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The FDA Proposes Animal Food Regulation in Wake of Pet Deaths

FDA blogThe Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a new set of rules on Friday for governing the production of animal feed and pet food. Since it’s possible for people to get sick as a result of handling contaminated animal food, the proposed regulation is aimed at preventing food-borne illnesses in both animals and people.

The FDA’s proposal is open for public comment for 120 days. If the regulation is put into effect, it would affect the production of both pet food and animal feed for millions of pigs, cows, chickens, and other farm animals. It would require animal food companies to develop written plans to prevent salmonella and other food-borne illnesses, and to implement protective procedures during their production process. Plans would need to be re-evaluated every three years and cleanliness in animal food production facilities would be required to be maintained. For companies that do not comply, the penalties would include warnings, the advisement of customers, and the seizure of products.

This proposed regulation comes less than two weeks after the FDA announced that the number of pet illnesses associated with jerky treats from china has reached more than 3,600. Affected pets have come down with a variety of symptoms. Some develop gastrointestinal problems like vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. In other cases, the kidneys are damaged, resulting in increased urination and thirst. Fanconi syndrome, a specific type of kidney disease that causes abnormal urinary levels of glucose, sodium, phosphorus, potassium, amino acids, and other substances has also been reported. What is most surprising is the rapidity with which some pets develop symptoms, sometimes within just an hour or so of ingesting a single jerky treat. Many pets have recovered with appropriate veterinary care but according to FDA numbers, approximately 16% of the victims have died.

Most of the suspect treats are sold as jerky tenders or strips and are made with chicken, duck, sweet potato, dried fruit, or combinations of these ingredients. The FDA and the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation Response Network (Vet-LIRN) are testing samples of jerky treats. So far, tests for Salmonella, metals, pesticides, mold, antibiotics, toxins produced by bacteria and mold, rodenticides, known nephrotoxins (chemicals that damage the kidneys like maleic acid, aristolochic acid, ethylene glycol, paraquat, diethylene glycol, toxic hydrocarbons, melamine, etc.), and other chemicals and poisonous compounds have failed to reveal the cause of the illnesses and deaths in pets.

If your pet does develop any unusual symptoms after eating a jerky treat, visit the veterinarian immediately and bring any remaining treats and packaging along with you.

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{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Susan November 12, 2013, 7:10 am

    This doesn’t address the stuff that is coming from CHINA that is killing our pets. It doesn’t address pet food specifically at all, just farm animals so how does this help? I cant see that it does. As long as we keep importing the stuff from china we will continue to have melamine, lead and other deadly pet food products. The American companies already comply with product recalls for salmonella problems etc so really, how will this help address the problem of IMPORTS that are sickening and killing or cats and dogs???

  • Ginger McClendon Nix November 12, 2013, 7:34 am

    I absolutely support the Animal Food Regulation by the FDA! It is about time. Our “pets” are our family… not just a pet! I am scared of pet food these days. Some of the major pet food companies have been involved in animal deaths and sickness. Please pass this!!!

  • kathleen stjohn November 12, 2013, 8:28 am

    The regulation should have gone into effect yesterday.

  • Karin November 12, 2013, 8:34 am

    How can FDA regulations in the US help a problem with contamination in the Chinese factories? The FDA doesn’t regulate China. Is this regulation simply going to burden all the good, safe, independent little American manufacturers while the huge conglomerates that manufacture pet foods in China continue to produce dangerous products?

  • Cheryl November 12, 2013, 2:10 pm

    Unless the regulations include inspection of all pet food brought into the country from all countries that do not have or enforce similar laws, it will only affect producers in the US. While all pet food and treat production should be under the supervision of the FDA just like all human supplements, this law as written will impede local food producers. I would like to see their comments before I decide how to cast my vote.

  • Barbara November 12, 2013, 4:46 pm

    If you google for more details, the proposed regulations covers all pet food and animal feed producers who sell the food in the US. This INCLUDES importers, such as companies in China.

    Any company selling such food in the US would be required to provide and follow safety regulations specific to their manufacturing facility, or they will not be allowed to sell in the US.

  • Lindsey November 12, 2013, 5:43 pm

    We are very pleased to hear that the FDA is proposing measures to protect our pets. Our Weimaraner has been ill since July with gastrointestinal problems and we, nor our vet, ever thought it could have been because of the treats we gave him. He is grain intolerant and our only option has been to give him jerky treats. Thank you for helping to keep our four-legged love ones safe.

    • Pete November 12, 2013, 7:15 pm


      Actually, there ARE other options. Have you looked at any of the freeze-dried meats available? If not, please do. Once you find one or more that work for your boy, you can always order them online where they’re usually cheaper for the same exact thing. I had to do that with my kitties when one of them was suffering with food intolerances. Some of them even like the freeze-dried meats (which have no chemicals added, and are made in the USA) more than “regular” treats!

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