion. Laboratory tests may indicate kidney problems, including increased urea nitrogen and creatinine levels, and urine tests may reveal high glucose levels. Although many dogs appear to recover, the FDA says, some reports have involved dogs that died.
The FDA has been investigating the cause of illness possibly associated with the product since 2007. A cause of illness has yet to be found despite extensive evaluation at the FDA and private labs for Salmonella, metals, pesticides, antibiotics, mycotoxins, rodenticides, nephrotoxins and other chemical and poisonous compounds. Researchers have performed DNA verification tests on samples to confirm the presence of poultry in the treats and analysis to determine nutritional composition, vitamin D levels and the presence of any enterotoxins. More samples are being collected for testing.
In response to the question of why the FDA has not recalled the products, the agency states, “Unless a contaminant is detected and we have evidence that a product is adulterated, we are limited in what regulatory actions we can take. The regulations don’t allow for products to be removed based on complaints alone. This is an ongoing investigation and FDA will notify the public if a recall is initiated. Currently, FDA continues to urge pet owners to use caution with regard to chicken jerky products.”
The FDA advises that chicken jerky products not be substituted for a balanced diet and should only be fed occasionally in small quantities. It advises consumers who continue to feed the treats to pets to watch them closely for symptoms. If symptoms are severe or persist for more than 24 hours, pet owners should consult a veterinarian.
For information on how to report a complaint, go to dwww.fda.gov/petfoodcomplaints.