What to do in a pet foodborne illness emergency: Step-by-step instructions on how to get help

In emergencies involving Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regulated products such as a pet food or pet medicine, call FDA’s emergency number: 1-866-300-4374 or 301-796-8240. It is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

When should you call the FDA’s emergency number?

When your pet is currently having a non-life threatening adverse reaction to a pet food or a pet product that requires immediate reporting. And since pet food and animal feed are a FDA regulated products, it is necessary to call the FDA if your pet is experiencing a food-borne related illness to a pet food or a pet product.

How to report adverse events related to pet food or treats?

If you are a consumer or a veterinarian, it is your duty to report problems if you encounter any safety issues with a product and/or unanticipated harmful effects that you believe may be related to an animal feed or a pet food related products through the Safety Reporting Portal or contact the district office consumer complaint coordinator for your geographic area in order for an investigation be initiated.

The Safety Reporting Portal (SRP) streamlines the process of reporting product safety issues to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Whatever your role, (manufacturer, health care professional, veterinarian, researcher, public health official, or concerned citizen), when you submit a safety report through this Portal, you make a vital contribution to the safety of America’s food supply, medicines, and other products that touch us all.

Ultimately, the Safety Reporting Portal enables anyone with Internet access the ability to report a safety concern about a medical product as well as foods, cosmetics, animal feed and veterinary products.

How do I report adverse events about veterinary products?

If you are a consumer, report any problems with veterinary drugs and devices for animals to FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine at 1-888-FDA-VETS (1-888-332-8387). You can also find the reporting form on the center’s Website. For more information, see Veterinary Adverse Event Voluntary Reporting.

The importance of your veterinarian’s role

It is extremely important that, not only do you report the problem to the FDA, you take your pet to a veterinarian immediately to determine if indeed it is a foodborne illness, especially if the problem appears to be life threatening.

If the veterinarian believes it may be a foodborne related illness, it is the duty of the veterinarian to secure samples of the patient’s blood, urine and other bodily fluids, and to send samples of the suspected food or treat to their state department of health or state department of agriculture for testing. The veterinarian must also report any adverse food related event to the FDA through the Safety Reporting Portal, inform their state department of agriculture or contact the district office consumer complaint coordinator for their geographic area.

FAQ

If you need more information about the Safety Reporting Portal, here are some answers to the most common questions (to view the complete list, click here):

To email a question about supporting requirements, policy or legal assistance, please select your reporting situation:

Who do I report an emergency to?

If the situation concerns: Contact:
A biological, chemical or radiological agent—or if you believe an intentional threat will occur or is occurring Your local “911” emergency number
Serious, life-threatening event with FDA-regulated products (human drugs, animal drugs, medical devices, biological products, foods, dietary supplements, cosmetics, radiation-emitting electronic products) FDA’s 24-hour emergency line at 1-866-300-4374 or
FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator in your geographic area.
Also contact your health care professional for medical advice.
Food-borne illness:  Meat and poultry The USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline
1-888-MPHotline
1-888-674-6854
mphotline.fsis@usda.gov
Food-borne illness: all other The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 24-hour emergency number: 1-866-300-4374.
Drug product tampering The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at their 24-hour emergency number: 1-866-300-4374.
Blood transfusion-related fatality Call: 301-827-6220
E-mail: fatalities2@fda.hhs.gov
See also the FDA Web page on  Transfusion/Donation Fatalities.
Accidental poisoning A regional poison control center: 1-800-222-1222
Oil and chemical spills The National Response Center

If you have an otherwise serious adverse event concerning:

Contact:

A human medical product, including:

  • An FDA-regulated drug
  • A biologic (including human cells, tissues, and blood products)
  • A medical device
  • A special nutritional product or cosmetic
The MedWatch Online Voluntary Reporting Form (3500)
A vaccine The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) or call 1-800-822-7967 to request a reporting form.

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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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