We’ve known for some time that there are human health risks from feeding pets raw meat-based diets. Most of the evidence of this has been anecdotal, as published reports have been sparse. A few better documented reports have started to appear, including the fatal E. coli O157 infection I wrote about recently.
A few days ago, the CDC released a report about an outbreak of Salmonella Infantis infections in the US. It involved 92 people from 29 US starts and was linked to raw chicken products. Raw chicken-based pet food was among the raw chicken products from which the outbreak strain was isolated, and one person got sick after their pets ate chicken-based raw food.
This isn’t particularly surprising since Salmonella contamination is an inherent risk with raw poultry. Human disease can occur when people ingest Salmonella from undercooked meat or from contamination of their hands or environmental surfaces (e.g. in the kitchen). When it comes to raw pet food, people can be exposed from handling the food, cross contamination of food or surfaces, contamination of the food bowl or exposure to Salmonella in in feces of the pet.
CDC’s recommendation is pretty straightforward: “CDC does not recommend feeding raw diets to pets. Germs like Salmonella in raw pet food can make your pets sick. Your family also can get sick by handling the raw food or by taking care of your pet”.
I have the same recommendation, but am realistic enough to know that it’s still going to be done by some people. It definitely shouldn’t be done in households with very young, very old, pregnant or immunocompromised people or animals.
If you are going to feed raw diets to your pet, do it wisely. More information about this is available on the Worms & Germs Resources – Pets page.