Need another reason to choose quality pet food for your dog or cat? Last week the medical journal Pediatrics published a report warning about salmonella outbreaks in humans, mostly kids, linked to dry pet food. Between 2006 and 2008 a pet food salmonella outbreak sickened 79 people, nearly half of which were kids under two-years-old. You know about washing hands and kitchen surfaces after handling raw chicken, and that turtles can carry the bacteria, but now you have to be careful about pet food, too?
The report’s lead research Casey Barton Behravesh from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that dry dog food is an under-recognized source of human salmonella infections. What’s more, other illnesses could be caused by untainted pet food as well, without us being aware. Kids are likely infected more often by tainted pet food since they’re more likely to be crawling around on the floor near your the feeding area. Unfortunately, salmonella is also most dangerous for small children and babies.
While the chances of falling ill from Fido or Fluffy’s dinner aren’t high, it’s still good to be aware of the issue. Salmonella pet food recalls continue and last month – Iams and Eukanuba both were recalled due to potential salmonella contamination.
The outbreak detailed in the current report resulted from one Pennsylvania pet food plant, and salmonella bacteria was found in several brands of dry dog and cat food. The plant was later shut down. Typically companies are vigilant about keeping bacteria at bay, and most salmonella germs are killed during the heating process in pet food manufacturing. That said, food can become contaminated from flavor enhancers that are sprayed on later.
So what can you do to ensure you, your child and your pets stay healthy and avoid salmonella bacteria? First, look for quality organic and natural pet food brands. Then, follow the advice of the study’s authors.
- Be sure to tell your pediatrician about any pets you have in the home so they can take that into account when your child gets sick.
- Wash your hands after playing with pets or touching pet food or pet bowls. The same goes for after handling pet treats!
- Clean your pet’s bowls and feeding area often. Keep kids under age five away from feeding areas, pet food and pet bowls.
- Have a separate area for cleaning your pet bowls – separate from where you clean your own dishes and separate from where you kids bathe. And you should probably have a separate sponge for cleaning your pet’s stuff, too!
- Avoid bathing babies in your kitchen sink.