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Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.

Jerky Investigation Widens

August 31, 2012 / (11) comments

Over on Fully Vetted, I’ve blogged a few times about the continuing Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigation into the "potential association between development of illness in dogs and the consumption of chicken jerky products also described as chicken tenders, strips or treats."

To date, the FDA has received reports of more than 1,300 pets that have possibly experienced adverse health effects as a result of eating jerky manufactured in China.

Affected dogs have come down with a variety of symptoms. Some individuals experience gastrointestinal problems like vomiting, loss of appetite, and diarrhea (sometimes containing blood). In other cases the kidneys are the primary target, leading to increased thirst and urination. Fanconi syndrome, a specific type of kidney disease characterized by abnormal levels of glucose, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, amino acids, and other substances in the urine has also been reported. Many animals have recovered, but unfortunately treatment has proven ineffective in others.

The FDA has not yet been able to determine the cause behind this crisis, but they have recently updated their public website concerning the ongoing investigation. The most important new information involves reports of illness associated with duck and sweet potato jerky treats. According to the website:

Since 2007, FDA has been actively investigating the cause of illness in pets reported in association with the consumption of chicken jerky products. More recently (2012), the product-associated complaints have expanded to other jerky pet treat products such as duck and sweet potato jerky treats. Samples have been tested by FDA laboratories, by the Veterinary Laboratory Response Network (Vet-LRN), and by other animal health diagnostic laboratories in the U.S for multiple chemical and microbiological contaminants.<

Product samples were tested for 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 were screened for other chemicals and poisonous compounds. DNA verification was conducted on these samples to confirm the presence of poultry in the treats. Samples have also been submitted for nutritional composition (which includes glycerol concentrations), vitamin D excess and enterotoxin analysis. Some samples from recent cases (2011-2012) have been submitted for multiple tests and we are awaiting results. More samples are in the process of being collected for testing.

It’s interesting (and sad) to take a look at the list of complaints received by the FDA. The agency cautions that the record includes only the complaints received by their District Consumer Complaint Coordinators between January 1, 2007 and July 2, 2012 and do not include reports received through the electronic Safety Reporting Portal (SRP) system. Also,

The spreadsheet lists a "country of origin" (C.O.O.) column. A few entries list the United States as the C.O.O. This is not correct. The distributor is located in the U.S. but the manufacturer is located in China. In addition, one entry lists, "Afghanistan," as the C.O.O. It should indicate, "China," in the C.O.O. column. Freedom of Information laws require records to be released "as is" regardless of any perceived errors (either manual or human).

I noticed that record number of 101,655 involves two cats. Hopefully, this doesn’t represent the beginning of a new development in this continuing saga.

Dr. Jennifer Coates

Image: Chad Zuber / via Shutterstock

 




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