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Did the FDA kill the AVMA jerky treat resolution?

A resolution before the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) that would have discouraged the feeding of jerky treats to pets was not adopted at the AVMA House of Delegates winter session Jan.10-11 in Chicago.

According to a source, comments by FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine Director Dr. Bernadette Dunham on the contamination issue appeared to weaken support for the resolution. The resolution did not pass, according to AVMA spokesman David Kirkpatrick, because “we don’t have the scientific proof to say, ‘Don’t do it.'” Or so he was told.

The resolution, which appeared to be on its way to approval, was referred back to the AVMA Executive Board after discussion about the measure with Dr. Dunham and after supporters failed to show up for the vote, supporters who may have been dissuaded from doing so based on Dr. Dunham’s comments.

In light of what transpired at that meeting in Chicago, the AVMA House of Delegates instead recommended that veterinarians report illnesses associated with pet jerky treats to the FDA and remind pet owners that “jerky treats are not a necessary part of good pet nutrition.”

Earlier, Dr. Dunham was quoted as saying the jerky treat investigation was “one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we’ve encountered” and that she believed “our beloved four-legged companions deserve our best effort, and we are giving it.”

I’m not certain if that is completely truthful, considering the FDA is also giving Nestle Purina their “best effort.” During Waggin’ Train’s one year absence from the market, which coincided with a dramatic decrease of reported pet illnesses, Nestle Purina met with the FDA on several occasions to go through their testing methodologies. Presumably, with the intention of aligning their testing methods with the FDA’s.

With the guidance from FDA, Nestle Purina says it is now “confident their quality controls are better than anyone else’s manufacturing jerky treats.” And unless other jerky treat importers have met over the past year with FDA, they are probably correct.

The FDA declined to provide details about its discussions with Nestle Purina.

Incredibly, Nestle Purina claims the decision was made to bring back the products due to strong customer demand.  “We have had thousands of consumers calling and asking, ‘When is Waggin’ Train coming back?,'” she said. Next month, the company also plans to bring back another brand, Canyon Creek Ranch dog treats.

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Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, the author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and consumer advisor. Help support her work by making a donation today.

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