If you feed raw pet food you might be concerned about the recent uptick in recalls by raw pet food manufacturers. You might be starting to second-guess your choice of a raw diet for your dog or cat because you keep hearing about raw food being recalled.
Here are some important things to know to put these recalls in perspective.
The FDA has decided that, unlike other kinds of pet food or even the meat you purchase for yourself, they will have zero tolerance for any pathogenic bacteria in prepared raw pet food diets.
They are targeting raw and minimally processed pet foods only, looking for any sign of e.coli, salmonella, or listeria.
This testing is not being done on dry or canned pet food, even though they have also been found to have these pathogens (not to mention the added danger of aflatoxins and mycotoxins in dry pet food, and the ongoing problem of dangerous hidden ingredients from large, less-than-honest companies).
This testing is also not being done in response to complaints. Yet they make no move to recall dry foods that are implicated in the deaths of many pets (even getting the attention of Congress).
The rates of contamination are quite low in raw pet foods, much lower than the meat you buy for your own meals. How does a 7% rate of pathogenic bacteria in pet food vs. a 39-81% rate of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in meat for human consumption sound to you?
“The FDA does not believe raw meat foods for animals are consistent with the goal of protecting the public from significant health risks.” They say it’s all about safety for the pet owners, but apparently they feel that you have the ability to handle raw meat in your home when feeding yourself, even though the rate of contamination is much higher in meat intended for people (in their full statement they do reiterate the commonly-known precautions of handling any raw meat, yet state in terms specifying raw pet food… huh?)
Pathogenic bacteria in dry food is actually more dangerous to pet owners because most of us don’t use the same care in handling that they do with raw food, and reports of dry pet food as a source of human illness have been appearing for many years.
We know that healthy dogs and cats are well-suited to handling small amounts of these pathogens as they occur in nature (we sure know that they survive eating dirt and licking their butts). It has been proven that healthy animals neutralize pathogenic bacteria. This is especially true of raw feed dogs because their diet helps their GI tract maintain a healthy gut full of beneficial bacteria and a digestive system with a proper pH level to help kill of pathogens naturally.
You are also safer from pathogenic bacteria if you take care of your gut, with a healthy diet and plenty of foods that provide naturally occuring beneficial bacteria, so remember to take what you learn about fresh food for pets and apply it to your own wellbeing.
All manner of foods, for people and pets, can be sources of pathogenic bacteria when mishandled: spinach, peanut butter, and even pet food. The natural world is full of bacteria. Our own bodies are actually outnumbered within; we have 10 times more bacterial cells than human ones! The key for humans, cats, dogs, everyone – is having a healthy balance of bacteria.
Small raw food companies, people we have known for years, are on the verge of being driven out of business due to the high cost of responding to the FDA’s witch hunt. Other companies have felt forced to change the processing of their diets and use high-pressure-pasteurization, which kills ALL bacteria, both good and bad, thus reducing one of the important benefits of raw foods.
We all need to be concerned about what (or whom) is driving the government’s decision-making-process. Is it the economic influence from the large multinational corporations like Nestle, Mars, Smuckers, and Proctor & Gamble (who own most of the largest pet food manufacturers)? Is their influence on the self-policing AAFCO part of the problem? We recently wrote about the problems we see with how these companies make pet food.
Follow sites like Truth About Pet Food and Whole Dog Journal for well documented information about all of these issues, and ask us any time you’re in the store if you have concerns about your pet’s food.