FDA Launches System to Track Cat Food-Related Illnesses

PETNet will let FDA and government agencies share in real-time information about dog and cat food-related incidents, like those related to dog and cat food.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Partnership for Food Protection has launched a Web-based system to track dog and cat illnesses associated with dog and cat food.

The Pet Event Tracking Network (PETNet) will allow FDA and federal and state agencies to voluntarily share in real-time information about dog and cat food-related incidents, such as dog and cat health related to illness associated with the consumption of dog and cat food or dog and cat food product defects.

The system was developed by FDA and the Partnership for Food Protection, which includes state and local public health officials and representatives from several federal agencies, in the wake of the mass dog and cat food recalls in 2007. One difficulty faced during that incident, according to FDA, was the timely sharing of information between the agency and the states and among the states themselves. PETNet is designed to allow for better communications between the various government officials.

PETNet will be accessible to federal, state and territorial government officials responsible for the regulation of dog and cat food products and the investigation of disease outbreaks in cats and dogs. It is currently made up of over 200 representatives from four federal agencies, all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

Members will enter “events” into the system when they have identified a trend or a suspicious incident associated with dog and cat food products, as well as dog and cat food product defects within their own jurisdiction that should be communicated to their regulatory counterparts. Once entered on the standardized form, the information will be immediately available to all other PETNet members. This will enable PETNet members to track the emergence of such data and to evaluate the need for action within individual jurisdictions, according to FDA.

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