From AAHA Newstat
FDA releases jerky update
A definitive cause of illness has yet to be identified after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration completed testing of chicken jerky products after it received complaints of dog illnesses associated with consumption of the treats.
FDA released an update July 18, 2012 detailing results of sample testing of chicken jerky products.
Testing showed adverse findings from Waggin Train and Dingo chicken jerky products, as well as from beef jerky treats manufactured by Del Monte Pet Products.
However, the FDA says it has been unable to determine a definitive cause of the illnesses, or link the illnesses to a particular company, from the samples collected.
The FDA sent inspectors to Chinese plants that make the jerky treats, but have not released inspection results.
Meanwhile, NBCNews.com reports that dog owners in eight states who believe contaminated chicken jerky treats from China sickened or killed their pets are banding together in a class-action lawsuit against Nestle Purina, the maker of two brands of the snacks, as well as Wal-Mart, Target and Costco, all of whom sell the products.
The lawsuit filed in federal court expands an April complaint by Dennis Adkins of Illinois, who said his 9-year-old Pomeranian died in March after eating Waggin Train dog treats, produced by Nestle Purina Pet Care Co.
Below is a FAQ released by FDA regarding chicken jerky treats from China:
Why did FDA issue a cautionary update in November 2011?
In 2011, FDA saw an increase in the number of complaints it received of dog illnesses associated with consumption of chicken jerky products imported from China.
FDA previously issued a cautionary warning regarding chicken jerky products to consumers in September 2007 and a Preliminary Animal Health Notification in December of 2008. The number of complaints being received dropped off during the latter part of 2009 and most of 2010. However in 2011, FDA once again started seeing the number of complaints rise to the levels of concern that prompted release of our earlier warnings.
Since the issuance of the CVM Update on November 18, 2011, the agency has received numerous additional complaints regarding chicken jerky products.
What are the products involved?
The cautionary update specifically refers to chicken jerky products that are imported from China. These dried chicken jerky products, intended for dogs, may also be sold as tenders, strips or treats.
What are the signs of illness that are being reported?
The signs that may be associated with chicken jerky products include decreased appetite; decreased activity; vomiting; diarrhea, sometimes with blood; increased water consumption and/or increased urination. These signs may occur within hours to days of feeding the products.
Laboratory tests may indicate kidney problems, including Fanconi-like syndrome. Although many dogs appear to recover, some reports to the FDA have involved dogs that have died.
FDA continues to investigate the problem and its origin. Some of the illnesses reported may be the result of causes other than eating chicken jerky.
What is FDA testing for?
Since 2007, FDA has been actively investigating the cause of illness in pets reported in association with the consumption of chicken jerky products. 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.
What are the results of testing?
Samples collected from all over the United States have been tested for a wide variety of substances and to date, scientists have not been able to determine a definitive cause for the reported illnesses.
Has there been any indication that metal contamination in chicken jerky products may be the cause of illness in dogs?
FDA’s previous testing of chicken jerky product samples did not show toxic levels of metals. In addition, results from March 2012 toxic metal analyses, which included tests for heavy metals, have again shown samples of chicken jerky products to be negative for toxic metals.
Is FDA contracting with private labs to conduct some of the testing of chicken jerky treats?
Yes, FDA recently issued a solicitation for private diagnostic labs to submit quotes on conducting analysis of the nutritional composition of 30 chicken jerky treat samples
Does this mean that you are no longer testing for other possible contaminants?
No, the FDA is not limiting their testing to one laboratory analysis (nutritional composition). We are submitting samples to multiple laboratories and testing for multiple things including potential toxins.
Is all of the testing of chicken jerky treats being done through contracts with private labs?
No. Testing is being done at FDA laboratories as well.
What type of nutritional analysis is being conducted?
We are testing for fatty acids, crude fiber, glycerol, protein, ash and moisture.
Why are you doing testing of nutritional composition of chicken jerky treats?
We are testing samples, in part, to determine the concentration of glycerin in the various products. Moisture content is needed to calculate concentration on a dry weight basis. FDA is evaluating the ratios of the various components in the sample treats.
What some might describe as "routine" analysis can often provide FDA with important leads. It is important to understand the composition of a product and its ingredients to determine where there might be a potential for problems to occur. For example, during the pet food contamination investigation, FDA looked carefully at all the ingredients and it was later discovered that melamine was being used to raise the level of the protein in the products. Without a clear understanding of all the ingredients in a product, FDA cannot conduct a thorough analysis or investigation. In addition, hiring private laboratories to conduct "routine" analyses allows FDA to focus it's efforts on "non-routine" analyses.
Are there specific brands we should be concerned about?
No specific products have been recalled because a definitive cause has not been determined. The FDA continues to actively investigate the problem and its origin. If the FDA identifies the cause, the agency will take appropriate action and notify the public.
Why aren’t these products being taken off the market?
There is nothing preventing a company from conducting a voluntary recall. It is important to understand that 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.
Should I stop feeding chicken jerky treats to my dog?
Chicken jerky products should not be substituted for a balanced diet and are intended to be fed occasionally in small quantities.
FDA is advising consumers who choose to feed their dogs chicken jerky products to watch their dogs closely for any or all of the following signs that may occur within hours to days of feeding the products:
diarrhea, sometimes with blood;
increased water consumption; and/or
If the dog shows any of these signs, stop feeding the chicken jerky product. Owners should consult their veterinarian if signs are severe or persist for more than 24 hours. Blood tests may indicate kidney failure (increased urea nitrogen and creatinine). Urine tests may indicate Fanconi-like syndrome (increased glucose).
