Pet Food News

FDA’s Response on Amantadine

The most recent FDA jerky treat update included findings of a new drug in the treats. Questions were sent to FDA asking why consumers weren’t given the same consideration of information sharing as manufacturers and importers were. Here are their answers.

After the recent FDA jerky treat update, the following questions were sent to FDA.

In FDA’s most recent update on the jerky treat investigation, it states the agency found the drug “amantadine”. The report stated this drug is an adulterant, and that the agency notified Chinese authorities of its presence and notified US importers of its presence. This is so very concerning that everyone else except the consumer was alerted to this illegal drug. What treats (brands) was this drug found in? Lot numbers? Can someone explain why a recall was never issued? Can someone explain why the public was not notified of the adulterated treat names just as Chinese authorities and US importers were?

The FDA responded:

Hi Susan,

FDA does not believe that the amantadine discovered during recent testing of jerky pet treats from China contributed to reported illnesses because the known side effects or adverse events associated with amantadine do not seem to correlate with the symptoms seen in the jerky pet treat-related cases. Amantadine is an antiviral that is FDA-approved for use in people. It has also been used in an extra-label manner (using an approved drug in a way that isn’t listed on the label) in dogs for pain control, but FDA prohibited its use in poultry in 2006. However, amantadine should not be present at all in jerky pet treats, and we have notified the Chinese authorities that we consider the presence of amantadine in these products to be an adulterant. Chinese authorities have also assured us that they will perform additional screening and will follow up with jerky pet treat manufacturers. We have also notified the U.S. companies that market jerky pet treats found positive for amantadine of this finding.

In FDA’s most recent update on the jerky treat investigation, it states the agency found the drug “amantadine”. What treats (brands) was this drug found in? Lot numbers?

The brands that tested positive for amantadine included Milo’s Kitchen, Waggin Train, Beefeaters, PCI, and Dentley’s. FDA contacted the manufacturers to tell them of the findings and confirmed that these products are no longer available.

Can someone explain why a recall was never issued? Can someone explain why the public was not notified of the adulterated treat names just as Chinese authorities and US importers were?

The tested products were associated with illnesses reported to the FDA and were purchased by the owners of those pets a year or more ago.  These products are no longer available in US stores or online. FDA is in the process of conducting a survey assignment of both domestic and imported jerky pet treats for amantadine, as well as other antivirals. Of the 13 samples analyzed thus far, none have tested positive for antivirals.

Megan Bensette
Communications and Public Engagement
Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine
U.S. Food and Drug Administration

I responded to FDA…

Thank you Megan for this explanation.

I would like for it to go on record – from Association for Truth in Pet Food (pet food consumer association) – that in the future, consumers deserve the same information that manufacturers and importers receive and in the same time frame. While this amantadine information was – as you explain – dated, consumers still deserved to be alerted as manufacturers and importers were. By not being forthcoming with consumers in the same fashion FDA was with industry – even though it could have been an innocent scenario on FDA’s part – this does give the appearance that consumer safety is last on the FDA’s agenda. Association for Truth in Pet Food urges FDA to give consumers equal consideration as industry.

Thanks again for your answers –
Susan Thixton


Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
Association for Truth in Pet Food

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May 30, 2014

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10 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “FDA’s Response on Amantadine”

  1. Ann * says:

    I am seething with anger. So what if it is a year or more ago that this occurred? My young dog became ill a little over a year ago from eating the China chicken jerky treats and she is still requiring daily medical care and will need that for LIFE.
    FDA never made any contact with me regarding the complaint that I filed with them in Jan 2013.
    But, here is the part that made me laugh out loud:
    “Chinese authorities have also assured us that they will perform additional screening and will follow up with jerky pet treat manufacturers.”
    I bet the Chinese authorities are laughing, too.

  2. Valerie Noyes says:

    FDA’s answers are just crap. Just because they believe the amantadine was not relevant to the REPORTED jerky deaths and illnesses, what about people’s dogs who were undergoing treatment for something else? What if the presence of this drug had an impact on treatment a dog was receiving? What if a dog was sensitive to amantadine or it was in higher amounts in someone’s jerky? That’s been the case with all the other drugs. Varying levels of illegal drugs per individual treat. FDA is still doing their level best to protect big pet food while trying to give the appearance of reporting to the public. I am so disgusted with them.

  3. Terri Janson says:

    What about the arsenic in rice that I read about in dog food adviser?
    It’s coming from pesticides that were used in old cotton fields that are now flooded with water for growing rice!

    I switched right away to grain free. Soon it will become a problem as well.
    FDA (I guess have not set any standards for it yet).

  4. Peter says:

    Good reporting. Thanks for the update.

    Also, the information is not necessarily “dated.” Many products sit on store shelves for months… warehoused for months… some get shipped from store to store, bought as close-outs from distributors. There are many ways these products can still be not only on consumer’s shelves, but on store shelves, really. And that is not accounting for disreputable actions by retailers who may have “old” stock (please, readers, don’t go crazy on the last sentence: it does happen). Your admonition that “consumers deserve the same information that manufacturers and importers receive and in the same time frame” is precisely right.

  5. Pacific Sun says:

    Has anyone bothered to Google the side effects of Amantadine?

    Umm has anyone bothered to ask why the drug was present in the first place?

  6. Sue says:

    Hi all, I am a virologist and I have some experience with amantadine. I think the FDA was wise to consider it unlikely as a cause if illness in dogs – and reading the side effects online is really not helpful (go read the side effects of any prescription drug you think of as relatively free of side effects 🙂
    I do hope that the FDA continues to try and figure out what else is in those jerky treats however.
    Amantadine is probably used illegally in China to keep chickens free of illness (amantadine is a flu drug) even though it wouldn’t likely work as a preventative, that doesn’t mean they won’t try it.

    As far as arsenic in rice, it is natural. All rice plants absorb arsenic (naturally occurring) from the soil, and it gets concentrated in the rice and hulls. Brown rice is higher in arsenic than white, and according to consumer reports, all rice in the US (even the organic ones grown in CA) have detectable levels of arsenic. Some seemingly very high. I have stopped eating brown rice and switched to white. I have also decided that only one out of the three foods I feed my dogs in rotation can have rice as an ingredient.

    • Sandy says:

      Thank you Sue for your information, especially that arsenic is present in all rice.

      • Ann * says:

        iSince the FDA hasn’t released any numbers on the concentration of amantadine found in the jerky treats (at least not that I am aware of and of course the figures they released on the antibiotic concentrations were wrong) I don’t see how anyone can say that amantadine at any level of concentration is not harmful to ANY pet. We also don’t know what else was present and in what concentration in addition to the amantadine which could cause increased side effects that have never been studied. And, since the FDA doesn’t know of ANYTHING harmful in the jerky treats, whatever the unidentified harmful substance is in combination with amantadine could be made much more harmful or even deadly.
        I think to just pass amantadine off as harmless and as a wise decision is surprisingly unthoughtful.

  7. Thomas N Reedy says:

    From my perspective as an animal rescuer & pet caregiver (not owner–don’t believe in ownership, animal or human), the solution is really quite simple… stop the treats!

  8. Tammy Baugh says:

    Knowing how little the FDA thinks of all of us people, how much more are they going to think of our pets? I cannot and will not put any faith whatever in them. But Thank You Susan for at least speaking for a lot of us who do love and care about our pets.

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