Sunday, 21 January, 2018

Raw pet food trend risks E.coli and Salmonella in owners

Traditional fare Henry prepares to tuck into canned dog food in the 1970s advertisement alongside Clement Freud Traditional fare Henry prepares to tuck into canned dog food in the 1970s advertisement alongside Clement Freud Credit BBC
Patty Aguilar | 13 January, 2018, 04:50

Contaminated raw meat, is a risk not only to the animal's health but also to the pet's owner, as bacteria and parasites can be passed between animals and humans easily.

To find out how real these risks are, Overgaauw and his colleagues analyzed samples of 35 frozen pet-food products from eight different brands, all of which are available at pet shops and supermarkets in the Netherlands.

In addition, four products (11 per cent) contained the parasite Sarcocystis cruzi and another four contained Sarcocystis tenella.

Those risks don't just apply to the pets themselves, says Paul Overgaauw, a veterinarian and visiting researcher at Utrecht University.

"This can be through direct contact with the food; through contact with a contaminated pet, such as sharing the same bed and allowing licking of the face and hands; through contact with household surfaces; or by ingesting cross-contaminated human food", he added.

Researchers in the Netherlands have analysed a range of raw meat-based diet products and concluded that the risks of contamination are super-high, even if the pet owners swear by the virtues of such a diet. In an email, the study authors said that raw-meat pet foods for sale in the United States are "without a doubt similar" to those tested in the study.

A growing trend has seen pet owners plump for products such as meat, bones and organs which can be bought frozen and then thawed before being fed to dogs and cats.

"Feeding of freshly prepared, non-frozen raw meat based-diets to companion animals cannot only result in infection and disease in the animals, but also poses a risk to public health and livestock farming through shedding of pathogens into the environment", the researchers conclude. Earlier analyses on raw pet food in the United States also found similar levels of contamination. More than half of the food had listeria species present, 20% contained salmonella and 23% had sarcocystis - a parasite that causes anorexia, nausea and abdominal pain.

Others argue that it's more natural for a carnivorous species to eat raw meat products.

The study was published January 11 in the journal Vet Record. They should be educated about proper handling of the products and personal hygiene measures, and the products should include warnings and handling instructions, the investigators said.

"As an evidence-based working veterinarian, I don't support these products", he says-not only because of the risk of infection, but because not all of them offer complete and balanced nutrients that dogs and cats need to grow and stay healthy.

That's why it's important for companies to inform pet owners of the possible risks that come with feeding their pets raw meat-based diets by including warnings on packages and labels.

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