Merrick Pet Care has recalled Junior Texas Taffy pet treats because of the potential for contamination with Salmonella. No illnesses have been reported but contamination of treats could pose a risk to both pets and owners.

Contamination of pet treats is not uncommonly reported, but the overall scope of the problem isn’t well understood. Outbreaks of salmonellosis in people have been reported in association with handling contaminated treats. The impact on animal health is unclear. Most recalls are not associated with reports of animal illness, however it’s possible that small numbers of sporadic cases of disease would not be identified or reported.

Recalls like this highlight the potential risk from any pet treat or pet food. You can never absolutely eliminate risk but you can do things that will probably reduce the risk and identify situations where there are greater concerns.

  • Packaged treats may be lower risk than treats from bulk-bins, because a single contaminated item can lead to cross contamination of many others in these large bins.
  • Individually packaged irradiated treats are presumably of little to no risk.
  • "Human-grade," "premium" or other catchy descriptions have absolutely no meaning with regard to food safety.
  • People should wash their hands or use a hand sanitizer after handling treats.
  • Care should be taken when handling any animal-based pet treats, particularly in households that include people with compromised immune systems, infants, elderly individuals or pregnant women. In these households, particular attention needs to be paid to handwashing after contact with treats, or – better yet – avoiding treats (or at least non-irradiated treats) altogether.