June 3, 2023

Study on Prevalence of Listeria, Salmonella and E. coli in Pet Food

The Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (Vet-LIRN), with the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) and its Microbiology Cooperative Agreement Program (MCAP) labs have conducted a study to look at the prevalence of selected bacteria in pet foods. The goal was to help the Center for Veterinary Medicine prioritize future testing, and increased FERN screening for foodborne pathogens in pet food that may be a significant health risk to consumers.Six FDA FERN MCAP labs analyzed more than 1,000 samples over 2 years.

Dog-and-CatThe labs tested for Salmonella, Listeria species, E. coli O157:H7, and Shiga toxin-producing strains of E. coli (STEC). Dry and semi moist dog and cat foods were purchased from local stores in Phase 1. Raw dog and cat foods, exotic animal feed, and jerky treats were tested in Phase 2.

There have been several foodborne illness outbreaks in humans linked to various pet foods in the past. Most notably, a Salmonella outbreak linked to Diamond dry pet foods in 2012 sickened at least 14 people, hospitalizing five. And there have been many recalls of pet foods in the past several years for Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.

Of the 480 dry and semi moist samples, only 2 tested positive: one for Salmonella and one for Listeria greyii. But for the raw foods and jerky treats, 66 samples were positive for Listeria, 32 of those for Listeria monocytogenes, and 15 were positive for Salmonella. The study showed that raw pet foods may harbor pathogenic bacteria. Consumer should therefore handle these products very carefully.


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