February 19, 2018

New Study Finds E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella in Raw Pet Foods

Raw pet foods can be contaminated with pathogenic bacteria such as E. coil O157:H7, Salmonella, and Listeria monocytogenes, according to a new study published in the journal Veterinary Record. These findings show that raw meat-based diets (RMBDs) “may post a risk to both animal and human health,” according to the study. The study was conducted at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

Raw-Pet-Foods

Raw pet foods have risen in popularity in the past few years. Humans are at risk for possible illness by handling the food, and by touching or petting animals fed this food. Pathogens can also be passed from pet fed raw diets to human by the dog or cat licking people.

The researchers analyzed 35 commercial products from eight different brands. They found E. coli O157:H7 in 23% of the samples, Listeria monocytogenes in 54%, and Salmonella species in 20% of the frozen RMBDs. Four products contain the parasite Sarcocytis Cruz, and another four products contained Sarcocytis tenella. In two of the products, they found Toxoplasma gondii.

In addition, scientists found that some of these bacteria were antibiotic-resistant, which increases the odds that any human illnesses can be more serious. The authors wrote, “The presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in RMBDs could therefore pose a serious risk to both animal and public health – not only because infections with these bacteria are more difficult to treat, but also because of the potential of it contributing to a more widespread occurrence of such bacteria.”

Human illnesses from pet food have occurred in the past few years. And there have been many recalls of pet food, raw and cooked, for possible pathogenic bacteria contamination as well. In 2016 Radagast Pet Food recalled frozen raw pet food for possible Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes contamination. In 2012, a Salmonella outbreak linked to recalled Diamond dry dog food sickened 14 people in 9 states.

The study also said that there is no scientific evidence supporting the claim that these foods are superior to other types of pet foods. The researchers said, “in nutritional terms, these diets are often deficient in several nutrients and may therefore lead to serious health problems, especially in young animals that are growing.”

RMBDs are sold frozen, dried, and fresh. The researchers say that these products should have warning labels telling consumers about possible risks, and should also include safe handling instructions.

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