Despite reports of pet illness and deaths tied to jerky treats, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says it won't warn pet owners against feeding the treats to their dogs, according to an NBC News report.
The AVMA rejected a resolution this month that would have discouraged use of the jerky products until further evidence about safety is available.
"The resolution as presented is basically dead," said David Kirkpatrick, an AVMA spokesman. "We don't have the scientific proof to say, 'Don't do it.'"
Instead, the AVMA's house of delegates recommended that the group tell its 85,000 members to report jerky-related pet problems to the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and to work with the FDA to safeguard animals through "quality control of pet food and treats."
The strips, nuggets and other treats have been linked to nearly 600 pet deaths and 4,500 illnesses since 2007. The conditions include gastrointestinal illnesses, kidney failure and Fanconi syndrome. The AVMA and the FDA remind owners that jerky treats are not a necessary part of a pet's diet and to seek medical care at the first sign of gastric distress or kidney trouble.
The AVMA resolution came weeks before Nestle Purina Pet Care said it plans to introduce new versions of its Waggin' Train products in February, and Del Monte Foods Corp. said it would offer new versions of its Milo's Kitchen treats in March.
The companies issued nationwide recalls last year after New York state agriculture officials detected trace levels of unapproved antibiotics in jerky treat samples. The FDA and company officials said that the antibiotics weren't tied to the ongoing reports of illnesses.
Nestle Purina said it has made "significant enhancements" to the Waggin' Train production process, including limiting meat sourcing to single suppliers and requiring that each batch of treats be tested for a range of contaminants.
Pet owners want a lot from their pet food brands. They want primary proteins that suit what they believe is best for their animal. They want grains or they don't. They want something customized, but it has to be easy to understand.
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