Of the 195 raw food samples included in the study, nearly one-fourth tested positive for either salmonella or Listeria bacteria, both of which are cause for serious illness. The FDA did not identify any raw food brands selected for testing.
According to the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, “the single best thing you can do to prevent infection is to not feed your pet a raw diet.”
The study’s findings immediately drew backlash from at least one raw pet food manufacturer, K9 Natural Food Ltd., with complaints of an “unfair” study.
For owners that do choose to feed their pets a raw diet, precautions should be taken to protect human members of the family from infection. People should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water after handling raw pet food. Any surfaces that come in contact with raw pet food (i.e. countertops, cutting boards, feeding bowls, kitchen utensils, etc.) should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. A combination of bleach and water is typically an effective disinfectant. It is also advised not to touch your mouth while handling raw pet food or allow your pet to “kiss” you immediately after consuming raw food.
Symptoms of salmonella infection in people and pets include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and loss of appetite. Listeriosis (resulting from Listeria bacteria) is not commonly seen in dogs and cats, but does affect people. Symptoms of Listeriosis include fever, headache, stiff neck, muscle pain, confusion, convulsions, and a decrease in balance.
For more information, visit the FDA’s raw pet food resource page.