A jerky treats recall has yet to be put in affect
despite nearly 600 pets, primarily dogs, having died in recent years and another 3,600 becoming sick after consuming jerky treats made mostly in China and sold by U.S. companies.
The FDA has not isolated the cause of the illnesses, which has primarily affected dogs of all ages, sizes and breeds that have consumed chicken, duck, and sweet potato jerky treats. Ten cats have also been sickened by the jerky treats, NBC News reported
On Tuesday federal animal health officials from the FDA announced that they are now seeking assistance from veterinarians and pet owners in their ongoing attempt to find out what toxin is causing the deaths, requesting that the above mentioned parties send in information about their animal's illness when it is first diagnosed.
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"To date, testing for contaminants in jerky treats has not revealed a cause for the illnesses," Martine Hartogensis, a deputy director for the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said in a statement from the agency, NBC News reported. "Despite these warnings, we have continued to receive reports of illnesses in both cats and dogs."
The jerky treats reportedly cause gastrointestinal and kidney problems for the dog after consuming the treats.
Though the FDA has yet to issue an official recall, two voluntary recalls have been issued by U.S. companies responsible for distributing the treats.
In January Nestle Purina PetCare's issued a voluntary "withdrawal" of its Waggin' Train and Canyon Creek Ranch products, as did Del Monte Corp for its Milo’s Kitchen Chicken Jerky and Chicken Grillers home-style dog treats.
Despite the voluntary recall by the above mentioned companies in January, dogs continue to die from China-made jerky treats, though the number has slowed, with an additional 80 dog deaths and another 400 dog illnesses associated with the treats being reported since the start of the year, NBC News noted.
Though it is unclear when the jerky treat-related deaths began, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
first issued an official warning to pet owners in September 2007 when dogs began becoming sick and dying from chicken jerky treats made in China.
Though antibiotic residue has yet to be ruled out by the FDA, the federal agency reports that it is "highly unlikely" that the dogs' deaths were caused China approved antibiotics.
A similar sentiment was shared by Nestle Purina spokesman Keith Schopp, who told NBC News that "There is no indication that the trace amounts of antibiotic residue is related to FDA's ongoing investigation."
"Due to regulatory inconsistencies among countries, the presence of antibiotic residue is technically considered an adulteration in the United States," Schopp added.
Veterinary clinical pathologist Kendal Harr contends that the specific compound responsible for the illnesses is likely an intoxicant "that we're not used to dealing with as a toxin in North America."
Whatever is responsible for causing the deaths in so many U.S. pets, many pet owners, such as Robin Pierre of Pine Bush, N.Y., are fed up with the FDA's failure to issue an official repeal on all jerky treat product associated with the deaths.
"I am disgusted that our government continues to protect corporate American and China," Pierre told NBC News.
In 2007, Pierre lost her previously healthy 2-year-old pug named Bella after she claims the dog ate Waggin' Train chicken jerky treats.
"They need to start protecting the American consumer so that this does not happen again," Pierre added. "As soon as a product is in doubt, a warning label should be placed at the point of sale so that consumers can make an educated choice."
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Having yet to isolate the specific cause of the illnesses, the FDA has only issued a warning concerning the consumption of jerky treats for pets in the U.S., along with multiple reminders to consumers that such pet snacks are not necessary for a balanced diet.
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