FDA Responds to Hundreds of Pet Deaths with New Pet Food Safety Regulations

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In the wake of almost 600 pet deaths linked to jerky treats, the FDA is making strides toward the first-ever set of rules governing pet food production and sales.

In the past, contaminated and dangerous pet foods, treats, and animal feed often had to reach the market and cause a problem before a recall was announced. In 2007, pet treats manufactured in China contaminated with melamine resulted in over 150 recalls, and since 2007, a mysterious set of illnesses linked to jerky treats, mostly treats made in China, has rendered thousands of pets ill and killed 580.

Last week, the FDA called for help from veterinarians and pet owners to share any information that may help solve the mystery of these jerky treats. Friday, the FDA announced a new proposed rule to protect pets from bacteria and other contaminants.

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When the Rule Is Implemented

Under the proposed rule, pet food and treat manufacturers — domestic and overseas — must develop procedures to prevent any foodborne illnesses. Marking a milestone in food administration, manufacturing facilities would have to follow a list of practices regarding sanitation and corrections of any problems. A manufacturer that fails to meet these guidelines could find their shipments stopped by the FDA.

“Unlike safeguards already in place to protect human foods, there are currently no regulations governing the safe production of most animal foods,” said Daniel McChesney, director of the Office of Surveillance and Compliance at FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. “There is no type of hazard analysis. This rule would change all that.”

Three public meetings will be held to discuss the proposed rules: November 21 in College Park, Maryland, November 25 in Chicago, Illinois, and December 6 in Sacramento, California.

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