Just when you think you’ve seen it all, heard it all in regards to the FDA…you have something fall into your lap that just beats all.  This would be one of those things.  Guess what the FDA is testing Chinese imported jerky treats for?

If someone asked you ‘What do you think the FDA is testing the Chinese imported jerky treats for?’…what would you say?  Probably something like melamine, heavy metals, or other toxins…right?

Well…that doesn’t appear to be what the FDA is testing for.

From the website FedBizOpps.gov, a website that posts “federal opportunities” available for businesses to apply for/bid on, there is a post titled “Analysis of Nutritional Composition of 30 Animal Food Products (Chicken Jerky Treats)”.  This ‘federal opportunity’ was posted March 30, 2012.

When you download the file (Click Here to download) you find the document “FDA Scientific Support Services:  Analysis of Nutritional Composition of 30 Animal Food Products (Chicken Jerky Treats)”.  

Under Part 3 – Description/Specifications/Work Statement, 3.1 Objectives…
“Due to an increase in the number of consumer complaints regarding an animal food product related pet illness, the FDA has a requirement to test nutritional composition of 30 animal food products (chicken jerky treats)  to investigate cause of reported toxicity.”

Under 3.2 Scope of Work…
“The contractor will analyze a subset of randomly sampled and a subset of case related animal food products (chicken jerky treats).  The contractor will analyze a total of 30 animal food products (chicken jerky treats) for the following:

Total Fatty Acids
Crude Fiber
Glycerol (an absolute requirement)

The contractor must be able to complete all tests with a small amount of samples (10 grams).  FDA will provide the samples to the Contractor.”

In the midst of pet deaths and illnesses believed to be linked to jerky treats, the FDA posts a subcontractor request to test the treats for fat, fiber, glycerol, protein, ash, and moisture?  Not toxins known to cause kidney damage, but for information that an ingredient list and guaranteed analysis would provide.

This must be repeated, bewildering phrases bolded “Due to an increase in the number of consumer complaints regarding an animal food product related pet illness, the FDA has a requirement to test nutritional composition of 30 animal food products (chicken jerky treats)  to investigate cause of reported toxicity.”

Nutritional composition to investigate toxicity?  Testing for fatty acids, fiber, glycerol, protein, ash and moisture will investigate toxicity reported to be linked to these treats?

I sent the following email to FDA Communications Specialist Laura Alvey…

Hello Laura,
I’m very confused as to a FDA post found on FedBizOpps.com – here is the link: https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=fd7c441ba86c151bc4e9f0c8f15f1aff&tab=core&tabmode=list&=

This FDA post was searching for a lab to test jerky treats.  The tests to be performed seem like no active search for toxins; actually the information being requested by FDA is little more than what is provided on the jerky treat labels from the guaranteed analysis and ingredient panel.  This seems to have nothing to do with looking for toxins.  Can you provide an explanation as to why FDA is doing this testing?  Of what benefit to finding a cause of reported toxicity are these tests?  Further, you can provide a complete list of toxins FDA has tested the treats for?

Susan Thixton

The treats the FDA are testing for non-toxic substances on are actual samples provided by pet owners who filed a complaint with FDA; case related animal food products (chicken jerky treats).”  Now how do you think pet owners – whose dog has suffered kidney damage or died – are going to feel about this?  They have provided the FDA with ‘evidence’ and the FDA is not using these valuable pieces of evidence to search for toxins known to cause kidney damage, instead the FDA is testing them for fat, fiber, glycerol, protein, ash and moisture…basically testing for a guaranteed analysis statement.  I can’t imagine how devastating this will be to those pet owners.

The FDA stated a few months ago in their statement Questions and Answers Regarding Chicken Jerky Treats from China

“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.”

Have they really tested the treats for nephrotoxins, mycotoxins, metals and more?  If so, this new testing makes even less sense.  Have they done none of the above testing and simply sent jerky treats to labs around the country to test for protein and fat content?  Because the FDA does not provide test results to the public, we don’t know.  Our tax dollars pay for these tests, but we are not provided with the results.  Pets have paid with their lives, and even those pet owners are not provided with the results.  We are only told the FDA is looking into this.

FDA, just exactly what are you looking into?  What exactly have you done thus far and why are you testing precious pieces of evidence for protein, fat and fiber?  We deserve to know.

Should you wish to express your dismay with FDA, below is a list of FDA Administration that you might wish to contact….

Commissioner FDA
Margaret Hamburg

Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) Director
Bernadette M. Dunham, DVM, PhD

Deputy Director
Tracey H. Forfa, J.D.

Deputy Director for Science Policy
William T. Flynn DVM, MS

Associate Director for Policy and Communications
Catherine P. Beck

HUGE thanks go out to…you know who you are…for sending me this information.  Pet food and treat safety is definitely a group effort; I am grateful beyond words for the many that supports me and this website.

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