Albany lab researching connection between jerky treats and deaths of pets

ALBANY, N.Y. – The Food and Drug Administration is continuing to try and solve a mystery of the connection between chicken jerky treats and the deaths of hundreds of pets.

The FDA issued recalls back in January after a New York State lab found antibiotics not allowed in these treats which are made in China.

NEWS10 ABC got an exclusive look inside the NY State AG and Markets Food Safety Lab, which is right in Albany, where scientists did their research.

Dan Rice, the food lab director tells me their lab started testing the chicken jerky treats about six years ago after numerous reports of illness from pet owners. 

“Late 2012 we detected some antibiotics in these jerky treats, some which aren't allowed in poultry products and exceeded the FDA limit,” said Rice.

He says about 12 scientists were apart of the findings, they found antibiotics in products imported from China, which lead to a recall in January. 

But, officials say there is no evidence that shows the antibiotics found in the jerky is making the pets sick. However there has been a decrease in reports of jerky-suspected illnesses since the recall. 

“It's hard sometimes there is a lot of different labs and research that are looking into the problem,” says Rice, “We haven't gotten a cause and effect yet.”

As the FDA is asking veterinarians and pet owners to help with the government's on going investigation- the lab here in Albany will continue its efforts in trying solving this so called mystery.

Rice says the lab has tested about 100 samples of these jerky treats, which can be time consuming. They go through a three-step process of extracting potential chemical contaminants.

“If they see products imported from China or see jerky treats in general they will get sent into the lab and get tested,” says Rice. 

The lab samples about 24,000 pet and human food a year. They recently purchased state of the art equipment and NEWS10 ABC will have details of what this means for them coming up at 6pm. 

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