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

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

Anyone who's tried researching the best diet for their beloved pet will have stumbled upon forums where discussions on what's best are as vigorous as the ones parents might have about vaccination.

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. The meat carries bacteria that can be risky to both animals and humans.

Four products contained the parasite Sarcocystis cruzi and another four contained Sarcocystis tenella, both of which can cause nausea, stomach ache and diarrhea.

When the meat is thawed and then given to pets, the bacteria's still there to pose all kinds of risks to both pets and humans.

It is reported that humans could encounter bacteria from raw foods in several ways, including direct with the food or with an infected pet; through with contaminated household surfaces; or by eating cross-contaminated human food.

Marketing campaigns assure consumers that they have plenty of positive effects on animals, including facilitating digestion, reducing allergies, improving energy levels or even easing the treatment of diabetes and epilepsy.

Michael Bellingham, Chief Executive of the Pet Food Manufacturers' Association, said: "We have seen a growing interest in raw pet food and we know from our contact with the veterinary profession that vets are getting more questions from pet owners on these diets and how they can feed them safely".

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If you're planning to do the switch, keep in mind, that some pets develop gastrointestinal issues, including diarrhoea, when changing to a raw meat-based diet.

On the contrary, cats and dogs that eat raw meat diets are more likely to become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria than animals that are fed typical pet food.

Commercial dry or canned pet foods are safer because the composition of the food is complete and optimally balanced in terms of nutrients, he said.

They found that Escherichia coli O157 was isolated from eight products (23 percent), Salmonella species in seven products (20 percent) and Listeria species were present in 15 products (43 percent). That can have further implications for pet owners and for public health in general.

Others argue that it's more natural for a carnivorous species to eat raw meat products. To avoid contamination, pet owners should also be educated about personal hygiene and proper handling of raw meat-based diets.

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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