raw pet food
July 8, 2014

FDA Advice On Protecting Pets And Yourself From Food Poisoning

Rayshell Clapper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Most of us consider food poisoning in our own eating habits. We try to make sure our cooking spaces are clean, the utensils properly washed, and the food cooked safely. On the other hand, not as many of us have considered food poisoning in our pets.

Many pet parents give their furry friends raw pet food on occasion and some even feed their pets a raw food diet regularly; however, pets are also susceptible to food poisoning – particularly Salmonella and Listeria – as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shows.

In an effort to help pet parents protect their furry friends as well as themselves and others in their families, the FDA published a consumer update with advice on the risks of feeding raw food to our pets.

The FDA’s Veterinary Medical Officer, William J. Burkholder, explains that “Raw pet food consists primarily of meat, bones, and organs that haven’t been cooked, and therefore are more likely than cooked food to contain organisms that can make your dog or cat sick…FDA does not believe feeding raw pet foods to animals is consistent with the goal of protecting the public from significant health risks.” The simple fact that a pet parent feeds raw food to his or her pet means that the household is more exposed to dangerous bacteria.

In an effort to help protect pets as well as people, the FDA states that raw meat and poultry should be cooked before feeding to your pet. And even though many argue that pets in the wild and feral animals eat raw meat as their main source of sustenance, the FDA Veterinary Medical Officer says that because feral animals do not usually get taken to the vet when they are ill, there is no way to really know how often these animals get sick and potentially die from raw meat. Therefore, the safest route to avoid food poisoning for people and pets is simply to follow the FDA’s instructions on how to handle and cook raw food safely.

These instructions include four steps:

1. CLEAN: Wash hands and cooking surfaces often.
2. SEPARATE: Separate raw meats from other foods.
3. COOK: Cook to the right temperature.
4. CHILL: Refrigerate foods promptly.

The FDA update also identifies the two primary forms of food poisoning in pets: Salmonella and Listeria. It is just as important to know the symptoms of these in pets as it is to know them in humans, so the FDA lists the symptoms of each in both humans and animals.

Salmonella symptoms in animals

• Vomiting
• Diarrhea (which may be bloody)
• Fever
• Loss of appetite
• Decreased activity level

Salmonella symptoms in humans

• Fever
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Diarrhea (which may be bloody)
• Stomach pain
• More rarely: entry of Salmonella into bloodstream from intestines, followed by spread to joints, arteries, heart, soft tissues, and other areas of body

Listeria symptoms in animals

• Nausea
• Diarrhea
• Fever
• Neurological disease can happen in a small percentage of situations

Listeria symptoms in humans

• Brain infection
• Membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord infection
• Gastrointestinal infection
• Bloodstream infection

Symptoms that come with salmonellosis come about 12 hours to 3 days after ingestion of the bacteria in humans while those of listeriosis begin 11 to 70 days after contact with that bacterium. It is not as easy to tell with animals although they commonly follow similar patterns.

The short answer is that feeding raw foods simply exposes people and pets to these dangerous and potentially deadly illnesses. Of course, some benefit comes with feeding pets raw foods, but the dangers associated simply require that pet parents do more to protect their pets – and themselves – from food poisoning.


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