What should I do if my dog shows signs of illness after eating chicken jerky products?
If your dog shows any of the signs listed above, stop feeding the chicken jerky product. Owners should consult their veterinarian if signs are severe or persist for more than 24 hours.
What should I do with the remainder of the chicken jerky product that may have made my dog sick?
If your pet has experienced signs of illness, please retain the opened package and remaining pieces of the chicken jerky product that are in the original packaging. It is possible that your samples will be collected for testing. If your product samples are collected, please be sure to provide the FDA official with all of the sample that you have. The extensive testing that is being conducted may require multiple pieces from the package. It is also possible that a toxicant may be present in some of the samples in the package, but not all. We may be able to get better or more accurate testing results with a larger sample size.
After you have reported the problem to FDA, we will determine what type of follow-up is necessary and whether your particular sample will be collected for analysis.
I’ve already submitted a complaint to FDA, when will I get a response?
Every report is important to FDA. In each case, the information the consumer furnishes is evaluated to determine how serious the problem is and what follow-up is needed.
Once a consumer has filed a report with their local FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator, or electronically through our safety reporting portal, FDA will determine whether there is a need to conduct a follow-up phone call, or obtain a sample of the chicken jerky product in question. While FDA does not necessarily respond to every individual complaint submitted, each report becomes part of the body of knowledge that helps to inform FDA on the situation or incident.
I reported a complaint to the FDA, but my sample of chicken jerky was never tested, could I get my sample tested by a private lab?
Even though your particular sample may not be tested, your report to FDA is important. While in some cases, a sample of the product may be collected directly from the consumer, in many cases, product samples from the same lot and code will be collected from retailers, wholesalers or the manufacturer for laboratory analysis.
FDA is working with various animal health diagnostic laboratories across the U.S. to determine why these products are associated with illness in dogs. You may have your treat tested by a private laboratory if you wish; however, it may be costly to have numerous tests conducted on your sample. Please be assured that FDA and the laboratories involved in this investigation are working diligently to determine what may be causing these illnesses associated with chicken jerky products.
Have there been reports similar to this in other countries?
We have reached out to relevant competent authorities in other countries to request intelligence on increased reports of illness in dogs associated with consumption of chicken jerky treats, any investigations conducted, analyses conducted on suspect products, etc. We have received some feedback regarding our questions and some suggested collaboration and sharing of information.
We will be featuring cases of common pet ailments on our blog. Rest assured, we’ve asked our client’s permission prior to featuring their case and we will protect their identity.
Princess is a 12 year old cat that came to us for vomiting. After going over with her owner what had been happening we performed a thorough examination. We first ruled out any intestinal parasites (worms) as the cause of her throwing up. Since she was an older cat, we decided to perform a quick blood screen on her. With a few drops of blood we were able to obtain a complete picture of how well her liver, kidneys, and thyroid gland were working.
In her case we discovered that Princess had a common condition of making to much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroid). We then discussed treatment options for Princess. Recently a new prescription diet was introduced for treating feline hyperthyroid. We elected to start Princess on this diet, call Y/D by Hills Science Diet. So far Princess has been doing great. She will still need regular blood tests to make sure the diet is treating her condition adequately, but she will not need any other daily medications.
I’m now going to take a step back and discuss the diagnosis and treatment options of hyperthyroid in cats. The thyroid gland drives our body’s metabolism. In other words, it revs our engine. Cats are prone to producing too much thyroid as they get older. The condition can go undetected for many years. Most recently we’ve started recommending a quick blood screen for all cats over the age of five year. We can do this test in a matter of minutes in our hospital.
Cats with hyperthyroid will often begin to shed excessively. They will start to eat more and more voraciously, and often throw up. They will drink more water and urinate more often. They may seem agitated and behave differently. When we examine any cat we look for other changes that might give us clues to this condition. We listen for an elevated heart rate. We palpate along the bottom of the neck (Adam’s apple) to feel for swelling. We also check the eyes for signs of hypertension and if needed we can do blood pressure checking. While there are other conditions that can cause these same signs, we look at the patient as a whole and decide if we need to blood test.
Once we’ve diagnosed the condition with a blood test, we have three treatment options. Daily medication, surgery, a special treatment with Iodine, and now we have the Y/D diet. All the treatments have their pros and cons and have various costs. Fortunately the cost of the diet is very similar to that of the daily medication and regular diet. Many cats are not easy to medicate, so the diet also brings the convenience of just being able to treat your cat with food alone. Regardless which treatment has been chosen, there is still close monitoring of your cats blood chemistry values and urinalysis that is required.
For cats that are already being treated for hyperthyroid, they can be transitioned for daily medication to the diet. For families with more than one cat there are special considerations as well, but under the right circumstances the diet can be fed in a multi-cat household.
If you have a cat with hyperthyroid or if you just have an older cat that you’d like us to check out, please let us know. Keep in mind, this diet is considered to be a prescription. Your cat has to be a patient with us for us to dispense it.
Please contact us by phone 757-340-6996 to make an appointment if you wish to discuss any of your pet's medical concerns.
Here's a follow up on Princess. She is doing great on the y/d diet. Her hair coat is shinier. She is not vomiting as frequently and she is gaining weight.
Like all hyperthyroid patients, we will continue to monitor Princess' progress with routine checkups and testing. This is done to ensure we are providing her with the safest treatment possible.
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