All About Pets

Another Pet Food Recall

July 16, 2015

Another Pet Food Recall…

The majority of pet food recalls for kibbled and raw foods occur because of a food’s testing positive for Salmonella or Listeria. Salmonella is a bacteria common in fecal matter, while Listeria is a bacteria common in soil and water. Our nose-to-the-ground pets are routinely exposed to both bacteria, and most with no appearance of ill effects.

Salmonella and Listeria are also common in the human food chain, with one Canadian study estimating that over 80% of the raw chicken sold in North America for human consumption is contaminated with Salmonella, and yet those meats are not subject to recall as a pet food would be. Why is that?

The answer can be found in the divergent FDA and USDA standards for recall. The USDA managed-risk standards for food intended for human consumption presume a cultural awareness of knowledge of safe handling practices, while the FDA zero-tolerance standards for food intended for pet consumption do not. FDA standards for contaminated pet food are tougher than USDA standards for contaminated human food, not because the FDA’s primary concern is the risk to pets who consume the food, but rather because its primary concern is the risk to pet owners who may serve the food without implementing safe handling practices.

The most commonly reported symptoms of illness in pets due to Salmonella or Listeria exposure are vomiting, salivating, diarrhea, and lethargy, and a veterinarian should be immediately consulted. However, even if your pet has exhibited no signs of illness, and you are confident of your safe handling practices, safely dispose of any recalled pet food. Bacteria in a contaminated bag, even if stored in the refrigerator, may continue to proliferate to a level that is no longer manageable for your pet. When in doubt, throw it out.

Tune in next week for some tips on deciding if a pet food manufacturer should be trusted after a recall. Cheers to you and your pets!

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