Despite its seven-year investigation into jerky pet treats that may have killed more than 1,000 dogs and left thousands more ill, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “has still not been able to identify a specific cause for the reported illnesses or deaths.” According to an FDA news release, as of May 1, 2014, the agency had received more than 4,800 complaints of illness in pets that ate jerky treats made of chicken, duck or sweet potato.

In its ongoing efforts to find a cause for the illnesses, FDA has partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct a study to determine whether sick dogs eat more jerky treats than healthy dogs do.

Studies of the jerky treats revealed the presence of the antiviral drug amantadine, but “FDA does not believe that amantadine contributed to the illnesses because the known side effects or adverse effects associated with amantadine do not seem to correlate with the symptoms seen in the jerky pet treat-related cases.” Most of the illness-causing treats were made in China, and thus some retailers have pledged to stop selling Chinese-sourced jerky treats. Petco told USA Today that about half of the jerky treats it sells now were made in China, down from 90 percent five years ago, but that by the end of the year it would not sell any. Information about a putative class action stemming from allegedly harmful chicken jerky treats made in China may be found in Issue 511 of this Update. See FDA News Release, May 16, 2014.