The FDA Proposes Animal Food Regulation in Wake of Pet Deaths

by VetDepot on November 5, 2013

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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