Both national and social media outlets are abuzz this week about reports that the FDA is seeking help from the public and veterinarians in gathering information about jerky treats linked to a mysterious illness.
NBC News reported yesterday that the FDA issued a public notice that 3,600 dogs and 10 cats have been sickened by jerky treats since 2007 and 580 of those pets have died.
Reports say treats implicated were made in China. Although the FDA has run 1,200 tests, worked with other researchers and labs and even visited manufacturing plants in China, the agency has not been able to pinpoint what is making pets sick with vomiting, diarrhea and in extreme cases, kidney failure that leads to death.
The animals became sick after eating certain jerky treats made with beef, duck, vegetables, or dried fruit.
"This is one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we've encountered," Bernadette Dunham, a veterinarian and head of the FDA vet medicine center, said in the statement.
The FDA has issued an open letter to US veterinarians, asking them to track and send detailed information, including blood and urine test results of any animals believed to have been sickened by the jerky treats.
I, of course, posted a news article as a reminder to my friends on social media yesterday. Another friend posted a warning to beware of jerky treats made in China and then asked the question, “This has been going on since 2007 and we’re just now hearing about it?”
I posted that I had been aware of the problem since 2007 and had written about it even last year for Pet360 when we reported on pet trends in 2012.
Several more people came on the thread and said they hadn’t heard about it either.
It then occurred to me as a pet writer that I may know some of these things because that is my specialty, but things such as this may not be widely reported in the mainstream media.
I did a little digging and found several articles as far back as 2010 and 2011, although not widespread and not as prominent as the national news stories this week.
When the large scale pet food contamination happened in 2007, which was ultimately traced back to a Chinese manufacturing process, I immediately began reading the labels of anything I was feeding our dogs to make sure their food and treats were not sourced from China. I’m very careful what goes into their mouths. It was soon after that the jerky treat story was first reported, but not widely.
Judging from comments I saw on social media this morning, there are apparently other people who don’t know about this danger.
Help spread the word and ask anyone you know who might have a pet who was sickened from jerky treats to contact their veterinarian or contact the FDA through their consumer safety portal.
Learn more: FDA Facts: Jerky Pet Treats
Do you think the mainstream media does enough to get these warnings out about pet food/treats?