Nightly News   |  October 25, 2013

FDA targets pet food safety in new proposal

After repeated reports of animals across the country being sickened or dying from tainted food and treats, the Food and Drug Administration is proposing that animal food producers follow basic safety guidelines. NBC’s Ron Mott reports.

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>> now to the health alert we mentioned at the top of the broadcast. this is about pets and the foods we give them. people may be surprised to learn there are no laws governing how pet food and feed for farm animals are manufactured. that could soon change. our report from nbc's ron mott.

>> reporter: in california just hours after feeding her three dogs jerky treats rachel chambers watched them turn severely ill. one died.

>> it was violent. she did not deserve the way that she died.

>> reporter: pet owners have experienced the same thing. nearly 600 pet deaths, thousands sickened.

>> snooki got so sick her heart even seemed to stop.

>> reporter: today the fda is proposing for the first time producers of pet food and animal feed follow basic safety guidelines, rules similar to standards required for human food.

>> overall the pet food supply in this country is sound, safe. we know hazards can occur if we are not careful.

>> reporter: there are piles of food and treat options for pet owners to consider in this $20 billion industry produced domestically and over seas. many illnesses have been linked to jerky treats made in china, pet owners are urged to be vigilant.

>> stick to foods you trust and know where they are coming from.

>> reporter: dr. gallagher applaud it is move by the fda .

>> the human health issue and an animal issue. if a dog is exposed to salmonella that dog's family is exposed.

>> reporter: last year a salmonella outbreak at a south carolina plant forced a recall of 30,000 tons of dry pet food .

>> news about the big scare over pet food --

>> reporter: in 2007 a larger recall, again involving china and melomine used in plastics. still while the fda has yet to pinpoint a cause of the recent illnesses the government is turning the focus oh prevention to make every pet meal and treat a safe one. ron mott, nbc news, chicago.