43 humans sickened in 2013 chicken jerky pet treat Salmonella outbreak

Pet treats and pet food can be contaminated with Salmonella and other pathogens, though they are infrequently implicated as the source of human outbreaks.

sadie.dog.powellIn 2013, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services investigated a cluster of Salmonella Typhimurium infections associated with contaminated locally made pet treats.

Case-patients were interviewed with standardized questionnaires to assess food, animal, and social histories. Laboratory and environmental investigations were conducted, including testing of clinical specimens, implicated product, and environmental swabs. Between June and October 2013, a total of 43 ill persons were identified. Sixteen patients (37%) were hospitalized.

Among 43 case-patients interviewed, the proportion exposed to dogs (95%) and pet treats (69%) in the 7 days prior to illness was statistically higher than among participants in a U.S. population-based telephone survey (61%, p<0.0001 and 16%, p<0.0001, respectively). On further interview, 38 (88%) reported exposure to Brand X Chicken Jerky, the maker of Brand X chicken jerky, or the facility in which it was made. Product testing isolated the outbreak strain from four of four Brand X Chicken Jerky samples, including an unopened package purchased at retail, opened packages collected from patient households, and unpackaged jerky obtained from the jerky maker.

Chicken-Jerky-Dog-TreatsA site visit revealed inadequate processing of the chicken jerky, bare-hand contact with the finished product prior to packaging, and use of vacuum-sealed packaging, which may have enabled facultative anaerobic bacteria to proliferate. Seven (78%) of nine environmental swabs taken during the site visit also yielded the outbreak strain. Brand X Chicken Jerky was voluntarily recalled on September 9, 2013.

Consumers should be made aware of the potential for locally made products to be exempt from regulation and for animals and animal food to carry pathogens that cause human illness, and be educated to perform hand hygiene after handling pet food or treats.

Human Outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium Associated With Exposure to Locally Made Chicken Jerky Pet Treats, New Hampshire, 2013

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease

Cavallo Steffany J., Daly Elizabeth R., Seiferth John, Nadeau Alisha M., Mahoney Jennifer, Finnigan Jayne, Wikoff Peter, Kiebler Craig A., and Simmons Latoya


Dog treats continue to sicken in U.S., Australia

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to caution consumers of a potential association between the development of illness in dogs and the consumption of chicken jerky products also described as chicken tenders, strips or treats. 

FDA continues to receive complaints of dogs experiencing illness that their owners or veterinarians associate with consumption of chicken jerky products. The chicken jerky products are imported to the U.S. from China.  FDA issued a cautionary warning to consumers in September 2007.

Australian news organizations report the University of Sydney is also investigating an association between illness in dogs and the consumption of chicken jerky in Australia. At least one firm in Australia has recalled their chicken jerky product and the recall notification stated the chicken jerky product was manufactured in China.

FDA believes the continued trend of consumer complaints coupled with the information obtained from Australia warrants an additional reminder and animal health notification.

Chicken jerky products should not be substituted for a balanced diet and are intended to be used occasionally and in small quantities.  Owners of small dogs must be especially careful to limit the amount of these products. … FDA has conducted extensive chemical and microbial testing but has not identified any contaminant.