Tips for Avoiding Salmonella Poisoning from Dry Pet Food
Story Date: 8/12/2010

The apparent rise in pet food recalls due to Salmonella is likely due to several reasons:

The large-scale, melamine-related pet food recall of 2007 increased public and media awareness of and sensitivity to pet food safety concerns.  

Increased vigilance of the manufacturers and the federal government regarding Salmonella and other public health concerns, leading to increased surveillance and reporting.  

The recent launch of an early detection reporting system – the Reportable Food Registry – that requires and allows immediate reporting of safety problems with food and animal feed (including pet food), instead of relying on inspection to identify problems. According to a July 2010 FDA press release, the registry has been very successful in identifying at-risk foods.  

These recalls are not an indication that pet foods are unsafe. Considering that the majority of these recalls have been precautionary and no illnesses have been reported, these recalls may indicate that they are preventing illness by catching the problems earlier.  

Because pet foods and treats contain animal-origin products, they are at risk of contamination with Salmonella, E. coli, and other organisms. In general, these products are cooked to temperatures that will kill these organisms – however, if a contaminated additive (a flavoring, for example) is added to the food after cooking or if the food comes in contact with contaminated materials, the food will be contaminated. There are many safeguards in place to minimize the risk of contamination during the manufacturing process, but using caution when handling these foods is always recommended.  

To protect themselves, their families and their pets from Salmonella infection, people must use common sense measures. These measures are particularly important if you feed your pet raw foods of animal origin (ie: raw beef, chicken or eggs), including raw treats such as raw hides and pig ear chews.

Wash your hands thoroughly after handling any pet food or treats.

Don’t allow your children to handle the food; or, if you choose to let them handle the pet food or treats, make sure they thoroughly wash their hands (under your direct supervision) afterwards.

Do not allow immunocompromised, very young, or elderly people to handle pet food and treats; or, if they handle the products, they should thoroughly wash their hands immediately after handling the products.

Keep all pet foods and treats away from your family’s food.

Do not prepare pet foods in the same area or with the same equipment/utensils you use to prepare human foods.

Do not allow pets on countertops or other areas where human food is prepared. 

Feeding pets in the kitchen has been identified as an important source of infection. If it is possible for you to feed your pet in an area other than your kitchen, you may wish to consider doing so. If it is not an option, or if you choose to feed your pet in the kitchen, feed your pet as far away from human food preparation areas as possible and follow the other guidelines above.  





NC Veterinary Medical Association
1611 Jones Franklin Road, Suite 108
Raleigh, NC 27606-3376
Tel: (800) 446-2862 / (919) 851-5850
Fax: (919) 851-5859
Email: ncvma96@ncvma.org