U.S. steps up investigation as pet death toll hits 580; imported food from China implicated

Posted by Rob Hotakainen on October 23, 2013 

The U.S. government suspects that imported pet food from China is responsible for a rash of pet deaths and illnesses.

SANGJIB MIN MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS

The Food and Drug Administration says 580 dogs and cats have died after eating jerky pet treats --- and imported pet food from China is suspected of causing the deaths.

The agency said that most of the jerky treats implicated have been made in China, but the exact cause for the deaths is unknown. Manufacturers of pet foods are not required to state the country of origin for each ingredient in their products.

The FDA said it has received reports involving 3,600 dogs and 10 cats getting ill from jerky pet treat-related illnesses.

As part of its probe, the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) has conducted more than 1,200 tests and visited jerky pet treat manufacturers in China.

Now the agency is reaching out to pet owners and veterinarians, asking them to provide blood, urine and tissue samples from animals that get sick from the treats. And the FDA said it would cover the costs

"This is one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we've encountered," CVM Director Bernadette Dunham said in a statement.

The FDA said the jerky treats are sold as jerky tenders or strips made of chicken, duck, sweet potatoes or dried fruit.

Many jerky pet treat products were removed from the market in January after a New York lab reported finding evidence of up to six drugs in pet treats made in China.

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